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Street Creep: Fixing a Foundation Nightmare

    Street Creep:  Fixing a Foundation Nightmare

    While not as scary as Jack the Ripper or Son of Sam, street creep is a true horror!  It sneaks up slowly and then manifests as an ugly crack in the foundation of a house. At the mere sight of it, potential buyers panic and flee!

    For you as a flipper, however, finding a house with a foundation disfigured by street creep can be an opportunity! You can offer less on a house with this problem, and the foundation crack, if caught early enough, is relatively inexpensive to repair. The fix starts with knowledge of the cause.

    What is Street Creep, and how does it attack a foundation?


    By definition, street creep (a.k.a. concrete creep) is the gradual or variable increase in pressure that a street may put on the foundation of a house under certain circumstances. Seasonal expansion and contraction of concrete sections, natural settlement, and the weight of traffic are all contributing factors.

    The expansion of one concrete section of a street puts pressure on the next section, which puts pressure on the next. Over time street creep continues, imperceptibly, all the way to the driveway.

    But the creep doesn’t stop there. It persists in a slow-motion assault on the concrete sections of the driveway, eventually reaching the floor of the garage, which in turn pushes hard on the foundation of the house, causing a crack.

    Typically, the one inch of movement it takes to crack a foundation may happen over 15-20 years. So if streep creep happens so slowly you can’t see it, what signs should you look for to identify it?

    First, check the sidewalks. When driveways and sidewalks are poured, the sections are aligned. Ideally, you should be able to look down the line of the sidewalk and see no break with the line of the driveway.  

    When street creep is happening, however, the driveway will be pushed out of line with the sidewalk. You will be able to see that the lines are slightly offset by an inch or so.

    Next, look just inside the front of the garage.  If you see a gap of about the same width as the offset of the driveway and sidewalk lines, it indicates street creep.

    Remember that when the concrete for the garage floor was poured, there would have been no gap between the floor and the front wall of the garage. Street creep caused that gap, and you can know with 100% certainty that the concrete pad of the garage floor has also pushed up against the foundation of the house.

    Now take a look in the basement in the corner where the garage floor would push against the foundation. You will see a crack in the foundation of about the same width as you observed in the sidewalk offset and the front of the garage.


    This scary crack will freak out the average buyer. However, when caught early, it is not serious, and the fix is mostly cosmetic. Another area of the wall that typically needs to be addressed is any diagonal crack caused by street creep pushing on the top of the wall.

    Small cracks like this are not a problem in the beginning, but if streep creep were allowed to continue, it would lead to bigger problems. Timely repairs are essential.

    How do I fix damage caused by Street Creep?

    The fix starts with creating a four-inch-wide space between the concrete of the driveway and the garage floor. The finished repair will look like a filled and sealed trench in front of the garage pad. 

    Let’s see how it’s done. First, use a concrete saw to cut a line in the driveway about four inches in front of the garage pad. Dig out a trench in that space just a little deeper than the driveway concrete.

    Next, cut long thick pieces of styrofoam to lay in the trench. The styrofoam is flexible and contains many small air spaces. This creates a cushion that allows plenty of room for compression if the driveway continues to be pushed by street creep.

    Epoxy seals the trench on top of the styrofoam, and a layer of sand tops the epoxy, creating a smooth transition from the driveway into the garage.  This part of the repair addresses the cause of the problem, preventing street creep from further damaging the house.

    What about the foundation repairs?

    In the basement, although the fix is mostly cosmetic, it’s often best to hire professionals to cover the foundation cracks with carbon fiber membrane for a firm, permanent hold and smooth look. The membrane restores the appearance of the corner of the foundation, and it is then brushed with a sealer to keep moisture out.

    Likewise, any diagonal cracks perpetrated by street creep can be covered with carbon fiber membrane and sealed for a smooth, moisture-proof repair.

    When most potential buyers see a foundation crack, they envision a $20,000 – $30,000 repair, which usually sends them running.  This repair, however, including the driveway trench and foundation fixes, costs only about $6,000. This represents a great opportunity for you as a flipper!

    How long will Street Creep stay away?

    Street creep advances at a rate of about one inch in 15-20 years. The width of the driveway trench is 4 inches. That’s enough to arrest the creep and keep it away from the foundation for a good long time – up to 80 years, with no time off for good behavior!  😉