Olshan Foundation Repair’s Warranty Not So Lifetime

UPDATE: SOLVED: Olshan Foundation Repair’s Warranty Not So Lifetime

Olshan Foundation Repair Company’s motto is “Fix it and Forget it.” In their Yellow Page ad these words emerge from Nolan Ryan’s mouth.

Attracted by their promise of a lifetime warranty, Charles contracted Olshan to repair his house foundation in 1999.

In 2007, even after warranty repairs by Olshan, Charles’s house still has numerous cracks, damages, sagging walls, bulging walls, doors that won’t close, etc etc. You can see it in his YouTube above.

Charles thinks thinks their motto should be changed to, “Break it and forget about it” and blames Olshan’s incompetent performance. We don’t know much about house foundations and cable lock piers, but maybe Charles’s house is built on on a bog?

In any event, Olshan should at least have the courtesy to answer his letters, posted inside…


On October 18, Charles wrote the Olshan Foundation Repair Company:

    “Steve Meier, General Manager
    Olshan Foundation Repair Company
    5835 N. Commerce Plaza Dr
    Jackson, MS 39206

    Gentlemen:

    As you are probably aware I am an unhappy customer that has lost faith in your cable-lock system, your service and expertise, and Nolan Ryan. I would rather be a happy and satisfied customer that could and would write you a testimonial based on your company motto “Fix it and Forget it” as stated by your spokesman, Nolan Ryan.

    As mentioned in my attached letter to your Jackson Office dated October 16, 2000, since I have contracted with you to fix the foundation of my entire home, I have had continued problems on the Living Room Dining Room side of my home even though I initially contacted you for problems on the Kitchen Den side of my house.

    Most recently your Production Manager Tony Richards responded to my call and upon inspection with use of your electronic water level determined that my living room was at least an inch lower and my chimney was leaning away from the house and pulling the house apart in the middle and causing doors to jam. I showed Tony the large substantial separation cracks in the upper foyer ceiling with the dislodged wood beam and cracks throughout the living room, dining room and office. I also pointed out the bulging brick wall at the left side front corner on the chimney side of the home, the cracked cement block wall under the porch next to the same left side front corner. Tony made note of the separation cracks in the bricks and the cement footing under the chimney and stated that the chimney needed additional cable-lock piers to handle the weight of the bricks. We also went under my home and I pointed out the monkey-rigged pier built by your predecessors, which Tony said that he would replace. I then pointed out the unshimmed piers left by your firm.

    I understand that Tony is on the production side of your firm and does not typically deal with warranty work, but he gave me some reassurance that Olshan could and would fix my problems. He only asked that at completion, I would give Olshan a letter approving your work, to which I gladly agreed!

    When your crew came last week I pointed out where you had put your previous piers, both outside and under my home. I also pointed out where you had cracked my bricks previously and asked that you take care not to crack them again. Well, YOU CRACKED MY BRICKS AGAIN, and I expect you to repair them again!

    After your crew had exposed the old piers and jacked up the chimney, your Warranty Manager Robert Martinez did an inspection of my home and we noted that while the chimney appeared straight, none of the cracks or separations on the inside of my home had closed. He used a hand level and determined that the living room was level while dismissing the electronic level used by Tony. He stated that he could not help me with these cracks, but I pointed out that the cracks were substantial and did not occur until after Olshan’s cable-lock system was installed. I continued by stating that in fact your system had failed and I was expecting what your firm advertises with Nolan Ryan’s “FIX IT AND FORGET IT”. To this Robert was dismissive and he also dismissed the bulging brick wall, the monkey-rigged pier, and the unshimmed piers. He pointed out Olshan’s Lifetime Transferable Warranty, to which I replied, that if the system is failing and breaking my house in the process, It is NOT Fixed and I CAN’T Forget It. I concluded our discussion by stating that we would agree to disagree, and he stated he would discuss the matter with you.

