What Buyers and Sellers Need to Know About Foundation Damage

Posted by Justin Havre on Friday, March 1st, 2019 at 8:12am.

What Buyers and Sellers Need to Know About Foundation DamageWhen it comes to buying or selling a home, most parties involved immediately think about amenities, curb appeal, current market conditions and neighbourhood demographics. However, it's what lies beneath that may matter the most, and that's the home's foundation. Whether homes feature poured concrete, frost-protected, raised foundations, permanent wood or insulated concrete form foundations, here are some common home foundation concerns that buyers and sellers face.

Spotting the Signs of Foundation Damage

There's a big difference between normal house settling and actual foundation damage. Wondering how to tell if a house has foundation problems? Here are some things to look for that could indicate that the foundation needs a closer look.

  • Doors that fail to latch or stick in place
  • Cracked drywall in multiple places, not necessarily near structural support beams
  • Sizable cracks in driveways or other exterior concrete near the home including any visible foundation itself
  • Windows and doors out of alignment that can indicate foundational shifts that need repairing
  • Cracked, stuck or stubborn to open windows
  • Noticeably sloped staircases or floors that can be signs of foundation pitch problems
  • Standing water around the home's perimeter, in the basement or crawl spaces

Consider contacting a structural engineer along with a licensed home inspector if these signs of foundation problems are spotted.

When it Comes to Cracks, Size Matters

To help determine whether those cracks in walls are due to normal foundation settling or more critical issues, consider their size. Cracks less than ¼ inch are likely signs of settling, but larger ones can be indicative of structural problems in the foundation. If this is true, you may need to know how to fix foundation cracks. Buyers who knowingly purchase such a Cranston home should be prepared to take action very quickly after closing the deal, as repairs get more costly as time progresses.

What to Know When Hiring Someone to Repair Foundation Damage

When a home needs to have the foundation repaired, it's important to have the work done by a foundation repair specialist. The cost of the repair can vary greatly, as the visible signs of foundation damage may not show the full story. Negotiate for the cost of foundation repair, and ask for an estimate before any of the work begins. Whether buying or selling a home that needs foundation work, it is vital to have the work taken care of as soon as possible. Foundation damage can lead to structural damage in the home. When hiring someone to repair foundation damage, ask for recommendations from a real estate agent. Look for reviews online, and ask for more than one estimate before the work gets started.

Factors When Selling a House with Foundation Problems

Yes, it's possible to sell a home with existing issues, including foundation problems. However, sellers often question whether it's best to repair the foundation before selling or to sell the home as is. There are conflicting ideas here depending on who is asked. Some real estate experts say that it might be best to sell as is, because repairs often become public record during the permitting process, which could be a turnoff to potential buyers. Some professionals suggest that buyers often prefer to bring in their own professionals for such a major repair. Finally, there are some that recommend repairing the foundation prior to listing the home and then using the warranty and its ‘newness' as a selling point.

Considerations When Buying a Home with Foundation Problems

Foundation problems don't necessarily have to be a deal breaker. Buyers can use this issue to begin serious price negotiations, and they can even barter a deal to have the current owner shore up the foundation before completion of the sale. Those who live in competitive real estate markets or who have fallen madly in love with a home in Calgary that needs some foundation TLC may not want to walk away completely. Use those powers of negotiation advantageously, as foundation issues can be corrected.

Potential home buyers and sellers in need of additional advice concerning home foundation issues should reach out to a local real estate professional for more guidance and information.

Justin Havre is the top producing REALTOR® with RE/MAX First, Canada's very first RE/MAX brokerage. Calgary real estate is his passion; Justin specializes in Southwest & Northwest Calgary homes for sale. He can be reached at 403.217.0003 or contacted through this site.

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