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Foundation inspection: What you need to know

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    The foundation of a house is the structure that supports the entire building, similar to what our skeletal system does for the rest of our body. The rest of the home is built on top of the foundation, which is typically made of concrete, stone or brick and helps prevent any damage or movement from outside forces like soil or weather patterns.

    If there’s a problem with the foundation of your house, it might mean big problems for the rest of your home and, more importantly, a safety hazard for you and your loved ones. If you haven’t gotten your home inspected, you’re worried there’s an issue or want to buy or sell a new home, it may be a good time for a foundation inspection.

    What is a foundation inspection?

    A foundation inspection is a specific type of home inspection conducted by a professional structural engineer, who will come to your home and investigate key areas inside and outside of the home. They’ll typically look for water damage, cracks or drooping on walls, ceilings, doors, windows and other crawl spaces.

    Getting a home foundation inspection

    Getting a home foundation inspection is relatively straightforward, but you may have some questions about the process:

    1. How do I find a foundation inspector?

    There are a few different ways to find a foundation inspector. You might start by asking friends or family members if they have someone they can recommend. If you don’t find an inspector via word of mouth, consider looking online. A simple search for “foundation inspector near me” may bring up multiple results in your area. It’s best practice to read reviews and inquire about pricing before hiring someone.

    2. How do I schedule the inspection?

    After you find a foundation inspector, the next step is to schedule an appointment. If you feel it’s an emergency, express this to them when you first reach out. Depending on the inspector, they may have a scheduling link online or a phone number you can call to book the inspection.

    3. What do foundation inspectors look for?

    Foundation inspectors look for evidence of issues with the foundation. They’ll look out for cracks, signs of water damage, bulging, uneven floors and jammed windows inside and outside the house. Note that if an inspector does happen to find something, this doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem with the foundation — it just means a deeper look may be required.

    4. How much does a foundation inspection cost?

    The cost of an inspection will vary depending on your home and who you hire to perform it. Contacting a few structural engineers for quotes may help you understand what you’ll be expected to pay, but it’s typically around a few hundred dollars or so.

    5. How long does a foundation inspection take?

    A foundation inspection typically takes up to a few hours to complete. The person or company you hire to perform the inspection will likely be able to provide an estimated timeframe, but they usually won’t take more than a day at most. If your home’s foundation needs any work, however, the process may take longer.

    What happens after a foundation inspection?

    After your foundation inspection you will likely receive the following:

    • The results of your foundation inspection.
    • Suggested next steps for potential repairs and maintenance.

    The results of your foundation inspection may include a diagram of your house or details that outline any structural issues found. If the inspector believes the home’s foundation needs repairs, they may present you with a foundation repair plan or proposal.

    In summary

    A foundation inspection is a type of home inspection specific to the foundation of your home. A structural engineer will look at key areas inside and outside of your home to check on the health of your home’s base structure. If you’re worried about your home’s foundation, or you’re selling or buying a house, it may be time to start thinking about a foundation inspection.

    Home foundation inspection FAQs

    When do I get a foundation inspection?

    There are a few different circumstances where people request foundation inspections, such as when they’re buying or selling a home, or if you suspect there are foundational issues in your home.

    If you’re buying a home where the home inspection uncovers possible evidence of foundational damage, but you’re still interested in the property, it may be time to get a foundation inspection. If you’re selling a home, a foundation inspection isn’t typically required, but you may want to consider getting it to help market your home.

    If you’re a current homeowner who suspects there may be issues with your foundation, it’s best practice to get a foundation inspection as soon as you can to help ensure your safety and prevent the need for more costly repairs in the future.

    Who checks the foundation of a house? 

    Structural engineers are in charge of checking the foundation of a house.

    Should I get a foundation inspection?

    If you’re worried about the foundation of your home and suspect there might be an issue, this may be the time to seriously evaluate getting a foundation inspection. If you’re buying or selling a home, the decision to get a foundation inspection may depend on your personal circumstances and preferences.

    Is foundation inspection different from home inspection?

    A foundation inspection is different from what you might traditionally associate with a regular home inspection. A foundation inspection is an optional inspection conducted by a professional structural engineer who exclusively investigates the foundation of a home. A home inspection, on the other hand, is typically required by a lender if you’re buying or selling a home and is meant to uncover broader issues with the home beyond (and including) the home’s structure. The inspector will look at electricity, plumbing and other home systems too, but they’re not typically required to be trained as a structural engineer.

    Is foundation inspection necessary?

    While a foundation inspection may not be required, there may be circumstances where it’s worth considering to help ensure the integrity of a home and the safety of those inside it. If you’re worried there is an issue with your home’s foundation, be sure to communicate this to your inspector.

    Should I get a foundation inspection on new construction?

    If you’re building a new home or foundation, you’ll need a foundation inspection to ensure the building is up to code and the structure is supported correctly.

    Take the first step and get preapproved.

    Have questions? Connect with a home lending expert today!

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