Foundation repair in St. Roch

In 2018, we got a request to repair a foundation at a small home in New Orleans’ St. Roch neighborhood. The house was in poor condition when the owner purchased it, and she restored the home by herself little by little, replacing siding, adding windows and railings, putting in a new fence, and painting the exterior. It was a pretty impressive transformation! But before she worked on the interior, the owner asked us to take a look at the foundation.

For this home, the sills were in good condition, but the piers needed work. The house, which is less than 900 sq. ft. in size, had shifted on its piers due to flooding during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the house no longer sat squarely on the piers. The owner asked if we could shift the house back, or move the piers. In a situation like this, the best option is to make new piers under where the house currently sits.

Richard Earls Construction replaced the piers, as shown in the photo on the right. While it’s easy to see that the new piers look more solid and clean, what isn’t so visible is that many of the original piers were crumbling, and some even included wood pieces. Wood in piers is a big no-no because wood gives ground termites an easy avenue to come right up into your house. The new all-cement piers deter termites, as do the slate pieces on top of the piers.

We jacked up the house and went to work, replacing each pier, including a few piers running down the center of the house. The home’s new piers are part of a solid foundation that will serve the home for years to come. While we’re impressed with how the new owner transformed this former eyesore into a pretty home (and so are her neighbors!) we’re even prouder that when she sold the house in 2019, the home inspection report came back with an A+ report on the foundation. The buyers were a young couple purchasing their first home, and understandably, they were nervous about getting their first mortgage. The clean report on the foundation gave them the confidence to move forward with the purchase.

These are the kinds of happy endings we love to hear. Let Richard Earls Construction take a look at your foundation so we can give you the same peace of mind while adding value to your home.

Spot the signs of a failing foundation

While any homeowner is accustomed to looking for visible problems in and out of the house—broken siding, damaged flooring, a leaky ceiling—problems with a home’s foundation may not be as obvious. It’s crucial to be able to recognize when your foundation is failing, so you can catch a small problem before it becomes a big one.

While most of your foundation isn’t readily visible, you can recognize common problems with your foundation from a careful inspection of what you are able to see inside your home.

  • Sagging floors. When you drop a ball on the floor, does it quickly roll to a specific corner? Is there a part of your floor that squeaks, or seems to have more “give” than the rest of the room? This is a sign of possible damage to your foundation.
  • Bulging walls or floors. Damaged sills or joists will sag, and this sagging can cause a wall to bulge out or floorboards to buckle. If you find you’re suddenly tripping over parts of your floor that used to be just fine, the cause could be your foundation.

Both these problems could be due to joists or sills that have weakened due to water or termite damage, and are now sagging or even broken. Another possible cause is piers that are cracked or sinking, which means they’re no longer adequately supporting the sills.

Fortunately, an inspection by a qualified foundation professional can locate the cause of such problems fairly quickly. You can also easily check your own piers for cracks or other damage. Sometimes a simple repair will solve the problem completely, and help you avoid costly repairs to your floors, walls, and other parts of your home.

Richard Earls Construction specializes in finding the cause of such problems and offering a professional solution. Give us a call and ask how we can help you with your foundation.

What is a foundation?

The foundation of a home is just what it sounds like—the base that keeps the home standing.

Here in New Orleans, a common type of house has a pier construction, where the home itself sits a few feet off the ground. In this type of home, the foundation consists of several layers:

  • At the base is a footing underground. The footing is made of a solid material like concrete or bricks.
  • Sitting on top of the footing are piers, small towers that hold the house off the ground. Piers are made of a solid material like cement blocks or bricks. The piers rise three feet or more above the ground. For a finished home, the piers are the only part of the foundation that often remain uncovered (although some homeowners do cover up their piers with decorative lattices and the like).
  • Sitting on the piers are sills, long pieces of very solid wood. Sills are roughly 6” x 6” square and many feet long. On the outside of the house, sills are usually covered with siding.
  • Sitting on the sills are the joists, which are wood pieces that run across the length or width of the house, from one sill to another. Your home’s subfloor sits on the joists.
  • In the older homes in New Orleans, the framing for the walls tends to sit directly on the sills, whereas in the newer houses the framing for the walls is placed on top of the joists. The framing isn’t part of the foundation, but is provided here to show you how the foundation relates to the part of the house you see every day. The framing relies on the foundation to keep the walls standing straight.

There are countless variations on these basic elements. For example, in older homes, each pier may have its own small footing underneath it. In homes more than 100 years old, there may be no footings at all, which can lead to sagging floors and damaged walls over time. Some homes feature piers that are quite wide, stretching several feet to provide a wide support for the sills.

Whatever the type of your foundation, Richard Earls Construction specializes in foundation inspection and repair, and will explain the process to you every step of the way. Give us a call to find out how we can help you with your foundation.