Whether you’re buying or selling a home, foundation problems left unsolved can have very costly financial implications. With all of the stresses that come with real estate, like moving, market volatility, mortgage negotiations—the list goes on—it’s safe to say you’d rather avoid foundation issues emerging during, or shortly after, a deal is made.

In making a big investment like this one, home buyers need to understand how to determine foundation problems ahead of time, before making any big moves. Luckily, there are some particular red flags to pay attention to, in order to sniff out any hidden foundation repair costs in need of a quote.

If you notice any of these signs of foundation damage in a potential home, be sure to inspect them further and factor them into your decision-making process. Before buying, look for:

 

Occasional Leaks

If the home’s basement experiences occasional leaks or even excessive moisture, it can serve as a warning of a foundation problem that, if left alone, will only incur more damage and repair costs. Often, leaks are a result of cracks or poor drainage that can lead to mustiness, mold, or flooding, things you definitely want to avoid as a homeowner.

 

Cracks (Diagonal, Horizontal, and Vertical) on Walls or in Basements

While some cracks are more serious than others, all cracks are worth paying attention to in case they carry hidden costs. In particular, if you notice a crack on an interior wall, this could be a sign that as the home settles, forces may be pushing or pulling on part of the wall, thus cracking the wallboard. In the basement, cracks could signal normal settling of the foundation, or they may be a result of hydrostatic pressure acting on the foundation wall causing it to crack. Either way, you’ll want to address these issues when buying a house with a cracked foundation.

 

Exterior Cracks

A crack on the exterior of the foundation, cracks along a chimney, or a stair-step crack patterns in brick mortar are additional indicators of a settling foundation causing problems for the home. While settling is a natural occurrence, unaddressed it can pose a significant threat to the structural integrity of a home.

 

Doors not Latching

Doors that stick or refuse to latch properly are more than just a nuisance! Frequently, a door that’s out of alignment is the result of a foundation that’s sinking or rising as it settles, perhaps causing a gap between the door and its frame or jamming when opened/closed. Along similar lines, built-in cabinets that appear to be shifting from their positions are further evidence of wall movement from a settling foundation.

 

Foundation Issues in Real Estate Negotiations

While foundation problems in a home come with repair costs, they can present an opportunity for buyers to negotiate certain conditions prior to closing, or even adjust their offer to a lower amount. That being said, homebuyers should consider their appetite for risk when deciding to purchase a home with foundation problems. For instance, home insurers often may only underwrite houses with foundation damage if repairs are completed in a specified timeframe, which could mean large additional expenses usually within 30 days of closing.

 

With any big decision, you want to be as informed as possible. This is especially true when buying or selling a home! Determining foundation problems is an important step in the process—and you don’t have to be Mike Holmes to spot them.

Rest assured, K Kuypers is dedicated to helping both buyers and sellers get the best bang for their buck. If your dream home has serious foundation problems, give us a call for a quote, free of charge!