Drought leads to long waits for foundation repair



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Posted on October 18, 2011 at 7:24 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 18 at 8:19 PM

HALTOM CITY - The Texas drought has caused numerous problems, from falling lake levels to wildfires to agricultural losses. Another expensive side effect of the dry weather is a huge number of damaged home foundations and long waits for repairs.

Clay soil in North Texas that cracks and pulls away from the slab under a house when it gets dry and now foundation companies can't keep up with repairs.

"We're booked out seven to eight weeks," said Gary Hunt, owner of G.L. Hunt Co. Inc., one of the largest foundation repair companies in the area.

For his business, the drought has been a curse and a blessing.

"We've been extremely busy," Hunt said. "The call volume has gone from 10 a day to 50 a day."

Demand is spiking, but because of the recession, there are fewer skilled workers to do the complicated job.

"We laid off about a 120 employees over an 18-month period," Hunt said. "It was a severe blow."

He said most homeowners have no idea how much to water their foundations to keep the soil snug with the slab.

"I had a sprinkler system, but I ran my soaker hose an hour a day in the evenings and I had it put on a timer," Hunt said.

The soaker hose should be 12 to 15 inches away from the home, according to Hunt.

It may run up your water bill, but it is cheaper than foundation repair. The job Hunt's crew was working when News 8 visited cost more than $9,000 to fix. The longer the foundation problems go unrepaired, the larger the cracks and the more expensive they are to fix.

Hunt and other company owners say that they are afraid to hire a lot of new workers, as the spike in sales is temporary, but the economy is so weak.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com