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Structural Engineering reviews in Spring

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  • I left a voice mail for Mr. Duhon. It took him a few work days to return my call but he did. He asked about my issues. I described the cracks in my ceiling, crown molding, etc. He said it doesn't sound like foundation issues. He gave me his email to send him the pictures and he'd look at them. He replied in 30 minutes. He said it didn't look like foundation or framing issues. How many people would take the time to look at something to give you their expert opinion without a fee. I will definitely keep him/his company in mind in case anyone I know needs the services.
    - Tella C.
  • It went very well. He was a very professional, very informative person. "A wealth of Knowledge" He asked me to show him my concerns first, and I did, then he took over and I got out of the way and let him perform his routine only responding when asked. He was thorough indeed! The Inspection was performed on 8/3 and report was produced and submitted to me on 8/5/2017 He was a detailed oriented professional knowledgeable in the application of building code application/compliance. His fee was minor compared to the cost of the deficiencies he found. It was well worth the cost.
    - Pablo H.
  • Long story.. If you have slab/foundation issues you will want to read on.. If not, you will get bored so don't bother. In short, I believe Mr. Duhon saved me thousands and thousands of dollars and gave me piece of mind.. He is professional and knowledgeable. If you have foundation issues, I recommend spending the money to have him look it over. You may not get a lucky as I did (with the cause of the problems) but you may.. Spend the money and get it done!

    Now with the long story:

    In 2009 I noticed some of my doors inside the house didn't want to close. I noticed others wouldn't stay closed. I started seeing cracks in sheetrock (on the ceiling, above doors, on walls etc.). I also noticed some brick on the outside was cracking, trim boards around the house pulling away at the corners, expansion joints on the outside of the house getting wider and wider.. It was clear that I had "foundation problems".

    I called the 3 most popular "foundation repair" companies. I thought it made sense to get a quote and advice from each, compare the 3 and go with one of them. I thought with 3 I would be able to pick one that wasn't the cheapest but wasn't the most expensive either. I didn't want to base my decision on price alone. I thought they would be fairly close to one another. Well.. They weren't. Their advice was also contradicting (not just with each other but from the same person during the same conversation!). Very frustrating! It was clear they either didn't know what they were doing or were just trying to baffle me with B.S.

    Pricing: The first quote I got from 'Company A' was around $28K. the salesman called me a few weeks later claiming he gave me the wrong price. "The price I gave you was for a 3 story and you have a 2 story. Let me send you another quote." I said okay and 3 weeks later (after hounding him for it) he gave me another quote. This one was for $31K! Higher than the first quote! So I called him and asked why a 2 story foundation repair would be more than a 3 story foundation repair.. He tried to talk me in circles and when he got done, I asked him again.. "Why is price higher for a 2 story?". Again, he tried to talk in circles.. Well.. This one was off my list. On to the next.

    The quote I got from 'Company B' was around $15K. The salesman also contradicted himself while telling me what the issues were.

    The quote I got from 'Company C' was around $11K.

    Not one of these companies told me what was causing the problem. They all just said "this is Texas soil and foundation problems are normal and expected in Texas".

    With the prices so different and the contradictions (not only in their own conversations but with what I had learned by researching), I didn't feel comfortable with any of them.

    So.. I called a "structural engineer" (not Mr. Duhon). He came out and looked around and said "the problem is with moisture, the problem is always moisture. You need to place a clay/dirt mixture all the way around the house to keep moisture from getting under the slab". Well.. This went against EVERYTHING I had learned about foundations in Texas. He was out..

    I stewed on all of this for quite a while. Frustrated and watching my cracks get bigger and bigger and more and more. Very stressful to watch you largest investment going to h***..

    I called 1 more foundation repair company recommended by my brother-in-law. They came out and within 10 minutes gave me a price of $5K. WAY cheaper than the others. This of course concerned me. They were out..

    I stewed a while longer..

     I finally decided to check out Angie's List and find a structural engineer. I found Mr. Duhon. I am a busy person and so is he but he worked with my schedule and came out to take a look. He took measurements of the slab inside/outside the house (just like 2 of the foundation repair companies did). He made a quick drawing of the shape of the slab with the measurements where he took them. He sat down with me and explained the drawing and what the root (pun intended) cause of the problems were.. The root cause was the trees around my house. 2 were approximately 20' from the house 1 was approximately 10' from the house. The drawing he made clearly showed the slab was dropping around the areas where the trees were. With the last few summers being so dry, the trees were pulling all of the water from under the slab causing the dirt to collapse in turn causing my slab to collapse.

    He gave me 2 options. Remove the trees or put in a root barrier. He told me I could have the foundation repaired but without addressing the cause, the foundation would just continue to sink and I would be calling the foundation repair companies back. He also said that after removing the trees the foundation would slowly move back into place (probably would take a few years). He told me that if I dug holes around the foundation 2'X2' and 2' off of the foundation, every 5' then filled those holes with water every day, the foundation would move back much quicker. The idea here is to get water back into the dirt under the house.

    I opted to have the trees removed (all 3 of them). I then dug the holes (back of the house first) and filled them with water every day (maybe not EVERY day but I tried to do it every day). Within 2 months the expansion joint in the back started closing up. After another month or 2 it was back to normal.. I dug the holes around the rest of the house and filled them with water. The front took longer (it was much worse than the back) but slowly doors started closing properly (and staying closed). The expansion joint in the front started closing, the cracks in the brick started closing.. Today, the expansion joint in the front is almost back to normal. I expect in another year or so ALL will be back to normal.

