Choosing the best foundation contractor for the job is the most important part of the building process. The foundation supports the entire home. If it is not structurally sound, the house will develop cracks, and uneven floors and walls over time. A foundation that is not properly waterproofed will allow moisture into the home. A skilled foundation contractor can help prevent these problems.
The first step in choosing a housing contractor is to determine what type of foundation you want for your home. In some parts of the country there is little choice. In parts of the Midwest, basement foundations are very common, while in the South it is more common to have a slab foundation. Many people, however, have a choice between a slab or basement foundation.
Choose a contractor that has extensive experience building the type of foundation that you plan to have. A skilled contractor who commonly builds slab foundations may have excellent references, but be unprepared for building a basement foundation, where pressure from the soil presents specific design problems.
The decision to choose a basement foundation creates additional questions. Most people are familiar with concrete block foundations, but there is a growing interest in the use of poured concrete for the basement. This process involves setting up concrete forms along the wall surface of the basement, and filling them with concrete. Once the concrete cures, the contractor removes the forms. Someone interested in a poured concrete foundation should choose a foundation contractor that is familiar with the process of pouring concrete walls, as this is a very different process than laying concrete block.
Develop a short list of foundation contractors that are experienced in the type of foundation you plan to build, and then conduct an interview each. Ask for a bid and references at the time as well. While you wait for the bids to return, contact the references, and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of the foundation. Ask what type of waterproofing was applied, how effective it was, and how closely the foundation contractor adhered to the bid.
Once you receive bids from the contractors, check each one carefully to ensure that they contain the same information. For example, one bid may be all-inclusive, while another may not include payments that you will be required to make to the concrete company, or for excavation. Before making your final decision, consider how easy it was to communicate with each contractor. Contractors that are slow to get in contact with you, or who leave you waiting for bids are not likely to be more responsive once you award them the job.