4 Things You Need to Know About Floor Elevations

If your home has fractured drywall, a bent chimney, and stupid sloped floors you can Risky-Business-Cruise across, then odds are high you have foundation issues.  

Your foundation is probably suffering from foundation settlement or foundation heave, both of which are instigated by expansive soils.

If you have gone through or about to go through the foundation inspection process, then you may have heard (or will definitely hear) your inspector discuss floor elevations/a floor elevation survey.

This article covers the 4 main things you need to know about floor elevation surveys:

1. What is a Floor Elevation Survey?

A floor elevation survey indicates where and by how much your floor elevation differs throughout the entirety of your home.

First, a base point is established to be used as the primary reference point – point 0.

After the base is established, elevation readings are taken throughout the home in a thorough and complete manner.

These measurements are taken to gauge the elevation discrepancies from the base point.

They will either be higher, lower, or equivalent to the referential point. All of these readings are recorded on a map or sketch of the home and used to identify where and how much movement has occurred.

*Note – We here at Dalinghaus Construction Inc. utilize a Ziplevel to determine floor elevation surveys.   

2. Accurate Measurements of Floor Movement in Your Home

Floor elevation surveys are incredibly accurate and capable of determining elevation differences to within 1/10th of an inch.

That’s pretty damn accurate.

Floor elevations show exactly how much higher or lower different sections of your floor are. This provides verifiable data to back up the visual signs that a home is experiencing movement.  

3. Tools/Devices Utilized to Perform Floor Elevation Surveys

 There are 3 main tools that are utilized to provide the data for a floor elevation survey.

  •   A Water Level
  •   A Transit
  •   A Ziplevel Altimeter

Water Level

The Water Level has been around for-ev-er and is easily the oldest form of conducting floor elevation surveys.

Water Levels utilize a water basic (that is associated at a higher elevation than what you are measuring).

A line comes out of the basin to a post. A mark is then placed on the line to signify the level of water compared to the basin.

If there is a difference, there will either be more or less water in the line. The difference is measured and recorded as the reading for that specific area.

The Transit   

The Transit is just like what you see surveyors use on large construction sites. A laser comes from the base unit and a grade rode is placed at areas throughout the home/structure.

Depending on how high or low you have to move the grade rod is the difference in elevation from where the base unit is located.

Ziplevel Altimeter   

This device is similar to the water level but doesn’t require you to carry a tripod and buckets of water to set it up.

The altimeter is self-contained and not only saves on setup and deconstruct time but allows you to quickly, effectively set new base points if required.

This Altimeter works more or less in the same way as others.

  •   A base point is determined and then the measuring unit is placed throughout specific areas of the home
  •   Once the altimeter has determined the difference at the base point, it provides a reading in  1-2 seconds!     

4.What Do Floor Elevations Tell You about Your Home?

Once all of the data points have been recorded and properly labeled on the home sketch, you can then make a determination on any trends of movement within your home.

These readings and trends are important to know because they provide data to compile for the correct fix and repairs for the areas experiencing settlement/heave.

If you didn’t have these then you are just guessing on what area(s) you need to repair and no expectations should be made in regard to lifting and leveling those areas, let alone to maximum practical recovery.  

Read more: 7 Common Foundation Repair Payment Questions


Dalinghaus Has Your Back

Disparate floor elevation readings are the numero uno sign that you have foundation issues.

For that reason, they are the number one thing that is required to provide a truly accurate diagnosis (for the proposed scope of work to address the foundation repair issue).

Yes, knowing where the sticky doors and some cracking in the drywall & stucco are important, but really just effects from an underlying cause.

If you live in Southern California or Arizona and would like a FREE foundation inspection, click on our link below –


Brian Dalinghaus

Brian is one of the Co-Founders of Dalinghaus Construction. He has been in the foundation repair industry since 2005. During his career, he has been associated with helping over 4,000 homes and structures throughout California and Arizona.

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