    Since you have finished your work I have noted the following:

    • My chimney appears straight
    • I do not know if in fact the house is level
    • Two additional piers were added to the front left corner area of my home
    • No additional piers were added under the chimney
    • My Front Door and Living Room Door no longer stick or jam
    • My back door to my garage still sticks
    • The front left brick wall still bulges
    • Even with a new pier the concrete blocks under my front porch are still separated
    • The cracks and separations (especially the foyer ceiling) are open and substantial
    • The monkey-rigged pier was not replaced and the unshimmed piers are the same.

    Every few years I cannot afford or justify having you jack up my house while I make costly repairs resulting from a system that fails and is not doing what your firm promised, “Fix It and Forget It”. I would rather have my confidence restored, and my house fixed (cracks and all). I want to be a HAPPY Customer that enthusiastically recommends Olshan.

    I expect Olshan Foundation Repair Company to live up to its spokesman statement of Fix It and Forget It, by addressing the above items and the damage resulting from the failure of the Olshan Cable-Lock system by repairing the substantial damage in the Foyer/Living Room/Dining Room/Office areas of my home, repairing the bulging brick wall and the separated concrete blocks on the outside of my home on the left front corner area, and repair the crack bricks on the outside wall of my living room as mentioned above.

    Sincerely,

    Charles A.”

Receiving no response, Charles wrote again on January 23, 2007:

    “Olshan Foundation Repair Company
    5835 N. Commerce Plaza Dr
    Jackson, MS 39206

    Sir:

    It is unfortunate when a business chooses not to respond or acknowledge the concerns submitted by a customer, as I have sent you two letters in regards to the failed services from your firm that has resulted in considerable damage to my home. Your company motto, from your ads as promoted by Nolan Ryan your spokesman, is to “FIX IT and FORGET IT”. Gentlemen, you have not fixed it and ONLY YOU have done the forgetting, as I cannot forget it. Yet I still believe that there can be accommodations to help settle our differences. If you choose to ignore this third letter and provide no written response or dialogue to my concerns, then Olshan Foundation Repair Company acknowledges that any arbitration of our dispute is excluded from any future consideration in resolving these issues.

    By any measurement, my home and its foundation are in far worse condition as a result of your services and products since I contracted with Olshan to fix my entire home, and you installed your cable lock system. There are numerous cracks in the foundation, bricks, and walls; the floors and house are not level with an approximate 3-1/4 inch drop from the high point to the low area; door frames and windows are shifted out-of-square, support piers have loose or no shims, and on and on.

    Since my last letter to you, I have contracted with a structural engineer to document the condition of my home. In the living room-foyer area where my home is splitting apart, he documents an almost 2 inch drop from the border of the dining room and living room to the chimney on the left side of my home. Your warranty manager Robert Martinez used a hand carpenter level to determine the house was level, but he was obviously mistaken. Since you did not level my home by making the proper adjustments you are in violation of your warranty.

    When your firm performed its warranty services on October 11, 2006, your warranty manager Robert Martinez determined that your initial proposal did not provide for enough cable lock piers installed on the left wall (office-living room chimney side) of my home and had your crew sink a cable lock piling just in front of the window of my office.

    He also asked your local job manager to check the cable lock piling that your 1999 contract showed as being installed at the front left corner on the office side (living room chimney side) of my home. When your workers excavated the area they found that there was no Olshan cable lock pier. In fact your original crew and managers did not install the proposed corner piling system, which has resulted in considerable damage. Yet at that time when I asked for a report showing all the cable lock pilings and the depth that they were driven, your manager in 1999 gave me a report showing that the phantom missing cable lock pier was driven 20feet 9 inches deep. When your crew found no pier, they went under my home in the crawl space to install the missing pier under the front wall footing just to the right of the corner. Although I am glad that you added the extra cable lock pier and the missing pier, my home has suffered considerable damage as a result of Olshan’s mistakes and misrepresentations.

    Gentlemen, we need to resolve these issues on a positive note by engaging in an open discussion.

