Buying A House with Foundation Problems

house for sale sign

Last month we discussed selling a house with foundation issues.  In this article, we’ll discuss things you should consider before buying a house with foundation problems.

For starters, you need to be aware that buying a home is an emotional experience – both good and bad.  The excitement of finding the perfect home can make you too eager to make an offer.  By the same token, drawbacks (like foundation problems) can create unwarranted fear that can ultimately cause you to miss out on a good deal.  The solution for both situations is to gather the information you need to make a wise decision.

Identifying foundation problems

Small cracks in the walls, flooring and foundation aren’t definitive signs of a faulty foundation.  Almost all homes develop small cracks in the walls and masonry within the first two to three years of being built.

On the other hand, larger cracks and particular types of cracks can be signs of foundation problems.  The trick is to know what to look for.  In most cases, hairline cracks in the walls and masonry are the result of normal stressing and are nothing to worry about.  Horizontal and “stairstep” cracks that are opening up are frequently, but not always, the result of foundation problems.

As you do your walk-through of the home you should be on the lookout for any cracks, large or small, and any attempts to conceal them.  You should also take notice of any doors and windows that stick or won’t open or close easily.  Keep in mind that doors and windows often become hard to open and close when the ambient humidity is high.  Here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area this usually means the late spring through early fall.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

A seller who knowingly places a home with foundation problems on the market without disclosing them is asking for trouble – even costly litigation.  However, sellers do sometimes put homes with suspected foundation issues up for sale.   Don’t be afraid to ask the seller or their representative if there are any known foundation issues or if they’ve had foundation work done in the past.  Most sellers will be forthright with their answers.

Hire a professional foundation repair contractor

The only way to know for sure if the home you’re considering buying has foundation problems is by having it inspected by a reputable foundation repair company.  If the seller doesn’t think problems exist, they’re not likely to agree to pay for an inspection, so you need to be prepared to pay for it yourself.

Obviously, this isn’t something you’d want to do unless you’re serious about making an offer.  Getting a clean bill of health from a professional will be worth the cost of the inspection.  And if problems are discovered, they can be used as a negotiating tool to get a lower price on the home.  At this point, the seller will likely be more motivated to sell at a lower price.  Homes with foundation problems typically sell for around 20% below the fair market value of comparable homes without foundation problems.  But the average foundation repair is only about 10% of the home’s value, so in the end, you’ll come out ahead.

If you know or suspect that a home you’re considering buying has foundation problems, give Atlas Foundation Company a call at 817-478-1181.  We’ve been serving the foundation repair needs of homeowners in the Greater Fort Worth area since 1958 and we stand behind our work with a Free Limited Lifetime Warranty.

Check out our foundation repair blog or FAQ page for more answers to common foundation repair questions.

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