Engineered Soil Repairs, Inc. Industry Info

(925) 405-5941

Telegraph Landing: Podium slab waterproofing and restoration of the common area brick patio and landscape areas
Verifying licenses and insurance is an important first step in evaluating a potential foundation contractor, but it’s not enough.

For example, a firm can hold an “A” engineering contractor’s license without having any registered engineers on staff. “You’re better off hiring a firm with registered engineers,” advises Bill Gibson, co-owner of Engineered Soil Repairs, Inc. in Walnut Creek. “Foundation repairs are complicated and should be handled by licensed engineers, not just an estimator who’s familiar with construction.”

Damaged foundations can often be repaired by reinforcing them with beams or underpinning them with piers. But sometimes, damage is such that the foundation must be replaced. Only an engineer can reliably make the assessment of exactly what must be done.

Mr. Gibson also notes that very few customers actually call references before hiring a contractor. Checking references is a vital step, he says. Beyond that, he advises asking other professional engineers for their opinions about various firms. Often, professional references may be reluctant to state anything negative about a firm, but you can usually tell by their tone of voice whether the recommendation is an enthusiastic one. Rather than asking an opinion about a particular firm, ask what firms they refer clients to. “That’s an excellent way to find the top two or three foundation repair firms in the area,” says Mr. Gibson.

Obtaining multiple bids is also a way to evaluate the quality of firms. Bids not only give you pricing information, but if one firm submits a bid that’s significantly different in price or scope of work, then something may be wrong. “You should always get a couple of bids,” says Mr. Gibson. “A good firm will be comfortable with where its prices stand in relation to the rest of the industry. A client should be comfortable when they make their choice.”

Onsite safety and security are also important. Check the firm’s policies on covering holes and replacing fences at the end of a day’s work. Also ask how long its employees have been with a firm. Firms with many new hires and a large turnover rate may be introducing untrustworthy people into your home.

While foundation work may involve complex engineering expertise, choosing a foundation contractor doesn’t have to. Key elements to look for are on-staff engineers who conduct the design and planning (not just construction estimators), verifiable licenses and insurance, references and solicited professional opinions about the firms, and the existence of multiple bids.