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Kansas City Foundation Repair Expert Brian Dufour

Kansas City foundation repair

Lucas Scheele:

How’s it going everybody? It’s Lucas Scheele and welcome back to the Kansas City Real Estate Industry Leaders podcast. I’m here with my cohost Eric Scheele. How are you doing today?

Eric Scheele:

Oh, I’m doing good. How about you?

Lucas Scheele:

I’m doing awesome. And then also we have our director of operations for KCP or Brian Dufour in here today. Brian, how are you doing?

Brian Dufour:

So far, so good. How about yourself?

Lucas Scheele:

I’m doing all right today and today we’re going to be talking about just overall peering for the side of KC Pier and what we kind of do there and how to get in touch. So Eric, you want to start us off?

Eric Scheele:

Yeah, sure. So our podcast, which is relatively young is just getting started and it’s focused under KC Property Guys, but with KC Property Guys, as you can see on the back wall there, we have multiple companies and multiple entities and we’re using KC Property Guys in the studio to really develop three platforms. One is the one that we’ve been doing together which is KC Property Guys and looking at the cash real estate investment world of Kansas City and focusing on those. And we have a series of channels and episodes that will specifically focus on those episodes. And then we also have some great real estate, our Kansas City real estate industry leaders that come into the studio as guests and we talk to them throughout the whole city. Right? And that’s another channel and those episodes are getting started and those are a lot of fun, talking to those guys.

Kansas City Foundation Repair Industry

Eric Scheele:

And then the third one that we’re starting today is focusing on KC Pier and the foundation world, specifically focused in the Kansas City area. And so we have a series of episodes that will actually focus on KC Pier and more specifically our… Or KC Pier specifically, but more generally the Kansas City foundation industry and the foundation repair industry. And so I think it’s really appropriate that this week we got our project manager and also one of our sales guys here and industry experts within the foundation realm and Kansas City with Brian Dufour. So it’s with you, Brian, I think it’s great that you’re in the studio as our first episode because you have a wealth of experience and you’re going to be able to give us a really good, and our viewers and listeners and readers, a really good overview of not only drawing from your experience and working with some of these different companies throughout the past of kind of the industry of Kansas City repair and foundation repair in general, specifically even from a national perspective maybe, but definitely from a Kansas City perspective.

Eric Scheele:

And then obviously we’re going to tie it back into how we work with things at KC Pier. So I’m excited about that and I just want to make sure that we’re kind of clear that this is our first episode of probably close to 10 specifically that we’re going to be doing for KC Pier.

Lucas Scheele:

Yeah, we got a few planned out.

Eric Scheele:

Yeah, absolutely. In the foundation world. So I’m kind of ready to kick that off. So maybe Brian, maybe before we even get started, if you could just tell everybody and tell us about your background and then we’re going to kick in and talk about specifically the Kansas City foundation repair industry.

Brian Dufour:

Yeah, absolutely. I’ve been in the foundation business a little over 15 years now. Started as a labor digging holes, moving dirt. Started from the bottom, worked there for roughly six, seven years. I worked my way up into a foreman position, managing crews, going through crews. During that process with the first company I started with they started shipping me around the nation, showing me different basements, different soils, how they react to each structure that it’s done with.

Eric Scheele:

Right?

Brian Dufour:

And during that process is where the sales came in as well. The one thing that a straight salesman can’t do that I can is I know exactly how it’s going to look. I know from the bottom up how it is when we come in, we come in as experience from the labor aspect, not just trying to sell you something,

Eric Scheele:

Right? And so for clarity sake a typical sales guy doesn’t necessarily see the end of the job. He sees the front of the job and he knows it by theory.

Brian Dufour:

Correct.

Eric Scheele:

You’re saying, Hey man, I’ve dug the holes. I’ve been there when I shook the customer’s hand and they walked me through the job completion and I’ve also sold the front end. So you have that kind of industry advantage to know the full process.

Brian Dufour:

Absolutely. I don’t have a sales pitch. I have the experience and the knowledge of the answers and the questions that you ask. So it kind of changes when I have the conversations. During that process, I also after four or five years of that, I became a project manager, oversee the crews, made sure we had the right material. And during that process, that’s where my knowledge really started to change because I was given the opportunity to train and also look at the waterproofing side of it and make the changes to what I thought better fit the Midwest to fix the basements.

