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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 $400 and $500.

What Can Cause Foundation Issues?

There are a few things that can lead to foundation problems. One of the most significant contributors to a failing foundation is insufficient water drainage. Water and real estate don't typically mix.

Rainwater has a tendency to either carry soil away from a house or cause the ground to get more and more compact. Both of these situations can lead to uneven support, which may lead to stress and structural failure.

This article on the 7 Causes of Foundation Problems does a great job of going more in-depth into what can lead to foundation issues.

Is There Anything You Can Do to Fix Your Home’s Foundation Issues?

A professional structural engineer will be able to tell you precisely what needs to be done to repair any damage. After they complete their report, they will present it to you, along with their recommendations to fix the issues they found.

A simple thing you can do is install a proper water drainage system to carry water away from your house. Which makes sense, since we mentioned above one of the most common causes of structural decay is lack of proper water drainage.

We used 6-inch leaders connected directly to the downspouts, and that was checked off by our structural engineer for our house.

But, before doing anything, you should consult with an expert. We do not recommend taking matters into your own hands, and we always recommend working with a licensed professional.

What to Do When You Find Foundation Issues But Still Want to Sell Your House?

Luckily for you, you have a few options if your home has foundation issues, but you still want to sell.

  • You can list it as-is on the open market and see what happens. You will most likely be legally obligated to disclose any foundation issues you're aware of. Even if you're not aware of them, buyers will probably order an inspection that will inform them of said issues.

  • You can repair the foundation issues, but this will likely cost thousands of dollars depending on the extent of the damage.

  • You can sell your home to a cash home buyer who does not care if the house has foundation issues. A cash home buyer is likely your fastest and easiest route to take when selling a home with foundation issues.

If you want to sell your house quickly, but it has foundation issues, a professional home buying company like Contenza Properties is precisely what you need.

We buy houses in any condition, even if they have foundation problems. Contact us today to see how much we can offer you.

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If you know someone who needs to sell their house quickly, refer them to Contenza Properties. If we can buy their home in the next 30 days, we'll pay you $1,000 as a thank you.


About the Author

Jordan Reid - Founder of Contenza Properties

Jordan Reid founded Contenza Properties in April of 2018 to help homeowners solve their real estate problems quickly.

Since then, Jordan has helped multiple homeowners facing difficult situations such as divorce, property liens, and unwanted property inheritance.

Jordan believes in putting people first, and numbers second, which helps him reach the best possible solutions for the homeowners he works with.


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