Architecture & Building

Top 3 Signs of Foundation Damage in Houses or Commercial Buildings

Your house is probably your most valuable investment. It not only reflects your personality but also protects your family. That’s why it pays to protect every aspect of your house. The strength of any building lies in its foundation. But unfortunately, most homeowners often neglect the health of their home’s foundation.

Over the years, like other parts of your home, the foundation also requires some maintenance. The change in soil composition beneath the foundation may lead to major structural problems within your home. When a structure is out of level, it needs urgent repairing to avoid other potential issues.

Foundation repair is a necessary part of any home maintenance plan. By timely fixing minor problems before it turns into a major issue, homeowners can save thousands of dollars. This is because proactive foundation repair is much less expensive than reactive foundation repair. To help you avoid major foundation-related problems, we’ve listed the top 3 signs that you need foundation repairs. By identifying the following warning signs of foundation damage in houses or commercial structures, you can take timely action to solve the issue.

  1. Foundation Cracks and Fractures

Typically, expanding and contracting soils, as well as rainy weather, negatively impact the health of your foundation. If you spot gaps in your foundation or cracks in the floor and walls of your home, it signals a problem with the foundation. It’s quite common and normal to find 1/16” hairline fissures. However, more horizontal cracks in brick exteriors indicate a problem. Vertical cracks aren’t that serious because dry walls run in that same direction. Although, be watchful of a gap of even ¼”. Also, the cracks of length more than 15mm, which is .6” needs to be fixed immediately. Take a look at the interior walls to find out horizontal cracks. The 45-degree angle fractures indicate that severe foundation movement has occurred. It is to be noted here that cracks don’t always mean that your foundation is damaged.

  1. Sagging or Uneven Floors

If you notice cracked tiles or hollow-sounding near tile, it suggests that the foundation beneath has dipped downward. A damaged foundation creates an uneven surface for your home. The slab foundations and pier and beam foundations show different signs of damage because they’re positioned differently. In the case of pier and beam foundations, the damage is indicated with sagging floors. While concrete slabs foundation damage makes floors uneven or out of level. All these conditions can be dangerous and need to get repaired by a foundation repair specialist before it is too late.

  1. Gaps around Window Frames or Exterior Doors

Another warning sign of foundation damage is gaps around your home’s exterior window frames and exterior doors. This includes warped doorframes and difficulty to open doors. In addition to this, sometimes the kitchen cabinets or countertops also become tilted. They might develop a gap 1/8” wide from the wall.

These are just the top three warning signs of foundation damage. Settlement issues, standing water, and mold growth near the bottom of the walls are some other commonly noticed signs of damage. Whichever sign you notice always consult a home renovation and repair contractor to prevent further damage.

How to Find the Best Contractor to Build Your Home

Home is not a place, it’s an emotion! Building a home of your dreams comes with much excitement, as well as, stress. The process of constructing a home, from finding the right property to hiring a reliable contractor is not an easy one. Of all the tasks, one of the most crucial is choosing a home builder to turn your dream project into a reality. Since a home is a place where we spend most of our time, nobody wants low-quality construction details.

Therefore, when searching for a custom home builder, it is necessary to find a right fit for your specific type of project. You need to find someone who can bring your vision to life. The contracting company you select is going to be around for many, many months (or even a year!) which means they must be trustworthy to avoid dealing with stress, unexpected developments, and challenging elements. As such, practicing due diligence is essential before hiring a contractor.

If you’re also planning to start your big project soon, consider the following tips to find the right home contractor.


  • Develop a detailed plan

Even before you approach a contractor, you should have your list of must-haves and your non-negotiable elements. These are the elements that are absolutely essential for you and it can be anything, such a number of bathrooms, a south-facing patio, or a home office. To develop this plan of what couldn’t live without, you can work with an architect or a professional designer. The plan should contain the general layout and structure information about the final design of your space. Discuss this comprehensive plan with your contractor about what you have planned for your space.

  • Ask about timelines

When you want everything to be just as perfect as you dreamed of, it’s worth waiting a year or two. However, this doesn’t mean you put your dreams on hold. Make sure to ask your residential contractor how long it will take to complete the job. Though you should keep a margin of extra eight weeks to help contractor manage your expectations, but make sure to tell them your absolute deadline. There are many unexpected incidents that can happen on a construction site which delays the work, but your contractor should be able to give you an idea of an expected work completion date.

  • Verify licenses and insurance certificates

The home contractor you choose must hold a current, valid license from the Contractors State License Board. In addition to this, it is necessary that the construction company has a recent certificate of insurance. Working with a licensed and insured contractor will protect you in the future. As we all know, accidents are part of the norm in this industry, so make sure your contractor is set up to deal with them properly.

In addition to these points, to find a reliable residential contractor you can start with asking your friends and family to get referrals. Once you have shortlisted a few names, ask for a list of references to check their previous work records. Moreover, before you sign a contract, make sure you understand each and every point.

Architecture & Building, Homeowner Tips

How To Select The Right Contractor To Build Your House

Building a house from scratch is often a nerve-wracking and daunting experience to undertake. This time inevitably engenders feelings of apprehension, excitement, stress, and confusion pertaining to the alterations of what you thought would be an ostensibly fixed path towards constructing the home of your dreams. This dreaded feeling of overwhelm and arduousness can be alleviated to a significant degree with the assistance of a reputable and considerate house contractor.

