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Monday, September 12, 2022

Foundation issues in a home and signs to look for

Searching foundation issues in a home, foundations issues signs?  We are pretty excited to share with you today our experience with foundation issues in our home.

Foundation issues in an old home can be scary.  When you think of the cost and amount of work needed to correct home foundation issues, it can add up quickly.  We will share with you signs you could have foundation issues and how sometimes it is not as bad as we think it is.  We will also share how we found the company who helped us.  

We are happy to report, it may not always be the major repair you think it is either.  It can be an issue a little easier to repair, thankfully for us that was our situation.  

Wow, what a whirlwind of a few weeks this has been... I have been a busy bee.  Decorating for fall in our dining room, changing things up as we speak.  I shared a few videos on social media, but have gotten a bit behind here.  Shame on me.  I promise more recipes and fall decorating heading your way!   

What else have you been up to Cara?

Well... how scary can foundation issues be in a home?  I mean, you think the worst, right?  Your home falling in around you... the floor caving... costing thousands of dollars to repair... or am I the only one who thinks the absolute most dire situations happening in our home?  Don't answer that... my husband would tell you that my imagination can get away with me some days, and he will say I tend to overreact.  

Well, Tom Hanks in The Money Pit came to mind.  If you have not seen it, and own an older home, I highly recommend it.  Heck, I recommend it no matter what!  I had visions of our tub falling through the floor, and if you watch this movie then you will know why!  

What led me to believe we had foundation issues?
  • We had recently experienced issues with underground gutters
  • We were unsure how long this issue had went on & had seepage on the basement walls
  • Our front door was very difficult to open & close
  • When we purchased our home, we had several cracks in our windows, I was unsure if they were related to foundation issues or not
  • Bentley's toys would roll on the floors on their own, leading me to believe our floors were sagging

Despite the fact my husband said oh, you are just overreacting, I decided to put my mind at ease and find someone who could tell me in a professional capacity whether there was more to my developing ulcers, or if I could pleasantly sigh into oblivion and dream about kitchens.  **sigh** 

When I began to read about foundation issues, I found myself saying yep, yep, yep... all issues we have been experiencing in our home.  Oh no!  Now what to do?  

When you are talking about the biggest investment of your life, your home, where you eat, sleep, breathe, and live life...  darn tootin' I am going to worry!  I think it is very important to feel secure in your home.  It is a place where we should feel most safe, and when something is off at home, it tends to weigh on you.  I was a mess trying to figure out who the right person would be since we recently went through an unpleasant experience when we sold the other home.   

So how do you go about finding the company when you think foundation issues may be on the horizon?  Honestly, I read review, after review, after review, and one review of TMA Construction leaped off the screen at me.  It called to me, and I decided I had to give them a call immediately.  Okay, I may have mulled it over for a few minutes, me being me, the over analyzer, and then I picked up the phone and called.  

Oh, you want to know more about the review that made me call?  It was from an older couple who despite our nearly 40 year difference in age, I felt like I knew them on a personal level.  All of that from just a review?  Odd, don't you think?  Actually, not at all, at least for me anyway.  I am an oddball afterall, and I tend to thrive in the senior citizen arena...  old soul and all, that is me.  **ahhh... my comfort zone**  

They described their woes and how they had no idea who to call because their go to person had retired.  Then their insurance agent suggested Calvin Dixon, of TMA Construction since he had recently worked on his own parent's home.  From reading her review, I imagined her relief being able to find someone she felt she could trust.  I am so happy that couple took the time to write the review they did because it is the reason I contacted Calvin in the first place.  

When you are inviting someone into your home, you want them to be someone you think you can trust. While we have had some less than savory experiences with folks over the years, I had high hopes Calvin would be an ace in the hole from that one review.  Putting all of my eggs in one basket?  Maybe, but I knew I had to see for myself.

Can you see all the way to the front of our foundation?  No?  I know, so difficult to see unless you are on a ladder and up there investigating it.  It is the black space you see in this photo beyond our ductwork.  

