It’s not an overstatement to say a home’s value rests on its foundation; yet many buyers know very little about this key structural component. Here are the things your clients should know about home foundations, including common signs of trouble and how to protect themselves from unwieldy costs.
Why Foundations Fail
Whether you represent a buyer concerned about a new home’s foundation or a seller who has noticed some cracks, you will probably need to take some kind of action to resolve the issue. To make sure you know where to start, it’s important to know why these structures falter in the first place.
In most cases, foundations settle or fail because they don’t effectively transfer a building’s weight to the soils beneath the home. This can lead to settlement in the structure which, if left unchecked, can necessitate very costly repairs.
A foundation failure usually stems from two causes:
- The foundation was constructed poorly
- Soils beneath the foundation shifted
By recognizing foundation troubles in their infancies, homeowners can head off problems that might cost tens of thousands of dollars down the road. Inside the home, your clients should look for the following:
- Doors and windows that stick or fail to latch
- Cracks in the walls, especially over windows, doorways and where walls and ceilings meet
- Cracks in concrete floors and ceramic or vinyl floor tiles
- Sloping floors or staircases
- Water collecting in the basement
There are also telltale signs of foundation trouble outside a property. These include:
- Bulges or curves in block foundation or poured concrete
- Chipping or crumbling concrete
- Substantial cracks in the exterior concrete
- Water around the crawl spaces or perimeter of the home
While all foundations will gradually sink down further into the ground, builders usually mitigate this by taking the soil and climate into account when overseeing a home’s construction. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. In certain instances, contractors may fail to account for specific circumstances that could promote foundation problems. In other instances, a natural phenomenon might promote soil issues that compromise foundational integrity. Whatever the case, when poor construction, inadequate soil preparation or extreme weather lead to foundation failure, the costs can be astronomical.
Should Your Clients Buy a Home with Foundation Issues?
In most cases, a foundation problem should warrant concern; however, it may not be a deal breaker. If the buyers are in love with a property, they may not want to back away, especially if the market is especially competitive. They may also be able to use the foundation issues to renegotiate the home’s price to reflect whatever repairs are needed.
On the other hand, because they can be so costly, buyers should strongly the consider the warranty and reputation of a contractor before purchasing a newly-built home. While most offer one-year warranties for serious structural defects, it is possible to request ten-year structural warranty plans that will cover any foundation issues related to the builder’s work.
Learn more about how a Home Warranty can save homeowners from unpleasant financial surprises and add value to your business.