About Dennis Alan Rials,
Founder of Bedrock Foundation Repair, LLC
The Rials Family
House leveling is my life. I eat, drink, and sleep foundation repairs. At one time not so long ago, I couldn’t tell you how to fix a foundation if you drew me a map, but now I’m designing repair plans, filing patents, and training foundation engineers.
I discovered in the 1970’s that there were no books to read about fixing foundations. There are engineering books about concrete, steel reinforcement, and the technical aspects of foundation failure, but no books explain, in detail, how to fix the foundation, and what the limits of those repairs are. Will the foundation remain stable forever? Will it require seasonal adjustments? What further steps should be taken to enable more structural integrity?
There are no real classes to take on foundation repair, either. Some foundation repair owners speak on the subject, but the real details are not given, explained, or discussed.
I’m not inclined to discuss them either, because there are so many different situations one might encounter when attempting to repair a foundation, and each situation may require a different repair. The ideas and repair methods developed and practiced at Bedrock Foundation Repair, LLC are now refined and proven methods by us, but we don’t want to show all the competition exactly how we do it. Through 30 years of trial and error we have developed many different foundation repair methods, each depending on how much money the client has available for the project, and just how perfect he desires the structure to be.
Some situations are impossible for the money allowed to repair the structure. And then again, it’s hard to predict mother nature. Mother Nature has left us with all different types of soil washed in all over each other, with different types of rock all at different depths at different sites, with water at some levels and no water at others, depending on the time of the year and the rainfall. After dealing with what mother nature has left us, we have to deal with what man has left at the site in landfill, poor grading, and landscaping. Some plants drink more or less water than others, and each one will affect the soil in different ways. Some sites have been tampered with and others have not. Looking at all these conditions, through trial and error, we have found that some methods allow less risk of failure than others.
I have always had the unique advantage of never being trained by a so called foundation repair expert. Instead, I began my career in repairing foundations by purchasing old historic homes in Dallas, Texas, and being short of money, I was forced to figure out how to do it myself, alone. I call it poor boy training. I’ve got many years of practice at this. I have learned many things from city inspectors, engineers, and a lot from contractors, but I’ve learned more from trial and error, practice, and some country boy thinking.
My first house was a historic home, where I slept on a hard floor with no workable plumbing, broken windows and of course, a wavy, roly-poly foundation. The seller, Tom Beverly, talked to me about the foundation problems with the house, and he gave me some instructions on how to level it. I also remember my employer, David Fair, of Hexter-Fair Title Company explaining how a company repaired the foundation of his home. Later I purchased a couple of other homes, and then I bought a very special house that had a very, very serious problem.
A real estate broker had purchased a house with some water drainage issues, and the standing water around the old bois d’arc posts caused them to tilt, which tilted the house as well. This split the house in two at the floor. It had pulled apart down the middle about 8 inches. The broker covered up the gap with more wood flooring and added paneling to cover the gaps in the walls. Then he sold me the house.
Unaware of the problem, I soon noticed the house continuing to pull apart. I got foundation repair estimates, but they were so large that some of the repair costs were more than I made in a full year. I was in trouble. How was I to fix this? I tried this, and I tried that. I yanked and pulled on that house, and I broke floor joists. I was told by foundation contractors how to fix it, but none of their ideas worked. I learned a lot about what ideas were no good and why they didn’t work. I became well versed on all the ways that don’t work, and I can teach anybody all the different ways how not to fix a foundation.
Then one day a real estate agent named Mack Pitts called me. He said he had heard that I knew how to fix foundations because he had heard about the house I was trying to fix. He wanted me to fix his house that he had just purchased on Reiger Ave. Since I was recently out of a job, I was willing to try anything. I looked at his house, and I gave him a price to do some shimming, but he then threw me a big curve. He wanted the job done to city code.
City Code!!!! I was terrified. What was that? Inspectors never liked me before, and I didn’t like them, but I was forced to fix the house to city code specifications. I called the Dallas Inspection Dept. I was honest and forthcoming to the inspector, and I told the truth: I didn’t know anything about how to fix that house, but I was willing to try anything if someone would just tell we what I had to do. And that was where I got my first foundation repair lesson, and that lesson was from city inspector Sonny Franks, a woman.
Sonny met me at the house, pulled on her coveralls and crawled under the house. She pointed out what she wanted done in detail. She would accept nothing less. It had to be repaired to the city code specifications. I didn’t even know how to mix concrete, but she wanted to see the wet concrete before it was poured to make sure it was right. She wanted to see the pier holes to make sure they were the right dimensions. She wanted to see the steel reinforcement. She checked everything throughout the job and she was hard on me. I worked and worked at it, and then I was done. The leveling was right, and I successfully completed a city code foundation repair job.
When Mack saw how hard I worked, and the quality of the work, he recommended me to other real estate agents to fix their foundations. I had no idea what I was doing, of course, but I concluded that if I could repair a foundation to city code specifications, and the city passed it, then I could always blame the city if it didn’t turn out right. Made sense to me. That was over 30 years ago; Mack Pitts is still in that same house, and I’m still leveling foundations.
After I had done a few foundation repair jobs, Gaddis Brothers Construction came and pulled me out from under a house. Their client, Jack Dunn, had purchased that pulled apart house from me, and at first they thought they could fix it, but then they were also stumped. The house was still pulled apart and they asked me for my help. Can you imagine that? With their carpentry help, we pulled the house back together and fixed it. We repaired the structure where it could not pull apart again. The Gaddis brothers taught me some good carpentry techniques, and I showed them how to fix a foundation. I finally got even with that house, I’m happy to say. I did it for $3 an hour, but I’ve had to raise my prices since then.
As I repaired more foundations, I found I could not do them all alone, and I began the long and tenuous project of trying to recruit and train some help. First, I found a good carpenter named Charles, who helped me on only a few houses. The problem was at lunch, when Charles managed every day to guzzle down a full pitcher of beer in a matter of minutes. We were lucky to make it down the highway after that with him yelling at people for a fight. I found out that after a half a day of work, Charles would would always be drunk, so we would have to quit for the day. I would work the rest of the day on foundations alone.
Then there was another carpenter named Norman, and he brought along a friend. I remember a difficult and dangerous situation where the wood girder under the house was twisted. With all the weight of the house on top of it, it was very stressful, because if the girder popped out then the weight would all come toppling down on top of us. The jacks had to be set up exactly straight and plumb, for any out of line jacking would cause it to tilt to the side and pop out.
The jacking I could handle, but Norman and his friend I could not. They giggled, laughed and joked the whole time. Uncontrollable giggling. I didn’t know what to think of it at the time, but I soon discovered what they were giggling about. Norman and his friend were sniffing glue. They were on drugs!! I realized the liability I had with them under the house, so I parted company from the drug addicts and continued working under houses again, alone.
So you see the dilemma I faced from the beginning, and the many years of building a company with trained quality employees. Now Bedrock has dependable and stable employees. 25 workers each have over 20 years experience at Bedrock Foundation Repair. We do over 1,000 foundation repair jobs a year, and Bedrock is also registered as an engineering company. We are still developing new techniques and trying out new ideas to correct foundation problems and drainage. With more than 30 years experience, we insure to our clients that their foundations will be repaired by the best.
Bedrock has been located at 1018 Fletcher, Dallas, Texas, since 1982. We have repaired foundations all over Texas, from Laredo to El Paso and from Amarillo to Beaumont. Dallas-Fort Worth is the heart of our work, but we have expanded all over the state. We have also done thousands of jobs in Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Arkansas, California, and Kansas.