Foundation Repair Scams
THE MULTIPLE NAME GAME
In this scam, one foundation contractor has many
large ads in the yellow pages, all with different
names, different phone numbers, and different
addresses. In this way, you may obtain different
estimates to compare prices, totally unaware that
they are all from the same entity, all owned by the
same person, and usually generated from the same
location, using the same crews and the same offices.
In one case, the very large national foundation
repair contractor uses one address on one street,
and another company name uses an address on the back
street, with the same inventory and establishment in
One foundation contractor has been known to use as
many as 5 different, distinct names at the same
time, without any notice that they are connected,
while supplying different phone numbers with each
One client recently had hired one company, and when
the work was finished, the company gave her a
warranty with a different company name. They had
forgotten which company name was doing the work!!!
This has been found to be common with many fence
companies, garage door companies, and roofing
companies as well.
It may be difficult to offer a questionnaire to the
foundation repair contractor, and make them sign it,
but you need to know if they are connected in any
way, manner, or form to any other foundation
contractor whatsoever. You want comparable price
quotes, and you want them from distinct, totally
separate entities, from owners who are not related
or connected. Get a drivers license number and
verify an address before the contractor is hired.
This should be against the law!!!
THE NAME CHANGE GAME
In this game, a foundation contractor changes names
often. Many of them are using several names at the
same time, and many others just change names once
the business gets bad, so they start over under
another name. In this way, no warranties have to be
honored, lawsuit papers cannot be delivered, and
upset clients cannot find them. Also, the foundation
contractor may offer any warranties, wild claims,
and outrageous claims of work performance anytime he
wishes, because he won't be around to back it up.
It is probably not against the law for someone to
mismanage their business and go on to another name
and start again, but if a client requests the
information, the contractor should be honest about
all the previous names used.
One foundation contractor was known to have 5
different company names in 4 years, left town for a
couple of years, came back to town using a different
name, and then returned to using one of the original
names again, and over 5 years used 3 more names.
Many companies will omit their address in order to
avoid contact with the client.
It may be hard to expect a dishonest contractor to
be honest with you, and give you all previous names
used. It may be useful to contact your local Better
Business Bureau to back up some of their background,
but the BBB does not usually have the previous
names. Once a contractor receives too many BBB
complaints, they shut down and start using another
name, ignoring all the complaints.
You may require driverís license information and a
legitimate address to rest your fears.
WE'VE GOT INSURANCE GAME
Most foundation repair companies do not have
insurance. Legitimate workers compensation insurance
rates are set by the State of Texas, and they are
high. They should cover all workers working on the
site, but so many foundation repair contractors do
not have employee status, so they do not pay workers
compensation on them. They are listed illegally as
independent contractors, so they are not covered.
You may see a workers compensation certificate, but
it may not really cover the workers that could
actually get hurt on your property.
In years past, as Bedrock attempted to obtain
insurance, a competitors insurance certificate was
obtained, and Bedrock attempted to obtain insurance
from the same insurance company. After many
attempts, they declined us because they said they
were not offering that kind of insurance any longer.
What we discovered later was that the insurance
company was owned by the foundation repair
In another competitive case, after obtaining the
insurance name by the competitor, when we called, we
found the insurance company only offered life
One neighbor was hiring a competitor, and I warned
the neighbor, who was an attorney, that the
competitors insurance was a fake. He really had no
insurance. The neighbor attorney was a bit miffed by
my outrageous claim, so he investigated further.
After many attempts to obtain the insurance
certificate, the competitor finally gave him the
name of his insurance company, Phoenix Insurance out
of Phoenix, Arizona. The neighbor found that there
was no such company. When he contacted the
competitor about it, the competitor backed out of
the job and cancelled the contract.
Many foundation repair companies may have legitimate
insurance, but get the certificate and verify it
yourself, in detail. When you see INSURED FOR YOUR
PROTECTION, you want to see the certificate and see
exactly what the limits of that protection may be.
THE EXPERIENCE GAME
Many foundation contractors stretch the truth when
it comes to how much experience they have in the
business. Most of the claims are outright dishonest
and are not truthful.
A new company buys an older company that claims it
has been in business 30 years. No employees or
workers are transferred in the sale, so all the new
company really has is the name, and the claim to 30
years experience. Clients believe they are
experienced and talented, but in reality there are
no experienced workers at the jobsite or within the
One worker worked for us 6 months, then went into
business for himself, claiming 20 years experience.
Bedrock added up all its workers experience in the
foundation leveling industry, added them together,
and we have about 700 years combined service
experience. No other can make that claim.
Challenge the foundation contractor and insist they
show proof of being in business when they claim they
THE SUBCONTRACTOR GAME
When you hire a foundation contractor, and you're
relying what you believe they have is a good
reputation, but wouldn't you be deflated to find out
that they didn't perform any work on your property
at all, but subbed it out to a stranger?
