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Understanding Your Engineering Report

engineering report Structural Engineering Dallas Fort Worth

Understanding Your Engineering Report

The best way to get an accurate assessment of your home’s foundation is by hiring a structural engineer to produce an engineering report. For over twenty years, TEC has been spreading the message to the Dallas – Fort Worth metroplex,

“If you suspect foundation problems, refer to an independent, Licensed Professional Engineer FIRST.”

For best results, we recommend using an engineer that remains independent of foundation repair companies. The title “engineer” can be thrown around lightly in the construction industry. As such, be sure to validate that he/she is Licensed by the State of Texas.

Search the P.E. database here: https://engineers.texas.gov/roster/pesearch.html

Is hiring a structural engineer worth it?

Absolutely! A Licensed P.E. applies his/her scientific and engineering education, training,  and experience to determine the cause and extent of any diminished foundation performance. Once he/she has identified the issue, the engineer will draft a remediation plan in an 8-10 page engineering report. Often, the solution recommended by the engineer does not involve foundation repair. Instead, he/she may suggest drainage improvements or installing a foundation watering system.

Engineering Report

At TEC, we perform Level “A” and Level “B” investigations when evaluating a home’s foundation and structure. A summary of the following will be included in the engineer’s report:

Level A Investigations

  1. Interview with the homeowner about the history of the property and performance of the structure
  2. Review provided documents; construction drawings, engineer’s reports, etc.
  3. Visually observe the interior and exterior of the home
  4. Providing a written report with the following information:
    • Site observations, characteristics, and data deemed pertinent by the engineer
    • Discussion of major factors that influence the foundation’s performance such as drainage concerns, interfering trees, and landscape, soil conditions, etc.
    • Field notes and other pertinent data
    • Conclusions and recommendations for further investigation, remedial or preventative measures. Some examples include; plumbing and sprinkler testing, foundation repair, drainage improvements, installing a foundation watering system, etc.

 Level B Investigations

A Level “B” engineering analysis includes a written report with the items listed in Level “A” and the following:

  1. Foundation elevation survey to represent the shape of the foundation or floor levels
  2. A drawing depicting the relative elevations

Once you have your engineering report in hand, you can take it to two or three repair companies for estimates. Remember, lifting your foundation is just one way to remedy foundation settling. Let our engineers find the best solution for you.

Contact TEC for an engineering report. 

Call (817)576-1973



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Thermal Imaging Detects the Good, Bad and the Ugly

TEC is heating up the Home Inspection scene by offering infrared (thermal imaging) as an add-on to our traditional home inspection. The advanced, non-invasive imaging allows our inspectors to look beyond the sheetrock, so to speak.

The following deficiencies can be documented with a thermal imaging camera:

Moisture intrusion that could lead to mold and structural damage.

  • leaky roofs
  • plumbing leaks
  • wet insulation
  • moisture in the walls

Areas of the home experiencing energy loss.

  • heat and air infiltration in walls, ceilings, floors, windows, and doors
  • damaged and/or malfunctioning radiant heating systems
  • air-conditioner compressor leaks
  • structural defects that can lead to energy loss

Dangerous electrical concerns.

  • overloaded and faulty circuit breakers
  • overheated electrical equipment and component
  • unexpected hot spots (faulty wiring)

Unexpected visitors living within the structure.

  • pest infestations
  • rodents such as rats, mice, and other larger pests

For more information on TEC Home Inspections click here.




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Buying a House in Texas – Avoid This Mistake

Purchasing a home can be a stressful process for everyone involved. One common mistake that people make when buying a house is not choosing the right Home Inspector. TEC has worked directly with realtors and their clients for the past five years. We can’t keep count of the phone calls our office receives from panicked buyers, sellers, or realtors needing an inspection “YESTERDAY.”

Good news, TEC has you covered. Here are a few ways we go above and beyond to make your life a little bit easier:

Home Inspection

Throughout the inspection, we examine more than 600 components, taking images along the way. Each item is inspected for structural soundness, proper function, and code compliance.

