Uh-oh – not the foundation! What to look for, who to call and what you’ll pay

Chad Banken
Chad Banken
Published on October 26, 2022

“The support upon which something rests,” is how Merriam Webster Dictionary defines ‘foundation.’ Think about that for a minute. Your home rests on its foundation, which, when functioning properly, provides structural stability, safety and value to the home.

If it’s not in peak condition, you may end up paying a fortune to repair it and/or the damage to the home that has occurred because of it.

So, how do you know if there might be a problem with the foundation of your home? Read on and we’ll share with you what we learned from the experts.

Cracks in the foundation

Not all cracks indicate a foundation problem. The following types of cracks may be signs of trouble:

  • A crack that is one-quarter of an inch or more
  • Cracks that resemble stair steps located between cement blocks
  • Cracks that run horizontally
  • A crack that runs diagonally at a 30 to 75-degree angle. Although it may be thin, it “… will likely be wider at one end than the other,” according to the experts at EdenStructural.com.

Windows and doors may indicate a foundation problem

Check your windows and doors for any cracks that may be above them. Check the upper corners of these areas for cracks that start there and extend upward to the ceiling. While these cracks may just indicate settling, it they measure more than one-quarter of an inch wide, they might indicate problems with the foundation.

Sticking windows or door is often caused by humidity. A shifting foundation, however, may be the culprit.

If the problem occurs in only one door or window there is likely no cause for concern. If, on the other hand, you’ve found other signs of a foundation problem, seek help from a professional as soon as possible.

What are the walls saying?

Warped, bowing and bending basement walls are signs of dangerous structural issues. “Everything else in the home is resting- directly or indirectly- on top of your basement walls.  If one of them weakens, it compromises the stability of your entire structure,” according to the pros at Acculevel.com.

Who to call for help with foundation problems

Foundation repair or even the diagnosis of a problem isn’t a DIY project. While a structural engineer can certainly help with the problem, you might also look into interviewing foundation repair contractors.

“… look for one who is certified, has glowing reviews, and offers a great warranty,” cautions D.P. Taylor at Angi.com.

Ask the repair person if he or she is certified by the National Foundation Repair Association and “… the International Code Council Evaluation Services (ICC-ES), a nonprofit organization,” according to Taylor.

In fact, the pros at Foundation Repair Network caution consumers to not “… do business with a contractor that does not have their foundation repair methods evaluated by ICC-ES.” This ensures that the building materials used “…meet code compliance.”

To round up contractors to interview, ask your colleagues, neighbors, family and friends who they would recommend. Check Nextdoor.com and Yelp.com in your area for reviews and consult the Better Business Bureau to learn of any complaints against the contractors and/or engineers. Ensure that whomever you hire is licensed and insured and, ask for references. Then, finally, check those references.

How much does foundation repair cost?

“The cost of foundation repair ultimately depends on the type of foundation used, the size of the home, soil stability, and more,” according to Nick P. Cellucci at Angi.com (formerly Angi’s List).

The site estimates a national average cost of $4,913, and a range of between $2,154 to $7,737. They offer a calculator to find the cost of foundation repair in many areas across the country. Just enter your ZIP code at Angi.com.

Katie Flannery and Evelyn Auer at BobVila.com state that “Foundation repair cost ranges from $2,010 to $7,717, with the national average at $4,714.”

You may also want to visit the Foundation Repair Network’s website for their ballpark estimate of costs.

Whatever you do, if you suspect a problem, don’t put off hiring a pro to inspect the foundation.


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