What happened during our initial conversation and appointment:
  • Calvin asked me a series of detailed questions after I mentioned foundation issues (had any windows cracked, doors not opening easily, etc...)
  • He then set an appointment with me that worked with both of our schedules
  • Calvin sent a text the night prior to confirm the appointment, what a nice touch!  Usually you call, set the appointment, and hold your breath to see if someone shows up.
  • Calvin arrived on time, and ready to see what issues we were having
  • He was very thorough, covering all floors and basement, checking normal issues in older homes with the foundation
  • Calvin even went into our crawl space to investigate and check for any cracks in our foundation
  • He pulled away the insulation from the walls in the crawl space, put it all back in place, and explained along the way what he was doing and what he found as he went

I can breathe a little more easily after meeting Calvin Dixon, of TMA Construction.  I was impressed with how thorough he was and can rest assured we do not have foundation issues.  Win for us!

Calvin even explained everything to me!  How often do you come across this?  Not often has been my experience.  As he went around the perimeter of our home, he fully explained what he was doing and what he was looking for in every scenario, and answered my one million and one questions without hesitation or frustration. **how rare**    

When he offered to go into our crawl space, I nearly fainted.  No one had ever offered to check it out before.  Our home has a basement and two crawl spaces, something I had never experienced until we purchased our home.  Not something I was crazy about either, but when you fall in love with a home, what can you do, but accept it's flaws and love it back.

A little better pic of the other side of the floor joist. Can you see a lighter wood at the back?  That is the repair.  

Calvin made me feel comfortable from the beginning when we first met which is rare for me.  I tend to have my guard up when folks come into our home from experience over the years being an older home owner.  I am not one to share negativity on the blog, or at least I try not to, because this is my happy place after all, but we have had some doozies as far as experiences go with people working on and in our home.  

I think the biggest thing is people do not know how to work on older homes.  They are not plumb, they sometimes have old wiring if it has not been replaced, there are wavy floors, sometimes you just cannot have what you want in an older home, and sometimes the person you called doesn't know a thing about older home issues.  

I honestly wish those people would speak up and say, umm... I am not sure what to do so you can hire someone who does know.  Wouldn't that be refreshing to have someone admit they are not sure?  I respect that more than someone who pretends and then we end up with a bigger mess than what we began with... speaking from experience here. 

Calvin spoke knowledgably about foundations, and kept running up and down the stairs checking over the same spots several times to make sure he was providing me with accurate information.      

Now, can I tell you how wonderful he was when he saw our basement?  I have talked about our basement a bit here.  There is a sea of collections (do you get a vision of items floating around in the sea, I do because some days that is what it is like) over generations in our basement.  When we packed everything up from my husband's childhood home and brought it to our basement, I did not know it would be a year later and still sitting there. 

The last year has been a rough one and so everything has been still just sitting down there awaiting their moment of discovery.  Calvin mentioned he understood.  Going through loved ones belongings can be sad and overwhelming.  I could not agree more with Calvin, it can, and it is.  Throw into the mix I have not exactly felt up to the task, and you see why it is all still down there... waiting for the organizational guru to see what we can do.  Did I mention the organizational guru would be my husband on this one?

There was no judgement, or disdain when he was unable to get close under our basement stairs to do a proper inspection in that area.  The basement stairs have a built in under them (shelves and an area where we think they boxed in a fridge) where you can store an assortment of things.  We had a dining room table butted up against the stairs and storage space, with not a lot of room to move much of anything around.  He did the best he could, but asked if we could move everything away from the steps before he returned to complete any work needed.

No problem, we have been wanting to get down there and get it organized anyway.  We did not schedule a day for work to be completed during our appointment, but I did let him know I was ready after he left that same day for him to put me on his schedule.       

Oh, what did Calvin find?
  • When we had our floors installed, damage was made to the king stud, compromising it and making our floor sag by the door
  • When the floor began to sag, the door would not open and close as easily as it once had, okay, maybe not at all!
  • He had concerns about floor joists being removed where ductwork had been installed, but since there was a built in under our stairs, he was unable to get a clear view if this was the case
  • He wanted to further investigate this once I had everything pulled away from the steps

We set an appointment for work to be completed later, indicating it may be about 3-4 weeks which I was fine with since I had my work cut out for me in creating a work space by and under the stairs for him.  Calvin, and his associate Justin arrived to complete the work and decided to begin with removing the paneling from our built in along the ceiling.  They found our floor joists were not disturbed in any way when our ductwork was installed.  What a relief!  No foundation issues there, yeah!

