Teetering on the Edge: Foundation Problems in Hamilton Homes

Over time, foundation problems can occur in any home, however, here in Hamilton, it can seem like we have more than our fair share. Located on part of the Niagara Escarpment, this beautiful city is home to more than 100 waterfalls along or near the Bruce Trail and breathtaking views of the city and harbour from “Hamilton Mountain”, but living on or near a slope is not without its problems. As many residents are now discovering, homes which are built too close to the edge of the Escarpment are destined for trouble.

In areas such as Red Hill Valley and other parts of the city located along the Escarpment, Hamiltonians are noticing more and more cracks in their walls and basements. Floors are becoming sunken and uneven. In the worst case scenarios, homes are being condemned by the City as they inch dangerously close to the edge of creek valleys and slopes.

Why are Hamilton homes shifting?

There are a few reasons for the foundation problems occurring in Hamilton homes, but for the most part, it boils down to poor planning over 50 years ago when many homes were simply build too close to the edge of the Escarpment. That, along with climate change which has accelerated the problem, are the main culprits.

According to the Hamilton Conservation Authority’s hazard land map, there are hundreds of homes, particularly in the east end of the city, that back onto creek valleys. Over time, this will prove to be a problem for many homeowners.

As erosion happen these areas, it causes the foundations of homes to move and shift which can lead to the eventual threatening of their structural integrity. In some cases, the problem has become so severe that the City has agreed to purchase teetering homes from residents.

Better building regulations mean better foundations.

Fortunately today, new homes are being built with much more care concerning their proximity to the Escarpment. The Hamilton Conservation Authority now stipulates that there must be a minimum six-metre setback. In some cases, the setback is even more, depending on factors such as risk of erosion and geological stability.

Of course, even with better regulations in place, newer homes in Hamilton can also have their share of foundation problems thanks to soil erosion, poor drainage, and even plumbing leaks.

What to do if you notice foundation problems.

If you are a homeowner in Hamilton and start to notice the telltale signs of foundation problems such as cracks in the basement, interior or exterior walls or sloping floors, the first thing you should do is give the experts at Conterra Foundation and Repair a call.

As with most types of repairs, the earlier you take care of it, the easier (and frequently cheaper) it is to deal with. While foundation repairs are by no means minor, when they are done sooner rather than later, they are often not as expensive as many people fear. Conterra Foundation and Repair will be happy to assess your situation for you and advise you on the best course of action.