UNIQUE TO TEC: Our Licensed Professional Home Inspectors perform foundation elevation surveys on every home, at no additional charge.

An elevation level survey provides two important advantages for the homeowner:

  1. In both new and older homes, the survey gives the buyer a point of reference that paints a clear picture if future settling occurs. * Comes in handy if you ever have to battle with a home warranty company or builder.
  2. The survey pinpoints existing foundation concerns. * Might not be a deal-breaker, but may be grounds for some negotiating.

Our Home Inspectors train alongside our engineer for two weeks before they are allowed to perform an inspection. Therefore, they are better equipped to differentiate between cosmetic and structural flaws. If there is a concern about a home’s foundation, TEC Home Inspectors consult with our in-house engineers. * Most Inspectors will simply cite “refer to an engineer” if they see a crack or other signs of foundation problems. Then the homebuyer has to scramble to schedule an engineer within the option period, leading to more money out of pocket.

Foundation Inspections and Structural Evaluations

If your home inspection report says to “consult with an engineer,” give us a call. We will everything possible to work within your option period. TEC has a solid reputation for providing independent, thorough evaluations for DFW homeowners and prospective buyers.

BONUS: If you schedule a Home Inspection and a Foundation Evaluation at the same time, we take 20% off the engineer’s fee.






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Home Inspection Checklist: 10 Ways to Prepare

Home Inspector | Dallas Fort Worth Arlington Mansfield 

Joe Bourget, Professional Home Inspector TREC License #22546

There are several challenges that a Home Inspector must overcome to keep the home inspection process running as smoothly as possible. If you are a homeowner or a realtor in the selling process, there are a few things you can do to help your listing shine during a home inspection. We interviewed Licensed Professional Home Inspector, Joe Bourget and he gave us this Home Inspection Checklist, 10 Ways to Prepare:


1. Don’t assume that the utilities are still on.

Confirm that the water, electrical and gas services (including pilot lights) will be on during the inspection so the home inspector can determine if the dishwasher, hot water heater, stove, electrical components, etc. are functioning properly.

2. Make sure your pets won’t hinder the inspection.

I love dogs! Unfortunately, they don’t always welcome me. Please remember to alert the inspector if animals will be present during the appointment. It is best to remove them from the premises to speed things along.

3. Check your light bulbs.

I can’t tell you how many homeowners forget to replace old light bulbs with new ones before an inspection. Take the time to replace any burned-out bulbs (prior to your appointment) to avoid a “light is inoperable” comment on the home inspection report.

4. Replace dead batteries.

Don’t forget to replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors too! A home inspector will do a walk-through of your home and test these items. Any detectors with a missing or low battery will be listed in the report as a deficiency. It might not seem like a big deal, preparing ahead of time can help keep your home inspection report short and sweet.

Dirty or missing filters lead buyers to believe that the HVAC unit has not been properly maintained.

5. Check your filters.

Avoid an embarrassing reveal of filthy HVAC filters in front of a prospective buyer by checking them beforehand. When filters clog, they prevent proper airflow through the vents. Ill-fitting or dirty filters can cause the HVAC system to malfunction and will be noted in a report.

6. Clear debris away from the foundation.

Woodpiles, fallen branches, etc. create an ideal habitat for pests. To avoid a comment on “conducive conditions” for termites in your home inspection, clear a path before your inspector arrives.

7. Remove clutter.

Do a quick scan of the property and ensure that nothing is blocking access to major appliances, the HVAC equipment, all electrical service panels, hot water heaters, and attic entries.

8. Find your keys.

Make sure that you have copies of keys for sheds, attic doors, electric service panels, garages, exterior gates and any other locked areas that the inspector will need to access.

Per TREC standards, all tree limbs within 10 feet of the home must be noted in the inspector’s report.

