As with many trades across the United States here in Charlotte there is an increasing shortage of qualified personnel to fill production teams in the foundation repair arena. Discussions with colleagues and professionals in the industry all migrate to the same conclusion and agreement with the grim reality of the constant frustration in finding experienced and qualified personnel to take leadership positions as Superintendents and job Formans’ in the field.
It takes at least 10 years to be a qualified production Forman in the foundation repair trade. An apprenticeship being the most effective way to gain field experience under a seasoned expert that has 20 years of experience or more. The industry has changed drastically over the last 20 years and certainly the quality of the work installed in general has changed as well. Manufacturer manipulation thru franchising has flooded the market with a variety of products related to foundation repair. A manufacturer / Franchisee relationship encourages the franchisee to couple expansive growth into the matrix. These companies wish to have 6-10 crews out in the field to make higher profit margins. There may be only 1-2 crews on staff that have been properly trained or even possess any real field experience. Turnover rates in production teams is a constant issue. Installation teams showing up on job sites with 6 months or less experience is now common place throughout the industry. The manufacturer will use on-line seminars to train sales and production people quickly. This is done hastily, usually being completed within 3-7 days with the general basics but there is no emphasis on much field training to apply those applications in real world scenarios or to develop those common sense problem solving skills needed in the field to resolve unforeseen conditions. As a seasoned colleague in the industry says constantly, “you cant teach experience” so the recipe for making mistakes is obvious using this problematic model. Unfortunately, the manufacturing sector may also be across the country or overseas with very little to no knowledge of the local construction techniques, code requirements, and/or the soils that these structures are constructed on. This creates errors from a design, and applications and means perspective. Homeowners need to be aware of these issues and have an understanding of how to navigate this terrain when choosing a potential foundation repair contractor.
As with all decisions homeowners should do extensive research on the contractor. How long they have been in business may be misleading. Experience is the key. Talk to someone in production. Find out how long the job Forman’s have been doing the work. Check on line reviews and always look at the BBB tutorials and ratings as well as Angie’s List and other on-line sources of information. The top 5 companies that show up on a google search may have a nice website and a glossy brochure but in actuality, have very little experience in foundation repair. Be aware that franchisees hire commissioned based sales people to perform the site evaluation. These sales people may have never been in the construction field, and have little to no understanding of how homes are put together. They are there to sell something. Plain and simple. The sales person is compensated between 10-15% of the contract value once the contract is signed. This can create disingenuous activity. These commissioned based sales people are taught high pressure sales techniques in training moduals and attempt to have the customer make an on site decision right away by using fear tactics, discounting and/or financing as a hook to move forward with the work without competitive bidding. Never make any decisions on the initial site visit. Always look at several companies and ask a lot of questions about credentials. Over that last decade many waterproofing companies have jumped into the foundation repair arena. This is also franchisee driven. Waterproofers’ are not foundation repair experts. They are good at waterproofing. They tend to have a more linear understanding of the foundation repair industry and this allows for mistakes to be made. The more complex the job, the higher the risk for installation challenges. It is better for homeowners to use companies that specialize in foundation repair, and can prove the level of competence and experience in the production teams. At least 10 years of installation experience is a plus. It is also more advantageous to use Independent non-commissioned based consultants for site evaluations instead of commissioned based sales people.
Foundation Repair can be a scary thing. The important thing to do is not panic. If foundation settlement, cracks in the masonry, and/or rocking or deflecting concrete is observed on the home or retaining walls, you will require information on the following topics:
Installation of a Deep Foundation
Installation of Helical Piers
Installation of Micropiles
Pressure Grouting / Mud Jacking
Soil Injection Grouting
Basement Wall and/or Retaining Wall Repair
Carbon Fiber Reinforcement
Installation of Soil Nail Retaining Systems
Limited Access Drilling
Installation of Helical Tie-Backs
Installation of Rock Anchor Retaining Systems
For more information on these topics please feel free to contact us directly for more information about your symptoms as well as discussing the most qualified contractor and engineer to work with on your project. The professionals in our network are completely independent with no affiliation with franchisees. This allows for independent diagnosis and analysis that objectifies the process and allows the customer to save thousands of dollars on the repair. We are here to help!
Michael P. Masserang