There are many types of foundation issues and you can only address them correctly if you have the house inspected. But when do you know a professional inspection is needed and you can't DIY? What can you expect from the whole foundation inspection process?
A professional foundation inspection is usually done after critical situations like flooding or an earthquake. But inspections are also done for non-emergency situations, when you are buying or selling a house, or when you are adding a floor. The process usually begins with an interview with the structural engineer or inspector and ends with the conclusions and recommendations reported by the engineer.
In this blog, we'll take a more in-depth look at foundation inspection to help you with your foundation repairs. We'll discuss when you need a home foundation inspection, how it is done, how much it costs, and more!
Do You Need a Foundation Inspection?
There are many reasons why you might need your home foundation inspected. But generally, when you live in an area where there is constant ground shifting due to seismic activity, is affected by extreme weather changes all the time, and any relevant past events, the foundation materials are quick to wear down even though you have employed excellent structural engineering.
Here are the specific reasons why you need a foundation inspection from a foundation repair professional:
Houses that are close to collapsing are very much in need of a foundation inspection. This is crucial for the safety of the family. In these cases, the occupants of the property are relocated temporarily before the house is inspected for structural integrity.
Here are some emergencies that call for foundation inspection:
- The house is hit by a big equipment
- Extreme earthquakes
- Expansion joint operation
- Severe flooding or hailstorm
- Bowed walls
- A wall separating from another wall
Even if your house is not close to collapsing, you may still want to have it inspected to check if the cracked or bulging foundation is a cause of concern.
Note these foundation issues that are categorized as non-emergencies by many home inspectors:
- Vertical cracks or horizontal cracks on the home's foundation
- Foundation settlement issues
- Cracks on the ceilings and interior walls
- Cracked flooring tiles
- Crumbling floors
- Sloping or uneven floors
- Bulging foundation
- Loosened and cracked windows
- Sticking doors or windows
- Standing water around the home's foundation
- Basement mold
- Mud tubes or rotting wood
- Basement standing water or damaged basement foundation
- Collapsing roof
Selling a House
Before putting your home on the local market, you need to have it inspected by a foundation specialist so you can disclose major structural problems to the buyer. Failure to do this can get you into legal trouble.
Also, a foundation inspection can increase the value of your home if the results reveal that your foundation is structurally sound. The report will also help you earn the trust of prospective buyers.
Purchasing a Home
A structural engineer foundation inspection is also essential when you are buying a home. You don't want to sign on the dotted line without knowing the possible foundation issues you'll face later on. The licensed structural engineer will be the unbiased third party who will give an honest opinion on your home's foundation.
The foundation report they'll furnish you will also help you negotiate the price of the property and help you avoid any safety concerns.
Adding a Floor
If you want to add a new floor to your home, you need a home foundation inspection to ensure that the foundation can hold it. This is also required when you get a building permit.
What Can I Expect From a Home Foundation Inspection?
The process of professional home foundation inspection may vary depending on who you will hire. But here are the basic steps that most inspectors or structural engineers do:
Interview With the Structural Engineer or Foundation Inspector
The home foundation inspection engineer (typically someone with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and a master's degree in structural engineering) would ask you a series of questions to determine the timeline of the structural damage observed and come up with the inspection criteria for all foundation problems you told them.
If the inspector or structural engineer did not ask you any questions regarding the foundation problems you have observed, they aren't doing their job correctly. Ask them for a sample report to check if they do their job with due diligence.
Gathering of Floor Elevation Data
A floor elevation survey should be done before any structure observation is made. Generally, floor elevation correlates to major damage to the foundation so it is critical that the engineer measure floor elevations.
Inspection of Exterior and Interior Structures
After the collection of floor elevation data, the home foundation inspection engineer should visually inspect the house for any observable evidence that there is indeed foundation movement or other foundation problems.
These may include cracks, leaning walls or doors, sticking doors or windows, separations, and all the other signs that we tagged as emergencies and non-emergencies earlier.
Note that both the interior and exterior of the house should be inspected. This also includes the surrounding terrain which covers vegetation, the gutter system, etc.
Inspection of Walls and Doors
The structural engineer would also check all the doors and walls of the house to determine whether the foundation is structurally sound. This includes bowing walls, leaning cabinets, and trims.
A forensic analysis should be conducted if there are real signs of a foundation problem. This is to determine whether the cause of the movement is standing water near the foundation, poor grading, or dried active soils among others.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Once the forensic analysis has been completed, the home foundation inspection engineer would verbally explain this to the homeowner. He would also recommend foundation repair methods and share maintenance and prevention tips.
A written report should be provided by the structural engineer which outlines the result of the interview, inspection, observation, forensic analysis, and the conclusions and recommendations.
