Always Check for a Damaged Foundation
One of the most important things to look at when planning to purchase a house is its foundation. A sturdy and tough foundation for any structure would give its owner peace of mind. It is one of the costliest parts of a house to rehabilitate or repair when found to be failing or to have substandard quality. Getting access to real estate inspection services is necessary when in the process of buying a house or a commercial building. Take note that whatever results such inspections would yield will have an impact on the real estate appraisal value of a house or structure.
During the pre-purchase stage, a visual inspection of the site as well as the interior part of the house could reveal hints or indications of a damaged foundation. These could be pointed out to the seller or inspector. Knowing about these signs and symptoms of a faulty foundation could also lead a buyer to get out of a bad deal or purchase. Of course, it is still recommended that the services of a real estate inspection or foundation professional be tapped.
During the inspection procedure, a buyer should be present in order to see if the results would really have an impact on the real estate appraised value. Of course, he or she could just wait for the inspection report to come in. Since these services will come at the expense of the buyer, it is appropriate for him to know how the inspector will work. When inspecting for the structural integrity of a house’s foundation, several hints of failure could be observed.
The first place that a real estate inspection professional would examine is the floor of the house. Floors are supposed to be evenly leveled. Of course there are cases when the design of a room dictates that it should be sloping. However, if the uneven leveling on the floor causes its end to be separated from the walls, it indicates a damaged foundation. This is fairly common with homes built on a pier and beam foundation. The appraised value would be affected to a great degree once this problem is seen. The problem is quite serious but nevertheless it is relatively easy to fix it.
The interior and exterior brick walls would be examined too. There are cases when the brick layers will show a slight or very obvious staircase break. This can be attributed to the presence of unstable soil beneath the foundation that holds these brick layers in place. Another instance that indicates foundation failure is the spacing between each brick that have opened up or cracked. Again, this indicates soil that is receding from the middle and going to the sides. Soil contraction will result in very obvious and large exterior wall cracks. If there are previous repairs that have been done on these cracks, these are easily seen.
After this, inspections would shift to the doors and windows. It is understood that these are supposed to have components that perfectly fit in place. To check these parts, it would be opened and closed repeatedly by the inspector. The opening and closing mechanism should work out smoothly. A window or door that is hard to open or close would indicate that the frame might have been nudged out of correct placement. This is another serious hint of a foundation failure. In some extreme cases, the corners of the framing of doors and windows are obviously displaced or cracked. It means that even if the test on the opening/closing mechanism is not done, the problem could easily be pointed out.
The connections between the ceiling and walls would come next. Foundation failure would be easy to spot on these areas. The points where the ceiling and walls meet should have no gaps. When the soil beneath the foundation supports is shifting down, it would cause cracks and gaps between those points. As an additional hint or symptom of damaged foundation, large cracks in the perimeter of concrete slabs are a huge giveaway.
When the results of a real estate inspection procedure reveal a failing foundation, it demands immediate attention. A homeowner who wants to increase the real estate appraisal value of his property should call in a foundation specialist or structural engineer. A geotechnical engineer is a good option too if the results of the inspection would reveal that the soil condition is the source of the problem.
Whatever the case may be, detecting a damaged foundation at the earliest time possible would benefit the homeowner and the prospective buyer. One should take time to learn about the symptoms and indications of this specific structural problem so that they will not miss any warning signs.
Related: Inspection Checklist