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9 min read Nov 15, 2022

Foundation Inspection: What Makes it so Important?

Foundation Inspections

Foundation problems are one of those things that are difficult to predict – and for most people, they are the unknown. There are numerous causes of foundation problems and countless solutions, but the first step is always a foundation inspection. For those unfamiliar with foundation inspections, we have created a free guide on what to expect.

What is a Home Inspection?

A home inspection is a non-invasive visual examination of a property. Home inspections reveal significant defects in the property that an untrained eye can miss. Inspections paint the real picture of the true condition of the property.

A home inspector will assess your house and provide valuable insights into the property’s interior and exterior, electrical systems, and more. Specialty home inspections, like radon, mold, and asbestos, are also done. One such inspection is the Foundation inspection.

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What is Foundation Inspection?

A foundation inspection may refer to a consultation, a price quote, a bid, an estimate, or a Home Assessment. As you can see, this process has several names, but all mean the same thing. Essentially, a foundation inspection determines whether your home needs fixing and the cost of foundation replacement.

During the pre-repair process, the foundation inspection will play a crucial role in identifying and addressing the relevant issues and ensuring any problems found to have a clear and detailed plan of action.

Foundation Inspection Purposes

It’s important to expect a home inspection to determine whether repairs are needed. Here are the five primary purposes of a foundation inspection.

1. Evaluation of the Home’s Foundation for Settlement/Problems

A foundation repair expert will inspect your property from top to bottom, looking for and pointing out foundation problems. A foundation inspector knows to detect settlement signs and review damage that you may be unaware of that indicates foundation issues and the need for repair.

The homeowner can assist by directing the inspector and pointing out areas of concern. The inspection process should be two-way, not just one guy telling you how it is.

2. Assisting Homeowners With Their Foundation Concerns

While inspecting your property, the foundation repair expert will listen to your concerns and point out any problems you notice around your home. During the inspection, you can expect the inspector to be alert to issues and attentive to what bothers you and your input.

3. Assessing Repair Needs

Not every foundation inspection should reveal the need for repairs. In some cases, the foundation inspection will indicate that the foundation settlement is not severe enough to necessitate immediate action.

Following a consultation with a foundation repair professional, the plan may be to wait and see how things progress or do not progress over time and seasons. When it comes to home maintenance, sometimes the best course of action is to do nothing at all, based on the use of the home and the owner’s wishes.

4. Diagramming a Repair Plan

Following the inspection, the foundation inspection will measure your home and note any damaged points on the exterior and interior. The inspector may even photograph signs and damaged areas.

If foundation repair is required, there will be a plan for the best way to repair your home’s foundation. This plan would specify the number and location of supports (piers or piles) underneath the house.

A foundation inspection can differ from one company to the next. Some businesses include a drawing of the house to show the support locations. Others will generate a report based on their calculations. Some may be far less formal and offer a verbal estimate and discussion.

5. Giving the Homeowner an Estimate for Repair Costs

The most important thing to hear at a foundation inspection is the estimated cost of foundation repairs, which are also covered. An accurate quote should be given to you at the end of the evaluation for repairing your foundation.

Following the inspection appointment, you may also receive an email with the repair plan and pricing information. All of this depends on the repair contractor and how they typically provide information to their customers.

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Foundation Inspection Process

Home foundation inspections follow a fairly standard procedure! They are used to see if there are any cracks, damaged walls or floors, or other signs of trouble. In general, foundation issues can make a home unstable or prone to sinking and cracking. In most cases, the first step in the inspection process will be to talk about what you’re seeing in your home. Are there any stuck doors? Are the floors slanted? After determining the source of the problem, a contractor will assess the exterior of your home.

A foundation investigation entails walking around the house looking for cracks in the slab, brick veneer, or fascia boards. Pier and beam foundations are examined by entering the crawlspace beneath your home and carefully inspecting it for any lingering wetness or musty odor. They will also assess the state of your piers, beams, and joists. In either case, the contractor will inspect the inside of your home. They will be looking for any visible cracks on the floors, walls, or ceiling during this time.