Some structural engineers also include foundation repair costs, permit details, and a foundation repair company suggestion.
DIY Foundation Inspection
If you think the foundation issues of your home are non-emergencies, you can do a DIY inspection. Here's a simple guide to get you started:
Walk Around Your Home
Walk the exterior perimeter of your house. Inspect the foundation walls if they are bulging or leaning. Ideally, it should be level and flush.
Also, check the concrete for any cracks, especially horizontal ones that are larger than ¼ inch. This is an indicator of foundation stress. To identify the seriousness of the crack, apply waterproofing paint to it. If it cracks, then there is foundation movement so call a professional inspector or structural engineer. Most of them offer a free inspection.
Walk Inside Your Home
Cracks and separations in the interior walls of your home are also indicative of a foundation issue, as well as leaning and bulging walls.
Also, take time to check the floors for any bulging or buckling. A good way to check is to place a ball on the floor and see if it will roll.
Check Doors and Windows
Even before your walls or floor show signs of foundation movement, your doors and windows can already help you identify foundation issues. If the walls and doors do not open smoothly or they are jammed shut, your home foundations may have moved.
Check Crawl Space
Your home's crawl space should also be inspected for mold and moisture. These issues can warp or rot home supports making them weaker and prone to crumbling.
Prolonged moisture is one of the main causes of foundation damage; hence, you have to inspect your pipes if there are any leaks. If there is, and your home has evidence of foundation movement, call a structural engineer immediately.
Review Foundation Supports
Some houses have access to foundation supports. If your home does, check if the piers and concrete are in good condition and if the foundation settlement is okay. They should all be level and not buckling. Also, check if there are broken connections between the flush and beams or if the steel or metal piers are rusting.
How Long Does a Home Foundation Inspection Take?
Usually, a structural engineer can inspect a house for foundation issues in less than two hours.
This follows the structural engineer foundation inspection process we discussed earlier which primarily includes an interview, visual inspection, and report delivery. But of course, this may vary depending on how knowledgeable the inspection engineer is and how huge your property is.
Home Foundation Inspection Cost
Many companies that offer foundation repairs have free foundation inspections. But if you can't find one that will do it for free, expect to pay $150 to $750.
However, if your property is large and complex, the home foundation inspection cost can go up to $3,000 or more because the engineer would spend more hours on the inspection and would be making a longer report.
What is Foundation Repair?
After the structural engineer foundation inspection report has been issued, you can proceed to make the foundation repair.
According to Home Advisor, foundation repair companies usually charge between $4,913 and $10,000 for foundation repairs which can span from sealing hairline foundation cracks to stabilizing the foundation.
The most common methods used in repairing foundation damages are sealants and masonry patches, mudjacking, piering or piling, and soil modification in the foundation.
The inspection engineer would recommend the best foundation repair method to use for your home. You should communicate it to the contractor and ask their opinion as well, especially if it is an older house.
Sell Your House With Foundation Issues to a Cash Buyer
Foundation inspections can uncover the worst foundation damages to your home. Repairs are not always an option especially if you are low on budget to fund the repair cost and the house doesn't have enough equity you can borrow from.
In these situations, it might make more financial sense to sell your house to a cash buyer. Cash buyers purchase houses with structural issues as-is (unlike selling with real estate agents) so you don't have to stress yourself finding a contractor and spending tens of thousands of dollars for repairs.
To get started on a cash offer, visit the cash buyer's website and fill out a form. You can also give them a call if you want to communicate certain requests.
After this, the cash buyer would schedule a visit to your home to check it for foundation issues and other damages. Think of this as a more lenient home inspection. You need not take any action since the results of the inspection would only be used to formulate a more accurate offer.
Once you have agreed on an amount, the cash buyer would draft a contract or purchase agreement that you have to review and sign. Of course, if some of the terms are unclear, you can ask the cash buyer to clarify.
When you sign the contract, the sale of your home with foundation issues would move forward to closing. The process is pretty fast because you will be paid in cash— there's no mortgage lender involved which can delay the sale.
Expect to sign some paperwork during closing which is crucial in transferring the rights to the property to the cash buyer. Once everything is settled, you'll get your money in your bank.
Final Thoughts: Foundation Inspection
Foundation inspections are extremely necessary not only when your house is close to collapsing but also for non-emergencies. You should also have this done if you plan to buy or sell a home and add a new floor.
In case your house has extreme foundation damage and you cannot pay for the repairs, sell your house to House Buyer Network! We'll give you a fair cash offer and make all the fixes for you.
Fill out our form below or call us at (855) 835-2544 to start selling your house with foundation issues.