Budgeting for Foundation Replacement

My 1920's Oakland home needs a new foundation, and I'm just beginning to explore how to do this.  So far I've gotten one quote, from a company that has good reviews here on BPN. (I'll get other quotes before moving ahead but wanted to start with one, just to get an idea of what cost I might be looking at.)

Their estimate was 95K, which would include excavating the crawl space (right now it's so narrow there are parts that are inaccessible), removing and replacing the perimeter and interior foundation, and installing trench drainage. 

Not included are "special inspection and permit fees, or electrical, plumbing or mechanical repairs or alterations required".

For those of you who have had to replace a foundation:

1) How much did you pay for "special inspection and permit fees, or electrical, plumbing or mechanical repairs or alterations required"?

2) Were there other hidden fees/expenses I should budget for?

3) Did your job come in close to the bid?  I've seen suggestions that I should budget an extra 10-25% of the original bid as issues might come up once the work begins.  Does that sound right?

I plan to refinance my home and pull out some cash to pay for the work, so it's very important I have a good idea of how much to budget before beginning the work.  My monthly income is very modest and I don't have much savings to draw from, so if I come up short due to unexpected expenses (which I know there often are in projects like this) I'll be in trouble!  If I have some cash left over; I'll just use it for some other smaller home projects that aren't urgent, but which will need to be done in the next few years. 

Also, any recommendations of companies you've used (or a company you wouldn't recommend based on your experience) would be welcomed!  I've looked at the past reviews on BPN but new info is welcome. :)

Thank you! 

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We are doing a partial foundation replacement right now in Oakland. Your quote is consistent with what we got for a 1250 sf single-story home (actually a bit less since ours did not include excavation--we got quotes from four places). We have done other similar structural projects in the past and barring unusual circumstances, it will likely come in on budget--you sign a contract so unless they encounter something really unexpected, it is what it is. For the most part, they can see what needs to be done for foundations. Just be sure you are clear on what they will and will not do (e.g., some don't do stucco repair afterwards, others do; they generally won't replace any landscaping that is disrupted; etc.) and budget accordingly. Permits are expensive--ours was around $1200, and it would have been more if we had done the full foundation. Summer is peak season, so if you aren't in a hurry, you'll sometimes get lower bids in the winter months. As far as financing, two options to consider: you might take out a home equity line of credit, which gives you some wiggle room on costs, or you might refinance for more than you expect to need and, at the project close, pre-pay back into the mortgage anything not needed for other projects to reduce the effective interest rate. I hesitate to recommend our firm until after our job is done, but will try to post again next month with recommendations (and the names of some other firms we liked a lot while getting quotes). So far, so good.

I'm at the same stage that you are at.  My quote came in way higher.  Happy to chat to go over details.  Would you mind sharing who you got your first quote from?  thanks!

Sounds like you got an overpriced quote from a big player like Alameda Structural?  They're great...but charge like 25-30% more. We quoted every big company in the East Bay (except the dodgy ones like EY construction that wanted $500 to just quote...), and no one beat GenTech on quality and price.  We did a full foundation replacement including deep walls on a below-the-grade garage on our 1902 house that had a brick foundation in Oakland.  1400 square feet, single story.  Also did a major french drain and sump pump along the garage side of the house.  It ran us $50K inclusive in summer 2015.  The contract was written in such a way that we would not be liable for extra costs if it took more labor, they ran late, etc. So no surprises and we paid exactly what the contract said in 5 installments over the course of the work and didn't owe until Day 1 of construction, except for the deposit.  FYI that you may have to book a year in advance - it's a nightmare to do a foundation replacement when it's wet - and you'll end up outside at 2.00am bailing out your crawl space with 5 gallon buckets - I watched my next door neighbor do that as he sought to save money by taking a spot from a company in winter.   We booked in October/November and started our work the following May and it was done in July - only 2 weeks behind schedule - mostly because they lined up our concrete pour with another job's concrete pour as it's a big crew day and requires both their working teams.   We were delighted to have used GenTech Construction - the sister company of GenTech pest.  Jason is the manager and is exceptional.  Give them a ring.  https://gen-techconstruction.com/

I have replaced full or part foundations on our primary residence as well as some rental properties. The two companies I used are Alameda Structural at 510-523-1610 and All Seasons Construction at 510-652-2221. Both companies do very fine and thorough work and I was very pleased with the results-clean, neat, well-constructed according to code and on bid. No over charges. You can feel confident hiring either one.

I did a foundation replacement on our 1912 Craftsman home in Berkeley and as part of that we decided to lift the house so that the space in the lower level would be above grade (no longer subject to flooding/sump pumps, and increased head space). Because we lifted the house we had to go through a zoning review which took an extra 6 months, but was otherwise not particularly painful. My comments are specific to Berkeley Planning rules but probably overlap with Oakland. Because the project was over a certain dollar amount, I had to get a California title 24 review for energy evaluation, which added a few hundred. I also inserted a steel beam under the upper level to add some seismic stability. As part of that, I had to have an engineer observe some of the metal fabricator's work to certify welds were done to specification. I had to pay several hundred for their time on site as well as a signed report for my inspector. In the fine print of my structural engineer's work was a note about a certain number of field visits. He came out to inspect the forms and rebar before the foundation pour. That was a couple hundred. I had a few other inspections by him, but I don't think those would apply to what you're doing. 

I think your notion of budgeting for an extra 10 to 25% does not sound unreasonable. For me, on the day our house was to be lifted on to cribbing towers, the ground was too soupy from recent rain so the contractor had to run out and buy $800 worth of inch thick plywood. If your electrical service is overhead, then this work shouldn't impact it at all, other than maybe having to redo the ground system to tie it in to the foundation rebar and establish new ground rods. That is something the inspector would review prior to the foundation pour but it isn't a special inspection, so it would just fall under the cost of your permit. 

I was really happy with the person I ultimately chose for the foundation work but it was specific to my situation where I wanted to be really involved in the planning and hiring of various subcontractors. By hiring the house lifter, excavators, plumbers, etc. myself I avoided the general contractor adding a percentage on top of all their work. That approach is not for everyone, and honestly probably not for me any more with a toddler at home. It took a lot of my time for a while. The contractor I hired just to do the foundation work has recently moved pretty far away but here are a few other companies I had good interactions with and thought their quotes were fair.




Definitely get a few more quotes. The quote included sounds like it's in the ballpark, but I think they should be including plumbing work, or you should request it, especially if the sewer lateral hasn't been done recently. This would be the logical time to have that done so that all your drains are new below the level of your home. 

If you want to talk more offline, feel free to send me a message. Good luck!

As an update to my last comment, our job is now done, and we were very happy with Alameda Structural (who actually gave us one of our lowest bids). I will also note that our last major structural project was in late 2014, and we had several of the same companies quote the project we just finished then as well before opting to postpone the work for a few years. Rates for have gone up dramatically since then, in part because of the booming construction and real estate economies, and in part because of the increased cost of concrete and labor. Your best bet is to get bids from a range of companies to get a better sense of current prices.