Fences: DIY or CAP?

When it comes to home projects, it often comes down to a case of doing it yourself (DIY) or calling a professional (CAP) to do the job. You’ve watched the TV shows that make everything look so easy and for a moment say to yourself “How hard could it be?” Well, in reality it could be really hard! Remember, those people you’re watching on TV aren’t doing the project for the first time… they’re actually professionals! A great example of a DIY project gone wrong is installing your own fence. So many things can and will go wrong. Yes, we’re not in the business of putting in fences. We’re focusing on this as it’s a great example of something that looks simple to do, but in reality, is much more complicated. We run into all types of DIY home repair jobs that we have to take over and fix. Today we’ll use fences as an example of DIY vs. CAP. Check out these photos. Is that what you want to do or have your fence look like? ACTUAL DIY FENCE PROJECT WE FOUND. NOT HEAVENLY FOUNDATIONS OR HEAVENLY HANDYMAN ACTUAL WORK!! First and foremost, local ordinances dictate that a large number of home repairs or improvements require the homeowner to obtain a permit. This is often a requirement to build a fence. And to take it a step further, if you live in an area overseen by a homeowner’s association, there may be strict rules as to the color, material and height of fences. But those are the easy steps in a fence project. There’s much more to be...
Jacking Up House

Jacking Up House

READ THIS Before You Try to Fix Your Sagging Floors Yourself! Sagging or sloping floors can be a real problem if not taken care of and fixed in a timely manner. Both weather and time can have an impact on soil stability. After all, your house is heavy and if the weight isn’t distributed evenly, or if the soils shifts, problems can arise and the house will need to be levelled. If this happens to you, READ THIS before you watch a DYI show and decide to fix it yourself! We run into a lot of owner-installed “house jacks” during our inspections. It’s important to know that these “house jacks” are illegal under Florida building code. Unfortunately, they’re being sold at local big Box home improvement centers and people are buying them hoping to save a few dollars. Recently, I grabbed one off the shelf. I wanted to see what was advertised on the box and to read the fine print. I wasn’t surprised to find the little lettering on one box warning “Consult with a licensed engineer before using“. There’s a reason they’re suggesting you consult with a professional… it’s extremely difficult (sometimes nearly impossible) to successfully jack up your house by yourself. Frankly, we’re surprised that anyone would even want to attempt jacking up a house by themself! There’s a long laundry list of things that could go wrong. After all, houses aren’t just one large stable box. They’re made up of a lot of components and it is extremely easy for portions of the house to lose stability when being jacked up. Here are some of the house jacks we...
Foundation Pier Damage – How Does it Happen and What Can Be Done?

Foundation Pier Damage – How Does it Happen and What Can Be Done?

Damage occurs to foundation piers in many ways. When it does happen, it is vitally important that you work with a professional foundation repair company to get it fixed before foundation pier damage spreads to your walls and doorframes, and impacts the structure of your home. All too often homeowners don’t include foundation inspections as part of regular maintenance and they discover that their foundation has an issue after doors stop closing properly or cracks develop in the walls.   How Foundation Piers become Damaged There are five primary ways that your foundation can become damaged: Age – Older homes have wood foundation piers and over time with exposure to moisture, they simply wear out. Even a home with concrete or brick and mortar foundation piers do not escape age related deterioration. Florida’s salt water and air impact all types of foundation piers. Termites – Termites can cause a great deal of damage. Make sure your pest control company treats and inspects your crawl space regularly. Rodents – These pests find a way into your crawl space and dig. When they dig next to a foundation pier, they remove part of what is stabilizing your foundation causing damage. Heavy Furniture – Older homes were not built to handle the weight of granite countertops, built in cabinetry filled with computers, sound systems, and TV’s or the furniture of today. We simply have more stuff than the home’s structure can support. Remodeling – When you remove walls in your home, the weight of the home shifts. The shifting weight puts added stress on some foundation piers and that added stress can...
4 Exterior Signs of Structural Damage

4 Exterior Signs of Structural Damage

4 Exterior signs of Structural Damage to the Foundation of Florida Homes If your house has structural problems, you will be able to spot some of the signs. Outside, you may notice that the foundation is cracked or crumbling in places. Or, you suddenly realize that an outside wall of your house or the part of the foundation that is above the ground is slightly tilting. The worst thing you can do in these situations is wait. It is best to call a professional structural contractor right away to assess the foundation before things potentially get worse. We are very conscious of the unique structural issues experienced by Florida homeowners. Here are a few as well as structural damage problems that affect all homeowners. 1. Leaning Foundation Walls cause Exterior Cracks Homes in Florida are primed for settling. This is because of the types of soil in the area, the limestone deep underground, the frequent rains and fluctuations in the water table. As the ground swells or shrinks depending on how much moisture is in the soil, the ground under and around a house’s foundation can shift. One of the results of this type of shifting is that a foundation wall may start to lean. When a foundation wall leans, the cinderblocks are now resting on an uneven surface. Cracks start to develop. Water seeps in and the foundation becomes less stable. 2. Moisture and Pressure Shifts cause Cracks too Settling cracks are common in homes. In frame homes, they form as the house’s framing expands and contracts from weather, moisture and pressure shifts. This kind of movement happens all...

What’s The Difference Between A Structural Engineer And A Structural Contractor?

What is a Structural Contractor? A structural contractor is a general contractor subject to whatever education, certification and training required by the state they work in. A contractor who markets himself as a structural contractor is one whose expertise is beyond a contractor who may only handle roofing issues or handyman type work. If your contractor indicates he handles room additions, deck construction, home remodeling or repairs to foundation problems or subfloor issues, he more than likely has some of the same training and experience as an engineer as it relates to building load and construction regulations. A contractor who markets themselves as a structural contractor may have taken some engineering courses for their continuing education credits or in college. What is a Structural Engineer? A structural engineer works with the designer, architect, surveyor, and builder to help ensure that a building or structure can stand on its own. They use math and science to carefully make their recommendations to the other people involved in a project. There are many different specialties one can choose to pursue like seismic, conservation, commercial spaces, and infrastructure. Lastly there are those who are most knowledgeable in homes and other residential buildings. It takes a great deal of creative problem solving and teamwork to be a good structural engineer no matter which specialty you choose. All structural engineers have at least a BA in engineering and every state requires licensing with most requiring ongoing education to keep their license. Do I need both a Structural Contractor and Engineer? That depends on the scope of the project. If you’ve seen any of those home...