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.
Additional 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!
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.