    Sincerely,

    Charles Awad”

— BEN POPKEN

Comments

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  1. pronell says:

    If there was no way they could shore up a foundation, they should have never accepted the contract. So even if it was on a bog, the contractor is at fault here.

    I’ve studied alternative building methods for quite a while, and I understand, I think, the various forces a foundation needs to be able to respond to.. and basically, if you cut corners or do not properly assess the situation, you’re going to find yourself in trouble.

    An old roommate of mine had grown up building the house he lived with, of course, his parents. They tried a shallow rubble trench foundation with no basement, and in the spring their house ended up flooding.

    There’s nothing wrong with the rubble trench, but you need, at the bottom of that trench, a pipe that drains the excess water away from the house.

    After two years of minor flooding, they expanded the trench around the house and put in the drain tile they needed to begin with.

    Now that’s owner/builder stuff, illustrating some of the dangers of trying to get away from traditional foundations and basements.

    It sounds like this is a concrete pier system, and any contractor who specializes in this should know what happens when you make a mistake or skimp too much on planning, labor, or materials.

    From my first reading, it sounds like they’ve skimped on all three. They didn’t figure out where the piers were needed to distribute the weight of the house properly, and they apparently need to keep returning to jack the house up. The piers are still sinking.

    They’re sinking because they were not driven deep enough. They’re sinking because there are too few, and placed inadequately, so that the house will not evenly settle.

    The result? The house isn’t squared off properly. Doors won’t open. Eventually, windows will break. And it keeps sinking.

    Incompetence all around.

  2. WindowSeat says:

    It does sound as though the piers weren’t sunk properly and leaving off a pier from the original plan probably exacerbated the situation.

    My 25 year old home is just beginning to settle at one corner and will probably need a pier or two and I’m going to do my homework before I decide on who’s doing the work. You can bet your bottom dollar I’m going to make sure they dig deep enough.

  3. pronell says:

    And not having one underneath the chimney? I could be wrong, but I’m picturing it as a brick chimney, given the sagging (!) brick wall elsewhere in the house. That’s a lot of weight coming straight down.. very difficult to deflect that weight onto another pier properly.

  4. Keter says:

    I had both Olshan and a company called RamJack look at a small house I owned years ago. The area was built on landfill and as a result a lot of the area was settling. I had a midline crack and corner settling as described by the complainant.

    Olshan said I needed 6 piers (for a 900 square foot house!) driven down 90 feet because of the landfill. I don’t remember the cost, but it was approaching a large percentage of the purchase price of the home.

    RamJack, on the other hand, told me I didn’t need a foundation repair, that the problem was uneven hydration of the surrounding soil, a problem common in landfill builds. He told me to put soaker hoses down around the perimeter of the house and run them for one hour once a week if there hadn’t been any substantial rain. I did this, and within a month, all of the cracks had closed, the corners rose back to where they belonged, and that was the end of the problem!

    I ended up digging a 1 foot deep trench around the house and burying the soaker hoses in rock so they could be more easily replaced every couple of years (they lime up and lose porosity). I sold the house six years later, and not only did the foundation pass inspection, the inspector even made special mention in his report of the “hydration system” and how it was protecting the foundation!

  5. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    I sympathize with Charles, and it’s inexcusable that Olshan just ignores him. On the other hand, if the foundation was so poorly done (not backfilled..poor drainage, incorrect water ratio in the concrete, incorrect curing time, etc. etc.), it may be the case that no amount of diddling is going to fix it.

    I’m not an expert in pouring foundations, but I’m pretty sure if the original builder or foundation company screwed it up originally, it’ll probably never be perfect.

    What exactly is Olshan giving a 100% warranty on? Is it on their work (which might be realistic), or are they guaranteeing they can fix any foundation, no matter how screwed up?

  6. SexCpotatoes says:

    It’s well past time to get a lawyer.

