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EP # 7: Can I Repair My Home’s Foundation?

Charlie (00:00):

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

Brent (00:08):

Welcome back everybody to the Alpha Foundations podcast. We were back in Monticello and I’ve got another guest here that we’ve had on the show previously, Rick Malphurs. How are you?

Rick (00:16):

I’m wonderful, Brent.

Brent (00:17):

Director of Sales. Is that right?

Rick (00:18):

Yeah. Sure.

Brent (00:19):

Cool. Okay. So this episode, what I want to talk about is possibly, and you can tell me if this is silly or not, homeowners fixing their foundations on their own, like a DIY, what you call it, do it yourself. Is that something you’ve seen before, or what’s the kind of the feel out there about homeowners tackling a project like this on their own?

Rick (00:39):

Well, I would say that you and I grew up similarly in the fact that my dad only hired one person ever to do anything, and that was drill a new well, now that was after he had attempted it. So, and our water was super terrible for a little while, but, you know, my dad was one of those guys who didn’t call anybody unless he absolutely couldn’t get it done. So I’m, you know, pretty handy. You’re pretty handy. So a lot of times that’s something I would look at probably at least to diagnose, to figure out if it was something that I could do. You know, being in the field, you, you run across that pretty regularly where customers see a problem and feel like it’s something they can tackle on their own.

Brent (01:23):

Okay. So they see an issue. They might’ve dealt with it. Their whole life lived in houses with cracks or something might not think it’s a huge concern and might not think that they need to spend the money on an expert.

Rick (01:33):

Okay. So I mean, the easiest thing to look at is, you know, something cosmetic like a dry wall crack. Okay. So they’re thinking, oh, it’s a crack in the drywall. Let me go ahead and fix that. Sure. They fix that. Great. But the drywall cap crack comes back, indicative of a larger problem. So then, you know, maybe you have a crawl space. So the homeowner goes underneath the house and looks around and sees something, you know, a little movement and shaken or shifting or something like that. So you go in there and try to put a block underneath there or a carjack and, you know, a cooler, I mean, I dude, I’ve seen some things.

Brent (02:08):

Walk me through what you’ve seen before.

Rick (02:10):

The best. Okay. So one of the better ones that I have seen, was somebody had, or a homeowner had a beam that was settling or moving probably from moisture and went underneath the house. And they had used, like a car jack to lift up that beam a little bit and then, had stuffed a cooler underneath it.

Brent (02:35):

Like an igloo cooler. This is before the days of Yeti or what.

Rick (02:38):

Correct. Wasn’t even a Yeti. So it wasn’t even like a really strong one.

Brent (02:41):

It wasn’t bear proof.

Rick (02:42):

So they put a cooler underneath there. I actually seen the cooler thing like twice, which is unbelievable to me. Correct. Yeah. You know, people will put concrete cinder blocks underneath there. You know, a more homeowner might put a concrete block on the soil and then put a four by four, from that concrete block up to the beam or something like that. But yeah, it’s a, it’s pretty normal to see where homeowners have tried fix it themselves.

Brent (03:15):

Okay. So you’re talking about mainly houses that are built on a crawl space. A lot of times we will see cracks above, you know, doorframes window frames. So the doorframe, when they’re walking into the bedroom and they see this crack and I’m like, what in the world is going on with that? Must just be cosmetic. But as you said there, I mean, dry wall is just not going to crack on its own it’s got to have some movements, something, pull it down or something.

Rick (03:35):

For sure.

Brent (03:36):

It’s not so much cosmetic, as we say, there’s an underlying issue of why that a wall is just breaking or cracking. So they tried the spackle, they tried, the paint is continues to open up. So they go up underneath the house. They’re not really sure exactly what they’re looking at. I mean, there’s is a maze floor joists and steel plates and things like that.

Rick (03:53):


Brent (03:54):

So they grab a, an igloo that they’re not using anymore. They probably got a new one from Kmart or something. Maybe a landscape timber, a car jack.

Rick (04:01):

Is Kmart still a thing?

Brent (04:02):

I think Sears bought them out. And if Sears is still thing.

Rick (04:06):

Sears is gone too.

Brent (04:07):

I would say, no,

Rick (04:07):

I think igloo is apparently gone too.

Brent (04:10):

I know big lots has them and all that. So they go up into the house and it’s more of a get you by kind of solution. That’s not going to address the root of the problem.

Rick (04:20):


Brent (04:21):

So the reason that they had those problems is improper spacing, let’s say, excess moisture and rot or where their columns are settling. Okay. So you saw the cooler and the four by four, I’ve seen actually a tire. Okay. Old 31, 10 50, blown out like a spare at one time, which is some random, cut-offs from two by fours and two by six is jammed up. And those are the fun ones. I like, I like things like that. A stump, I did see a stump being played at a place for sure.

Rick (04:49):

There’s a lot of, so many different things you see that homeowners have tried to do, especially when it comes to like lifting concrete or trying to seal the cracks on the outside of the wall or the chimney. Oh my goodness. Okay. So one time this chimney, right? So chimney settling away from a house.

