Author Topic: Anyone have experience with Pier and Beam foundation issues?  (Read 1568 times)

FrugalSaver

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Anyone have experience with Pier and Beam foundation issues?
« on: January 05, 2017, 10:26:44 PM »
I'm looking at a prospect that clearly has a little bit of foundation issues, but the foundation guy that looked at it said, for a rental, i wouldn't do anything to fix it.  If I wanted to, he estimated it would be about $5,500.

What are your thoughts on potential risks of doing nothing until I absolutely have to?  How is that price point based on your experience?  The house is about 1,500 sq ft.

What other information could I provide to help inform your opinion?

Uturn

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Re: Anyone have experience with Pier and Beam foundation issues?
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2017, 08:24:26 AM »
What caused the foundation to fail?  Is it a moisture problem that you can address and the foundation will return? 

I had 12 piers put in last spring, under a slab foundation.  I have a big oak tree that sucked the moisture out of the ground under the house.  It's a 2300 sq ft house, and the work was $4800.  I had 1.5" deflection from the center of the house to the front, and was causing ceiling cracks and the garage door to pop off its track. 

Risk of doing nothing?  It gets worse.  I've never seen a foundation correct itself, except when the drought is over. 

I got 4 quotes ranging from "you don't need anything" to $7000.  I eventually hired an independent engineer for $400, and I'm glad he did.  They had to do two lifts on my house and the company was very reluctant to send their crew out the second time.  My engineer came out with their engineer and they fought it out.  My house would not have been properly lifted without his help.  There were threats of mechanic's leans and lawsuits because I refused to pay the second half of the bill until I was satisfied. 

I'm not sure where you live, but around here we have clay soil.  It moves... a lot.  Therefore, good foundation repair companies have plenty of work and don't need to heavily advertise on the radio and TV.  The good ones are unknown to the general population, but the independent engineers and real estate investors know who they are. 

Spork

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Re: Anyone have experience with Pier and Beam foundation issues?
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2017, 09:25:35 AM »
Okay, I've never messed with pier and beam and I am no expert... 

That said, I'd totally go with what the foundation guy said.  It's in his best interest to tell you to do it... and if he didn't, I'd trust that.

Also, pier and beam foundations are actually somewhat DIY'able.  It takes some metal shims and a few jacks and a day or two getting dirty under the house.  I've had slab foundation work done for me and... pier and beam is MUCH more friendly to repair.

I'd guess the potential downside of doing nothing is: cracks in drywall/plaster, uneven floors, sticking or non-closing doors, etc.

Rezdent

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Re: Anyone have experience with Pier and Beam foundation issues?
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2017, 07:55:19 AM »
I agree with everything Spork says but caution against too much diy leveling if the house is sitting on clay.

What is the soil type?

Our current home sits on a 60-ft deep yellow clay bed.  This clay is always slowly expanding and contracting with changes in moisture.  Our pier/beam house shifts with it and that is a good thing.  It's like living on a slow motion boat.  We're never 100% level, and we don't bother trying to level every week because it will change again.

What is failing?  Is it just unlevel, or are there structural issues like broken beams?

If it's just unlevel, how bad is it?
 Are doors sticking?  Sheet rock cracking?  Floor so unlevel that a golf ball will not stay still?  Is water pooling into the back of the tub or kitchen counter and not draining?

Sticky doors can be adjusted; sheet rock is easily patched; and I would probably just live with an off-level floor - but pooling water might push me to level, depending on how much and where.

FrugalSaver

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Re: Anyone have experience with Pier and Beam foundation issues?
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2017, 02:30:59 PM »
I agree with everything Spork says but caution against too much diy leveling if the house is sitting on clay.

What is the soil type?

Our current home sits on a 60-ft deep yellow clay bed.  This clay is always slowly expanding and contracting with changes in moisture.  Our pier/beam house shifts with it and that is a good thing.  It's like living on a slow motion boat.  We're never 100% level, and we don't bother trying to level every week because it will change again.

What is failing?  Is it just unlevel, or are there structural issues like broken beams?

If it's just unlevel, how bad is it?
 Are doors sticking?  Sheet rock cracking?  Floor so unlevel that a golf ball will not stay still?  Is water pooling into the back of the tub or kitchen counter and not draining?

Sticky doors can be adjusted; sheet rock is easily patched; and I would probably just live with an off-level floor - but pooling water might push me to level, depending on how much and where.

All good questions. For you and the mustachians here, what's the worst that could happen?

Rezdent

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Re: Anyone have experience with Pier and Beam foundation issues?
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2017, 09:16:47 AM »

All good questions. For you and the mustachians here, what's the worst that could happen?

The worst thing from excessive diy leveling?  Fruitless busy work.

The worst from pooling water?   Water rots wood.
Water that pools towards the back of counters can rot counters or floors if it is able to seep behind these surfaces.  And you won't easily see the damage until it is really bad.

If it is pooling slightly toward drains then it may be okay. Otherwise, a tub or sink that won't completely empty will get gross if not hand dried after every use.

TL; DR
A story of Fruitless work
We rented a house.  The lady told me that her husband had spent every weekend for two years trying to level that house - and never could.  We told her we were used to it - no worries.

When we looked under that house, I laughed until I cried.  I still laugh whenever I think about it.
He had hammered in hundreds (possibly thousands) of small wooden shims on top of the piers.  He apparently just kept stacking them up. The smallest stack was about 14 inches high.  There were dozens of shims on every pier.
So this guy wasted every weekend, the house was sitting on mountains of little triangle pieces of wood, and the house continued moving as it had for at least 75 years.
We lived there three years and never leveled anything.  The shifting was minimal, and never enough to cause any problems.

bacchi

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Re: Anyone have experience with Pier and Beam foundation issues?
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2017, 01:22:37 PM »
Are the piers concrete or wood? If they're wood, I'd be wary. That's asking for trouble down the road (unless you're in the desert).

Otherwise, if it's just not level, do nothing.