9. Trim your branches.

Tree limbs should be at least ten feet away from your home’s roof. An inspector will make a note of any offending branches in his report.

10. Tackle small repairs in advance.

If your property has missing doorknobs, locks, latches, window panes, screens, gutters, downspouts, chimney caps, etc., it is best to fix those prior to listing your home. A Licensed Professional Home Inspector is required to note all of the above in the home inspection report.

Selling your home can be an emotional and arduous process. By preparing your listing with this home inspection checklist, you will set the pace for a hassle-free closing. Happy selling!

To schedule a home inspection in Dallas, Fort Worth, or surrounding areas, contact TEC today.






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Are Sticking Doors a Sign of Foundation Problems?

It’s a beautiful day in Texas. The birds are chirping and the kids are happily playing in the yard. You spontaneously decide to open the windows and invite in the fresh air. There is only one problem; the window is stuck. In fact, several windows throughout the house refuse to open properly. Then, you notice a crack extending from the corner of the window frame up to the crown molding. Panic sets in.

foundation problems homeowner cracks in home

Keep calm and call a licensed Professional Engineer for an unbiased evaluation of your home’s foundation.

You begin to ask yourself…

Does this house have foundation problems?

Will I lose the money I invested?

How will I afford to send the kids to college?

What about my retirement?

Maybe that is a tad overdramatic, but we get it! We’ve all heard the horror stories about homes needing $100,000 worth of foundation repair. The good news is that extreme cases like that are rare. However, when it comes to foundation problems, early detection is the key to maintaining your sanity (and home equity).

Sticking Doors, Jammed Windows, and Cracks – Signs of Foundation Problems?

All the above indicate foundation settling, but only a licensed Professional Engineer can determine if there is cause for alarm. Keep in mind that foundation damage is very common in Texas due to the presence of expansive soil.

Dallas is home to Texas Blackland Prairie soils. The clay soils in this region have high shrink-swell properties that require special design accommodations to ensure proper structural integrity.

Structural or Non-Structural?

Concrete slabs such as patios, sidewalks, and garage floors are often the first structures to show signs of foundation settling. So how can you tell if a crack is structural or cosmetic? One of the typical signs of a non-structural defect is that the crack is very thin or narrow, almost hairline. There is also no noticeable broken or dislocated masonry surrounding the crack.

On the other hand, cracks that may indicate structural failure tend to be wide. They often appear in a stair-step pattern and lead to displaced or crumbling masonry. When the concrete or masonry is disturbed, areas nearby begin to shift into the void space. For example, when doors and windows go out of alignment, it is usually the result of shifting exterior walls.

Look closely, your foundation may be trying to tell you something.

Unlevel pavement is a common sign that the soil beneath the concrete is settling.

Notice the frieze board separating from your brick? You may need a foundation inspection.








Detective Work

In the Dallas – Fort Worth metroplex, precipitation levels are generally low so you can rule out the probability of wood bloat causing windows to stick. However, it is highly likely that your home is constructed on expansive clay soil.

Expansive Clay Soil

The hot Texas sun scorches the soil during the summer months, robbing its moisture and causing the clay to shrink. When the clay soil retracts, the foundation moves as well. When moisture levels increase in the winter, the clay swells and the foundation lifts. This kind of back and forth movement stresses the concrete slab and often leads to cracking.

Homeowners tend to notice the most extreme signs of foundation settling during periods of excessive dryness or after a heavy rainfall. 

If you have a combination of sticking doors, wide cracks and displaced masonry, then it’s time to call in the professionals who can best help you deal with your foundation problems.

Schedule a foundation evaluation today at 817-576-1973

Testimonial: Not Every Foundation Needs a Repair














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7 Tips for Home Foundation Maintenance

Foundation Maintenance

You’ve probably heard this before; an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. It’s a cliché for a reason — because it’s true! The cost of foundation maintenance can be minimal and require little time and effort, but a foundation repair can cost you thousands of dollars!

