Buying or selling a home with foundation problems can be tricky. Loan institutions in most cases will not provide financing for a home that needs foundation repairs even if the buyer is willing to buy it in its existing condition. And even when the buyer is financing the sale themselves, the seller may still need to sell it at a lower price.
Buying a House with Foundation Problems
When buying a house, some compromises may be necessary. You might not find a home at your budgeted price point. Or the home might not be close to your kids’ school. Or you might not find a house with the basement you really hoped for. Eventually, however, you might overlook one or two things and just close the deal.
One important thing that you should never overlook is purchasing a home with foundation problems. In some cases, these problems usually mean serious repair work is needed. And that typically comes at a great cost.
Therefore, before buying a home, it pays to do due diligence. This means looking for signs of foundation issues and assessing their home foundation repair costs.
How to Identity Foundation Problems
Start in the crawl space or basement to identify foundation problems. Does the odor smell musty? If it does, it’s a red flag. A leaking crawl space or basement can reveal foundation cracks.
Do you notice any insects? If there are, it could mean a foundation problem. Insects in crawl spaces or basements are usually attracted to moisture.
Other warning signs to be on the lookout for include baseboards that are separating from their mitered corners (house settling), any wall that is bowing outward, or cracks splintering up the walls. Check for these in each room of the house.
Generally, soil shifting is often the number cause of foundation problems. Signs of foundation problems include:
- Cracked chimney. Expanding soil can cause foundation settling or cracking. Experts usually reinforce an unstable chimney using pilings.
- Crooked doors. Do you find it a bit difficult to open or close doors? If so, it might mean foundation problems. Crooked doors often develop in a house when a foundation settles, shifts or cracks.
- Cracked and bowed walls. Walls that are bowing or cracked can be fixed. That being said, there is often an underlying problem such as poor water drainage, hydrostatic pressure, and soil movement.
- Sagging or uneven floors. Floors that are uneven or sagging mean foundation problems. Other things that can contribute to flooring issues include inadequate foundation waterproofing, humidity from water seepage and shifting soil.
- Bugs in the basement. Bugs such as roaches, carpenter ants, earwigs, silverfish, pill bugs, and centipedes are attracted to basements that are wet and often enter through foundation cracks.
- Basement/crawl space moisture. Water seepage through foundation cracks can cause serious foundation issues. Examples of such issues include uneven floors, mold growth, sagging and musty smells.
Once you have checked for these problems, the next step is to decide whether to proceed with the purchase anyway. While most issues can easily be dealt with, the stress, time, and cost may not be worth it in the end.
Dealing with Foundation Issues
Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you understand what you may be up against. Here are a couple of things you should do:
- Have the problem analyzed by a foundation repair expert. The expert should be a person who lives and breathes foundations on a daily basis. In most cases, the seller won’t object to this. But should they object to you bringing your own expert, it could be a red flag. Walk away.
- Figure out different financing options. Most lenders will not finance a home with foundation problems. As such, you may need to pursue alternative financing.
- Understand the full costs. Foundation issues can mushroom into a financial morass. Fixing foundation issues can cost you anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand.
- To avoid getting shoddy work done, get your own contractor. If you leave it to sellers, they may choose to go the cheaper route.
Selling a House with Foundation Problems
You can sell a house with foundation issues as long as you set realistic expectations, do your research, and find the right real estate agent. Trying to conceal foundation issues isn’t an option. Not only is it fraudulent but it’s also almost impossible to pass the trained eye of home foundation inspectors.
Here are a couple of things you should do when selling a home with foundation issues:
- Get a structural engineer’s report. They specialize in assessing the integrity of the structure itself, potential problems and solutions. A structural engineer’s report will cost you anywhere between $400 and $500 depending on where the house is located. Although a tad bit costly, it’ll help calm the fears of future buyers.
- If you decide to repair foundation problems, make sure the contractor has a licence and is certified.
- Keep copies of all documents related to inspections and details of foundation repairs. Lending institutions will require them from the buyer. They are also important in the mortgage process.
- Lastly, make sure the buyer knows foundation problems exist. In fact, some states require you to disclose any structural and foundation damage in the home to the buyer. Consult with your real estate agent or property lawyer if you are unsure of how the disclosure works.
Cost of Foundation Repair
The cost of foundation repairs varies depending on the type of problem and how long the problem has been occurring. Costs have been reported as low as $250 and as high as $10,000. Your cost will depend on your particular situation.
The average cost of foundation repair is anything between $2,546 and $3,648 to have your foundation problem fixed.
A house’s foundation is essential as it sounds. A buyer needs to do all the research to ascertain whether it will be worth to proceed with the purchase. A seller, on the other hand, needs to decide whether to fix his or her home’s foundation issues or just sell as is.