They will then take measurements to determine the level of your foundation. These measurements can detect any deviations ranging from 1 to 6 inches! After the inspection, your contractor will discuss your foundational assessment with you and recommend the next steps. Typically, this entails determining where the piers should be installed – or not installed! Foundation inspections can sometimes reveal no problems and that the cracks are purely cosmetic.

Who Conducts Foundation Inspections?

Every homeowner can see hairline cracks, expanding cracks, and bowing walls. However, seeing them is one thing; knowing what’s causing the problem and how to fix it is quite another. A structural or foundation engineer can help with this.

These professionals have learned to understand the physics and mechanics of foundation failure and repair. Repair may be impossible in some extreme cases. But don’t worry—the goal of a home foundation inspector is to help homeowners understand their specific situation, safety concerns, and potential solutions. Inspections do not involve repairing your foundation; therefore, your report relies on their expert assessment of your foundation.

Why Do I Need a Foundation Inspection?

It is not uncommon for buildings to settle naturally, and sometimes, seismic activity can cause ground shifting. Furthermore, weather and water deteriorate construction materials over time. An immediate foundation inspection entails extreme cases, but this is not always the case.

Troubles

When an extreme event suddenly questions your home’s foundation, hiring a foundation inspector should be your top priority. Living in a house that could collapse suddenly is a safety concern. 

If you cannot get an inspector or make the repair quickly, you can do little while you wait. You might be able to temporarily prop up 24 lengths of wood against a bowing wall, but your family’s safety comes first. You may need to relocate temporarily in extreme cases where significant damage is evident. Furthermore, minor issues can escalate into emergencies over time, so don’t wait.

The following are emergencies that necessitate an immediate evaluation by a qualified foundation inspector.

  • Earthquakes of great magnitude
  • Sinkholes
  • A house got struck by equipment or a vehicle
  • Flooding, mudslides, or heavy ice
  • Walls that separate from other walls
  • Walls that are bowing or bulging
  • Separation of expansion joints

Non-Emergencies

Because it is common for homes to settle and shift over time, some of your foundation concerns may not be an emergency. A hairline crack is usually not a cause for concern. However, gaps that are wider than a pencil are more concerning. 

Keep an eye out for cracks measuring about 18 inches wide and see if they spread quickly. When in doubt, consult a structural engineer who can inspect your home. Even if some of the following issues are not immediate emergencies, they can quickly become one.

  • Windows with cracks
  • Windows that have become detached from their frames
  • Large or horizontal foundation cracks
  • Interior wall or ceiling cracking
  • Water entering the basement
  • Standing water in the vicinity of the foundation
  • Swollen foundation
  • Floors that are soft or slanted
  • Floor tiles that have cracked.
  • Termite-rotted wood or mud tubes
  • Doors and windows that have recently begun to stick
  • In the basement, there is mold or mildew

Other Factors to Consider

When a question about the foundation’s stability arises during a home inspection, homeowners may request a home foundation inspection. 

While a home inspector can provide general assessments of a foundation, only a structural engineer can provide a qualified assessment of a foundation’s stability and safety. 

When buying or selling a home, a foundation inspection may be required. 

It is not required for either party to request or pay for a copy, but the party with the most interest should pay. Here are some of the reasons why you should get a foundation inspection.

  • A favorable inspection can increase the overall value of a home
  • A prospective buyer should be aware of the foundation’s condition
  • Aids homeowners in determining where they need to manage their water runoff
  • If mold is detected early, it can prevent long-term health problems
  • Safeguards family members
  • Early detection of issues allows for the prevention

How Much Does a Foundation Inspection Cost?

The price of foundation inspections varies depending on the home and circumstances. Typically, foundation inspections cost $300 to $500. Nevertheless, a home foundation inspection should ensure your home’s structural integrity. It is easier to implement a solution when you detect a problem early.

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