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EP #2: 10 Warning Signs of Foundation Issues


Charlie  (00:00):

Welcome to the Alpha Foundations podcast, protecting you since 2002. Here’s your host, Brent Pearson.

Brent (00:08):

Hey guys. Welcome back. This is Brent Pearson in the Alpha Foundation studios. I have our guest speaker today. This is our director of sales, Rick Malphurs. Rick, thanks for joining us. How are you today?

Rick (00:18):

I am wonderful. Brent and yourself, sir.

Brent (00:20):

I am very well as well. So thanks for coming over. I’d like to actually quiz you, cause I know you’re sitting in the office these days. You don’t go out and get to see all the crazy stuff that our design techs see every day. I’m going to give you a little quiz. If you can remember back. I know it’s been since 2000 and when did you start running an appointment?

Rick (00:40):

Since Vietnam.

Brent (00:42):

Let’s say last couple of years, tell me the 10 warning signs. Like I said, I’m gonna put you on the spot 10 warning signs of what customers might see that might prompt them to give us a call. What should they be looking for out there?

Rick (00:55):

Okay. Let me try to remember these it’s been quite awhile since we made that. So I’m going to say sloping floors, moisture in the crawl space, tilting chimneys, settling or cracked concrete, bowing walls. Moving seawalls, cracked brick, cracked block.

Brent (01:18):

You needed help with any of them. Cause I could probably give you a couple of tips. I know it’s Florida, not many people do this because of how hot it is and the AC is always running.

Rick (01:28):


Brent (01:28):

But if you walk to the exterior of the house and you want to let some fresh air in, what would you have to do? You’d have to maybe open up a window. You got to open up a window, right?

Rick (01:40):

Okay. So windows and doors that don’t function, maybe rotten or deteriorated pilings on a beach house or a, or a house on pilings or something like that. Okay. Is that on one of them? Okay. Okay. Good to go. Yep.

Brent (01:54):

Rotting in timber piles is definitely prevalent on the coastal communities. We see those a lot. Specially if cars are parking underneath them. Okay. You have a good storm. Come in. Some of the soils are eroded. Next thing I know it’s rotted timbers and things like that. And what kind of anxieties does that leave a homeowner?

Rick (02:12):

I actually remember, you know, the very first timber pile job that we did, Perdido Key in Pensacola back in 2012, I could name them the homeowner, but we’re not doing that. And we actually went to the house and we did not have a solution for that house at that point. So when me and one of the other reps went over there to take a look at it, the customer was having some movement in the house. He lived on a canal and just, we noticed some of the bottoms of the pilings were deteriorated and he didn’t have a contractor. He had nobody that he could call for the problem. So I come back and talk to Matt, who’s the owner and just, Hey man, this is a problem that a lot of customers are facing. And we actually researched a few different, products and we’re able to partner think at that point in time. I can’t remember the exact company where we partnered with a company to do the pile jacketing system, where we were able to actually repair the piling and, and, make it pretty well brand new and give a lifetime warranty on that home. And, you know, the customer had a lot of anxiety. It was a very expensive repair, but, you know, that’s almost been 10 years ago and you know, I think we’ve actually done three or four other jobs for him for other properties, his own. So he was, he was very happy with that, but I remember that project in that, that caused them a lot of anxiety because not only was it a house that was probably expensive being right on the canal in Perdido key, you know, beautiful house. But also not being able to find a contractor, not going to be able to find somebody, to help them with that problem. And then finding somebody who we didn’t offer the solution, but we did go a little bit out of our way to find something for him, get it engineered and everything like that to, you know, to specifically fix his issue. It meant a lot to him from what I recall.

Brent (03:56):

Gotcha. And that’s one of those things, as you mentioned, the word anxiety, all these 10 warning signs, can cause a lot anxieties for these homeowners, not sure exactly what to do, who to call and us being a specialty contractor who specializes in basically our wheelhouse. I would say that our guys can do just about everything that a homeowner needs. We know, I hate to say that we steal guys from other companies, but we promote a great place to work. And so those guys that come over are the best of the best and they can definitely help homeowners with that anxiety level, put them at ease. As we mentioned, the rotting piles of sinking concrete, would you say that’s one of our biggest, anxiety relievers that we offer is lifting and leveling of concrete?

