Both commercial and residential buildings need strong concrete foundations to withstand the strains and pressures from extreme temperature changes that occur from season to season as well as moisture that will sometimes get into cracks and fissures and then expand when temperatures reach freezing. Concrete foundations do well in Texas clay soils, but it takes a company that knows how to build a good, strong foundation to ensure the foundation will last and provide the stability a commercial or residential building needs.
There are many construction companies that build and repair concrete foundations. Some of these companies specialize in residential, some specialize in commercial foundations, and some do both. Foundation work includes leveling, crack and fissure repair.
There are different types of concrete foundations. Crawl spaces are made of foundation walls and poured footing. The walls help to support the floor and walls of the building and protect the foundation during storms. It is also easier to access utilities with a crawl space which helps keep repair costs low. Crawl spaces must be properly insulated, because they can become moldy if they are not.
A slab foundation is less expensive than a basement, but comes with its own challenges. The slab foundation is started by building a trench, then spreading gravel and pouring the concrete. Concrete provides strong support for the building and its walls. The drawback to a slab foundation is that the ductwork, electrical wiring, or plumbing for a residence or a business property is often either under or run through the concrete slab. This makes access to these very difficult and makes repair costs very expensive. Also, slab foundations can create upheavals, cracks, fissures, and more.
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Another concrete foundation option is the pier and beam which is a method that uses pads of concrete with beams to support the walls and floors of a building. Pier and beam is typically used when other foundations are not an option. Buildings may have masonry foundations or concrete beams and may also have issues such as cracks in sheet rock or in the brick veneer. The supports for the pier and beam may sink or the joints can break or crack or not function correctly.
If there are cracks in a foundation, it can mean the building was built on collapsible sandy soils or expansive clay. If one of these conditions are combined with poor drainage or extreme moisture or both, the structure becomes unstable. Things that many owners never consider such as big trees near a home’s exterior or a building built on a backfill lot, which is full of air pockets because of loose soil, may lead to foundation settlement and movement. Buildings or homes with no gutters or inadequate rain-run-off collection next to the foundation are in real danger of foundation damage.
There are several factors to consider when choosing a general contractor or company to build or repair a concrete foundation.
1) How much experience do they have with this particular type of work?
2) Can they provide examples and pictures of similar jobs?
3) Can they provide names of other customers who you can call?
4) Will they provide a written estimate?
5) Does the estimate include a line by line description of what they will do?
Another consideration when choosing a concrete foundation company is to always deal with a licensed contractor that specializes in foundations and foundation repair. The company should be able to provide their insurance information and references if requested. Choosing a reputable company that is insured and which has a solid history of good business practices will make the difference between chaos and a good foundation that will serve well for years. Any references offered by a company should provide experts who understand or specialize in building or repairing foundations and have worked with the company providing the references.
These are good questions to ask the concrete foundation companies before making a decision on which one to hire. Once finding a general contractor that provides the right answers, be sure to get a written estimate which includes a projected completion date. The company should also provide an on-site project supervisor to ensure the project is completed on time and in compliance with the customer’s requirements.