How KC Pier Got Started

Eric Scheele:

Now I don’t know if you remember this. So also for our readers, listeners and viewers, KC Property Guys was born for the housing industry and we used to outsource, KC Property Guys used to outsource our Kansas City foundation work and back in 2016 I got tired of outsourcing it and not necessarily having it done right and also waiting on somebody else’s schedule and paying a retail price versus, economy’s a scale. So as KC Property Guys grew, one of the big ticket items I wanted to take care of very quickly was foundation. So we brought that in house and when I brought that in house and I don’t even know if you remember this, but we were out in the middle of, gosh, we were North of Kearney in the-

Brian Dufour:

Yeah, it was in between Kearney and Liberty if I remember-

Eric Scheele:

Do you remember the house?

Brian Dufour:

Yep. I remember the house completely.

Eric Scheele:

It was fractured, the floor was fractured and Brian wasn’t working for KC Pier because guess what? KC Pier didn’t exist at that time. Right? We were bringing them in as a competitor and also kind of assist. Some of the transition work that KC Property Guys was doing is we were staging to become a Kansas City foundation repair company. And you were there, you were at the job. And we walked in. We actually didn’t end up with the house. They ended up just selling straight to MLS. I hope they got that foundation thick cause it was rocked.

Brian Dufour:

Yeah.

Kansas City Soil: Why is it Unique?

Eric Scheele:

Man, it was fractured and in rough shape. But yeah, that was my first exposure to you even before KC Pier was born and you had the experience as a project manager then. And then of course we brought you on as soon as the opportunity became available. And it’s been… we haven’t looked back since and so that part of it is fantastic. Now you mentioned your experience of comparing soils and strata around the nation. So what makes Kansas City a different than say other places that you’ve seen and experienced and in the foundation repair industry?

Brian Dufour:

Well here in the Midwest it’s red clay, it’s very expansive. So what happens is with all foundations is you either have too much water or you don’t have enough. So what we have here is usually right around 60% of the time the soil’s are stable and they don’t adjust much. But when we go through, as of this year, a massive rainfall, we have.

Eric Scheele:

50 year floods. 50 year rains this year, right? We’ve hit a record actually, 48 year high. Yeah.

Brian Dufour:

Absolutely.

Eric Scheele:

So what have we been doing for most of the year?

Brian Dufour:

We’ve been strictly waterproofing, we’ve been chasing water and taking care of flooded basements. The difference with it here is once it expands, it fully expands and then it turns into a waterfall above. And as you get that, if you don’t have positive grade, you start having massive issues around the house.

Eric Scheele:

So as that, the clay you’re saying is acting as a sponge, right?

Brian Dufour:

Absolutely.

Eric Scheele:

Absorbing that water. Once that water gets absorbed, what’s the sponge do, man? It just leaks it out.

Brian Dufour:

It just continues, it leaks out.

Eric Scheele:

Where’s the grade on the house? Is a positive going away from the house or if it’s neutral or negative man, once that sponge just starts leaking, guess where it has to go?

Lucas Scheele:

To the basement.

Eric Scheele:

To the basement, right? Is it finished or is it not finished? Those are the calls that we’re getting.

Brian Dufour:

Yeah, absolutely.

Eric Scheele:

Okay, now what happens when, let’s say we go into 110 degrees summer, what’s going to happen to that clay at that point?

Brian Dufour:

Usually what happens is you get huge cracks throughout your yard. That’s the first start of everything drying out, and then typically the cracks shrink and shrink. They get bigger actually. And you start getting gaps in between the foundation and the soil. Well, over the time the heat finds its way down there, the soil shrinks so much that the foundation actually chases the soil.

Eric Scheele:

So as the water leaves, the clay begins to contract back. Right?

Brian Dufour:

Absolutely.

Eric Scheele:

It relieves the pressure from the walls of the house. So now you don’t have the soil and the strata and the clay supporting your house in assistance with the walls. You just basically have the walls.

Brian Dufour:

Correct.

Eric Scheele:

And weaker foundations that have a multi-ton house sitting on top of it is going to succumb to some pressures that it’s just not used to having.

Brian Dufour:

Absolutely.

Kansas City Foundation Piering

Eric Scheele:

And so that’s where the KC Pier, that’s where the Pier side of KC Pier kicks in, right? And you know Lucas can speak onto this because he does a lot of the marketing obviously and he goes on site with Brian and Eric and takes pictures and in fact just today, you guys were looking at holes of some pier work that we were doing earlier.

Lucas Scheele:

Yup, some pier work out in the next, and we got a really nice video coming up, going to be on our blog page as well as on some of the pillar pages for Kansas City Pier as well.