  7. Olshan-stinks says:

    Olshan did a lot of “fixing” when re-leveling my home. They lifted too high and broke windows, huge cracks, pulled the counters away from the walls, raised the baseboards 1/2″ off the floor, and broke plumbing in the MIDDLE of my house, of course under the foundation. Now they say they are not liable and will not fix it, so we are trying the BBB route and the lawyer next…Olshan sure did “Fix it and forget it!”

  8. true_gem says:

    Finding this article made my heart skip a beat. I had some work done on my foundation a few years back — a stipulation to being able to get refinanced. I spent an exorbitant amount of money with Olshan because they offered a lifetime warranty on their work. I have since discovered that what they are really selling is a false sense of security.

    I noticed a one foot crack about seven feet away from the first hole they dug in my basement immediately after the work was done and I reported it to them as soon as I saw it. They told me that sometimes happens and that it would likely not move but to let them know if it did. It’s five years later and not only has that crack worked it’s way all the way up to the ceiling, but my house continues to shift in incredibly disturbing ways. I can even hear it at times.

    I called Olshan about six months ago to let them know that I was becoming concerned about the major shifting taking place and that I wanted them to come out and take a look at it to assess the damages and repair them utilizing my lifetime warranty. They came out and looked at it, called me back, and told me that the damages were not covered under my lifetime warranty because the shifting has extended more than six feet from the house, which is not covered by the warranty. What they offered me was a “discount” to have the repairs done – a little more than half of what I originally paid. I gave them a prompt “NO!”

    The shifting they are talking about is the front stoop or stairs, which are cemented to the front of the house, directly above the location where the crack developed that I originally reported to them. Furthermore, because the stoop has been affected, it is affecting everything around the stoop, which includes the masonary work attached to (and now detaching from) the front of my house. This is causing the hand rail on my front porch to detach. My steps leading up to the house are leaning inward, as if they are sinking into the ground. The masonary work that surrounds the steps is coming loose as well. Cracks are developing inside of my house — all in the same area.

    When I asked how they could not claim liability for this shifting, their office assistant’s response was “We cannot predict future shifting in your foundation.”

    I then responded, “But you had to have known when you made your initial assessment of the damage and need for repair how those repairs would/could affect the rest of the house and you should have advised me of that at that time BEFORE the work was done. If I had known that what you were about to do to my house would have created this much additional shifting I would have never agreed to have the work done.”

    What started out as one three foot crack in my basement has turned into my entire house being damaged. I am now considering selling my house and I am afraid that not only will I suffer a great financial loss but that I won’t be able to sell the house at all.

    I sat in my house this weekend, listening to crackling noises so loud that it startled my cat and I wanted to cry. I decided at that point that the time had come to contact my attorney to file a civil suit. I called Olshan today for one last plea for them to do the right thing and fix the problems they have created. I have an appointment for “Darren,” General Manager of their Missouri office to come back out in two days.

    If they don’t agree to repair the damages to my satisfaction, I will go on a crusade that will begin with me contacting my attorney, followed by the Better Business Bureau and any other consumer-interest group that is willing to listen to me until I get action or compensation to have the repairs done.

    When I first called about the three foot crack five years ago, every other company offered to fix the crack for half of what Olshan charged. Olshan was the only company that said that the crack was due to a shift in my foundation, saying that they would need to jack it up to level it out and that the work came with a lifetime warranty. I believed in them and I believed that they knew what they were talking about. Now, I feel like I should have just had the crack filled. I feel like my house has been permanently ruined and that I paid a lot of money for nothing but a LIFETIME headache. I sure hope they prove me wrong.

  9. nursie393 says:

    My problems began in Oct. ’06. I paid over $10,000 for repair of my foundation that is mixed pier/beam and concrete. The first fella said they could not guarantee any repair until a drainage problem was alleviated. I installed a French drain system which that same man approved, and the initial work was done.

    During the repairs he tried to charge me for 8 more piers at more than $100 a pop. I stood my ground and waved the contract under his nose. He placed the piers.

