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What is Maximum Practical Recovery?

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If you are in the early or middle stages of foundation repair, I guarantee you’ve heard or will hear the phrase maximum practical recovery.

And, no – this term does not refer to knocking back bitter BCAA’s after a hellish TV workout with Richard Simmons. 

Heck, we use the term maximum practical recovery (MPR) on our proposals and estimates before our shovels even hit the dirt.

The term has an inherent melodic ring to it, strong ten syllables: maximum practical recovery. What is MPR is just one of the many Questions to Ask When Hiring a Foundation Repair Contractor.  

What is maximum practical recovery? 

Maximum practical recovery is the ultimate amount of foundational lift achievable before causing structural or cosmetic damage to a home.

In other words, it refers to bringing your home back up to as close to level as possible without causing undue stress on your home.  

The term itself can be broken down word-by-word:

maximum – the apex, the limit, the ceiling

practical – what makes the most sense for your home/is realistic

recovery – recovering the ground that was lost when your foundation settled (typically due to expansive soils) 

The phraseology of maximum practical recovery is older than dirt and has been used by repair contractors around the nation. 

The term is incorporated to provide the customer (and the contractor) with a basis on what to expect from the lifting/leveling of your home.

Here at Dalinghaus Construction, we believe in spoken expectations and strive for clear lines of communication.

This is why we’ve addressed the cost of helical piers, common problems with foundation repair, and more. 

So, in the spirit of open discourse, here are the three primary determining factors that play into maximum practical recovery.

  1. Area of repair
  2. Age of home
  3. Interior Footings/Grade Beams

Area of Repair

Area is the number one factor that dictates what can initially be set as the maximum practical recovery on your home. 

For example, let’s say your home has settled 3” over a 40’ span. Now, more often than not, the settlement doesn’t blatantly affect the entire 40 feet – it’s more of a gradual, leisurely descent to the lowest point.

Let’s say you have the funds to install half of the piers to repair the worst area, but not where the piers start-and-stop at 1” of settlement.

If this is the case, then it would be a safe bet to say that the Maximum Practical Recovery would be to get the rest of the affected area up to the 1” of settlement to match the starting-and-stopping point of the pier installation.  

It doesn’t make sense to raise the affected area (where the piers are installed) back to zero because then you would start to affect the part of the foundation that is not being lifted at this time. 

You could experience cracked footings and a sloped floor that dips down to the area(s) not addressed.

The general rule of thumb when understanding Maximum Practical Recovery is to know what the floor elevations are and where the first and last pier are installed – that would be the amount of recommended recovery.  

For example, if the first or last piers are located in areas where the floor elevation measures close to zero, then we can expect the maximum practical recovery lift to get close to that zero. 

However, if the first or last piers are located in areas where the floor elevation measures 1”, 2”, or 3” then the home won’t be lifted higher than the 1”, 2”, or 3” respectively. 

Age of Your Home

Age plays a significant factor in the maximum practical recovery of your home. 

The truth is, your home may or may not be aging like fine wine or whiskey, but the real crux is not when your home was built but what construction techniques were utilized.

Older homes have little to no steel in the footing of the home – turns out rebar is important. The footing may also be deteriorating due to age and water damage. 

Lifting a home that has no rebar bones in the footing is not advised (unless you utilize a steel beam under the footing to supply support to the structural integrity of the footing that spans in between pier locations). 

If you try to lift a home without steel in your foundation, the probability of your footing cracking and breaking mid-lift is incredibly high. So, we utilize steel beams to help support the footing as mentioned above.

In some cases, maximum practical recovery with an older building is limited to stabilization only (unless support beams are utilized to minimize the stress/damage that occurs mid-lift).

Again, all of this falls back on the original construction crew – who did what, and how well that did what.

The quality of the original construction is a primary key in determining maximum practical recovery for older homes.   

Interior Footings and Grade Beams

Turns out, we can’t reach all of your footings from the outside (although, this would be a magical dream come true).

Sometimes, we need to go inside, literally, inside your home to deal with the root of the problem. 

If you don’t want the interior of your home to devolve into a mad-house-construction-zone (and who can blame you), then you are limited to the amount of lift and recovery possible. 

This is because these footings or grade beams are frustratingly buried beneath interior load-bearing walls. C’est la vie.

Fact: interior load-bearing walls have footings just like the perimeter of the home.

Interior load-bearing walls have footings so that the loads that are applied to these walls can be properly displaced to the footings and soils below. 

Yeah – your 55-inch 4k TV is heavy.

If these footings are not addressed during the lift, then you won’t be able to achieve the recovery you might want.

To ensure you reach desired maximum practical recovery, you will need piers installed on the exterior of your home and in the interior of your home under these footings/grade beams.   

These are just a few of the factors that can impact maximum practical recovery. 

When it comes to lifting and leveling homes, you need to adopt the mindset that this process will work, but every home is unique and special in its own way (like millennials) and may require some adjustments to the process.

Lifting your home is more of an art than a science – we don’t just hook up hydraulic jacks wherever the hell we want and lift away.

There are innumerable factors that need to be monitored during the lift to ensure that a lift is successful, and the desired results are achieved. 

Foundation repair contractors would love to be able to promise you that your house will be able to be lifted to a set amount no matter what – but it just isn’t a reality.

We all strive to have the best results possible, but there are sometimes other underlying factors that limit those results that are realistically achievable. 

If you live in beautiful Southern California or red-rock Arizona and want to know what your maximum practical recovery will look like, book a FREE Foundation Evaluation by clicking the 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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