Eric Scheele:

Oh, nice. On the settling side.

Lucas Scheele:

Yeah, it should be fun. Good video.

Kansas City vs. Other Areas

Eric Scheele:

So you have waterproofing when it’s expanded, you have settling when it’s contracted. And what else do we see in Kansas and how is it different than maybe real quick, how’s it different than maybe some of the things that you’ve seen around the nation?

Brian Dufour:

Well, the one positive we have here is during our weather change, we have enough time to catch it before it gets bad. When you go to the Southern markets and you go to markets like that, they don’t have basements. So-

Eric Scheele:

It’s all sand, huh?

Brian Dufour:

It’s all sand and it’s soil, but your footing is only a foot, foot and a half under the ground. So up here when it takes three weeks or a month for the heat index to affect your home, down there’s only a week. It don’t take no time at all.

Eric Scheele:

Well, the soil is not even cold enough. You hear our frozen soils, you’re saying, which we have three foot footers.

Brian Dufour:

Correct.

Eric Scheele:

It takes a long time for that frozen soil to ultimately thaw.

Brian Dufour:

Well, yes.

Eric Scheele:

Right.

Brian Dufour:

That aspect, but you also have a 8 foot basement.

Eric Scheele:

Right.

Brian Dufour:

So the heat, as the soil shrinks, it takes longer to get to the bottom, that eight foot mark. Than it does on a slab on grade where it only takes a foot.

Eric Scheele:

Right, right, right.

Brian Dufour:

So down there in the Southern markets, Oklahoma, Arkansas, when we go down there, it’s strictly piering. You really don’t get into the waterproofing market down there. Usually what they do down there is they typically pier the whole house and they’ll lift it out of the flood plain. So they don’t ever have that issue anymore. Up here, unfortunately we can’t do that because the way the structures are built.

Eric Scheele:

Right.

Brian Dufour:

But we also don’t have to do it because we have enough time to adjust to the weather.

Eric Scheele:

You’re talking to a house guy, and I know and we all know everybody wants a basement in Kansas City. I mean that’s the expanded living space. So there’s a definite drop in price points when you go on slab or crawl space versus basement. So your points make perfect sense, is it’s going to take longer to thaw your eight to 10 foot down. Everybody wants that basement. So it’s in demand. And so we have to adjust here locally for that for the current hand.

Brian Dufour:

Correct, absolutely.

Types of Foundation Repairs in Kansas City

Eric Scheele:

All right, so when it comes to the fixes in between, what are the types of fixes that we’re seeing? This clay is expanding and contracting. You’ve talked about some waterproofing, we’ve talked about some piering, but what else are some typical types of fixes that we see here in Kansas City, based on these soils?

Brian Dufour:

On the soils, you can do as much as a French drain system up top to help reduce the water that builds up next to it. That’s very inexpensive too, waiting for the problem to occur.

Eric Scheele:

Right.

Brian Dufour:

This year we’ve had a lot of interior drains. It’s not been so much of bowing walls because the waters came in so rapidly that the walls have not bowed, the soil is not been heavy enough fast enough.

Eric Scheele:

That’s an interesting point. So the water, so if the water is just sitting there and constantly putting pressure on the wall, that’s where we actually see walls begin to concave or roll or crack due to the constant pressure. But when it’s basically like a flash flood underground, you don’t see it.

Brian Dufour:

Absolutely.

Eric Scheele:

That water just finds a way and gets itself in and the pressure’s relieved because the water is already there.

Brian Dufour:

Correct. And with the way they’re are built, we have floating slabs so they’re not tied into the foundation and they’re not designed to because of our expansive soils. So when you have a massive flood and you have massive water at such a rapid pace, if you had positive drainage outside, the waters not necessarily staying next to the house, it just has nowhere else to go.

Eric Scheele:

Right.

Brian Dufour:

So it’s going to find the easiest path and since you have floating slabs, what’s called the cold joint is where the water decides it wants to come out of. And that’s where you get all your flooding in your basement.

Eric Scheele:

Yeah. And for you typical homeowners, they don’t know anything about the slabs. And so what Brian’s talking about, that cold joint where that basement floor meets that vertical wall-

Brian Dufour:

Correct.

Eric Scheele:

There’s no, a lot of people think that’s one piece and it’s definitely not piece. It’s two pieces and there’s no glue, there’s no mortar, there’s no way to connect it. It’s a cold joint.

