21. An inside look at the foundation repair business

An inside look at the foundation repair business – the Richard Rash story

Richard Rash is a retired foundation repair contractor in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  TIONThe Foundation Performance Association publishes a document that lists many different types of distress that are commonly attributed to foundation movement but which are not usually caused by foundation movement. Every home inspector should read and reread this document very carefully. The title of the document is Distress Phenomena Often Mistakenly Attributed To Foundation Movement

A few examples of the distress phenomena described in the document are listed below:

  • Most foundation repair falls into one of several categories: a waste of money, a cause of unnecessary damage, including structural damage to the house and the foundation,     
  • spalled concrete at corners of foundations supporting brick walls
  • sags and cracks in the ceiling drywall
  • cracks in coffered, gambrel and vaulted ceilings
  • doors that open and close on their own, sometimes ghosting doors
  • doors that do not latch

1 21 A Retired Foundation Repair Contractor Looks At The Repair Business

Richard Rash is a Texas treasure and a foundation repair salesman’s worst nightmare. He is a (semi) retired foundation repair contractor with over 25 years in the foundation repair business. I say semi-retired because he now consults with homeowners to help them actually solve their foundation problems. His recommended solutions frequently do not involve piles or piers. His website provides a window into the foundation repair business that the public almost never get to see.
His view of the foundation repair business is very different from the perspective shown in foundation repair ads broadcast repeatedly on radio, television and on the internet.

The following are paraphrases of statements from his website, repairfoundations.com. ( A link is provided in the description below.)

I recommend you sit down before you hear what Mr. Rash has to say.

Are you sitting down? Good.

Here we go: The great majority of foundation damage in areas of expansive soils is avoidable. Proper planning and proper maintenance can go a very long way in preventing foundation movement. The number one thing to take into consideration is drainage. Providing and maintaining proper moisture control around your home will go a long way toward preventing foundation movement and damage.

Here is Rash on why piers are not normally needed: In the majority of cases, properly maintaining the soil will stop the movement and often reverse it. In most cases where minor movement is involved, piers are not only unneeded but can cause additional problems.

Is foundation repair a roll of the dice? Rash says that is often the case: If it really appears you need piers, Rash recommends you find out why the building is moving and put a stop to it. If you don’t figure out why it is moving, piers are at best a roll of the dice and at worst a big step backwards.

Here is what he has to say about repair warranties: Many times their contracts and warranties protect them, from being made to “fix” your problem because the warranty was on the pier and not the problem.

Most contracts have a clause that you must go to arbitration to settle disputes. The foundation companies do this regularly, while most homeowners don’t. So guess who knows how to play the system?

As a real estate agent you gotta know the following paraphrase true: Due to sales propaganda, and just plain ignorance, many buyers are scared away from perfectly sound properties that may have experienced minor cosmetic damage or just a little wear and tear.

Not one of these statements is likely to be uttered within earshot of the public. Here is one more.

Rash on why the repair companies sell piles and piers, not solutions: Foundation repair companies thrive selling piers, pier salesmen make a living selling piers and are trained to sell piers, many times when piers are not the least expensive option, best option or even a viable option, it’s just the only option that makes them money.

In my opinion, people who think they may have foundation problems are sitting ducks for a skilled pier salesman, unless they first spend some time with an independent engineer, or other person like Rash, who has a lot of experience with foundations on expansive soils.

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