What one would think would be a simple fix for our front door was a bit more involved.  

What Calvin and Justin did to make this repair:
  • Installed a jack and lifted our sagging floor in small increments
  • Repaired where the king stud had been compromised
  • Repaired my creaking floor, woohoo, no more creaks!  At least at the front door anyway, it is an old house afterall! 
  • To get to their work area, ductwork had to be taken down since the work space was not able to be reached with the depth of our ducts in the way
  • Work had to be completed between floor joists in a dimly lit area 
  • The door was hand planed after adjustments were made so the door now closes smoothly
  • Calvin even took the job to the next level and painted the side of the door white where he planed away excess wood
  • Fully cleaned their work space once all work was completed, and was mindful of my breathing issues, keeping all of the dust cleaned up and to a minimum
  • He also did not hesitate when I asked if he minded wearing booties when looking at another issue in our home  - Yes, I have had people flat our refuse   
  • Throughout this experience, Calvin and Justin did not treat our home as just another job, they were very respectful of our home and our belongings, I find it is the small things in life that make me most happy!  I thank them for being so mindful of everything they had to work around and putting everything back in place as they found it
  • Answered 1,000,000+ questions... nah, I am not that bad, but maybe close to it... I am one of those who likes to know, you know?

The small space within where they worked, see the new tape on the ductwork?  That piece had to come out so they could get closer and make repairs

In case you were wondering... would I recommend TMA Construction?  Yes, 1,000%!  Thankfully for me, they work on so many more things than foundation issues.  I started my list and will be checking items off as we can have the work completed, i.e... as my budget allows.  Or until I win the lottery and can have them busy for probably a year straight entertaining all of my crazy whimsical plans for this cottage. Until then, I guess it will have to be in increments as most of us folks work on our homes.

Do you hear that?  The smooth closing of a door and a lock in place?  Do you also hear something else?  No?  Well, I can tell you that would be the silence of that nonexistent CREAK that annoyed me every time I would open and close the door after our floors were installed.  Also, there is no more give to the floor in front of our door as you walk in.  Remember when I said the small things?  Well, not hearing that creak is so wonderful!      

If you ever experience a new sound in your home once work has been completed, investigate a bit.  I had no clue there was damage until everything was explained to me, then it all fell into place and made sense.

Despite me growing up in a construction oriented family, I had no idea what a king stud was until Calvin explained it to me.  Oh, the things I learn owning this home.  I am thankful for the knowledge so I can empower others, since isn't that what knowledge is after all?      

Through this experience, I received quite an education and thought I’d pass along the information I learned. You never know when someone may be experiencing issues and this could help you or someone you know.

Happy boy, and happy momma, door all fixed up!

Signs to look for with foundation issues in a home:
  1. Cracked windows on the diagonal 
  2. Doors not fitting into the frames, they do not shut as easily as they once did
  3. Slanted floors
  4. Cracks on walls
  5. Trim coming away from doors
  6. Movement of built ins

I also learned when ductwork is installed HVAC folks tend to cut out floor joists to install said ductwork.  At the time of installation, you may not be aware until many years down the road, but this may cause issues with sagging floors.  Sad, but true, and once this was brought to my attention, I decided to pay closer attention to our basement ceilings.  

And as you can see from our experience, it may not be a major foundation issue, it could be something fairly easy to repair in the big scheme of things.  I am thankful Calvin and I have crossed paths, and I thought I would share with you my wonderful experience with his company.  I know it can be difficult in finding folks to make home repairs.  I am not keen when I hear, tear it out... I love my home, and want to keep it in tact as much as we can.  

You can find TMA Construction by clicking the link and taking a look at their site, or you can also reach out to him at (740) 236-9970 You will also find a list of work Calvin's company completes by visiting his site, which is basically everything.  

Do not hesitate in giving him a call if you are looking for someone who can and will repair your home if you are local to the central Ohio area.  Not being one who provides reviews, you know it speaks volumes of his work when I am willing to share his business here on my blog with you.  Thanks Calvin & Justin!    

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