Buying a home is no simple task, whether it’s your first time going through the process or if you’ve done this before in the past. While the home buying checklist is extensive and there are a number of items to look out for, one of the most important things to pay mind to is any sign of foundation issues.
An unstable or damaged foundation should be an immediate red flag as a home buyer. You’ll want to discuss this with your real estate agent, along with the owners if possible, to learn about the history & severity of the damage. In some cases, it might just be better to move on from the property rather than deal with the repairs that will be needed. However, the issue could end up being minor and not require extensive cost to remedy the problem. Read on for our home buyers guide to identifying signs of foundation issues and next steps to ensure you’re protected.
Give Me a Sign
There are 4 very obvious signs of foundation issues that you’ll want to keep an eye out for when you’re touring your potential new home. These are in no particular order, and each one of these issues indicates you’ll most definitely need to have repairs done, with the cost dependent on how severe the damage actually is.
Doors stick and are tough to open & close
Oftentimes when you’re struggling to get a door open or closed in the home, it’s a clear cut sign of foundation issues. It could be the slightest bit uneven (we’re talking a fraction of an inch), but you’ll still notice that you have to push or pull with full force to get the door to move. On exterior doors, you might also notice the door drags on the ground as you open and close it. In rare cases, doors will be tougher to move purely because of higher humidity. Consider if a heavy storm has passed through recently if you notice this problem with the doors, but also look out for the other signs of foundation issues below to confirm.
Bowing or sagging floors
In fully carpeted areas, this might not be as obvious, but with hardwood, tile, or concrete floors you should be able to see if there is any bowing or sagging occurring. It’ll usually happen in the center of the room, but take a walk around the entire room just to be sure. You might feel a soft spot, or even notice the floor sloping. If the house you’re considering is a pier and beam foundation, you might also hear a creaking noise as you walk.
Floor sagging is something that can get increasingly worse over time if it’s not dealt with immediately. If you see any indication of bowing or sagging floors, make sure that this is discussed and that your inspection report reflects the issues you observed on your own.
Moisture in the crawl space or basement
Even if the home that you’re looking at does not have a crawl space or basement, you’ll still want to look out for moisture anywhere on the floors or walls of the home. Moisture is almost always a sign of foundation issues. Whether you see droplets of water on the walls, stained floors or walls, or small puddles, you’ll want to investigate further. Moisture in the home is damaging in so many ways. It can cause rotting, mold, mildew, attract unwanted critters; the list goes on. Be sure to identify the source of the water damage and see how costly the repairs will be for you as a new homeowner. Read more about the different causes of a basement leak to help you narrow down the source.
Cracks in the walls & floors
Similar to moisture in the home, noticeable cracks in the walls & floors of the home are never a good sign. Examine every room in the home with a fine tooth comb; check every wall and floor, paying close attention to where the wall & floor meet. The cracks usually appear over time, and are mainly caused by the soil beneath the home expanding and contracting, but can really be due to a number of things that cause foundation movement.
Who is Responsible?
When you’re buying a home with foundation issues, ultimately it will be up to you & the selling party to discuss and decide where the responsibility for repairs lie. In some cases, the seller might drop their asking price to accommodate for the cost of repairs. In other cases, they might specifically state that their asking price is for the property as-is, meaning they understand that there is work that needs to be done to the house, and they feel that their asking price is fair to accommodate for this.
Save Time & Money – Trust the Professionals
The project time & cost of foundation repairs will depend on the type of damage reported and how extensive the damage actually is, in addition to the size of the space affected. We highly recommend calling a local professional to inspect the property and provide you with a quote for the project. Many companies will review the property at no cost to be able to give you a better idea of the project price before you commit to such a big investment. If you’re local to Western PA, give A.M. a call today and let us provide a free estimate and give you peace of mind.