How much foundation settlement warrants a decision to install piers?

House Repair Talk

Help Support House Repair Talk:


Jan 2, 2021
Reaction score
Some background:

We bought a 1967 built home 6 months ago in Seattle area. Recently we noticed a crack in our ceiling in the kitchen. It was pretty small, so we chalked it up to bad construction techniques. Also, it did not seem like a crack caused due to foundation settlement. Pic of the crack -

We also notice that the sliding door and some windows have larger gap towards the top of the sill compared to bottom. It is visible when I try to close it and leave only a small gap. The bottom closes completely while the top area still has a small gap. We do get a lot of rain in Seattle and our house is located at the bottom of the hill. Also, apparently the soil in our area is notorious for being very compact. During heavy rains we do see about 1 to 2 inches of standing water that remains even after it stops raining.

Current Situation:

We do not have any major signs of foundation settling, such as window cracks or 45degree drywall cracks or any major foundation cracks. However, we have one crack in the foundation that currently exists only on one side of the foundation. The back side of the foundation where crack is seen looks fine. Other than some minor cracks in the drywall there are no obvious signs of any settlement. However, I always felt that our kitchen floor was sloped based on how it feels when I walk. I took out a bubble level and started to see if the floor was indeed sloped and it deed it showed a very slight slope (~1%) -

So, I scheduled an inspection with a foundation repair contractor.

Foundation Inspection Summary:

The inspection was finished this morning and they mentioned that they found settlement issues. This is the plan view of our house that shows distances and various settlement differences -

The biggest differences is a change from -1,3/4 to -2,1/8 over a distance of 14 feet (highlighted with red circle in above imgur link). Overall, through the entire width of the front of our house (44 feet) the difference goes from -1/4 to -2,1/8. Through the entire width of the back of our house (44 feet) the difference goes from 0 to -1,3/8.

What did the Foundation company recommend?

They recommended we install 21 helical piers approx. 6 feet apart. The total quote including permits and engineering is $49,000. They also said that they can try to fix the worst areas of the house for $30,000 and then wait to see if we need to support other portions of the house.

This settlement is acceptable, or should I fork up 50K/30K?

Is this settlement acceptable? Check back next year to see if it is changing rapidly? Since we bought this home recently, we are not aware of the history. We are not sure if these settlement differences are recent or have been slowly happening over time. Or is this bad enough that I need to jump on this right away?

Thank you for your time.


Fixer Upper
Staff member
Feb 5, 2013
Reaction score
Erie, PA
What exactly is your foundation? Basement? Block wall to footer? Piers under and around the house? Have you talked to neighbors with similar construction?

Have you thought about re-leveling on your current footings?

A house built over 50 years ago should have or could have had some initial settling and would have long ago stopped. Do you feel this is the case or are you seeing new signs of change? If so any idea of what might be changing? Only being there 6 months I would assume the house was like this when you bought it? Did you have an inspection done and was there mention of this?

Personally we are all different and I would look long and hard at $50k unless things were rapidly changing and if that was the case I would really look hard at all solutions and what the cause is.