Brent (05:06):


Rick (05:06):

So when you have a foundation that’s moving and shifting the chimney has a lot of weight on the outside of the foundation.

Brent (05:12):


Rick (05:12):

And so with not only a lot of weight, it’s a lot of height, so it will move a little bit quicker than maybe your standard foundation wood. So it started moving away from the house. And so you could see where the, the homeowner had, put a one by two, which is a one by two piece of lumber up the side to, you know, fill the crack. Got it. And then about halfway up, you could see, they had put a one by four. Okay. Okay. And so then, a little bit further up, you could see where they had to come back and put one by sixes. So over time they just took.

Brent (05:48):

So the crack gets exaggerated, the higher you get?

Rick (05:50):

The higher you go, the crack is exaggerated. And so they kept having to change the method in which they were hiding. The crack is higher as you go. Correct. And then now, I mean, shoot, that it cost them as much as foundation repair nowadays prices are coming. Exactly. Exactly.

Brent (06:04):

So what would you say the biggest, I guess, a influx of DIY fixes out there, is it the internet with the YouTube things about how to save money? You don’t need an expert. You can just go out there and band-aid fix. Is that probably the biggest reason people are tackling this on their own or they’re just scared of probably what they know is inevitable that it needs some serious.

Rick (06:23):

I, I mean, I look at myself a lot of times it’s more of a, you know, is the juice worth the squeeze kind of thing for me as far as time. Yeah. If I look it up on YouTube or something like that, and it’s something I think I can tackle, and the money that it takes to, to fix it myself versus the money it takes to get someone else to fix it. Then again, time, so, you know, a lot of, a lot of people might think they don’t have the money to repair it. And so they do it themselves or they’re very handy and they, they have the ability to put in some type of repair that worked for them. Okay. Again, your dad and my dad are that way. They’re not going to call somebody. They’re just going to do it themselves. But I’d probably say only 10, 15% of the people, but they definitely try to do that. And I think YouTube probably contributes to that a little bit, again, I’ve done it.

Brent (07:14):

So you upcycled a, an old wooden boat paddle and it says, live, laugh, love. That really doesn’t mean that you need up on your crawl space.

Rick (07:23):

Exactly. I’ve seen, but I bought the little soldering or the, the little dremel you know what I’m saying? I got the dremel and a new paint kit or the Chicago electric brand from Harbor Freight.

Brent (07:28):

Hey man, there’s again like that story. Yeah. I can stay in there all day. Okay. So I get it. People want to save money. They they’re really not wild about having an expert out there to the house, telling them that they need to fix it. Why do you think it’s important versus me going out here who doesn’t have much experience or, you know, my wife’s going up under there and trying to figure out what what’s that, why would it be important for an expert to go out there and take a look at it?

Rick (07:28):

And I think that’s probably the big reason would be, you want to make sure you get a repair done by someone that knows what they’re doing. You’re getting a long-term warranty with it. So if something does happen in the future, you have somebody that you can call to get help with that. You know, for myself, I know that I’m handy enough. If, if I thought it through, I could install, you know, a lot of plumbing, probably some electrical stuff and things of that nature, but then it comes down to, for me, do I want to spend the time and possibly not do it a hundred percent? Correct? Correct. What are the unintended consequences of that or anything like that? What are the possibilities that myself that I get hurt? You know, doing those kinds of things. I mean, there’s a lot of weight and there’s a lot of, you know, movement in a foundation that, you know, you could cause some other damage to other areas. You know, so that I would say making that you get, you know, a reputable company to do that for you and make sure you getting a warranty.

Brent (09:01):

Okay. So a warranty, let’s just say, I would decide to sell the house. And I’m really thinking about all kinds of things that come along with selling the house at closing costs and expenses of moving. And I have an issue with my foundation. If I try to tackle it myself and a home inspector is going to note that there’s an issue. Correct. And if I try to fix it by myself, I’ll go to the band-aid fix or something that’s called. Maybe even throw out a more of a red flag. Correct. What else are they trying to hide? I see this, it’s not the correct way to fix it. Is this house to have a lot of underlying problems that are being covered with spackle and paint. And some, like I said, bandaid fixes before. So having an expert goes out there who deals only in foundation repairs? Probably a good, move.

Rick (09:40):

Well, I mean, and that’s exactly what the home inspector is going to say. I mean, because the, the buyer is paying the home inspector to do a home inspection for them. So they’re coming back to report on it. You know, home inspector is not spending days underneath the house. They’re spending, you know, 2, 3, 4 hours. And if they see something that’s subpar, a wire that’s hanging down, or they did go underneath there to, to lift their foundation and they crept a wire in between one of the floor joists or one of the beams. They tried to put up themselves, which we see regularly. You know, they not only when they went underneath there, they ripped a hole in the air duct for the air conditioning system and never got it repaired, or they did rip it. And then they went to the store and bought some tape and fix it. All of those kinds of things are going to be flags. And if you’re with the way the real estate market is now, it’s going to cause a flag and with house prices like they are, I mean, somebody doesn’t have to spend that money, you know, to buy something that’s done. Sub-par.