    We immediately noticed problems along the area where the original pier and beam foundation met the newer concrete addition. The Olshan rep informed me that they only made repairs to the concrete slab–that there was never any intent to repair the pier and beam portion. “Why would you take all the measurements and make comments of needed repairs to the pier/beam section if you didn’t plan to repair it?” I asked. Is it not the company’s purpose to repair foundations–I would assume ALL foundations?

    We griped and complained and contacted the Better Business Bureau. Steve Meyer(sp) came out, agreed the initial repair team had done an “inadequate” job, and told me he would contact “Management” to initiate proper repairs. We have not heard from anyone at Olshan since then.

    Any clues from out there as to how we can get this awful company to help us out here? One corner of my house is literally without support. One of the water lines in the bathroom next to this area doesn’t work. It appears to have been pinched off when the follow-up “repairs” were made after my first coplaint. There are bowed floors one could use for skiing. Outside light is visible through one of the ceilings.

    Who can I talk to who will talk to Olshan in a way that will make ME one of their few “satisfied” customers?

  10. burntout says:

    First of all, I would like to THANK consumerist.com for keeping this article live on the internet.

    We had Olshan’s do some foundation work to our home in 2003. We did our homework. We checked with the BBB, called references, and even searched online for more information about this company before choosing them. Everything checked out positive(but after reading the update to this article, I now understand how that was possible).

    Unfortunately, we are dealing with the same thing Charles was before this article came to Olshan’s attention. I would really like to know how many more people have complaints that got hushed in the same manner that was requested of Charles. We as consumers NEED TO KNOW THESE THINGS!

    It is now six years later and we STILL have cracks and problems due to the problem with our foundation not being properly addressed the first time! After estimates from structural engineers of the damage to our home after Olshan’s did their initial “work” to our house, the estimates for repairs are now nearly five times that of the estimates we had from foundation repair companies back in 2003 before Olshan’s did their “work” on our house.

    This isn’t a matter of them not coming out and “fixing” or making the adjustments, it is a matter of their competence in the work as a whole, and their responsibility as professionals(?) not to damage the rest of the house in the process.

    We are scared to have this company send their employees back to our home to continue making adjustments, because after all the times they have been here, and all that they have done, they have YET to prove that they know what they are doing!

    I feel that I should also mention that every time they sent guys out to the house to make adjustments, it was NEVER the same crew! There was never the same person over seeing the work that was done each time. Which leads me to believe that they have a very high turn over as far as employees go(that doesn’t look good for such a “credible” company).

    From our personal experience with Olshan’s, we wouldn’t recommend them to anyone!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Olshans cable lock piers ” sway side ways” after they jack up the foundation,then foundation drops side ways. resolt original cracks are even wider There guarantee is fraudulent,they use illegal immigrant labor that don’t understand english, beware of this company and there high pressure ads.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Don’t Start me on Olsham. They “repaired” my home in 2000. We chose to remodel the interior of the home – all new sheetrock, insulation, etc. To this day I do not have sheetrock around my front door due to the fact that we have to re adjust the front door every several months just to be able to lock it. Olshan has been called out NUMEROUS times each time I have kicked them out of my home because they come up with some type of excuse. They tell me my house is “heaving” and that is not covered. How can my home “heave” it is basically on Pier and Beam since they put in their “cable Lock System. Now they are telling me that it is sinking and they will get back with me. Each time we meet with a different person because the other person is no longer with them. Guess they get tired of getting yelled at by customers. Please keep this going – We are close to seeking an attorney to get my home repaired.
    Sx5mustang in San Antonio Texas

    • Anonymous says:

      We also live in San Antonio. and are having the same type of problems. This will be the forth time they have lifted my house and the second time they have to go through my living room floor. We are also thinking of legal advise. Once they told us that all we needed were gutters on the house. To me this meant that they scamed us out of 20,000 dollars and did work that didn’t need to be done. Now you can see daylight through one of the cracks in my living room.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I would like to know where the property is located. If you drive through Irving you will find out that they cannot even keep a street leval. The joke has been to save your money on foundation repairs and just switch house numbers with your neighbors. All of north Texas suffers from foundation. Where is the line that “might” insure a person from damage???? Does anyone really know???

