One of the most important components of a home is its foundation. Because everything else is built on top of the foundation, any problems might become a huge and expensive hassle. If you ignore foundation inspection when buying a house, potential foundation faults can cause serious structural concerns in a home that are difficult and expensive to fix. Worse yet, if the costs are a result of wear and tear or ground movement, homeowners insurance may not cover them.
As a real estate investor, the best way to avoid foundation problems is to get a house foundation Inspection before making a purchase.
In this article, we’ll go over the specifics of foundation inspections so you’ll know what to expect.
What is a House Foundation Inspection
A foundation inspection is when a licensed foundation inspector examines the foundation of a house to ensure that it is structurally sound. It is often recommended in addition to a general house inspection. If your general home inspector finds any signs of damage, they may recommend a more in-depth look at the foundation.
In this instance, you should hire a foundation expert to evaluate and report on the situation of the foundation.
The foundation expert (usually a structural engineer), will look for potential signs of foundation damage both inside and outside the house. This may include cracks on walls, sagging walls, cracks in steps, tile cracks, falling roof, slants, sinking ground, and bowed walls
Why Do You Need a Foundation Inspection?
Issues with a home’s foundation might result in significant hazards. With sagging walls, disintegrating flooring, and a falling roof, your house may begin to physically fall apart.
Repairing the foundation of a house can be quite expensive. Foundation repairs might cost more than $10,000 on average. Sometimes it can even cost more than the home itself, depending on the severity of the damage. It’s best to have a house you are looking to buy professionally inspected if there are signs of potential foundation issues.
Then, armed with the facts, you can decide whether to negotiate for repairs or walk away. Your negotiation process will be aided by knowledge about the foundation’s condition and corresponding repair expenses. Although a foundation investigation is costly, especially if you eventually decide to back out of the deal, the headaches and repair costs spared will be well worth it.
It’s also preferable to detect these potential foundation problems early on when remedies are more likely to be preventative, straightforward, and low-cost. Over time, foundation problems only get worse (and more expensive to fix).
The Main Types of Foundation Inspection
The nature of a home foundation inspection is determined by the foundation type. Let’s look into the three main types of house foundations and how foundation inspection is done for each.
1. Basement Foundation Inspection
A basement foundation has structural walls extending underground. Because the basement walls are supporting the rest of the house, the home foundation inspector will need to go inside to evaluate the walls and ceilings for damage. If the basement extends above ground level, the inspector will look for visible weak points or foundation faults on the exterior.
If your basement does not extend the complete length of your house, the rest of the foundation will be checked based on the foundation type.
2. Concrete Slab Foundation Inspection
Slab foundations, a popular option in many areas, is a concrete slab that has been poured into the ground. They usually help to protect against termites. While slabs are the simplest and one of the least expensive to construct, they can cause serious foundation issues.
Contractors must break the concrete open to undertake any work since pipes and other infrastructure components are contained within it. Another difficulty with this foundation type is that they are more susceptible to cracking as the ground shifts. Because concrete isn’t very flexible, it will tend to crack if one side of the house sinks lower than the other.
When it comes to foundation inspection, it’s more difficult for the inspector to determine how it is constructed since it cannot be viewed from the inside. They will often examine the outside and look for any signs of settling. The inspector may also examine the walls to see if they are bending or cracking outward as a result of the slab shifting.
3. Pier Foundation Inspection
A pier foundation is one in which the house is built on deep wooden or concrete piers. They usually have a full crawl space underneath them. This design allows a home foundation inspector to easily access and inspect the beams through the crawl space. Damage on pier foundations is usually due to the entrance of moisture or pests like termites.
How Much Does a Foundation Inspection Cost?
The cost of a home foundation inspection will typically be from $350 to $500 on average. However, the actual cost is determined by a number of factors such as the type of foundation, the size of the house, the market conditions, and the degree of the damage. For example, it will cost more if the inspector had to document multiple cracks and openings on the walls and concrete.
How Long Does a Foundation Inspection Take?
The time it takes for a foundation inspection to complete is determined by the type of foundation. For basement or pier foundations, the inspection process will typically take a couple of hours because the inspector has to go beneath the property. However, a slab foundation inspection can be significantly shorter.
A foundation inspection will often begin with the structural engineer interviewing the homeowner about the history of the house and any important incidents from the past such as flooding and renovations. They will check the home’s interior, exterior, and surrounding terrain for signs of foundation damage.
They will then undertake a forensic analysis to discover the cause of any problems. After that, the inspector will create a report of their findings and recommendations and deliver it to the buyer. This could take a few days.
Should You Buy a House With Foundation Problems?
Whether or not you should buy a house with possible foundation problems is mostly determined by your risk tolerance and whether or not you can find a deal that makes financial sense. Some foundation repairs may be modest and preventative in nature, resulting in lower costs. Others may end up costing more than the home itself. A foundation inspection will help you comprehend the scope and potential expense of restoration.
Buying a house with foundation problems could also help you get a better deal. The foundation inspection report can be used in negotiations. You might also ask the seller to make the repairs before you take possession of the investment property.
As you explore purchasing a home with foundation problems, keep in mind that there are additional consequences to consider. For instance, you may be required to meet specific deadlines and requirements in order to insure the property. Financing the purchase or borrowing funds for maintenance might also be challenging.
The Bottom Line
If you’re thinking about buying a house, having a foundation inspection report will help you figure out how much damage there is. Therefore, before you decide to purchase a house, ask yourself “Where can I find a foundation inspector near me?” A licensed foundation inspector will help you avoid potential financial loss from foundation repairs or provide you with a report that will help you negotiate a better deal.
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