Consider these 7 Tips for Home Foundation Maintenance:

  • If you see minor cracks in your home, don’t ignore them. Write down where you found the cracks, and measure how long they are. Check the length of the cracks every couple of months or so. If the cracks are getting longer, it may be time for you to get a specialist to inspect your home and your foundation.
  • Maintain a constant level of moisture for the soil around your house. The soil you find all over the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex can absorb and lose considerable amounts of water. During months of heavy rain, the soil will swell up when it becomes wet. During the summer and other dry months, the soil will shrink. This constant expansion and contraction put stress on the foundation of your home. To prevent possible damage, you may need to use soaker hoses to keep the moisture level steady. Watering your home foundation won’t fix your current foundation problems, but it will slow down the rate of deterioration.
  • Provide drainage away from the foundation perimeter and ensure there is no standing water near the foundation wall or slab. This may encourage even moisture content underneath the slab and reduces soil movement under the foundation slab.
  • Make sure the trees around your home aren’t causing problems for your foundation. Check with a specialist, especially if the trees around your home are large. Be sure to water the trees around your home in the dry season. Don’t be too stingy with the water, as large trees can absorb up to 150 gallons of water. If the trees can’t find the needed moisture, they will venture towards the soil beneath your home’s foundation.
  • Keep the ground elevations of the flower beds around your home 3 to 4 inches below the slab. The flower bed should be sloped away from the foundation for proper drainage. Doing this keeps the moisture from seeping into the wall system or inside the home.
  • Maintain a steady temperature inside your home. This will help prevent (or at least reduce) the tendency of the concrete slab to expand and contract. That means you shouldn’t let too long a time pass when you don’t heat or cool your home.
  • Check for leaks inside and around your home. This includes checking your sewer line, potable water lines, and the plumbing system. Leaking water can cause adjacent areas of the soil to have inconsistent moisture levels, which will damage your foundation.

Following these 7 maintenance tips will go a long way in helping to protect your home foundation from damage and costly repairs. You might also consider an annual inspection as part of your ongoing foundation maintenance program.

TEC Foundation Inspections

Schedule today! 817-576-1973



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What to Expect from a Home Inspection

What to Expect From a Home Inspection in Dallas – Fort Worth

The TEC team is always receiving questions from first time home buyers who aren’t sure what to expect from a professional home inspection. Buying your first home can be stressful! Don’t worry, we are here to help.

Dallas Fort Worth Home Inspections

Frequently asked questions and answers about getting a Home Inspection:

Should I get a home inspection before I list my house?
Generally, home inspections are scheduled (at the expense of the buyer) before closing on the sale of a property. However, some sellers choose to do a “pre-listing inspection” prior to putting their home on the market. By working proactively to identify defects, the seller has sufficient time to schedule repairs and can control costs easily.

Is getting a home inspection required by the bank?
Not necessarily, but it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. More than 95% of buyers opt for a professional home inspection. A good home inspector can help identify major deficiencies, helping you make an informed decision about your investment.

What does getting a Home Inspection involve?

A typical home inspection takes anywhere from two to four hours, depending on the size and age of the home.

Here is a short checklist of items that you can expect your home inspector to examine:

Exterior of the home:
• Brick and mortar
• Siding, flashings, and trim
• The roof, eaves, and fascias
• Exterior doors
• Landscaping, grading, drainage and retaining walls
• Decks, patios, balconies, and any steps, stoops porches or railing
• Garages and carports
• Walkways, patios, and driveways
• Downspouts
• Skylights
Interior of the home:
• Doors and windows
• Ceilings, floors, and walls
• Any steps, stairways or railings within the home
• Countertops and cabinetry
• Garage doors
• Installed appliances
• Fireplaces, vent systems, exhaust systems, chimneys and flues
• Smoke detectors
• Plumbing
• Water pressure
• Attic insulation and vapor retarders
• Electrical wiring, switches, and fixtures
• Heating and cooling equipment, access panels and thermostats
Additional Services

Some home inspectors will also include floor level surveying to identify if there are any foundation concerns with the home. Other inspections that you might want to consider are irrigation inspections, termite inspections, and pool/spa inspections. Check with your inspector to see if their company offers these additional services.
Remember that a good home inspector should always be objective! They should take photos of defects and take the time to explain their findings to you. We always recommend that homeowners are present for the inspection to ask questions and make observations.

