Do you know the most common indicators of a foundation problem in your home? When they are built, homes are situated on a study foundation, with walls and other parts of the structure anchored to that foundation. When a home settles over time, however, the foundation can move and even crack. Foundation damage can be caused by changing soil conditions, the movement of soil around and beneath a home, or even weather and environmental conditions. While these causes may be out of our hands as homeowners, we do have the power to identify and fix small issues before they become big ones.
One thing all homes have in common is that small foundation problems can become large and costly ones when the issue is left to worsen over time. That’s why it’s so important to know the simple ways to spot a foundation problem before it grows. If you’re looking to purchase a home, the same indicators can also help you spot foundation damage in a prospective home before it’s too late.
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How To Spot Foundation Problems In Your Home
Over time, a home’s foundation settles into the soil underneath the structure. This happens to all buildings as they age, but the amount of change can be impacted by soil erosion and other conditions, weather and temperature fluctuation in the area, and other forces we can’t change. That’s why the age of a home may not be the best indicator of potential foundation issues. Even new homes can suffer from foundation damage if the conditions are right. At first, small cracks in the foundation can cause water damage and other issues. But over time, damage to the entire home can be seen in these common indicators.
Think about what parts of your home would be most impacted by a moving foundation and you can probably guess some of the most common indicators. Each of them, if understood and looked for, can be a sign of a larger issue with the home that should be fixed as soon as possible. When found and addressed early on, foundation problems can be fixed.
From the Top Down: What To Look For
Let’s start from the top of the home and work our way down. To identify the start of foundation issues before they grow, here are eight important things to look for:
- Cracks in a home’s walls, especially near windows or doors or along floors, can be an indicator of foundation issues.
- Doors and windows that stick, are hard to open, and get worse over time is another common warning sign.
- Gaps growing between a home’s windows and doors and the exterior walls that may leave openings for water and pests to enter is another indicator of possible foundation damage.
- Sagging or slanted floors are additional indicators.
- A leaning chimney can be a sign of a damaged foundation. If a home’s chimney has fallen down completely, the issue may be even worse.
- Bowing basement walls also are telltale signs that something is wrong with the foundation.
- A musty smell from mold, rot, or mildew in the basement or crawl space can indicate foundation damage.
- Finally, water damage in areas throughout the home that can’t be explained could be caused by a foundation problem.
What Causes Foundation Problems?
Most foundation damage is caused by settlement. Foundation settlement occurs when the soil underneath the structure moves over time, either shrinking or growing. Unstable soil conditions are common and can also cause foundation heave, which is when soil rises underneath the home as it settles in other areas nearby. In addition, water can also damage the foundation, caused by flooding, leaking pipes, or water pooling near the foundation from poor gutter drainage.
For both homeowners and prospective homebuyers, a home inspection by a professional that includes the foundation should be a routine part of overall home care and maintenance. One reason for this is because the results of a professional home inspection play an important role in the home buying process. So whether you are buying or selling a home, knowing the common indicators of foundation issues, from a leaning chimney to uneven floors and sticking windows, is important.
The earlier you spot and fix foundation damage, the less chance the problem will have to grow. Identifying and fixing foundation issues early will save you money, time, and major headaches in the future. Remember, foundation damage can occur in houses young and old, so it’s best to consider common indicators as a reason to schedule a regular foundation inspection as soon as possible.
Homebuyers Beware: Here’s What to Look For
Foundation problems in a home can impact the selling price up to 30% and must be communicated during the selling process in most states in the U.S. These problems can impact the buyer’s ability to get a mortgage to cover the investment costs. The health of a home’s foundation is a major indicator of the strength of the long-term investment and should be considered carefully. That’s why a foundation review is included in a professional home inspection during the home buying process.
If you are looking for a home, you don’t have to wait for the inspection to look for potential foundation damage. Understanding the common indicators can help put you on the right path to home ownership. In addition, if the buyer identifies that foundation work has been done to the home, it’s important to ask for the warranty information to protect that investment and understand what the problem was and how it was fixed. If new problems are identified during the inspection and sales process, ask the homeowner for a reduction in the sale price to cover fixing the issues right away.
How Much Will It Cost to Fix My Foundation?
For homeowners in Raleigh, Winston-Salem, and Wilmington, NC, fixing your home’s foundation will cost a bit less than in some other areas of the country. For example, the average cost for major repairs in Raleigh is $11,000. The average cost varies, however, from $14,000 in Virginia Beach, VA, to $14,500 in Denver, CO, and $50,595 in Washington, D.C. Nationwide, the average starting cost to make foundation repairs, according to Inch Calculator, is $3,500, with major repairs costing an average of $10,000.
Repair costs in North Carolina will vary depending on what the problem is, the severity of the deterioration and damage, and how quickly the problem is identified the costs. For a free foundation inspection and repair quote, contact your local foundation experts at Tar Heel Basement Systems today.