    I wish I could upload some photos. I took pictures of the expansion joints and cracks before doing anything. Over time I took more pictures. I found an app for the IPhone that would allow me to compare side by side pictures. WHAT A RELIEF!! The pictures clearly show Mr. Duhon knew what he was talking about. If Mr. Duhon wants the photos to show his customers, I will gladly send them to him. From where I sit, he saved me thousands of dollars, tons of grief and the stigma of having foundation repair done on my house.

    You may not be as lucky as I was with the cause of the foundation problems but then again you may! Even if you have no trees I trust that Mr. Duhon will be able to identify the cause and not just sell you a fix.

    My thoughts were simple: A foundation repair company makes their money on fixing foundations. The bigger the problem the more they have to do, the more money they make. An engineer makes his/her money off of inspecting. No matter what the engineer finds, his/her pay is going to be the same.

    If you have foundation issues, CALL MR. DUHON before calling a foundation repair company! The foundation repair companies don't want to solve the problem. They want to cover up the problem. You may ultimately need foundation repair but MAYBE NOT. 

    FYI, I purposely waited before giving Mr. Duhon a review here to give his recommendations time to work. It is now 9 months later. The foundation is clearly (and slowly) moving back to where it belongs. WHAT A RELIEF!!

    - David C.
  • After explaining and showing all of my concerns to Mr. Duhon, he inspected the interior and exterior of the home.   Considering the age of my home the foundation is in good condition.  Not only did he put my mind at ease but he also recommended foundation maintenance and explained possible reasons for the cracks that were causing my concern.  He also sent a report the following day explaining everything we spoke about in detail.
    - Kenna H.
  • We were very pleased.  He showed us what he was doing, what he was checking for and explained to us what we were seeing.  He was very professional, pleasant and easy to work with.  In the future when we buy a house we are definitely calling this guy!
    - Root B.
  • We played a little phone tag trying to arrange the inpection. That was my fault since my phone kept switching to silent mode but he was very prompt in his return calls. We finally connected and were able to schedule the inspection later that day. He was on time. He first asked for my concerns and observations. After viewing what i pointed out he said he would need to do a complete inspection which included level measurements and an emailed report. He spent about an hour inspecting inside and out and took elevation readings throughout the house. When he was finished we sat down and discussed the results for another hour or so. He had a floor plan sketch with all the elevation readings. The inspection findings and elevation differences were consistent with the damage being caused by the tree in our front yard.
    His primary recommendation was to either remove the tree or install a root barrier and then re-hydrate the soil to get the foundation to lift. While the natural recovery could take a year or more, he said in our case we could accelerate the process by digging a series of piits and sort of deep-soaking the soil. I had never heard of that but it has the potential to speed the recovery to a month or so.
    Overall we were delighted to find that our damage, while not acceptable, was not as bad as we feared and that we had an option rather than going straight to foundation repair. We received his email report within 2 days. It was very detailed and included all the specific findings along with everything we had discussed. It included a range of options for the tree problem and some recommendations for other areas we had discussed.
    - Gregory Y.
  • Gerard came to us on very short notice.  He made himself available within hours of receiving our call on a Saturday.  He offered for us to walk around with him AND he explained each indication of a foundation and structural issue that he was looking for.  We identified a crack on the face of the brick of the home we are preparing to buy.  Everything we had read indicated that it could be a foundation or a structural issue.  He came out and not only advised us that we had nothing to worry about with the crack, but he also explained WHY.  He ended up charging us a very fair price because he made the determination of the structural integrity of the home very quickly.  I would recommend him to anyone who is preparing to purchase a home without reservation.
    - Cristina S.

  • The experience was the best I have had with a general contractor/home builder.  They finished one month ahead of schedule, ran full electric and data lines for internet general power consumption.   His crew was respectful and nice, the entire yard was cleaned up after completion and he even built custom shelving on the inside.

    Greg showed me ways to save on my project and gave me options that in my personal opinion made the shed perfect.

    I have a picture of the completed project but do not see a way of posting it here.
    - James H.
  • Home was built in 2005. Found water damage to the ceiliing and an exterior wall shortly after a heavy rain. Assumed the caulking had failed around the chimney cap and called a roofer. Upon inspection, he found the masonry chimney appeared to be sinking into the roof. He suggested there was much more going on than failed caulk. At that point I decided a structural assessment would be prudent and contacted Gerard Duhon the following day. Gerard arrived the following Monday, spending about an hour reviewing the situation in the attic and on the roof. He answered my questions, confirmed the serious nature of our leak, and explained Structural warranty issues as they pertained to building code violations. His thorough explanation of his findings gave me the terminology to be able to express with confidence the nature of our loss to the builder. While the builder spent half of one day telling me what I was telling him wasn't possible, I was armed with the knowledge of Gerard's inspection. The builder came Tuesday aftrnoon to see for himself. I had framers at the house on Friday, roofers the following Wednesday. Just waiting for the painter to show up.
    - Susan C.
  • Our house has not hardly moved at all in 30 years and no foundation problems were found so we were glad to see that the "expert" was right and the "fly by night" inspectors who don't have PE designation was wrong. We also obtained confirmation from foundation companies that our house did not need any foundation work..The companies that I called out and that were honest were also Angies List A rated foundation companies so I tell everyone to subscribe to Angies List before getting anything done on their house. The foundation companies that came out and were honest were Bonilla and Allied fyi...
    - Jerry H.
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Structural Engineers in Spring

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