  14. kcushing says:

    I have a similar issue with piers installed by Olshan. The piers were installed 4.5 years ago and I purchased the home in 2007 so the warranty was transferred to me. I called them two months ago for warranty service because I noticed some cracks in my walls and ceiling. It’s now been 2 months since they sent the original surveyor out to determine which piers needed to be adjusted. I was informed then that I would be called to schedule a time for the service crew to come out and make the needed adjustments.

    After a couple of weeks with no word from them, I called and was told that they were running behind on warranty work and that they were trying to get a crew together for just that purpose. I was also informed that they would call again to schedule the work. I notified them at that time that my ceiling was starting to sag in the kitchen area and that my upper cabinets were separating from the ceiling. I was again informed that they would contact me when they were ready to schedule it.

    Finally, I called again and was informed that they would be coming out on October 23 (tomorrow). Since August, I’ve noticed a variety of problems. Rooms in my home that did not have cracks previously now have HUGE cracks. The ceiling is separating from the walls in a few spots. The ceiling in my kitchen has continued to sag and is now worse than it was in the beginning. One room in my house has a horizontal crack in the middle of the wall AROUND THE ENTIRE ROOM! Now I not only need to repair all of the cracks, but I need to have someone out to fix the ceiling (dangerous!!!), and I need to repaint pretty much every room in my house because the leftover paint I have is old now and I can’t use it. The paint alone is going to cost me at least $200.

    That said, I asked Olshan to fax me the warranty information. They faxed only the certificate. I asked them to fax the actual warranty documentation and explained that there is significant damage to my home due to the length of time it has taken for them to make the adjustments. They faxed the original contract and stated that it relieves them of liability for extra damages. The contract states “It is understood and agreed that in order to perform the above described work, sheetrock, wallpaper, or the other rigid materials may crack.” That does NOT state that they are relieved of liability for damages that occur AFTER their work has been completed.

    I may fight this because I see no reason why I should have to pay for this out of my own pocket because THEY neglected their warranty customers for 60 days. I’m willing to bet that they serviced new customers within that time period.

  15. brothaman says:

    My experience with Olshan was a disaster. They charged me almost $6K and left me with over $40K damage to my home in Raytown, Mo. Stay away from those people. In Raytown they used all hispanic labor on my Job except for the alleged “engineer in charge” which turned out not to be an engineer at all. The laborers even went as far as to piss (killed grass) and crap (fertilized grass)in my yard. When I complained about that (showed crap pictures) the manager said it must have been dogs.

  16. Whispering Eagle says:

    I want to thank EVERYONE here for helping me to make a decision NOT to use Olshan. My Mother is elerly now and everyone that comes out here wants to charge her a HORRIBLE amount of money to fix her house. They all have her scared to death and want her to hurry up and make a decision. Thank you everyone for helping me to find out before hand, about Olshan!

  17. ashleym says:

    We hired Olshan 8 years ago. They set up piers and we paid them 4000.00. The piers have failed and the house is falling down. After many attempts of calling and reporting this problem, a crew finally arrived and adjusted the piers where the house wasn’t falling, and now they will not stand behind their warranty, and want us to put in more piers. When I call them now, I get the rudest woman on earth telling me she will fax something to someone at Olshan and they might get back with us, which they never do. I guess I will have to hire an attorney to get something resolved here as the number they have to call now acts like I’m trying to talk to the President of the United States making it impossible to get a representive to call me back or do something about our problem. This has been going on for over a year now. This is the worst company I have ever dealt with in my life. They DO NOT STAND BEHIND THEIR WARRANTY, but lie and say that the earth changed under my house and now I need more piers, which will cost MORE MONEY.