Fun Facts: The most costly residential foundation repair in US history is likely to be the Millenium tower in San Francisco, with an estimated cost, as of 2019, of approximately $100,000,000. With 366 units, the average cost per unit will be $273,000.
Asking “What does foundation repair cost?” is similar to asking “What does a house cost?” So many variables are involved that, prior to giving an answer, it is necessary to define what needs to be done. If a homeowner does not know what needs to be done, another way is to look at unit prices.
Listed below are typical ranges for unit prices for retail residential work in north Texas. The prices reflect what you should expect to pay an established reputable company. As is the case with any service, on the web there is be a huge range of prices with low prices from fly-by-night companies to extortionate prices charged by rip-off artists.
Item Reasonable Range of Costs
Concrete Pressed Piling $450 – $600
Steel Piling $500 – $800
Cable-Anchored Steel Piling $600 – $850
Helical Pier $700 – $900
Drilled Concrete Pier – 12 Foot $600 – $800
Tunnel (Per Foot) $165 – $250
Engineer’s Letter / Signoff $500 – $900
Static Test – Sewer and Water $250 – $500
Permit $100 – $750
For concrete pressed pilings, the real issue is the driving pressure used to install the piling. If a contractor does not have pressure gauges on their equipment, then they have no idea what pressure they are using. Look for clean, well maintained, hydraulic pumps with functioning pressure gauges. Ask what pressure each contractor expects to go to. If the answer is “We go to refusal” you should consider other contractors.
Steel pressed pilings should be 2.875 inches in diameter. Narrower pipes tend to have a variety of problems. The minimum wall thickness should be .18 inches. Ask the contractor if he will fill the piling with concrete when he is done. If not, move on to the next contractor. Check to ensure a contractor has pressure gauges on his equipment.
Cable-anchored steel pilings are steel pilings that contain a cable that extends from the top of a piling to the bottom of a piling. After a piling is installed, concrete is used to fill the piling, the cable is tensioned, and the cable is attached to the top of a piling. As the concrete hardens, it locks the tensioned cable in place. As always, ensure that any contractor is using pressure gauges and that he has a protocol for what pressure to use.
Helical piers are installed using a torque specification. Ask your contractor what torque he will use. Ask who makes his parts and check his answer against the data published online. If a contractor does not have a torque spec for his product, find another contractor.
Drilled piers are typically 8 to 12 inches in diameter and must be reinforced with steel bars. Ask any contractor what diameter pier they will use, what size reinforcing bar will be used, how many bars will be used, and what depth the piers will be drilled to. Ensure that all of the answers are included in any contract that is offered. If a contractor does not have answers, continue looking for one who does.
Longer tunnels cost less per foot. Shorter tunnels cost more per foot. Tunnels can be backfilled or left unfilled. If left unfilled, generally, a tunnel should be drained. Ask which the contractor will do. Tunnel entrances typically cost the equivalent of three feet of tunnel.
An engineer’s letter, used for obtaining a permit, and an engineer’s letter used to close a permit, combined, will cost a minimum of $500. If a homeowner asks for a forensic engineering report with soils borings, the cost can be $3,000 to $10,000. An engineer’s letter with a signoff for a repair is not the same thing as a forensic engineering report.
After foundation repair, which usually involves lifting all or part of a foundation, it is normal to test water and sewer lines for under slab leaks. A static test does not locate a leak, it simply indicates whether or not there is a leak. Leak locates are typically an additional charge.
Permit fees vary from city to city and often depend on the cost of a job. The cost of a permit to a contractor is more than just the city’s fee. Somebody has to file for a permit, coordinate with an engineer, arrange to pick up a permit and pay for a permit. In addition, once work is complete, more time is spent on inspections and closing paperwork. Opening and then closing a permit can easily take several hours of staff time.
Now, with basic pricing in hand, we can determine a normal range for the cost of a foundation repair. A repair with 20 exterior steel pilings, an engineer’s letter and signoff, a permit, and a static test would be expected to cost:
Item Reasonable Range of Costs
Steel Piling $10,000 – $16,000
Engineer’s Report / Signoff $ 500 – $ 900
Static Test – Sewer and Water $ 250 – $ 500
Permit $ 100 – $ 750
Total $10,850 – $18,150
The wide range will reflect a number of variables, such as depth (the deeper one goes the more the material cost and the more labor is needed), the warranty, access, obstructions, a company’s workload, etc. There will be extra charges for work done inside a home or inside a tunnel. Concrete breakouts (for instance in patios or driveways), removing wood decks, dealing with sheds, and many other variables will cost extra. For your home, foundation repair is the equivalent of heart surgery for a human. Would you hire a heart surgeon based solely on price? Most people would not.
Read the warranty to see what it covers and what it does not.