Recent research by Bedrock found that most companies
deal with subs to do most of their work, and very
little of it is done with in house employees. In
this way the contractor avoids payroll taxes,
overtime, and unemployment claims.
Fine, but you receive a stranger performing work
inside your home, around your family, that is not
drug tested, time tested, or has been checked out
for criminal history, allowing many street corner
helpers and the like into your home.
Insist that all workers are full time employees,
that none of them are sub contractors, independent
contractors, or street corner helpers in any way.
You want drug tested, time tested, and quality
workers at your home, or their invitation to work
there should be cancelled.
THE FHA/VA APPROVED GAME
Occasionally one will find an advertisement that
says the company's piers are FHA approved, or VA
approved. We have researched and investigated for
years how we can also get approved by FHA or VA, but
there is no such thing.
FHA and VA approved loans sometimes require an
engineer to inspect the property, and they have
specific requirements how that work should be
performed, but no company has a blanket approval of
all jobs and contracts approved by FHA or VA. It's a
THE CHEAPEST PRICE SCAM
As a consumer, of course you are looking for the
cheapest price for the most work. Everyone does, but
remember that you get what you pay for. The price
may be lower, but is the foundation contractor
placing fewer piers? Is the contractor eliminating
necessary steps, such as filling the void under the
slab (pressure grouting)?
One scam involves the push piling system. The
foundation contractor has the lowest price, but
without the clientís knowledge, the piles are not
pushed into the ground at all. They are simply just
laid on the ground, and the structure can still be
It will not last very long, and you will be forced
to hire someone to do the foundation repairs
correctly--- driving the piles down to a point of
Hire reputable contractors that have a long history,
to insure they will stick around to honor their
Never give money up front to a foundation
contractor or any other contractor.
First of all, for most jobs under $10,000, you would
want a contractor that is stable and financially
secure enough to do your job without financial help
the first day. For jobs over $10,000, some form of
payments can be made after substantial and major
work is first completed.
If you make the mistake of giving money up front,
this is what can happen:
If you are unhappy with the work, you cannot fire
the contractor, you must keep the contractor on the
job so you can try and get your money back. His work
could be extremely substandard, and yet he has you
captured because you gave him so much money up
front. If the contractor subs out the work to an
undesirable group of workers, again you are stuck.
You cannot fire the contractor because he has so
much of your money already.
Perhaps the contractor or his subs appear
intoxicated, and you wish they were not on your
property. If you remove them, they may not return to
finish the job, and you've lost your down payment
money. Perhaps the city inspector finds them working
without a permit, and they cannot or will not obtain
a permit to finish the work. Again, you will lose
your down payment. The contractor may even ask for
more money, after the down payment, putting you in a
position to give more and more, like extortion, or
he can't finish your job unless you do.
Don't give any contractor a down payment. If partial
payments are required on large jobs, pay partial
payments after an engineer or inspector advises you
that a great portion of the work has been inspected
WHERE ARE YOU LOCATED GAME
Many companies avoid listing their address in the
yellow pages or in their contracts. They don't want
to find them in case there are problems later. Some
foundation contractors rely solely on an answering
service to collect their calls, and the answering
service will not assist you in locating the
contractor. At this point, you don't even have an
address to have the contractor served with legal
papers. Ask yourself, where is this contractor
located in case I need to find him later, and how
long has he been at that location? How can I verify
that? Does the contractor rely on an answering
service or simply an answering machine for you to
communicate? Be wary of the contractor who has only
a cell phone, and not a land line and a solid
THE BRICK PIER AND BEAM SCAM
Brick pier and beam houses have a unique design that
requires additional work over and above the standard
concrete slab foundation leveling job. The perimeter
of the brick pier and beam is a continuous concrete
beam, running around the house. On top of this
concrete beam lies the framing of the house on the
inside, and the brick, or stone, on the outside.
Under the concrete beam in almost all homes are some
deep drilled piers. These concrete piers almost
always have steel reinforcement that protrudes into
the concrete beam.
In order for one to lift the concrete beam, the
piers underneath it must be severed and separated
from it. If not, the high pressure of the hydraulic
lifting jacks will crush the concrete beam into
pieces, because the pier will not pull out of the
ground. The skin friction around it holds it in the
ground. In some cases the pier can be sucked up out
of the ground, but these cases are rare.
Where is the foundation repair scam? The contractor
will install piers, but will not break the existing
piers under the grade beam, and will not level the
house. The house remains unlevel, and the contractor
will usually point out that there is nothing in the
contract that says they will level the house. YOU
HAVE BEEN SCAMMED. You don't have a level
foundation, and you wouldn't have hired them in the
first place had you known that they would not level
Read your contract carefully, insuring yourself that
the foundation repair contractor will actually raise
the foundation to a reasonably level position. Most
foundations cannot be raised perfectly, but
reasonably close is quite fine. Make sure that the
existing piers under the perimeter concrete beam are
being severed so that the house can be raised.
