What is House Leveling?
House leveling is the process of adjusting the foundation of a house so that it is level and stable. This can involve shimming, jacking, and other techniques to correct problems such as settling or shifting of the foundation. House leveling is often necessary when a house has been built on unstable ground or has sustained damage from flooding or other natural disasters. It is also common for homes built on sloped land to require leveling to prevent structural issues.
How Does the Leveling Process Work?
The process for leveling a house can vary depending on the specific issues with the foundation and the type of construction of the house. However, some common steps in the house leveling process include:
- Inspection: A foundation inspector or structural engineer will assess the condition of the foundation and identify any issues that need to be addressed.
- Planning: Based on the inspection, a plan will be developed to address the specific issues with the foundation. This may include determining the type and amount of shimming or jacking that will be required.
- Preparation: Before the leveling process begins, any necessary preparations will be made. This may include removing any landscaping or other obstacles that are in the way, and covering floors and furniture to protect them from dirt and debris.
- Shimming or jacking: Depending on the specific issues with the foundation, shimming or jacking may be used to level the house. Shimming involves placing small pieces of material (such as wood or concrete) under the foundation to level it out. Jacking involves using hydraulic jacks to raise the foundation to the desired level.
- Pouring concrete: Once the foundation has been leveled, new concrete will be poured to stabilize the foundation and provide a solid base for the house.
- Finishing: After the concrete has been poured and has set, any necessary finishing work will be done, such as replacing any removed landscaping or other finishing touches.
It is important to note that house leveling is a complex process that should only be done by a professional. Improper leveling can cause more damage and lead to more extensive repairs.
How Much Does it Typically Cost to Level a House?
The cost of house leveling can vary greatly depending on the size of the house, the extent of the damage, and the materials and labor required to complete the job. On average, the cost of leveling a house can range from $5,000 to $15,000, but it can be as much as $20,000 or more for larger homes or more extensive repairs.
Factors that can affect the cost include:
- The size of the house: Larger homes will require more jacks, more materials, and more labor, which will increase the cost.
- The extent of the damage: If the foundation has significant damage, such as large cracks or major settling, the cost will be higher than if the damage is minor.
- The location of the house: Some areas have a higher cost of living, so the labor and materials will be more expensive.
- The type of foundation: Leveling a slab foundation is typically less expensive than leveling a crawl space or full basement foundation.
It’s important to keep in mind that house leveling is not a DIY project and should be done by a professional contractor. And it’s always a good idea to get multiple quotes from different contractors to ensure you get the best price and quality.
Why Do House Foundations Experience Differential Settling?
House foundations can experience differential settling, or settling that occurs unevenly, for a variety of reasons. Some common causes include:
- Soil movement: Different types of soil have different properties, and some soils are more prone to movement than others. For example, clay soils can expand and contract with changes in moisture, while sandy soils can be washed away by heavy rain. These changes in soil conditions can cause the foundation to settle unevenly.
- Improper compaction: During the construction process, the soil beneath the foundation may not be properly compacted. This can lead to settling as the soil settles over time.
- Plumbing leaks: Leaks in the plumbing can cause soil erosion, which can cause the foundation to settle unevenly.
- Improper drainage: If the soil around the foundation is not properly graded to allow water to drain away from the house, this can cause the soil to become oversaturated and lead to settling.
- Poor construction practices: If the foundation was not built to the correct specifications or if the wrong type of foundation was used for the soil conditions, this can lead to settling over time.
It’s important to note that differential settling is not always visible and sometimes can be hard to detect. It’s recommended to hire a professional inspector or a structural engineer to check for this type of settling and to make sure that the foundation is stable and safe.
How Do I Know if My House Needs Leveling/Stabilizing?
There are several signs that may indicate that your house needs leveling or stabilizing:
- Cracks in the walls or floors: Large or vertical cracks in the walls or floors can be a sign of foundation settling.
- Uneven floors: If the floors in your house are uneven or sloping, this can be a sign that the foundation has settled.
- Sticking doors or windows: If doors or windows stick or are difficult to open, this can be a sign that the foundation has settled and the house is no longer level.
- Gaps around doors or windows: Gaps around doors or windows can also indicate that the foundation has settled.
- Bowing or leaning walls: If the walls of your house appear to be bowing or leaning, this can be a sign that the foundation has settled.
- Water in the crawlspace or basement: Water in the crawlspace or basement is also a sign of foundation settling and can cause structural damage.
It’s important to note that these signs do not always indicate that the house needs leveling or stabilizing. An inspection by a professional inspector or a structural engineer can help determine the cause of the problem and whether or not leveling or stabilizing is required.
It’s recommended to take action if you notice any of the above signs, or if you suspect that your house needs leveling or stabilizing. Ignoring these issues can lead to further damage, and costly repairs in the future.
How Can I Make Sure My House Doesn’t Become Unlevel Again?
There are several steps you can take to ensure that your house doesn’t become unlevel again after it has been leveled:
- Address the root cause: It’s important to understand why the foundation became unlevel in the first place. Common causes include soil movement, poor drainage, and plumbing leaks. Addressing these issues can help prevent the foundation from becoming unlevel again in the future.
- Maintain proper drainage: Make sure that water is draining away from the foundation. Install gutters and downspouts to direct water away from the house. Also, make sure that the soil around the foundation slopes away from the house to prevent water from pooling around the foundation.
- Monitor the foundation: Regularly check for signs of settling or cracking, including doors and windows that stick, cracks in the walls or floors, and uneven floors. If you notice any of these signs, have a professional inspect the foundation as soon as possible.
- Hire the right contractor: Choose a reputable contractor with experience in foundation repair and leveling. Make sure the contractor uses quality materials and follows industry standards.
- Regular maintenance: Regularly inspect and maintain the foundation, including the slab, crawl space and basement. Keep an eye out for cracks, leaks, and other signs of damage.
- Regularly check the soil moisture level around the foundation. This can be done using a moisture meter. If you see that the soil is too dry or too wet, take action to correct the issue.
By following these steps, you can help ensure that your house remains level and stable for years to come.
House Leveling is Not a DIY Project
Homeowners should not attempt to tackle leveling the foundation of their home for several reasons:
- Complexity: The process of leveling a house foundation can be complex and requires specialized knowledge and equipment. Improperly leveling a foundation can cause further damage and even compromise the structural integrity of the house, which can lead to safety hazards.
- Safety: House leveling requires the use of heavy equipment such as jacks and piers, which can be dangerous if not used properly. The process also requires working under the house, which can be tight and cramped.
- Liabilities: Attempting a DIY foundation repair can lead to further damage or even collapse, which can lead to significant liabilities, including injury and death.
- Cost: A DIY foundation repair can cost more in the long run if it’s done improperly, as it will require further repairs and can lead to additional damages.
- Building codes: House leveling and foundation repair work is typically regulated by local building codes, and the work must be done to the standards set by the local building department. A professional contractor will be familiar with local building codes and can ensure that the work is done to the required standards.
It’s recommended to hire a professional contractor with experience in foundation repair and leveling, who has the necessary equipment and expertise to do the job correctly and safely. Xpert Foundation Repair can help level your foundation safely and affordably. Give us a call today to schedule a free estimate.