It is TEC’s mission to help homeowners make informed decisions about their biggest investment, their home. Call today to schedule your Professional Home Inspection with Thomas Engineering Consultants. (817) 576-1973

Related to this article:

Home Inspection Checklist: 10 Ways to Prepare

TEC Home Inspections





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Top 5 Signs of Foundation Problems

cracks clay soilTexas has a reputation for beautiful women…and terrible soil.

Engineers consider several factors when performing a foundation inspection; the weight of your home (including the contents), the soil composition, and the materials used for construction. Fortunately for homeowners, signs of foundation movement are easily detectable.

The Top 5 Signs of Foundation Problems

  • Improperly functioning doors and windows: A good contractor will check doors and windows during installation to ensure they are working properly. Therefore, post-construction issues could be a hint that your home has a foundation problem. Call an engineer if your doors and windows…
    • Are difficult to open and close
    • Swing open when unlatched
    • Have visible gaps at the bottom or top
    • Scrape the floor
    • Have cracks on the walls at the frame corner
  • Problematic basement walls: When a home is designed with a basement, the immense weight of the structure, and everything inside of it, rests on the supporting basement walls.  As such, sagging, bowing, or leaning basement walls indicate an issue with your home’s foundation. By taking immediate and proactive measures you can reduce the risk of major foundation repairs in the future.
  • Chimney damage: Chimneys made with a rock or brick exterior tend to show early indications of foundation movement. The twisting and pulling of settling causes the mortar to fail. A leaning chimney, or a chimney with visible gaps or cracks, can be a red flag for foundation issues.
  • Questionable soil composition: Ideally, the soil surrounding your home is dry, well-compacted and there are no signs of standing water. Visible slope movement such as minor landslides or cracks in the ground signal poor soil quality. There are a number of solutions to remedy this. Call your local irrigation company if you notice water pooling around your home, especially if you notice moisture without an apparent cause. The important thing to understand is that the quality of your soil has a direct impact on the foundation.
  • Uneven floors:  If your home’s foundation is in jeopardy you may notice floor tiles cracking, lifting, warping, sagging and bulging. Homes with carpeting can make these indicators less noticeable. Pay attention to changes in your flooring to help you identify concerns BEFORE they get out of hand.

If you are concerned about your home’s foundation, consult a foundation expert (A LICENSED ENGINEER) right away. When choosing the best professional to inspect your home, do your homework. Beware of free estimates from companies who may be trying to sell you their service.

Check out TEC’s reviews:

TEC Website, Client Testimonials

Google Reviews for TEC

Yelp Reviews, TEC

Facebook Reviews for Thomas Engineering Consultants

Nextdoor Reviews for TEC

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5 Tips For Dealing with Home Repair Contractors

Home Repairs, Guide tips 5 Tips for Dealing with Home Repair Contractors

Home repair contractors range from honest and hardworking … to unreliable and dishonest. Although it would not be fair to make a sweeping generalization, it is safe to say that any time you decide to invest in costly repairs it is wise to proceed with caution. Otherwise, you might end up with people who, instead of saving you money and protecting your investment in your home, would plunge you into a financial hole, leaving you full of regret.

Here are 5 tips for dealing with home repair contractors to ensure satisfactory services rendered:

  1. Verify Legitimacy

Before anything else, always check the legitimacy of the contractors you plan to hire. Do they have the appropriate license to contract for home repairs in your state? This is crucial because not all states have the same laws and regulations for various trades and businesses.

