Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Foundation Repair Contractor's View On Tunneling

To tunnel or not to tunnel, that is the question.  The job costs are extremely different, but which one is better?  The answer to this  (as many of the things that I've stated along the way) is which one is better for you?  We will look into the many factors that go into a tunneling job, the many benefits of tunneling for the foundation work under your home, and what you should be weighing in your decision.

Let me first say, that the option of tunneling vs. breaking out through the interior of your home should be yours and yours alone.  From a repair standpoint, there is virtually no difference in the functionality of the two techniques.  I hear some companies say "We only tunnel" and others say "we will only go in through the slab", but in the end this is no different than "We only install pressed pilings" or "we only install bell bottoms".  If that's what they do, that's what they do.

Tunneling has many benefits, but a lot of that revolves around your budget, and the repair(s) you need.  Let's look at some of these below.

1) Flooring cost:  If you need interior piers, you will lose flooring.  Foundation repair contractors do not cover the cost to repair this flooring.  If you have tile flooring, or wood floors, be prepared to have that replaced post repair.  If you have carpet in the areas of the repair, then usually the carpet can be removed and replaced without disturbing or ruining it.  If you have old wooden floors that you do not want to disturb, then tunneling is the way to go.  If you need extended work on the inside of your home, tunneling can actually be cheaper than the cost of replacing your flooring once the job is completed.  Get a cost for both, and find which one best fits your budget.

2) Plumbing Cost: Plumbing is always the unknown cost when foundation repairs are done.  Plumbing repairs needed after the foundation is fixed can range anywhere from $0.00 (because you were lucky enough to have your foundation not break) to tens of thousands of dollars, especially if you need interior piers.  You may be one of the people that had your foundation fail because of a plumbing leak.  Tunneling actually help you with these costs, if need be.  Plumbing lines can actually be tunneled with the foundation repairs, therefore freeing the plumbing lines to lift with the home.  It is more expensive to do it this way, but at least it gives you a fixed cost as opposed to unknown.  Also, if you need both foundation and plumbing repairs, a creative foundation repair contractor can find a way to align his tunnels with the plumbing so in one fell swoop, you can have your foundation repairs completed, and then the plumbing contractor can come in right behind and repair the plumbing lines. 

3) Tunneling keeps the slab intact:  Punching holes in the slab can have effects on your foundation.  If you have a post tension foundation, those cables can be cut in the process of breaking out holes in the interior.  Also, breaking holes in the foundation can lead to problems with flooring, and the slab as a whole long term.  If the moisture barrier is broken in the process of cutting the holes, you can have problems with flooring wicking moisture up from the soil underneath.  Tiles can "tent" or crack, wood floors can stain over time, or they can gather mineral deposits.  Carpet can also stain, and gather mineral deposits and they draw moisture from the concrete underneath.  It's very difficult to perfectly put the moisture barrier back and maintain it's integrity if it is compromised during the breakout process.

4) Tunneling can make future repairs to the foundation or plumbing more easily accessible:  Tunneling can make future warranty issues with the foundation more easily fixed.  If you have your plumbing lines tunneled, any future breaks to the plumbing can be easily fixed by re-opening the tunnels, and repairing the plumbing lines.  Should a warranty be needed on the internal piers, tunnels can be re-accessed and the piers repaired.   There will be no need to re-break out the interior of the home.

Tunneling is expensive, and it does have some draw backs as well.  Re-compacting the dirt, storing the dirt while the work is completed, and ensuring that the tunnels do not hold moisture can be quite challenging.  But with proper work and methods this can be done as well.  Before you decide on tunneling vs breakouts, or if you have any questions about tunneling, please feel free to contact me.

Thanks for reading!
Brian

Email Me Directly: Brian.Gilchriest@permapier.com
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