Underpinning project

I’m finally getting ready to pull the trigger on a foundation repair project to address some long standing settlement issues. The house was build in the 40s and is one story, long and narrow, just under 2000 sqft. There was lots of water in the basement during storms as well as several vertical cracks when we moved in years ago. The drainage issue has largely been addressed, so it’s pretty much dry down there at the moment. I recently had two foundation contractors come in to take elevations throughout the house and give me a quote for crack repair plus any other recommendations. Most of the floors are within 1.5 inch of level, however there is one nook that is more like 2–3 inches below level.

My options are to:

  1. just repair the vertical cracks, don’t worry about the settlement and stay focused on keeping water away. Total cost is $2–4k.

  2. underpin and lift the area that has settled 2–3 inches with galvanized steel push-piers. They’re saying it will take four piers at $2,350 each plus permit/engineering so about $12k on top of the crack repair.

I pushed the contractors for a firm recommendation but cant get much out of them. They just keep asking what I’m trying to accomplish and saying it’s up to us. What would you do?

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The cost of solution must match the damage an unresolved problem can cause. So, what is the big problem we are trying to solve. How much expensive can it get? Is it a threat to the structure above?

What I don’t want to happen is for the foundation situation to get worse. It’s an ~80 year old structure that has held together pretty well so far. I suppose the question then is what’s the likelihood of settlement progressing with vs without the underpinning? Probably hard to predict, which is why they won’t give me a firm recommendation. It would also be nice to have it fully addressed in case we ever decide to sell or do a major remodel.

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$12k to get it level is cheap especially for a house worth well over $1m. Worth doing.


The house is definitely worth 1 million. But, I think an 80 years old structure might be a very small portion of that 1 million. So, 12 K must be matched with the real cost of replacing or repairing the structure if the foundation is left as it is.

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Sounds like the question is whether the next buyer will tear down and rebuild.

But if DH0 wants to live there for another 10 years, the $12K is good for peace of mind and probably helpful if there is an earthquake in minimizing damage.

That is a good point. If @DH0 is about to sell, then it might be a good idea to leave it as it is and disclose to the buyer. If market is strong, he might not even have to discount for it and buyer wont care if only buying for the land.

I will probably just do it. The property is worth ~2.3 based on comps…majority land value of course but the house is in nice enough shape that I doubt a buyer would tear down/start over. Plus we have no plans to sell. If anything it will get turned into a rental when we eventually upgrade.

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