Checklist for hiring a contractor to fix your foundation - AmericaNowNews.com

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Checklist for hiring a contractor to fix your foundation

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Hairline cracks in your foundation or drywall could be an indication of a much bigger problem with your home.

Sometimes, it's easier to procrastinate and pretend the problems will disappear.

If the issue isn't addressed, it will likely get worse and could decrease the value of your property if you later decide to sell your home.

That's why you should probably just go ahead and call a foundation expert like Charles Richey.

"This is unlike anything we have seen in a long time," Richey says while examining a home with cracks. "They are actually having structural problems due to the drought."

Cracks in the foundation are the most obvious thing homeowners can look for outside.

Inside, most cracks usually appear around windows and door frames.

Small cracks in the drywall or plaster are normal. They're caused by temperature variations that occur over time. Most homeowners can fix those with spackling or joint compound.

However, if the cracks have a 3/16 inch or wider gap, one side of the wall is higher than the other, or doors no longer close in the frame, that likely means there is a bigger problem.

Unfortunately, this isn't a do-it-yourself project and you will need to call someone else with a bit more expertise.  

According to the Better Business Bureau, there are several things homeowners need to consider before hiring a contractor.

First, find out the contractor's track record. Go to the Better Business Bureau's website for your area to see what other homeowners are saying about the contractor's work.

Check with your state's department of insurance to verify the contractor's liability insurance. This will protect you in case they damage or break something else in your home while doing the job.

Thirdly, get a written contract that specifies the start and finish dates for the job, exact cost, specific work to be done, and warranty information.

Never pay more than 25 to 33 percent of the total job cost as a deposit. There have been numerous cases where homeowners paid all the money up front and the contractor never showed up to start or finish the job!

Finally, find out the names of the workers who will be in your home and check your state's offender registry online.

If they are a convicted felon or sex offender, you might want to think twice about having them working in and around your home, especially if you have children.

If you are selling your home and it has foundation problems that have been ignored, most banks won't close on a loan without those repairs being made.

In some states, you could actually face a hefty penalty if you fail to disclose information about a foundation problem to a new buyer.


Additional Information:

The following is from the website Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford in an article entitled, "Foundation Problems" (http://www.dannylipford.com/foundation-problems).

  • A warranty is only as good as the business offering the warranty. A business that has been around for a long time, say 25 years or so, is your best bet.
  • Ask for references from homeowners the contractor has worked with before. Get 5 to 10 names and you call them yourself to find out how pleased they are with the contractor's work.
  • Finally, find out if the contractor will have supervisors on site observing the workers… or will they simply be dropped off at your home to do the work without supervision?
  • Is your home less marketable because you have had the foundation repaired? Quite the contrary. If the foundation of your home is repaired by a reputable contractor it is considered stronger after the repairs are performed. Therefore, appraisal values will be the same, as if the problem had never developed. If you are planning on selling your home after the foundation repair work is performed the warranty from the contractor and their reputation are more important than ever.  

The following information is from the Better Business Bureau's website in an online article entitled, "Local Irrigation Company Leaves Customers High and Dry" (Source: http://charlotte.bbb.org/article/local-irrigation-company-leaves-customers-high-and-dry-36501)

1. Track record – Check out a company's BBB rating and complaint history online.

2. Cost comparisons - Get at least three bids in writing and compare the bids based on the same warranty, specifications, labor and time.

3. Licensing - Check with your state's licensing board to see if the company you plan to hire has the proper licensing.

4. Insurance - Verify the company's liability insurance to protect you against damage by checking check with your state's department of insurance.

5. References – Ask for references from the company's last three jobs and check them out before you sign a contract.

6. Written contract - Do not permit work to start without a signed, written contract that includes start and completion dates, exact costs, specific work to be done, and warranty information. Be sure to read the fine print carefully.

7. Deposit required and payment – Do not pay more than 25 to 33 percent of the total job cost as a deposit. Final payment should not be due until the job is completed. Do not pay in cash; pay by check or credit card.

8. Warranty – Get warranty information in writing on products and installation. Be sure to read the fine print carefully.

9. Bonding – Be sure all workers are bonded to protect you against damage or theft.

10. Criminal history – Check your state's offender registry online to look up anyone you allow to work in, or around, your home.

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