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What Should I Do?
Old 02-26-2007, 07:49 AM   #1
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What Should I Do?

Because of soil, heat and drought, Texas homes have foundation trouble. I did, and in 2002 hired a contractor to repair. Cost 11 grand. Now, it appears that the house has shifted again. I called Mr. Foundation Fixit and he says I need a french drain installed, cost: 4 grand. It just so happens that he's in the drain business, too. I have a warranty, but he can claim exclusion by "any settlement caused by poor drainage or rising water." We had one very dry year, so his claim is preposterous, I think.

Question: Should I sue? If so, is this small claims or what? I think it's worth a visit to a lawyer, but if he can run his experts into court, and I run mine into court, then who decides, and is it worth the expense. Or, am I just screwed and should take it as a lesson learned. I have some friends who feel that beating a contractor is iffy, at best, and even if you win, collecting is near impossible. It might be better to just sell as is, and go somewhere else.

Any replies to this post will be taken as non-legal, non-binding advice. I'm just fishing for some options, before I hire legal and other technical help. So fire away, if you've got any ideas. Thanks in advance.
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Re: What Should I Do?
Old 02-26-2007, 08:21 AM   #2
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Re: What Should I Do?

While this may be like sleeping with the devil, he may be right on the drain. Explaining to him that your options are going to court or fixing the problem, you may be able to get a very reasonable price for the drainage system. There aren't any really good options here.
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Re: What Should I Do?
Old 02-26-2007, 08:28 AM   #3
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Re: What Should I Do?

As you know, foundation shift and cracking can be caused by the soil being too dry or too moist. That is, the change in the water content of the area around the foundation expand and contract the soil. So, one must water the area in dry times and one must make sure water moves away during wet times. We have areas around our house with no vegatation whatsoever, yet the sprinkler system still waters these areas in order to try to keep the foundation happy.

You might check court records to see how many times this person has been sued and the outcomes.
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Re: What Should I Do?
Old 02-26-2007, 08:54 AM   #4
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Re: What Should I Do?

A few years ago we noticed a few minor cracks in our home. We were afraid to have the foundation "lifted", so we hired a structual engineer. He came out and did a complete analysis on our home. He then gave us suggestions on how to handle the situation. It worked.

If the BBB or a contract lawyer can't help you, maybe an engineer could give you some advice.

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Re: What Should I Do?
Old 02-26-2007, 09:02 AM   #5
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Re: What Should I Do?

Our office really disliked these kind of lawsuits because the amount of money involved could hardly justify the cost of pursuing a claim, and contractors are notoriously difficult to collect from. That said, a lawyer may be helpful with strategies short of a lawsuit. Especially if your state has a lot of these types of claims.

In my state contractors have to be licensed and a record of complaints is kept at the licensing board. You might check to see if that is the case in your state.

The small claims court limits in my state are fairly low, but you might have the option of suing in small claims court up to those limits.

Does your contract require arbitration?

Is the contractor who recommended the french drain the same one who did the work in the first place? If so, I would get someone else to look and give their opinion. I like bbbamI's idea of having an engineer take a look. I would do so before any decisions.
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Re: What Should I Do?
Old 02-26-2007, 09:15 AM   #6
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Re: What Should I Do?

We had some rental properties in the 1980's and 1 developed foundation problems. It is unfortunately fairly common in Texas where there is clay soil. Instead of depending on the foundation company's advice, since we felt they were not objective, we hired a structural engineer. He developed the plan for the foundation company and made sure that it was followed. I would recommend that you contact a structural engineer first and get his advice as to your options.
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Re: What Should I Do?
Old 02-26-2007, 10:32 AM   #7
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Re: What Should I Do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eagle43
Because of soil, heat and drought, Texas homes have foundation trouble. I did, and in 2002 hired a contractor to repair.
What repair was done? Did they fix the source of the problem (may very well be related dry/wet soil as others posted)?

My BIL is having this issue. I did a bit of research for him as he was just ignoring it, or wanted to just patch the drywall rather than fix the root cause. As others posted, the advice I found was to have a structural engineer check it out. The dry/wet soil was a common root cause. Like you, I am suspicious that a drain guy will say it is a drainage problem, a foundation guy will say it is the foundation, and a carpenter will say it is warping wood.

Also, I read some horror stories where the insurance did not cover someone with major structural damage. Their stand was the person should have called for repairs at the early sign of problems, so they say it was lack of maintenance and gave the old 'you're not covered' line.

-ERD50

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Re: What Should I Do?
Old 02-26-2007, 01:11 PM   #8
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Re: What Should I Do?

I called another foundation guy today. He wasn't there, but his office, when advised of my problem, said, "let me guess, it's XXXX Foundation Repair, Inc." She knew who it was before I told her. A check of the BBB indicates he has had 33 complaints in 36 months, and that the BBB has revoked its membership. I've got the new foundation guy coming out Friday to take a look. Who knows, maybe I need a French Drain. I wonder why he didn't tell me that when he was here? Yes, the contractor who won't fulfil the warranty is in the french drain business, too. I'd bet after if the french drain is installed, it'll be something else.

What was done? The original work was to raise the house and to put concrete cylindrical sectional piers to rock load bearing strata. So they said.

The contract does require arbitration. So, maybe there's still hope. First I get the foundation expert's assessment. Actually, I'd going to get two of them, and ensure that one is a structural engineer. Then it's lawyer time.

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Re: What Should I Do?
Old 02-26-2007, 05:20 PM   #9
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Re: What Should I Do?

I'ld start with 3 quotes for the same work .. THEN consider your options with the first contractor.

He MIGHT be right ... or not.
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Re: What Should I Do?
Old 02-27-2007, 09:59 PM   #10
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Re: What Should I Do?

There are two kinds of people in Texas: those with termites fireants foundation problems, and those who will have foundation problems...
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