Rick (04:37):

For sure. I mean, again, you, you know, Brent does all of our training here and, you know, the, the classic car pulling in the driveway and goes, bump bump, or, you know, you have the sidewalk or you have the classic, you know, the kids are playing basketball and somebody falls and trips and gets hurt or something like that or running around the pool deck has kids or something. You know, again, we ran around the pool deck. We, you know, it was a, and it was above ground pool with rotten wood and stuff like that all over it. So it wasn’t really, you know, you fell anyway. It didn’t matter when I was a kid, but you know, this does cause a lot of anxiety for parents and grandparents and we offer a solution that can be completed in one day. Very cost-effective, and very, you know, low intrusion for the homeowner. And again, it relieves a lot of anxiety.

Brent (05:22):

Well, you mentioned grandparents. So I remember when I ran appointments, people care more about their grandparents or their grandkids and they do their own kids. So whenever I’ve heard grandkids, I’m like, okay, we’re definitely fixing this as, as something that’s super important, they can’t have their grandkids coming over and getting busted up and things like that. They definitely want to make sure that the babies are taken care of. So sticking windows, sticking doors, I’d say that’s one of the biggest things that people call us about all the time. And then usually like you want to tell a story it’s again.

Rick (05:51):

Going back to classic. It’s like my second month of working here and, you know, I hope I’m, I hope we’re talking about the right stuff, but the, it was so funny going to Alachua. So is Gainesville, you know, I’m an FSU fan, you know, I mean, again, I’m not going to talk bad about Gainesville on the podcast, but you know, go Knowles, but it is what it is, you know what I mean? And so, the, you know, go down to Alachua county, you know, very nice older couple and their specific customer, WHY was for one, the floors were sloping a little bit, but they had a bathroom and they had a sliding glass door on their shower and the sliding glass door on the shower would not stay open. So, what would happen? What I mean, or excuse me, not stay close. So they’re taking the shower and the way that the, the way that the plumbing and everything was sloped the garage door, I mean the, sliding glass door on the, shower enclosure would just open. So that was big for them. So we ended up going in and we were able to, I remember Ryan Reed, who was one of our foreman, you know, did that install way back in the day. And we were able to lift right there at that wall and get that to the place where the shower door would remain closed, but it was just, I remember that so vividly, going to their house. And I just, I remember seeing that, I remember that conversation and again, just such a, something that you might not think about that would cause anxiety for a homeowner, you know, it was really given them a hard time and, you know, for us to be able to fix it, definitely makes you feel good.

Brent (07:24):

Well, most homeowners, as you mentioned, they’re not sure what to do, who to call. So if they’re seeing some of those things going on in the house, the first thing they do is probably think handyman, who is probably a Jack of all trades master of none, not so much a specialty contractor as ourselves, but if they’re seeing some of those signs, as we mentioned, the sticking windows, sloping floors, they definitely need to give us a call and we’d go out there and help them and relieve some of that anxiety with a quality product, with a long-term or a lifetime warranty when it comes to that. So the sloping floor, as you mentioned, if I could tell a story, I remember this one lady, super sweet lady that had a problem. If the back’s out of her house, and while going through the hallway, I noticed that, she was leading me to the problem. I noticed that her wall on one side was super dirty and that’s from her putting her hand up to get her balanced because her sloping floors were so well in the hallway. And, but she didn’t realize that because she lived in the house for 30 something years, she was used to that. And there was a new developing crack in her, backside of the house that was new to her. So it caused some anxiety enough for her to pick up the phone, but with seeing some other things that were going on in the house, we were able to help that, that hallway out as well, lift level, that section, and, when her kids come over and they were super, you know, just gracious that we were able to do that for her mom, for their mom there, and just take care of a problem that’s been going on for a long time, but it took something new as a crack to make them pick up the call, pick up the phone and give us a call. So that’s cool there. Tell us about some other things. I know you probably have stories for days, but you hit the 10 warning. Sounds pretty good. I’m trying to see if you left off any, collapsing walls is probably the only thing. And you may have already said that we help with as well. So retaining wall seawalls, I think we’re learning that that’s happening a lot over in the Southern part of the state, the seawalls, we can definitely help out with that. Do you have any stories when it comes to those things?

