What to Ask Your Service Professional

There are several factors to consider when choosing a concrete and foundation repair service company.   Similar to other service-oriented businesses, not all concrete and foundation repair companies are created equal.  It is likely you have or will eventually encounter one or more unprofessional contractors in other industries.  However, by asking the right questions of the companies you are interviewing for your repairs, you can avoid these common consumer pitfalls.  Here are the Top 10 Questions to ask your service professional, including our responses as a company:

1. Is your company properly licensed and insured in the jurisdiction where the work will be performed?

If the company you are considering isn’t licensed, move on immediately.  Being licensed in our industry means you understand fundamental construction standards and techniques.   Without a license, your contractor is working undercover with ZERO accountability.

Liftech is fully licensed (Residential Contractor, Class C) and insured with a $2 million umbrella policy and workman’s comp.   We have all the necessary certifications in place to perform our work professionally and responsibly

2. Do you subcontract any of your services and how are your employees trained?

In order to be properly qualified to install liquid polyurethane systems and perform foundation repairs it takes several years of training and certification. This is a very technical process and should not be performed without proper training and experience. There is no such thing as a simple repair. General labors and subcontractors need not apply to perform highly technical repairs like ours.

Liftech consists only of W-2 employees, many of whom are salaried and all are offered medical and retirement benefits. To maintain the best product and service for our customers, it is important to retain our employees for the long-term! All employees also receive full background checks prior to employment.

Liftech sales staff are fully trained on the methodologies of concrete installation and repair, proper and accurate bidding, and all have a background in construction and/or earth-based sciences. They are the “doctors” in the field prescribing accurate and correct concrete repairs for our customers.

All Liftech field technicians receive full hands-on training with our owners and master technicians for a minimum of 6 months and are under apprenticeship for at least 1 year before they are allowed to perform repairs without direct supervision. All field crews are overseen by a Lead Technician at every job site with a minimum of 2 years of service.

3. For concrete leveling, are you injecting mud or polyurethane under my concrete?  Is the product safe for the environment?

Unfortunately, some companies performing our type of work are not using the proper systems. There are nearly a 1000 different types of expanding foams and every one serves a different function. Other concrete lifting companies across the Front Range are using closed-cell polyurethanes that will raise your concrete, but are not designed for geotechnical applications and are therefore susceptible to failure. NOT ALL FOAMS ARE CREATED EQUAL!

Liftech uses a system utilizing North Carolina Foam, Inc, the first and only company to develop a chemically stable polymer specifically formulated for geotechnical applications and used for over 20 years now. Liftech is one of only a few companies in the state of Colorado who is certified and authorized to use these systems.

Make sure to ask who manufactures the foam and if it is not an NCFI product you may want to reconsider. For more information on NCFI go to http://www.ncfi.com/geotechnical.

Liftech uses NCFI’s 24-010 and 24-486, the two systems most commonly used in concrete raising, have been extensively tested by independent laboratories to meet EPA Standard Environmental tests. The results show that all NCFI polymer-resin materials are environmentally benign and have no detrimental effect to ground soils as a result of either decomposition or  and degradation of the polymer. NCFI’s polymer contributes to the LEED point system as material components used in NCFI’s 010/486 polymer use rapidly renewable materials. In addition, its use does not lead to the pollution of surrounding groundwater supplies and several of the systems carry NSF 61 certification.

4. How many repairs did you perform in the last year? Over the life of your company?

Sometimes it’s about the numbers.  If a company and their employees aren’t getting up to bat enough, the odds of your repair going awry increase significantly.   Additionally, these “Mom and Pop” operations easily fly under the radar screen with little to no information about their company online or elsewhere – you often don’t know “who” you are doing business with.

Liftech has several full-time crews performing multiple repairs on a daily basis across the Denver Metro area and beyond.  We have successfully repaired over 10,000 homes, businesses and roads and annually we complete over 1,500 repairs.  We have an open door policy with our customers and welcome all feedback from them! J

5. What equipment will you be utilizing for my repairs and how long will my repair take?

Polyurethane leveling and foundation repair equipment is highly specialized, expensive and tedious to maintain.  Equipment breakdowns in the field are a reality for inexperienced technicians and business owners, much to the detriment of the customer of course.  Hours or days of delays ultimately cause unnecessary heartache and stress for these impacted customers.   However, barring any setbacks, most repairs will take less than a day utilizing our concrete leveling system and for foundation repairs, those will take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on the scope of the project.

Liftech technicians are fully trained on all aspects of our equipment, from start to finish.  We maintain stringent daily equipment logs and procedures not only to keep our equipment running, but running correctly for the repair to be 100% successful.  We have backup equipment as fail-safes when something breaks and all of our equipment is industry-best.  We will have your repair completed within the agreed upon timeframe.

