The soils native to the Andover area are considered expansive clays. This means that water moves through the soil very slowly, and the soil may settle under loads very slowly. The soil may expand with increased water content and “push” the footing or foundation upward. Over a long period of time, the soil may settle and/or uplift in differing amounts which may cause substantial damage to the footing/foundation system.
The analysis of the factors involved in these problems, as well as the design of cost effective solutions, is complex. The analysis involves considering the specifics of the soil on site, depth and width of footing and foundation wall, material of construction, structural damage, surveys of actual structure movement, grading and drainage around the perimeter of the house, condition of structural elements within crawl space, evidence of cracking or deflection of basement walls, evidence of water in basement, and possible other considerations.
There are a wide variety of remedies which are in part dependent upon proper analysis of the problems. These could include grading around the house and re-directing downspouts or roof drainage away from the foundation. It is possible to jack up a structure and remove and reconstruct footings and foundation walls to bring them into code compliance. This is very costly, and it is common to provide additional support to the house foundation in lieu of complete reconstruction. This option requires a Kansas Professional Engineer stamp of the drawings for the foundation repair.
All footing and foundation repair work, with limited exceptions such as tuck-pointing of block walls, will require a licensed contractor, a permit, City inspections, and engineered plans. It is up to the homeowner to perform due diligence in selecting the contractor and engineer to perform the work.
Homeowner choices include:
a. Retain a Kansas Professional Engineer to evaluate the site and footing-foundation problems, then design a solution. The homeowner may then solicit bids from various contractors to perform the specified work.
b. Seek proposals from various contractors, who will retain an engineer as needed.
Contracting practices which protect homeowners include the following:
a. Solicit multiple proposals
b. Check contractor references
c. Verify that the contractor is licensed, pulls the required permits, and obtains inspections
d. Ask the contractor for verification that he is addressing all code deficiencies, including site drainage, attachment of structure to foundation, etc.
e. Do not agree to pay until the work is completed satisfactorily