Build Your Own House

Foundation Sinking Repair

Summary: A sinking foundation or settling foundation is a common problem with older houses with poor soil, poor water drainage and pier foundations. Leveling a house or house leveling must be done by a professional.


My house is almost 100 years old and it doesn't seem like any of the previous owners updated it other than maybe installing electricity for the house. I don't know whether I should rebuild it or just sell it and buy a new house.

I like its location and would rather stay there. I know the cost of rebuilding the house would be great because we really have no lot. Our house is separated by our neighbors by only about 2 yards.

I thought about remodeling but there is so much to do that may be rebuilding would cost just as much. The house is subsided so I was told before I could do anything that is the first problem to fix.

What should I do?

Hi, I’ll have to make some assumptions here, as I don’t really have enough information.

Subsided means to sink and sinking or settling foundations are not uncommon.

Even the Leaning Tower of Pisa needed leveling a bit. It was about to "go".

Here’s what I would do:

1. Determine what it would cost to level the house. This is an all too common problem, especially with older houses with poor soil, poor water drainage and/or pier foundations.

Contact a company that specializes in Foundation Repair.

Or you can find subcontractors who do leveling on the internet.

You may also want to have a structural engineer check it. They are also found on the internet.

Leveling houses is done all the time. It is a slow process (several weeks) as years (maybe decades) of settling have to be reversed. If it’s done too fast, structural and/or mechanical failures can occur.

Leveling a house must be done by a professional.

2. As a precaution, have a structural engineer also check the rest of the structure.

3. Create two cost estimates, one for remodeling the house and one for a total gut (or tear down) and rebuild.

You can use the construction estimating software, the cost to build calculator (#5) on my “Getting Started” page. Just pick and choose the categories that will apply to your project and plug them into a spreadsheet (Spreadsheets are FREE on my “Spreadsheet” page).

The costs will seem high, but if you act as your own General Contractor, the remodeling job or rebuilding a new home should be achievable. Then decide which way to go.

As to the closeness of your neighbors, it may make it more difficult.

Carl Heldmann
P.S. You should also read "Foundation Cracked"