Brian Dufour:

There’s no rebar, there’s no nothing. It’s designed to move because of our pressure and because of our soils.

Eric Scheele:

And water loves to find those leaks and cracks and least resistant pieces.

Brian Dufour:

Absolutely.

Eric Scheele:

And that’s where it comes in.

Brian Dufour:

Yep. That’s nine times out of 10 when you have a flash flood, that’s where your water is going to come in at. And that’s where a big portion of where every everything we’ve been doing this year has been that.

Eric Scheele:

Makes perfect sense, and so you’ve been at Lucas, you’ve been on the marketing side and taking pictures. I know when we’re sending to homes there’s like ah, another interior drain, another interior drain, other interior drain. We’re seeing a lot of those because of the water table.

Brian Dufour:

Correct.

Two Ways to Fix Foundation Water Issues in Kansas City

Eric Scheele:

You know, it’s just up there. It’s finding its way through that cold joint. So there’s two ways to capture that water. I guess we should talk about that too. Just generally speaking, and you can speak on this better than I can, but you know water is coming from one place. It’s coming from the exterior of the home.

Brian Dufour:

Correct.

Eric Scheele:

You either address the issue on the exterior of the home, like you said, cheaply with a French drain, but when the issue is more extensive, then we can look at that interior drain as the cheaper alternative than maybe excavating the whole outside wall and taking care of the problem itself.

Brian Dufour:

Correct.

Eric Scheele:

Right? So you can address it on the outside and take care of the issue itself where the water’s coming from or you can at least at a minimum, which tends to be less expensive, captured on the inside. And that’s where that interior drain and some pump system would ultimately come into play.

Brian Dufour:

Yes. When we go out and we assess a home, we assess everything from the Kansas City roofing system, through the gutters drainage and foundation. So if you have positive drainage, you have gutters that has positive slope away from the house, you have all this that you’ve done to maintain on the outside and you’re still getting water. Nine times out of 10 it’s coming from underneath and when you have an unfinished basement it’s very easy to see. But when it’s finished and you have all that assess outside the interior drain and then what’s also called wall sheeting, which is a mold resistant that we put up on the wall that runs down into the drain. That is a cheaper fix that it’s also very effective when you go to finish your basement.

Brian Dufour:

Now if we get there and you have negative drains, you have poor gutters and things like that, the assessment’s going to be a little more different because if you already have the negative drains and the rains that we’ve had over the years has already put that pressure on it. The rains we’re getting now is just intensifying it. So when you hit it, usually you’re going to have actual foundation issues, not just water. So when you have a finished basement, that’s where it gets a little more extensive before we can come up with a good repair with taking down the walls and actually seeing it correctly and giving you that option. So when we come out and take a look at it, we have to look at the outside first before we look at the inside.

Signs a Kansas City Homeowner Needs Foundation Repairs

Eric Scheele:

It makes perfect sense. So we’ve talked a ton about water because that’s been the theme of the year, it’s been water, but what are things that, obviously it’s easy for owners. I guess my point is it’s easy for owners to say, Hey man, I got a water problem because you’ve got water in your basement. You know, it’s simple. But what are some other signs of other issues that you see pretty commonly, especially in the Kansas City area, that people ultimately has to deal with, but how do they know so they don’t even need to contact somebody like KC Pier in the first place?

Brian Dufour:

Well, actually it’s pretty easy on both ends and usually people don’t really look into it until they have people over for the holidays and you can’t shut your bathroom door for them to go to the restroom in privacy. So when you-

Eric Scheele:

Doors are sticking.

Brian Dufour:

Correct. So when your doors won’t shut, you start having cracks coming off of doors or windows and things like that. A lot of times they really don’t look at it as an issue at the time because if there’s no water, you don’t have a problem, but if you can’t shut that door, it’s okay. I can live with it for the moment. But when you have issues like that, usually the time they call us is when the front door won’t lock and they’re not safe anymore or the privacy issue. But those are the one things that you can look at because the doors just don’t stick by themself. Cracks just don’t appear right by themselves. It might not be a massive issue yet, but if you catch it in time, you’ll be able to take care of a lot of the problems that would occur in the future as well. But nine times out of 10 when you have a settlement problem piering, it’s doors and cracks. That is going to be 95% of what you see.

Eric Scheele:

Makes sense. So doors are sticking, windows are acting funny and yeah you see cracks in the corners of say the door corners and-

Brian Dufour:

Correct, you got door jams, you got the… there’s also a common one across the ceiling usually where your hallway meets.