Brent (10:34):

Okay. So if it was fixed correctly, is the inspection, I mean inspector, as you said, was going to know, hey, issue with the Southwest corner of the house, contact and foundation expert, you would go out there, design a solution, fix it. There’ll be fixed, will come with a warranty. So me as a buyer will go see, Hey, this was fixed correctly. It’s done right has a warranty. That’s fully transferable. I can feel good about that as a buyer and not worry about like what we said, like, what else is underlying issues?

Rick (11:00):

You know, what does a good well, and I would say a lot of, a lot of our guys will talk to the customer and they sell on the customer service aspect. I know this is a podcast with Alpha Foundations and everything we do, the intent is to go out there and give the customer the best possible experience and install the best work. There are times when things happen and we have to go back to a house. Okay. That’s the big, that’s the good thing about calling somebody like Alpha Foundations though, is because we do have the resources and the ability. If you have something that goes wrong with the repair or some level of unintended consequence, we’re going to be out there to fix it for you. We’re going to be just standing behind that warranty. We’ve been here for 20 years. We’re going to be here forever. Correct. You know what I mean? So it’s the, the, the point of it is, yes, you get the warranty, but you get a company that’s been here long enough to stand behind the warranty. And you can have some relief of anxiety knowing that even if you do have an issue, when you call somebody they’re going to come out there, that makes sense.

Brent (11:55):

Okay. So homeowners can attempt to do what we do, correct. Lifting level outside concrete. That’s that’s going to be really tricky. I hope no one’s tackling their concrete repair, trying lifting and leveling. There are YouTube videos, fingers, and toes, not everything. It’s not for the lay person to try to attempt that. I guess the most attempts we see is in a crawlspace. No, one’s trying to lift their home footing. You know, I don’t see that maybe some old concrete underpinning, but hopefully we’re past that. Cause that’s just adds weight to a failing soil. Is there any other things that we see out there that homeowners can attempt that we probably don’t want them attempting? Or was crawlspace mainly the biggest thing that people attempted DIY.

Rick (12:33):

Crawlspace and concrete are going to be the main things, you know, people look to re to remove and replace concrete on their own a lot. There you go. You know, and, and again, that’s something that I know that I could do, but again, at the same time, it’s is it worth your time? Is it worth your time to spend several days on a weekend or a couple of different weekends doing something where by the time you traded your time for that little bit of money? Sure. You could have it done right. And have a warranty.

Brent (12:58):

Well, let’s be honest. No, one’s replacing driveways on their own, but maybe a small three-by-five pad on a walkway that is in a tripping hazard. They might say we can come out here with a sledgehammer busted up and that never goes as well. Is it so terrible? You gotta haul off the concrete. You’ve got to form it up. Then you’ve got to go to home Depot and put, I don’t know how many 80 pound bags, probably 15 80 pound bags in the back of your Subaru. That’s probably not the best thing to do on a Saturday.

Rick (13:26):

Now I gotta get my junk detailed that’s right. Got to keep the Subaru hot.

Brent (13:30):

And then you scratched it up with that dagum flatbed pallet cart they had there at home Depot, but it’s not addressing the real problem. That’s the soil. That’s what we specialize in is the soil issues. So with our poly level, that is how we lift the level of concrete. That’s going to come with a warranty as well.

Rick (13:45):

Yes. That’s the big thing guys is, is the warranty and the relief of anxiety, knowing you have somebody there to help you. Again, it’s not always going to go exactly as planned or 100% correct or anything like that. We’re going to see 20 – 25,000 homes this year. The thing that a lot of guys will sell on though, is, Hey, we’re going to be here to service the, the, the system we’re going to be here to help the house, if anything ever does go wrong.

Brent (14:14):

Okay. So instead of wasting Saturday, Sunday, and then having more issues, correct. Call us.

Rick (14:19):

It’s a beautiful weekend. Beautiful weekend.

Brent (14:21):

It is nice.

Rick (14:22):


Brent (14:22):

Instead of a hundred it’s 93.

Rick (14:24):

Exactly. Exactly, exactly.

Brent (14:27):

Anything else that you can think of, of why someone would want to call an expert instead of trying to do it themselves? I think you’ve nailed it.

Rick (14:33):

I think we’re good. I mean, again, it’s every, you know, there’s a lot of guys out there that are handy.

Brent (14:38):

I am too. You are. I know what I would probably say. If you’re questioning it, if you notice some things that you know are not right in the home, call an expert, let us go out there, free consultation. We’ll walk you through the things.

Rick (14:52):

It’s not a pushy sales pitch.

Brent (14:54):

If you think you can do it, knock yourself out, I would advise you that it is not the best use of your time or money.

Rick (14:59):


Brent (15:00):

But we got you. We can help you. I’ll give you a warranty, especially if you’re thinking about selling it. You’ll feel good about it. We’ll knock it out.

Rick (15:05):


Brent (15:06):

Thanks for joining us. My man, we’ll see you next week.

Charlie (15:09):

Thanks for listening to the Alpha Foundations podcast, to learn more about Alpha Foundations, go to or call 8 6 6 3 7 8 7 2 1 1.

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