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Common Foundation Issues to Look for When Buying a New Home

For Sale House

Foundation inspection & buying a new home- how both go hand in hand

Looking for a new place to reside? Whether it be a temporary stay or your "forever home", there are several factors to consider before making your final decision. Looking at the health of a home's foundation is a key deciding factor in the purchase. Whether you're looking at older homes or newly-built homes, foundation issues can arise anywhere, making it highly important to examine all the signs associated with such issues. With your foundation being your base, you want to make sure you're buying a home with a sturdy, reliable foundation that can support you and your family for years to come.

Foundation settling vs. foundation upheaval- their difference & their importance

Foundation Settling

Believe it or not, a home's foundation adapts to the environment it's in. Because the foundation is supported by the soil underneath, it reacts with the soil. Soil can naturally expand and contract due to weather patterns and climate changes. It's not uncommon for the foundation to expand in moisture-ridden conditions such as rain and snow and contract in dry climates. It's also common for soil to expand in warmer temperatures and contract in cooler temperatures. This is why naturally over time, a home's foundation can experience some shifts. However, some foundational shifts can lead to serious, sometimes dangerous issues you want to make sure you address before it's too late. There are two common ways a foundation can shift- foundation settling and foundation upheaval.

Foundation settling/sinking- Searching for a home in an area with dry, cold weather? If so, you'll most likely come across foundation settling or sinking. Foundation settling or sinking is the act of the foundation sinking into the ground, causing the foundation to dip inward. A sinking foundation usually occurs when the foundation has contracted, causing the foundation above to cave in to the soil that has shrunken below.

Foundation upheaval- Looking for a home in an area that experiences a lot of precipitation or is prone to hot, humid weather? Opposite to foundation settling, foundation upheaval is the act of the foundation moving upward, causing the home to rise in certain places. This happens when the soil below expands, usually from excess moisture in the ground.

Signs a home's foundation is failing

Determining if a foundation has sunken or up-hove can be tricky to figure out just by observing from the front yard. To differentiate what has happened to the home, there are common signs to look out for, both from inside and outside the home. These common foundation issues include:

  • Cracks on the inside and outside of the home- especially the foundation, walls, and floors
  • Cracked Wall

One of the most common indicators of foundation issues are cracks around walls, floors, and the foundation. When the foundation starts to settle or raise, the walls, floors, and foundation will start to shift in different ways, causing cracks.

  • Sagging/Uneven Floors

Do you notice any unusual dips in the floors of the home you're looking to purchase? Uneven/sagging floors are a common indication of a foundational issue below. When floors start to sag, or even bounce, this usually means that the foundation pillars underneath have settled into poorly compacted soil.

  • Bowed Walls
  • Bowed Wall

A bowed wall is a common indicator that a foundation is settling. If you notice a wall starting to cave in, either from the outside or inside of the home, this could be an obvious sign that the foundation is starting to settle and sink. Bowed walls commonly happen in the basement or crawl space, due to their below-grade nature.

  • Gaps and uneven windows and doors

Is there a window or door that gets stuck when you're trying to open or close it? Or, is there a window or door that has a noticeable gap or crack in its frame? When this occurs, the foundation is most likely settling, causing such areas to crack and be difficult to open or close. Make sure to examine doorways and windows around the home for any cracks or gaps around them.

  • Tilted/Leaning Chimney
  • Tilted Chimney

Surprisingly, another telltale sign for foundation issues is a tilted, separated chimney. When a foundation starts to settle or raise, the chimney can start to separate from the rest of the home. Now, why is this? In some cases, a chimney's foundation isn't connected to the rest of the home's foundation, therefore the chimney will not sink in with the rest of the home. Make sure to call a foundation repair contractor immediately if you notice this, as this can quickly lead to more serious issues.

  • Musty smells and water leaks in basement or crawl space

Another important, sometimes overlooked, sign that the foundation has issues are water leaks in the basement or crawl space. Although this may be some sort of plumbing issue, a leaky, musty basement could be caused by water intrusion through gaps and cracks in the foundation. These gaps and cracks are usually caused by foundation upheaval. When a foundation raises, stress is put on your basement walls, floors, and ceiling, causing cracks and gaps to form. Make sure to examine the basement or crawl space for common leaks by first determining if it is a plumbing issue or a foundational issue.

How a foundation repair specialist can save your foundation's life

Foundation Inspection

It could seem scary to think that the home you're about to put a bid on has issues, especially if they're coming from the foundation. Just like ignored health symptoms can worsen over time, overlooked foundation issues can lead to more serious, costly damage. When you're house hunting, the last thing you want is to move into a home that eventually has very serious, expensive issues tied to it, making you spend even more money on repairs after you purchase. Of course, if you are looking at a home that does have a few foundational issues, make sure you get these issues examined and fixed before that property is legally yours. Whether you see a few cracks above doorways or the chimney separating, both should be examined by a foundation repair expert to diagnose the issue and give you a solution. At HomePro Match, we can match you with your local foundation repair expert for a foundation inspection today. Click here to get started!

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