Rick (09:20):

I mean, the big thing about seawall is, you know, you have, it, it is a, it’s a much larger construction project than people would think. Cause you’re not just dealing with soil, you’re dealing with title, you know, ocean, or a lot of times, you know, lakes and rivers and that kind of stuff. You know, the water movement in there. It’s not just a stagnant product, like a home, it’s something that’s constantly moving. So being able to, again, either offer an engineered solution for the homeowner or at least point them in the right direction. You know, we have partners all over the state that we use that if it’s something we go to the house, you know, let’s just say it’s a seawall project. And maybe there’s some environmental concerns at that place because it’s right on, you know, a body of water that you want to make sure. And, you know, keep pristine and everything like that. But maybe our product might not be the right for that facility or something like that. We have a lot of other companies that we can go and call. I mean, that’s, that’s one of the beauties of Alpha Foundations being the size we are and things of that nature. If a customer has an issue that we can’t help with, then we will get them in touch with somebody. But seawalls is, is one of those things where once it goes bad, it goes really bad. It’s not a, you know, just ho-hum, let’s fix a little bit, once it, once it collapses, it’s holding and retaining soil, it’s helping the house stay steady. It’s helping a lot of things. So if that’s something that doesn’t get fixed, that’s generally worse than maybe a little bit of something.

Brent (10:49):

I think it gets sideways pretty quick. Correct. And I think that’s what most homeowners are kind of wondering is when do we call, do we call and the first signs of settlement happening, or is there a way to prevent this alone? A lot of homeowners are big into preventative maintenance, which we agree is a good approach to have, but so you don’t have to wait to call us until something’s failing.

Rick (11:09):


Brent (11:09):

You can give us a call beforehand to stop it, but from getting to the points of super high anxiety. So if you think something’s going on, you know, just give us a call, we’ll let you know exactly what’s going on and if it’s not us to fix it, that’s okay. We can definitely refer you. We actually preached that, you know, you need to have good quality contractors in your back pocket there, which you can, help them out as well. So if we don’t do it, we can definitely find someone else that can take care of that customer, relieve anxiety and get them taken care of. The big thing that I see in houses there, or how does that have like a masonry product for the exterior? Which one I’m talking about that is, stucco, brick, any kind of thing like that, that any kind of movement will the house will tell himself, by cracking. What if there’s a vinyl siding? What if there’s a Hardy board that has more flex that mean that they’re, they shouldn’t call it. They’re not seeing cracks. So there’s nothing really to look at. Should they take laps around their house? What should they do?

Rick (12:07):

Again, a lot of times and look for, you know, standard maintenance issues. You know, if you have gutters with the downspouts that are running right around the corner or something like that, or if you’re walking through, Hey, you know, we get so many calls right now, people are pulling up cause they want to remodel and they want to change flooring types or something like that. And they see a small crack in the concrete where I’d imagine, you know, there’s probably cracks and everybody’s concrete, but at the same time, we can come out to the house, do an elevation survey, which will take, you know, floor elevation to the home to make sure that it’s all within tolerance and it’s acting like it’s supposed to act. And we can again give the peace of mind. Well, Hey, this is all good to go. The crack is inconsequential or, Hey, you do have the start of a problem here and we want to get, and we want to help take you through, but everybody should take a walk around their house.

Brent (12:53):


Rick (12:54):

Most of the stuff that we see in rent can tell you is generally, you know, lack of maintenance. It’s not anything against the homeowner, but it’s just like a car. It’s just like anything else, if you don’t maintain it. I remember going in several houses where I’d much rather be underneath it than inside it because dang it. You know what I mean? I’m sure we can both tell those stories of just, you know, you know, the houses, their domain and everything like that. And it’s just so many stories of so many different types of homeowners and animals and just, I mean, everything is definitely some times where I’d rather be in that crawlspace than in it. But, you know, but yeah, again, take a walk around, take a look around, know what’s going on around the house. That way, if there is something going on, you can call. And even if it is, even if we come out and we do give a proposal for a repair, the problem is not going to get better by itself.

Brent (13:43):

Yeah. And I can see that, you know, I remember when I first started running appointments, I don’t want to tell him how old I am, but long time ago. And me almost getting upset with homeowners, like, why haven’t you noticed this crack in the backside of your house and this brick, you know? But then I started thinking, well, these people don’t do this every day. They’re not looking for this when they live in a house, like I said, that you get used to it. So it doesn’t get better. So I would definitely encourage you taking laps around the house, checking for cracks, looking for sloping, floors, bouncing floors, things that you might not think are right. Give us a call. We’ll definitely come out here and take a look at it. But you mentioned earlier about taking elevations of floors, so nothing has guesswork, right. Will you agree with that for sure.

Rick (14:26):

I mean, we, you know, we have the best equipment you can have for, you know, the type of service that we offer, training is second to none and everything like that. You know, we have the largest team in Florida, one of the largest in the Southeast, of the United States. And, you know, I know that some of the guys that do some of our installations, the tenured guys that have been here have installed more of these products than anybody on planet earth. And that’s not an, I mean, these guys are really good at what they do. And again, we’re generally trying to get to the point of making the customer, or getting to that customer anxiety,

Brent (15:03):


Rick (15:03):

What can we do to help you? You know, tailoring that repair specifically for you and taking the guesswork out of it, giving you proof that, Hey, you know, Hey, what you’re seeing is accurate or what you’re seeing is inconsequential, or however that works. You know, we try to work with that homeowner to make sure at the end of the day, at least they know what’s going on. And if it’s something we can help them with, they have a cost right. Then.

