The majority of houses that exhibit damage or distress from foundation movement do not require foundation repair
Most damage caused by foundation movement is minor cosmetic damage; it is rarely structural in any load-carrying sense. Minor functional issues such as sticking doors can also be caused by foundation movement, but these are easily corrected without repairing the foundation.
Repairing cosmetic damage is much less expensive that repairing a foundation.
In my opinion, foundation repair should be reserved for houses that show true structural damage or severe cosmetic and/or functional damage.
If possible, the source of soil moisture changes causing foundation movement should be identified.
If there is a single key to successfully mitigating the damage to the house caused by the moisture changes in the soil, this is it: identifying the moisture source that is the cause of the problem.
This is so important that the US Army Corps of Engineers recommends that no underpinning be done until the causes of the soil moisture changes have been eliminated.
Even then, they recommend that some time be allowed to pass so that diagnosis can be confirmed.
The work may have to be repeated because of a failure to isolate the cause of the moisture changes in the foundation soil.
If it becomes clear that the source of the moisture changes in the supporting soil has not been identified, then the search for the source or sources of the moisture changes should be repeated.
Only one remedial measure at a time should be attempted at a time so that its effect on the structure can be evaluated.
Only one corrective or remedial measure should be attempted at a time. A new remedial measure should not be attempted before the effect of the previous remedial measure can be evaluated.
The structure is seldom rebuilt to its original condition.
No foundation repair contractor can realistically make your house like new. Once your house has been damaged by foundation movement, some degree of distortion will remain.
Remedial measures may not be successful.
Many people naively believe that foundation underpinning will “fix” the foundation. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that some houses cannot be “fixed” regardless of any structural repairs or non-structural remedial measures that are taken.
If you are buying a house, you should accept the fact that you will have to live with what you are buying
Buying a house is not like buying something from Walmart. Items purchased from Walmart come with a guarantee that if you are dissatisfied, you can return the item. Not so with a house.
If you buy a resell house, that has a history of drywall cracks, brick veneer cracks, and door issues, you should assume that these issues will continue.
If you buy a house that has had foundation work in the past, understand that the house is at a higher risk of needing future foundation work than a house that has never had any foundation work done. Do not be taken in by the mantra: Fix it right, fix it for good. A well-executed repair may not work out that way.
If you buy a new home, it will probably come with a third party warranty on the foundation. Read it carefully. Most home buyers believe they warranties give much more protection than they actually do.
Never buy a house that shows a level of foundation performance that you are not comfortable with or are not willing to tolerate.