A successful contracting enterprise would be competent to materialize your visions of the perfect house into reality by incorporating their best skills, labor, and contacts. Few things are as permanent as your house, thereby, the investment you make in this arena is crucial and long-term. It automatically necessitates the involvement of a contracting service that you can depend on for years to come. In fact, it is the decision of choosing such a company that is the hardest part rather than the actual construction of the house. As such, settling down on a name of a reputed contracting service can be a challenging one.

Enumerated below are some of the guidelines that would help you to navigate through this situation to decide on a company that would be conducive to your proclivities.

Establishing a Timeline

Building house entails a great deal of patience on your side. There might arise a situation that would lead to a wait of at least a few months, maybe even a year to be able to render the services of the company you want to work with. In that case, you would have to be responsible for making an executive decision regarding whether or not you would be willing to wait that long. In doing so, you might be losing time, but there is an added chance of you working with a contractor who would be the best for your needs. This would be highly circumstantial and you would have to decide if it is worth the wait or not.


It is advisable to ask around for recommendations of a reliable housing contractor to your friends and family. They make for excellent assistance in this selection procedure as they are well acquainted with your style and aesthetic preferences and would be able to guide you towards a contractor more inclined to that particular speciality.


Just the personal recommendation of your colleagues and family would not suffice in this department. To find a good contractor, you would also have to initiate research into individual companies and assess their claim and accreditations. The best contractors would be emblemized by their good and responsive communication. They would always be ready to answer all the counts and questions you might stumble upon every now and then.


Make A Budget

While your budget might be a predominant concern in the selection process, make sure that you do not entirely depend on that parameter. The best services could cost you a little more, but in the long run, this would be a profitable venture and would be more advantageous to the construction and sustainability of your house itself. That being said, you could always set up a budget to ensure that you do not go overboard with your expenses and find a middle ground between the monetary side and that for the quality.


If you are looking to build a house anytime soon, you can solicit the services of Icon Builders, based in Toronto, who have been pioneers in this industry for over two decades.


Toronto Underpinned Basement
Architecture & Building, Homeowner Tips

How to Hire The Right Underpinning Contractor

Underpinning is a meticulous construction job that require requires a structural engineer, and trained contractors. Although many renovation jobs may be completed by handymen, underpinning is an extremely sensitive construction task as it involves the property’s foundation.

Basement underpinning involves digging a home’s foundation and then reinforcing the structural piles around it. The result is higher ceilings and a stronger overall foundation for the property.

Receiving Approval for Basement Underpinning in Toronto

Firstly, before any underpinning or construction can begin, the project must receive a stamp of approval from the local municipality.  Whether you’re in Etobicoke, Scarborough or Richmond Hill, you will require approval from one of five local municipalities in order to proceed with a major construction project.

The Greater Toronto area consists of five municipalities; Toronto,Durham, Halton, Peel, and York. Each of these municipalities have their own bylaws and building codes that pertain to basement underpinning.

In order to obtain that stamp, your local municipality must see a list of statutory documents and a detailed map of the home’s underpinning job.  Once your proposal are complete, a designated engineer will be responsible for obtaining the final stamp of approval for the building project.

Hiring a Structural Engineer

Hire an engineer with a proven track record in basement underpinning. This will also improve your likelihood of gaining approval to complete the construction.

The on-site engineer will be responsible not only for collecting the documents, but also developing the underpinning plan. Furthermore, an effective project plan will ensure that the construction process is completed on time and within budget.

After the project is approved, a basement-underpinning contractor must be hired. In Toronto it can be difficult to find a contracting company that supplies both workers and an engineer.

Factors to Consider When Hiring an Underpinning Contractor in Toronto

  • A written guarantee that the task with be completed within budget.
  • Valid construction Insurance in Ontario, and proof with the relevant documents.
  • Evidence of prior projects and references
  • Paid estimates are usually a red-flag. There are exceptions for larger and more complex properties.

You have invested too much money and time into your home to hire a contractor that could potentially damage your property. If you’ve been wronged by an underpinning contractor, do not be hesitate to contact legal advice and report the company.

At Icon Builders, our team consists of experienced contractors as well as a seasoned structural engineer that are assigned to manage individual projects.

How Much Does Basement Underpinning Cost in Toronto?

The cost of an underpinning project can vary based on several factors. Experience and knowledge should always be prioritized when hiring contractors for such a sensitive construction project.

Base cost is typically calculated by a price per linear foot, which is multiplied by the proposed excavation depth and bench footing. As well, the properties overall surface area and structural intricacies must be considered in the project cost.

Can Underpinning Prevent Water from Flooding my Basement?

Homeowners should know that basement underpinning and waterproofing are much different projects. Underpinning is intended to raise ceiling heights and add aesthetic value to a basement interior.

Waterproofing involves structural repairs to a building foundation, which prevents future moisture and leakage. If you’re planning on investing in basement underpinning, we recommend you ensure that your property is fully waterproofed.

Cracks in a home’s foundation allow for easy water access and moisture build-up. Spring in southern Ontario usually starts slushy and ends with heavy rainfall. For homeowners in the Greater Toronto Area, the spring can create flooding and leakage issues. Visit our blog to learn more about flooding and leakage issues in Toronto homes,

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