Providing Support, In More Ways Than One

“I’m a civil engineer by trade, and I’ve watched projects all over the United States and most recently over in Europe. There’s no question the hardest working crew I’ve had the pleasure of working with was a crew of about 10 Americans who built a huge storage facility in Romania during the winter. They faced language barriers, tough conditions, very challenging circumstances in every regard, and they had an amazing level of tenacity to get through every single obstacle in their way.

There is no question this Michaelis crew of four men, without any complaint whatsoever, absolutely rivaled that crew in the winter in Romania as far as how hard working they were. When they were on the job, they were working, they didn’t quit. It was a significantly smaller project, but to me, it was my whole world resting on their shoulders.”

David Sulhoff credits Michaelis with giving him a feeling of safety in his family’s historic Terre Haute home. Because of job circumstances, his family bought their home before coming to Indiana from overseas. Their inspection showed no major issues. But once David arrived, he began to notice a substantial structural problem with one of the walls of their home.

“It had been covered up with dry wall. It was something the casual observer wouldn’t have noticed, but as I looked closer, clearly there was something wrong. Tearing out the dry wall I could see we had a completely failed foundation wall on one side of our basement,” he says.

Scared at the idea one of the foundation walls was literally slipping out from under him and his family was soon to join him in Indiana, David reached out for guidance.

“We called a lot of people. I called a local mason, but it was outside of his wheelhouse and comfort zone because it was structural. I talked with a friend who works at the university who is a structural engineer, as well as people at city. Ultimately Michaelis was the first that wanted to take a look, and they were first to come back with a description of the work and the confidence to do it with a warranty.”

David says he didn’t particularly care which way Michaelis fixed it; he just had two non-negotiables.

“First, whatever the solution was, I had to have a high level of assurance that my family was going to be safe in this home. And the second was if we were to get to the point of selling the house, that I can honestly complete the disclosure and say there are no structural issues.”

Because of the home’s historic nature, stabilizing the wall proved to be challenging. The foundation was constructed of terra cotta clay blocks, which ruled out typical solutions.

“Most basement walls that are bowing in can be stabilized using carbon fiber supports or steel wall plate anchors that have the potential to straighten the wall,” explains Bill Verhonik, Michaelis general manager who also served as David’s project manager. “In this particular case, the wall had sheered completely and was ceramic bricks versus concrete block. Therefore, the entire wall needed to be removed, and we rebuilt the wall from the footing to the bottom of the sill. It required temporarily supporting the home and excavating the soil against the wall approximately five feet wide.”

With David inside, he says Michaelis raised the house about an inch and a half off the foundation while they constructed the new wall, and then lowered it to rest on the newly stabilized foundation. He didn’t even feel it.

“It was a lot of work and our crews performed brilliantly completing the job in just over a week’s time,” Verhonik says. “Michaelis does this type of job on a regular basis, and we also complete these projects for crawlspace foundations as well.”

“They worked really well together. They had great experience on the team, they knew their roles, and they were all experts in their craft and the roles they were given,” David remarked.

Asked how he feels about the end result?
“They have so far met the first criteria where I absolutely feel like my family can sleep safe at night without any concerns about the wall collapsing beneath us. Though we are not in a position to sell the house, if I were, I would also say I feel completely confident there are no structural deficiencies with the house. I would say I’m completely satisfied.”