Foundation Issues: A Homeowner's Worst Nightmare

Updated: May 31, 2020

House with foundation problems that need to be repaired.
Foundation issues are no joke when it comes to buying or selling a house

“We’ve found some foundation issues”: What no buyer or seller ever wants to hear.

Hearing that a home has foundation issues is enough to make most buyers run away screaming. It’s also enough to bring the majority of sellers to their knees begging for mercy.

Fixing foundation problems can easily be one of the most expensive real estate repairs you’ll hopefully never have to make.

  • Sometimes homes have to be jacked up and put on piers.

  • Occasionally entire walls have to be rebuilt.

  • Sometimes there’s so much settling steel and rebar has to be used to reinforce the home.

  • And sometimes homes have no foundation at all!

All of this can add up to a ridiculous amount of money very quickly. We should know. We got hit with an almost $8,000 foundation bill after we got an inspection report back on the first house we bought.

How to Spot Signs of Foundation Issues

There are a few common signs you can look out for to spot foundation issues.

Hairline cracks running through the walls - Hairline cracks in sheetrock can be a sign your home is shifting. They will look like a thin line running along the walls.

Stair-step cracks in your brick: Head outside and examine all of your brick. If you see cracking in the shape of a staircase, there's a good chance your home isn't in the same exact location as when you bought it. Brick walls will start to crack at the mortar since that's where the structure is weakest.

Bending/Bowing in the walls: Check to see if you can notice any interior or exterior walls that are bowed out of shape. This can be a severe problem and may result in you having to demolish the wall and rebuild it. Especially if you want to sell the property.

Sagging floors or ceilings: Sagging floors and ceilings are telltale signs of your foundation is moving. Carefully walk through your house and see if you notice any dips or rises in your floors. Also, check to see if it looks like the ceiling is dropping down anywhere.

Difficulty opening and closing doors or windows: This one may seem a bit out of nowhere, but consider this. When your home was first built, everything most likely opened and closed as it should. If it’s getting difficult to open and close any windows or doors, it may be because the framing surrounding them has shifted a little bit.

What’s The Best Way to Detect Serious Foundation Issues?

Although you may be able to keep an eye out for what we discussed above, there is no substitute for hiring a licensed professional. Hiring a licensed structural engineer is the best way to find out:

  • What foundation problems your home may be facing.

  • Why the issues exist in the first place.

  • And precisely what needs to be done to fix the issues properly.

  • Licensed structural engineers will provide you with a full report loaded with pictures and full descriptions of everything they found.

You will have to pony up though, as these inspections can range between