A small percentage of foundations fail or become distressed, and the deficiency usually puts much more than the foundation at risk.
Repairing a foundation goes well beyond fixing cracks or adding steel. The source of the problem must be properly diagnosed and the repair method properly designed. In many cases the source of the failure is not the concrete or steel foundation, but the underlying or adjacent soils - what could be called the extended foundation. Problems range from improperly compacted fill, a drop in the water table, erosion, consolidation, or effects of neighboring new construction.
Having the right equipment, experienced personnel, and well thought-out plans are necessary to ensure the success of a foundation repair. Generally, developing the repair specification is a team effort involving the contractor, who has the practical experience, and the consulting engineer, who does the investigation and calculations. Repairs should be designed to last as long as the life of the structure being repaired.