Do You Need a Foundation Inspection on That House You Are Buying?

By
Real Estate Agent with Solutions Real Estate CA DRE #01490977

Do You Need a Foundation Inspection

on That House You Are Buying?

 

Having a general home inspection is pretty darn important for any buyer, even when the home is new. Here are some more home buying tips.

 

In addition to a general home inspection (that’s the minimum, in this Realtor’s professional opinion), there are a host of other inspections and evaluations you might want to have during your due diligence period depending on the house, the overall condition, the age, and any concerns you or the inspector have.

 

Inspection money is well spent; I have seen countless times when this has been the case because of defects that have been uncovered.

 

roof inspectionAdditional evaluations beyond the home inspections could include the roof, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, radon (depending on where you live), septic (vs. community sewer), well (if not community water), pool and spa, easements/property lines, and fire sprinklers (if present), among others.

 

Another inspection to consider in some homes is the foundation. There are multiple types of foundations (e.g., slab – many homes in my area of Southern California are built on concrete slabs; raised foundation; foundation with a basement; pier and beam). And there are a number of issues that can occur, resulting in symptoms of a potential foundation issue that would warrant a foundation inspection by a qualified professional.

 

Perhaps the floor feels uneven as you walk around, or you can see the unevenness. A foundation inspection can include check for unevenness (elevation) in the flooring from room to room (see photo of the Ziplevel) with a larger elevation variation (over 1” tolerace according to one engineer I spoke with) suggesting potential settling issues. I remember one house that was clearly uneven and the inspection revealed a difference of several inches from the high point to the low, and about 2 inches in just 1 room!

 

ziplevel altimeter

 

You may also see noticeable cracks in the tile flooring, in the drywall, in the visible foundation (exterior), in the home’s exterior, or in the garage.

 

If the home is built on a hill or subject to erosion nearby the foundation could be well worth investigating further.

 

Having the peace of mind about the foundation is important, since some foundation issues can be very costly to fix, such as a cracked slab or deteriorating footings that might need to be deepened or replaced. And if the house is continuing to settle due to soil issues (some areas may be known for soil problems) you could have a real problem on your hands down the road.

 

I remember one foundation inspection on a short sale some years ago. Carpet had been removed so it was easy to see the issues associated with the house at the edge of the hill in an area where cracked slabs had been reported in other homes. There were huge cracks in the slab in multiple rooms, and the foundation inspector the buyer hired indicated that, while there were things that could be done to fix the cracks, it would be tens of thousands of dollars to do so. The big concern was the shifting ground that appeared to be causing the slab to crack in the first place.

 

The money spent on a foundation inspection (it could vary depending on the type of foundation and the vendor), potentially hundreds of dollars, is well spent to have peace of mind...or understand the issues you have to deal with.

 

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Buyer Information - What Buyers Need to Know in Today's Market
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Rainmaker
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Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker and Attorney Licensed in DC, MD, VA,

Great advice - with all the red clay we have in our soil foundation issues are not common here but they do happen and then it is a real mess - get all the inspections you can imagine so your buyers are not surprised! 

Feb 13, 2019 06:14 PM #1
Rainer
486,098
Dörte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Jeff,

I can see, how this would be important in your neck of the woods, what with how people like to perch their pools right on the edge of the cliff and are then surprised, when the cliff takes the pool and comes right up to the patio door.

Feb 13, 2019 08:21 PM #2
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

That's sage advice for buyers, Lise Howe . There are definitely some cases where foundations issues could be huge!

Jeff

Feb 13, 2019 08:29 PM #3
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Dörte Engel 

Some of the homes they build on our bluffs and in the hills are definitely strong cases for foundation evaluations, and good engineering studies! Amazing views from some of these homes but you do have to wonder.

Jeff

Feb 13, 2019 08:31 PM #4
Rainmaker
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Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Jeff, in our hillside homes I always recomend a structural engineer to come out... I remember one time the buyer with whom we became friends brought the Structural Engineer out and we had a discussion... he said he would not have his family live in this house.... the buyer and I could hardly get out fast enough from this hillside home... we laugh about it years later... well worth the money, the next house first question we asked well Hans would you  have your family live here? He laughed and said yes... Endre

Feb 13, 2019 11:31 PM #5
Rainmaker
2,801,695
James Dray
Fathom Realty AR LLC - Bentonville, AR
Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results

Morning Jeff.

There are very few foundation inspections done in my area.  I can only recall one.

Feb 14, 2019 02:10 AM #6
Rainmaker
3,130,931
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Jeff. A foundation inspection in many areas of California must be automatic. Enjoy your day!

Feb 14, 2019 04:31 AM #7
Rainmaker
2,936,257
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Excellent advice, Jeff. In my area, we first wait for the whole house inspector's report and based on those initial findings call in the specialists for additional inspections. But I would think that with California's propensity for the earth moving, a foundation/structural inspection would be quite important.

Feb 14, 2019 01:10 PM #8
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Endre Barath, Jr. 

I suspect you have even more hillside homes than we do in my area, although obviously homes can have foundation issues without being on a hill!! Asking about the family living there is probably a good question!

Jeff

Feb 14, 2019 04:14 PM #9
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Nina Hollander 

The general home inspection always seems to come first with others to follow depending on concerns. A pool/spa inspection is a must, like the home inspection and separate (although I understand there are a few inspectors who can do both).

Jeff

Feb 14, 2019 04:17 PM #10
Rainmaker
2,936,257
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Hi Jeff, here in NC, the whole house inspection does not include irrigation systems, pools, detailed roofs, septic or well. So those need to be done in addition to a whole house. If I've got a house with an old roof or old HVAC system, I always recommend a more detailed inspection regardelss of what the whole house inspector's report says.

Feb 15, 2019 03:52 AM #11
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Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

In Oklahoma unless the inspector is certified by the state as a structural engineer they cannot say that a foundation is bad. They can recommend a structural inspection if they think it may be an issue.

Feb 15, 2019 06:29 AM #12
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Nina Hollander 

Same process here - and all those items are well worth further investigation and are money well spent.

Jeff

Feb 15, 2019 09:08 AM #13
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George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Jeff there are parts of CT that have serious issues with crumbling foundations.  The money spent on an inspection that reveals this as an issue, is worth far beyond the cost.

Feb 16, 2019 04:32 PM #14
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