“My fingertips are holding onto the cracks in our foundation”

Foundation (noun)
1. an underlying basis or principle for something.
2. a cream or powder used as a base to even out facial skin tone before applying other cosmetics.
3. a woman’s supporting undergarment, such as a girdle.
4. the lowest load-bearing part of a building, typically below ground level.

This is not a post about my supporting undergarments. Nor is it a post about makeup tips or the beginnings of some epic development in my life. Rather, it concerns my home. More specifically, the foundation of my house.

1Being a new homeowner of a house built in 1953, I knew that my husband and I were purchasing a home with a few quirks. When we first toured the house, I was impressed with its recent renovations and ecstatic that the previous owner’s foundation warranty could be transferred to us. I also learned that the house had had much foundation repair work completed.

Now, prior to living in North Texas, I would have been rather alarmed to have heard this last nugget of information describing a potential future home. However, here in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, it’s the norm.

Here’s the biggest reason why: our soil is made of expansive clay. When we have heavy rainfall, it expands. When we have seasonal drought, it contracts. As the soil swells, it puts pressure on the foundation, thus leading to movement and cracks.

So, I knew that we’d be facing some problems, but I also knew that much of the work had already been done.

This past spring was incredibly wet. Here is a picture of our gutter during one rainstorm, unable to even handle the amount of water surging through it:

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3As the past couple of months became hotter and drier, cracks began to appear above door frames and in corners. What used to be a smooth wall, now appeared to have shifted. A call was made to the foundation repair company. They came out to inspect the problem, verified that one side of our house was 2 INCHES lower than the other and the repair work was set into motion.

Now, when I think of foundation repair work, I think of heavy duty equipment- rigs, drills and a crew of workers. But we got one kid and a shovel. He drove up in a 2000 white Mustang, removed the shovel and got to work. He dug holes around the house for an entire day. Then, he magically pulled a jackhammer out of the Mustang and set to work breaking up the concrete near the holes.

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The following day, a partner appeared with a truck, jacks and concrete piers. Here are new piers that were added to where there had previously been none. With more support, the goal is to keep the house from shifting downward in the future.

As they jacked up the side of the house – to make it level with the other side – crazy things began to happen. Creaking and popping noises. A door temporarily unable to close. Then, our chimney cracked, insulation poured out of the wall and my otherwise ‘cool-as-a-cucumber’ husband became visibly anxious.

However, knowing that the house is now level is major (or “may-jah” as Posh Spice would say) good news.

7As the men packed up their tools and put the finishing touches on the new “concrete runoff strip” (not sure what this is actually called, but it helps the water move away from the foundation), my emotions were mixed. Although my worries of sinking into the ground while sitting in the family room were mitigated, I now had to begin looking for a handyman to repair my poor chimney. I also had to keep my cats from pulling insulation out of the newly formed cracks. A task easier said than done.

All in all, North Texas homeownership is a bit of a pickle – pleasant, yet sour at times. This foundation issue has dominated much of my attention the past couple of weeks, but I have to say that I feel much more knowledgeable about my house. Now I know more about ITS supporting undergarments.

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