  1. Do a Background Check

Nearly everything can be found online these days, including consumer feedback about goods and service providers. Of course, you’ll need to sift through to identify valid complaints and separate the “real” positive recommendations from the self-serving press releases. Here are a few things to look for:

  • transparency about costs and/or billing practices
  • professional courtesy or ethics
  • capability and efficiency; resources available such as manpower
  • willingness to correct any mistakes or misunderstandings amicably
  1. Have a Plan

You, as the contracting party, are entitled to have a plan for home repair that you want followed. Some contractors will want to muscle-in and impose their ideas on you. But no matter how experienced a contractor may be, it is always you who should have the last say. After all, it is your home and you are the one who will be paying for the services. Therefore, your suggestions and decisions are just as valid as that of the contractors. Keep in mind that a professional will welcome discussions and suggestions, and will take time to explain the needed repair work.

  1. Get Everything in Black and White

Avoid verbal agreements. Everything that you and the contractors agree upon should be in writing. Supporting illustrations or photographs, when available, should also be part of any agreements. This is for mutual protection, so do not hesitate to get this done before starting the home repairs.

  1. Pay for Services Promptly

Trust is a two way street! Make sure that you have reserved or allocated more than enough funds for the repairs. The contractors are running a business. It is important to pay invoices on time, in the amount and terms agreed upon.

The key to a harmonious relationship and a positive outcome when dealing with home repair contractors is to be mutually professional towards one another. The goal should always be a win-win situation.


Signs & Symptoms of Foundation Movement

The causes of foundation movement are varied and present themselves differently. The most common factors are soil conditions, location, materials used, and the weight of your home. All of these have an impact on your foundation.

The most obvious indicators that your foundation is moving are:

  • Diagonal cracks on interior walls at the corners of doors and windows. Cracks can also occur at intersections of ceilings and walls or wall surfaces.
  • Door binds and windows that do not open or close properly, as if somehow the frame has become too small or “bloated.” You’ll notice some curves on the frames. This goes for cabinet doors too.
  • Floors are not level. They’re uneven or sloping.
  • Exterior brick cracks
  • Concrete perimeter beam cracks
  • Displaced cracked moldings
  • Separation of wood trim above brick
  • Separation of bricks and adjacent wood surfaces on the sides of your chimneys and garage doors
  • Clearly noticeable new spaces between walls, and spaces on ceilings or floors
  • Walls separating from your house frame

Causes of Foundation Movement

Our homes’ foundations are designed to transfer contents and weight to the underlying soil or rock. In the Southern states, most foundations are slab-on-grade (slab foundation), however, the pier and beam foundations are still commonly found and used even today. You can see this type especially in older homes.

The shrinking and swelling of expansive soil, just under your home’s foundation, is the primary cause of movement. This expansive soil swells when moisture levels increase. Conversely, they shrink when moisture levels decrease, causing some foundation movement. Foundation movement consolidates improperly compacted soil or rock fill, where portions of the foundation are forced to settle.

Since our homes transfer weight, the foundation moves when soil moves. Foundations move uniformly, they do not deflect or become un-leveled.  Some parts of the foundation may move more than others when going through a process called differential movement. In differential movement, foundations are damaged. The same goes for cosmetic finishes all over our houses.

Differential Movement Limiting

Soil moisture variations can cause swelling and shrinking on soils that support your foundation. Therefore, minimizing those moisture variations would also minimize foundation movement.

Here are the three most common things that you can do to limit differential movement:

1. Water

Always water your lawn during dry periods. Water the area adjacent  to your foundation as well.

2.  Drainage

The soil of the foundation perimeter should be higher than its surrounding soil. That way, water will drain away from your foundations.

3. Trees and Shrubs

Plant large trees or shrubs  close to your house’s  foundation. Doing this would result in the drying of the soil under your house. Should existing trees or shrubs cause the stability of your foundation to be affected, a barrier trench can be inserted between trees and foundations.