Eric Scheele:

Yep.

Brian Dufour:

That one’s very, very common and no one really focuses on it cause it’s not affecting anything at the moment. But that’s a very common one that Hey, something’s starting to move.

Eric Scheele:

Makes perfect sense. So you got water, you see cracks, doors are sticking, windows are sticking and you’re just kind of wanting to get somebody to take a look at how can someone at least start, for KC Pier how’s the whole process start?

Brian Dufour:

Actually the best way to do it would be to go on our website. We have a form on there that you can fill out. You send in, once it’s sent in, the office will call you and we can set up an appointment that best fits your needs. It’s never too early. It’s never too late. We can get in there and we can go over it. We can come out or you can just call and we can ask questions. It don’t take anything to ask a couple of questions to make sure that it’s the right way.

Eric Scheele:

Perfect. So KCPier.com.

The KC Pier App

Lucas Scheele:

We also have the KC Pier app that’s available on the iTunes Store, the Apple Store, as well as Google Play.

Eric Scheele:

There is an app that specifically we have it for realtors, but end users can access it too. Anybody can access it too, it’s a great little app because all you do is just simply snap pictures. It comes directly to us from the sales side to KC Pier and then we get back to people within 24 hours. Great tool for realtors.

Brian Dufour:

Absolutely.

Eric Scheele:

Out there, that we pushed all our realtor offices, but we’ve had end users even find it and exercise it as well.

Brian Dufour:

Absolutely.

Lucas Scheele:

KC Pier app.

Brian Dufour:

Yeah.

Lucas Scheele:

That’s all it is.

Contact the Experts at KC Pier

Eric Scheele:

KC Pier or give us a call or fill out the form on the website and you’ll go out or one of the sales consultants will go out there or at least consult through it and then typically there’s a drawing or something that comes with the assessment?

Brian Dufour:

Correct. Once we get there, we’ll go over everything and then we’ll make a drawing of the house and with every house you have options. There’s never one option to fix your home. There’s always multiple options and we’ll give you all of them to best fit your needs, whether it’s your forever home or it’s your five-year home. There’s always a plan to fix it to best fit what you need to correct what you have going on.

Eric Scheele:

Buyers, sellers, looking to sell a house, looking to buy a house, A realtor is looking to sell house, investors looking to sell a house, buy a house, rehab a house. There’s options.

Brian Dufour:

Absolutely. There’s always more than one.

Eric Scheele:

A, B’s and C’s, different price points, different warranties. You can throw the Cadillac at it.

Brian Dufour:

Yep.

Eric Scheele:

Or you can just get the job done, put a bandaid on and buy yourself time until you have saved money at a later period.

Brian Dufour:

Correct.

Eric Scheele:

Do a multi-phase job. Do part of it one time, wait until the next season. See if it’s really moving or effecting and maybe address another part of it.

Brian Dufour:

Yes, absolutely. Absolutely.

Eric Scheele:

There’s always options. The problem is that, and we talk about this a lot on the KC Pier side, is the Kansas City foundation issues. They just simply don’t repair themselves.

Brian Dufour:

No, they don’t.

Eric Scheele:

Once they start-

Brian Dufour:

Once they start, they don’t stop unless it’s corrected by a professional.

Eric Scheele:

Yeah.

Brian Dufour:

The faster you catch it, the more options you have. If you wait too long, your options tend to come a little limited, so-

Eric Scheele:

And probably more expensive.

Brian Dufour:

Correct, absolutely. So if you see something, just call us. There’s no reason to hesitate about a free conversation.

Eric Scheele:

Perfect. All right. That’s wrap it up. Appreciate you coming in.

Brian Dufour:

No problem.

Eric Scheele:

And we’re going to have you back. It depends on the subject area. We’re going to rotate. Like I said, we have like 10 chapters and episodes specifically for Kansas City foundations and the problems more specifically and Brian touched upon a lot of them. We’re just going to go in more depth with a lot of those problems to give you some inside of, and ways to fix and some approaches to actually fix those. So you can take some common sense approaches to make best choices for you as a homeowner or a realtor or investor or just simply someone who is looking to protect their investments. So we’re going to dive into those, a lot of those pieces much more in depth as time goes on. So appreciate you coming in and we look forward to having you back.

Brian Dufour:

Yeah, absolutely. I appreciate being here.

Lucas Scheele:

Awesome. Well, thanks guys and we’ll catch you on the next episode. We’ll see you next time.

Eric Scheele:

Thank you. Take care.

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