House Leveling

Contributor: Chris Cates

House leveling is a term used to describe the process of lifting a home as close to its original state as possible (as construction will allow). Leveling a home is usually accomplished by performing foundation repair.

A home that is sinking at one end or multiple places likely has a structural problem. House leveling will usually correct that problem, however, the source of the problem must also be addressed to prevent similar damage from reoccurring in the future.

Foundation erosion, structural damage, volatile soil conditions, under-slab plumbing leaks, poor exterior drainage and intrusive tree roots all can contribute to a sinking home or sagging, uneven floors. It’s important to also correct these issues before house leveling is performed to ensure a more permanent solution.

Foundation Settling – The Root of Uneven Floors

House LevelingWhy do foundations heave or settle? Water and soil are the main culprits. When combined, the two can create a force that causes walls to crack as well as foundation movement, including settling. Foundation movement can occur in slab foundations, pier and beam foundations and in homes with full basements. A house foundation that experiences excessive heaving or settling eventually will shift and crack. House leveling may be the solution.

In addition to house leveling, the problems that caused the foundation shifts need to be considered. Expansive clay soils contribute to foundation movement. As the clay soil absorbs water it exerts excessive pressure on the foundation, heaving it upward. The soil dries, shrinks and the foundation settles, moving downward. Poor exterior drainage is a contributor to the excessive water in the soil underneath the foundation.

Water from plumbing leaks under a slab foundation or from excessive flowerbed watering also can seep under the foundation, over-saturating soil. Likewise, foundation soil can become over-saturated from water that drains back towards the foundation from improperly graded driveways, walks and patios.

House Leveling – Slab Foundation Homes

For homes with a slab foundation, house leveling can be achieved using a handful of successful methods. These include excavating from the exterior of the home and installing pilings or piers such as helical piers, bell bottom piers, steel piers or concrete pilings, mudjacking, or using a chemical substance to fill in the gaps underneath the foundation.

House Leveling – Crawl Space Foundation Homes

For homes with a crawl space foundation, house leveling can be achieved using a handful of successful methods. House leveling methods include installing pilings underneath the existing piers to fortify them, using rods or braces to reinforce damaged support stations and cure sagging floors, stabilizing the soil underneath the foundation using a chemical mixture, or some combination of all methods.

The Impact of Soil Problems

Soil also shifts when it becomes too dry. Sometimes large trees have roots that extend underneath the foundation. These roots can absorb as much as 100 gallons of water daily from the soil. As soil loses moisture it shrinks. Soil shrinkage contributes to foundation movement, in particular differential movement. Differential movement happens when one area of the foundation has moved while other areas have not. Your foundation may develop stair-shaped cracks when it is affected by differential movement. House leveling can help reset the foundation and help prevent future cracks and problems.

What Does House Leveling Cost?

House leveling costs vary depending on the foundation’s condition, homeowner goals and method of repair. For a free foundation repair estimate, contact a certified repair specialist.

Chris Cates, Olshan Subject Matter Expert

Chris Cates

Chris has been in the foundation repair industry since the late 80’s. He has 40+ years of experience designing foundation repairs plans of all types and sizes. Chris' work and expertise has been featured in the local Houston media several times, including appearances on the CW39 News, Click 2 Houston News, ABC 13 News, The Sealy News and The Houston Business Journal. Chris' important work in research and development, played an integral role in the development of a patented repair method (US Patent #10,428,516 B2) designed to stabilize damaged tilt walls. Chris Cates is recognized as an innovator in the industry both locally and nationally.