Q.: Before we purchased our home, part of the foundation under the house dropped approximately 4 inches. At that time the owner hired a contractor to fix the problem. By digging down alongside and putting jacks under the foundation, the contractor raised the level of the home to its proper elevation and then removed about 1 foot of dirt from under the foundation and proceeded to place concrete under the foundation. After some time, the owner sold the house to me. In our first year, the same part of the house dropped in elevation again. When I called the contractor who fixed the problem originally, he said that there was no warranty on his work, but for an additional $13,000 he would install steel screw anchors under the present foundation and attach them to the concrete. This would prevent the house from any further settling. I am not familiar with this type of repair and wonder if it will really solve our problem.

A.: Before you start any further repair work, you have to hire a foundation engineer. For a minimal cost, relative to the cost of the repair, a geotechnical engineer will determine what the problem is before recommending a repair. What this contractor is talking about doing, installing helical piers, could be a viable solution. But there is no way to know that without a complete evaluation of the problem. To start doing repairs without first determining the problem could easily end up as the classic case of throwing good money after bad. To start, you should do some historical investigation: get the original soils report from the home builder, get the original building permit application, ask your neighbors if they've had problems. There is simply no substitute for a complete evaluation of the problem before starting any repair work.