Brent (15:25):

Gotcha. So they know the date of inspection what’s going to cost to fix the house.

Rick (15:29):

If our gentlemen and ladies are doing everything they’re supposed to do, then they should know exactly what it’ll cost. I mean, sometimes there’s more complicated projects, sometimes need to, people need to check on some things, but for the most part, we can give them a price at the, at the table at their house right. Then while we’re there.

Brent (15:45):

Okay. So they’re probably, they’re probably, they are the most trained in the Southeast of doing this. When you ran appointments back in nam, as you said, that was how many, how did you see back then compared to what these guys are probably seeing now?

Rick (15:58):

Well, again, I will say, you know, you know, maybe to brag on myself a little bit. I remember there was one time when we had a home show and, you know, there was only a couple of us, you know, and we’re like, you have to run every single appointment. You want to make sure you see every single customer as soon as possible. And I saw 86 homes in a month. We’re now we try to limit our guys to see around 35 or so just to make sure that they can give every single homeowner that attention that they deserve. But now, right now the guys should be seeing somewhere around 350 to 400 homes a year. You know, if you go out to any other professional organization, whether it be architecture, engineer, construction, anything like that. A lot of those companies see a lot of houses. I would say our experience is different in the fact that we’re going to see 30,000 homes this year. So the experience we bring to the table and the stories and the fun and the, just all of that together, for the homeowner and, and, we’re going to, we’re going to bring a lot more experience than most other, foundational repair contractors.

Brent (16:59):

Right? Do you think some people are, surprised the fact that it takes us maybe an hour to two and a half hours for an inspection of a house that’s maybe just limited in the customer’s mind to just a crack in the kitchen, but for us to do a thorough inspection that could take a couple hours, do you think most people are surprised by that time that it takes us to do that?

Rick (17:19):

I would, I would say it depends on the personality. It depends on that person. I mean, most of it’s, I don’t think we have a big issue with people feeling how much time. I think that we’re getting to the house and people are, they’re frustrated with the problem. They don’t want to have to spend a lot of money and we want to provide them with a solution that we can try to work within their budget and everything like that.

Speaker 2 (17:46):

So there’s a lot of anxiety, a lot of emotions, a lot of stuff going on in that moment. So it’s going to take the time that it takes and we want to help them out as much as possible.

Brent (18:01):


Rick (18:01):

So it gives, it’s just, it’s really going to depend on that homeowner and the fact that we can deliver them a proper proposal.

Brent (18:08):

Okay. Do you think some people are kind of afraid to call us? Cause it might not be what we do. And like I said, a handyman is probably what most people think or some kind of contractor do you think most people are kind of a, I don’t want to waste their time or anything like that by giving a call, what would you say to those people?

Rick (18:23):

I think a homeowner doesn’t want anything to be wrong. They don’t want to call the foundation company because it sounds expensive. And at the end of the day, sometimes it is expensive, but our goal to them is anxiety. Relief can come in. The fact of knowing the problem and knowing the price, even if they don’t move forward with the project today or something like that, at least they know that there’s a fix, right? And then they can start working towards getting that repair done. And with us having the network that we have all over the state of Florida, if we can’t help them, we can absolutely guide them in the right direction. There’s no wrong call. It’s, it’s always, you know, we look at every single call into the office of opportunity to help a customer, whether or not we do the work for them. It is what it is, but we can offer them, something at the table know.

Brent (19:07):

Something to help with their peace of mind, quality of life or resale value. That’s probably the main three reasons that people pick up the phone and give us a call. But Hey man, I appreciate your time. Thanks for talking with us here in the alpha foundation studio about sloping, floors, collapsing walls, sticking windows, tilting chimneys, which we do see a part of wood rot, mold repair, all that stuff. Weakened floor joists, sinking concrete, which is a big one, but the stair-step cracking. If you see that, definitely pick up the phone, give us a call. Thanks so much for your time. I know you’re a busy man. Appreciate it until next time. Thanks for joining us.

Charlie  (19:40):

Thanks for listening to the Alpha Foundation’s podcast to learn more about alpha foundations, go to www.alphafoundations.com or call 8 6 6 3 7 8 7 2 1 1.

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