6. What type of structural repairs do you offer?  Is it necessary to repair the ENTIRE foundation?

We offer a variety of options to repair your foundation depending on the failure that has occurred.  A Liftech professional will discuss the different options with you at the time of your evaluation.  These repairs may include helical piers, push piers, wall anchors, power braces, epoxy injections and other methods prescribed by our staff and approved by a licensed structural engineer.  The method by which we repair your home depends greatly on its construction, underlying soil conditions and the nature of the failure. Liftech makes recommendations as to the type of repair and the method used, and ultimately a structural engineer approves or modifies those final plans.

 Liftech is one of only a handful of companies in the state of Colorado who is certified and authorized to use CHANCE® and Hubbell Power Systems foundation repair products.

Liftech only makes recommendations to repair areas that are in need of remediation. There are some cases areas that were not repaired can still susceptible to movement since the house sits on the same soil as the failed area once did. Over time it is possible for those areas to continue moving relative to the repaired area which might cause additional failure in the unrepaired areas of the structure. We typically will only address or evaluate those areas when necessary. In order to ensure no future failure, in rare cases, the entire foundation may need to be stabilized.

Liftech will only quote you for the repairs that are most important and necessary at your home.  Unfortunately many competitors are on a “fishing expedition” when they arrive at your home: prescribing repairs that are beyond what is truly necessary and driving up the cost of the total bill by thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars!  We will prescribe only the repair(s) you need and review additional options only when you request them.

7. What is your warranty and how many warranty claims do you typically receive in a year?

Obviously if a company isn’t offering a warranty, move on.   But remember, a warranty is only as good as the company backing that warranty.   Industry warranties can range from no warranty to a lifetime warranty (typically for foundation repairs), but always check the fine print!   And keep in mind, if the company you are considering isn’t going to be around in a few years, your warranty is useless.

Liftech’s industry leading warranties are clearly spelled out in the estimate under the Terms & Conditions your salesperson provides you.   We will gladly answer any questions you have about our warranty.  Warranty work represents less than 4% of the repairs we perform annually; extremely low for any service-based business.

8. How do you accept payment?

Any major business should accept cash, check or credit cards.   But how much do they want as a deposit to schedule your repair?   Did you know that many businesses float equipment leases, rent payments and overall business expenses by accepting upfront deposits on work that hasn’t even been performed?  Some of these deposits are as high as 50% or greater in the service industries.  One bad month or two, the company you worked with goes under, and you are out of luck on your repair and your deposit.  Not to mention they have you “hostage” until the repair is completed on their own schedule, not yours … which can drag on, and on, and on…

Liftech accepts all forms of payments.  For smaller projects you don’t pay us until we have completed your repair and are satisfied with the work.  For larger projects we may require a maximum deposit of 35% to order materials for the job.  Final payment is taken after we are done with your project and you are satisfied.

We also offer financing options on larger projects for those who qualify – just ask your salesperson!  

9. How do you handle customer complaints and unsuccessful repairs?

Even for the best service companies out there, not all repairs go as planned.   Reversing concrete and foundation failures in a matter of hours or days that occurred over many years, if not decades, can be a tricky process when the concrete doesn’t behave nicely.  Cracking a slab or one that simply won’t lift can be unfortunate realities when it comes to attempting repairs on settled concrete.  But when your contractor hits a snag, will they just pack up and leave?  How will they resolve any problems with you, the customer?

In most cases, if Liftech can’t complete the repair as planned, we won’t charge the customer for some or all of the services we ultimately couldn’t provide.  In many cases, we figure out a solution that still allows us to complete the work to the satisfaction of the customer.  In the rare case that a customer isn’t satisfied with the end result, we will work with the customer on a resolution that is agreeable to all parties.   We take great pride in having 95% of our customers giving us a “5 Star” or “A+” rating.  These same customers provide life-long referrals for our business, so any complaints are handled quickly and effectively by our employees and our owners.

10. Can you provide references? (this is a trick question…)

The savvy consumer will ask to check references, but we are going to advise against this – YES, IT’S TRUE! Do you think the company you are considering is going to provide a bad reference? Quite the opposite; they will provide customers who only have one view of their services – EVERYTHING IS SUPER! (Who knows, maybe Uncle Bob is in the mix and you don’t even know it). There are several free online contractor advocacy websites that provide free, unbiased reviews from customers who have used these companies for the same services you are considering. These websites include Yelp!, Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, Google, the BBB and more. All offer, unfiltered and unsolicited reviews (good or bad) from the consumers themselves with the business proprietor having no control over what is posted about them. In some cases the repair process is not an inexpensive proposition and you want to make sure that you choose a properly licensed and certified contractor and the best service company based on the information that’s available to you.

Liftech maintains 95% A+ and “5 Star” ratings across the board. We are proud to have the highest ratings of any concrete lifting and foundation repair company in Colorado.