Issues of Purchasing a Home With Foundation Problems

Finding the perfect home can take months or even years, and after you’ve found the perfect one, discovering it has foundation issues during the inspection stage can be very disheartening. There are several dangers and risks that you’ll take on if you decide to proceed with the purchase anyway; although in most instances these problems can be dealt with, the cost, time and stress involved may not be worth it. Understanding what you may be up against before you purchase makes it easier to deal with foundation issues after the fact. Before you do anything, hire a structural engineer to inspect the property and let you know exactly what needs to be done; in most cases, the average home inspector isn’t qualified to give you details on what the foundation will need.

You May Need Different Financing

If you’re already pre-qualified for a loan through stricter traditional lenders, you may need different financing. Certain lenders require that the home is structurally sound, and any foundation problems may result in them not financing that specific house. Even if a lender decides to finance the home anyway, you may be subject to higher interest rates or need to provide a bigger down payment.

Cost of Repairing the Foundation

Cracks in the foundation that are less than 1/4 inch wide don’t usually require repair; however, anything more than that does. Patching cracks can cost a few thousand dollars, depending on where you live, and this doesn’t address the cause of the cracking in the first place, which you’ll also need to fix at some point. This can be as small as fixing and replacing gutters and downspouts and grading the property around the home so that the ground slopes away from the foundation, or as major as rebuilding part or all of the foundation. Rebuilding part of the foundation can cost you tens of thousands of dollars.

Cost of Repairing Related Damage

When there are issues with the foundation, there are likely problems elsewhere in the home, and buying a house with foundation issues means you’ll have more household repairs to contend with down the line. Cracks in drywall, crooked doors and windows, broken tiles and uneven, thus damaged, hardwood floors all occur when a foundation isn’t level and sturdy. Once the foundation is repaired, you’ll either have to live with these issues or fix them, which, if you hire a contractor, will be costly depending on the extent of the damage. images

It Could Go Deeper Than the Foundation

Foundation issues are no minor thing; however, in the majority of cases, the issue can be fixed. One of the greatest dangers of buying a home with foundation issues is finding out that, while the foundation was constructed perfectly, the ground beneath it shifted. Most builders perform a soil test to ensure that the foundation will stay in place; however, this test can fail or contractors may fail to do the test. If this is the case, more extensive foundation repairs, including lifting up the house to install new foundation piers to level it out and reinforce the existing foundation, are necessary. In extreme cases where damage is extensive, you also run the risk of needing to replace the entire foundation.

For further reading, check out the following articles:

Home Inspection Defects: Sue the Seller? – Nolo

Should I Buy a House with Foundation Issues? – Zillow

How to Evaluate Home Foundation Problems

How to Find Foundation Problems on a Home You’re Buying

2 thoughts on “Issues of Purchasing a Home With Foundation Problems

  1. laine

    I am trying to sell my house. I hired an inspector before I listed it on the market so that I would be aware of any issues. Turns out, there are foundation issues. What can I do? Can I sell the house like this, or do I have to fix it?

  2. Nancy Parker

    When there’s a problem with the home, even a relatively minor one, most listing agents will suggest strongly that the seller fix it before selling the house as even the smallest of imperfections can cause a buyer to take a pass when there are so many other options. There are two basic kinds of structural foundation damage: settling or sinking and inward wall movement. Both are serious and can destabilize the entire home.

    The culprits in either situation are soil and water, in one case too much of them; in the other not enough. Once the moisture has been drawn from this soil it becomes desiccated and compresses, creating a gap under the foundation. The weight of the foundation and the home it supports will cause the foundation to settle or drop into this gap, destabilizing the house and causing cracks to form in foundation and aboveground walls, windows and doors to stick and building elements, such as chimneys, to separate from the rest of the structure.


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