Structural Failures

When I get into foundation and structural repairs on a structure, I often think of it as a person. Buildings are like people in many ways. They age, sometimes they get injured from fires, and storms, and they get sick from things like rot and termites. Like some people are born with medical issues, some buildings have construction defects. Buildings get more problems when they age as do all of us. Finally, as in all things, buildings only last so long.

So, let's take the analogy further. If you have a fever, you will probably go to the doctor. She'll examine you, and maybe she'll find it's not serious. She sends you home for bed rest. On the other hand, she might find you have some sort of serious infection. In that case, more serious treatment (including hospitalization) may be needed. You can apply the same to any building, be it a residence or a commercial structure. You may see cracks in the walls, but are they serious? Or, will a less expensive repair be suitable?

That's where we come in. We can examine problems that have occurred in your building or house, and make the recommendations for repairs. The most common problems we examine are foundation failures. They are usually due to the builder or contractor placing the foundations on poor soils. The second common type are floor deflections (when they bow downwards). That usually happens because the wrong size beams or floor joists are used. There are less common ones we see where rot and termites have damaged the structure or failing basement walls. We have extensive experience in trouble shooting these problems and recommending repairs.

Do we do the repairs? We get that question a lot. No, we do not. So, the question comes up, why should you hire us? The reason is specifically because we don't do the repairs. We don't make money from them, so we have no incentive to recommend unneeded repairs. Our interest is your interest. Also, we examine the entire structure. We're not going to recommend a foundation repair when a beam needs to be stiffened (we've seen this happen), or some other inappropriate repair that doesn't solve the problem. We're not going going to recommend unneeded foundation repairs, or come up with ridiculous structural repairs.

Many times we will find the structure shouldn't be repaired, and we recommend a cosmetic fix. This is true in older buildings in particular, with foundation settlements. Sometimes a repair can start causing other problems, and the amount of money you throw into the problem can become extreme. What we do in those cases is give you options, with what we see are the advantages and disadvantages with each option. For example, years ago we evaluated a house that had minor cracking over a sliding door. It was obviously foundation settlement. The repair would have cost over $5,000. On the other hand, the homeowner could cosmetically repair the crack every few years for maybe $100. The foundation repair would have taken years to pay for itself. The homeowner elected to cosmetically repair the crack.

We've been working with structural repairs for over 20 years, and our records indicate we've evaluated over 5,000 structures in that time. If you've got problems, we'd like you to call us first.

In addition to our work in developing repairs, we provide structural condition assessments of buildings and residences prior to purchase. We also evaluate damage due to natural disasters, fire, or accidents (a surprising number of buildings are hit by cars) for insurance claims.

Runkle Consulting