Hiring your own engineer to inspect the jobsite as
the work is performed can save you a lot of money.
THE LIFETIME WARRANTY GAME
Many foundation repair companies have started
offering a lifetime warranty. In the 1980ís the
standard warranty on a foundation repair job was
about 3 years. Bedrock started offering a 5 year
warranty. Then the 10 year warranty was introduced,
but the client usually did not know that the free
adjustment period of this warranty was only 1 year,
and the remaining 9 years was an additional cost to
Then the lifetime warranty emerged. Many different
lifetime warranties were offered by many different
foundation repair companies.
Some of the lifetime warranties covered only the
materials on the job. They offered no free
adjustments. Some lifetime warranties were lifetime
alright, but you had to pay them for the adjustments
to the foundation. Other lifetime warranties were
indeed the lifetime of the home, but be wary of wild
and speculative warranties from any product. The
lifetime of the home could easily be a couple of
hundred years, so do you really truly expect them to
be there waiting when you call?
Ask yourself this question:
Should I have a problem with the foundation 60 years
from now, do I expect them to be around in case I
should call? Keep in mind that 90% of the foundation
repair companies in the Dallas/Fort Worth area were
not in business 15 years ago. Let's hope your
lifetime is longer than that.
Many of the companies have changed names so many
times that no one knows who they are, and each time
they change names, they throw away all those
Hire a foundation repair contractor with a long term
history that you can verify. Be wary of lifetime
warranties, but get a warranty with a reputable
company you know will back it up.
DON'T PLAY THE SUBS GAME
Since the beginning of time, contractors have been
hiring other contractors to do some of the work, and
then not paying the other contractor, called the
subcontractor. The general contractor runs off with
all the money. The subcontractor can then file a
lien on the homeowner's property, and can possibly
force the sale of the property to retrieve his
Require the foundation contractor to perform the
repairs with in-house personnel only. Require the
foundation contractor to employ only full-time
employees, and not use any independent contractors
Hiring a foundation contractor with a long term
history is still the best solution, for even if the
contractor did not pay for his materials, such as
concrete, or any of his full time laborers, any of
them can still file a lien on the property, and can
probably force the homeowner to pay them their
THE PIERS TO BEDROCK GAME
Be wary of these claims: Steel Piers to Bedrock, or
Go to‚Ä¶. Rock up to 50 feet deep.
You want to insure they really do go to rock, and
you will not have to pay a dime if they don't. Then
you want to inspect the job as it is being done to
insure the contractor goes to rock, and penetrates
the soft surface rock until it reaches hard rock.
Going into the rock is probably the most permanent
foundation available, if it is truly into hard rock,
and if the homeowner can afford.
Many contractors will play a game with words and
claim to go to rock, or to refusal, whichever comes
first. Well, the refusal is first, and they never go
to rock unless itís right at the surface. Beware of
outrageous claim of performance.
TORPEDO PIER can place a steel pier as deep as
90 feet deep with limited access.
THE NO PRESSURE GROUTING GAME
Want the cheapest estimate? Beware that raising a
slab, especially over 2 inches, that it leaves a
void, and that water can follow that void and pond
under the slab, causing severe foundation problems.
Many companies leave out the pressure grouting,
which fills the void, and therefore have a cheaper
estimate. Insist that if your slab is raised over 2
inches, that it must have the void filled through
YOU HAVE A WATER LEAK GAME
Many foundation contractors open up immediately
claiming your home must have a water leak. Many of
these companies actually own the water leak company,
and their company can find a leak even if they have
to make one. Also, then they can try to get your
insurance company to pay for the damages done by the
leak. One way or another, they're interested in at
least getting a water leak repair job, under the
slab, which can run thousands of dollars.
If your home has a leak, the foundation repair
company pier holes will fill up with water.
If there is no ponding water in their holes, there
is probably no leak at all, but any small leak is
probably not enough to cause the foundation to
settle if it does not accumulate overnight in the
Also, a plumbing test is usually about $300 by a
licensed plumber, and do not hire anyone the
foundation company recommends to insure no conflicts
BAD LUMBER GAME
It has been known for a foundation contractor to
claim bad lumber under a pier and beam home, when
there is in fact no bad lumber at all. You want to
see the bad lumber that is taken out, and you want
to see the new lumber going in.
Better than that, in this new age of technology and
advanced foundation repairs, request digital photos
of the bad lumber, and then new photos of the new
When it's your
foundation, we're the ones to call...
WE DO IT ALL!