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Should I Buy a House with Foundation Problems?

In Residential Blog Posts by John Topa

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Before you finalize plans to buy your dream home in Tampa, Orlando, or other Florida communities, you need to get a firm understanding of the home’s actual condition. The unfortunate reality is that foundation problems are common throughout the state. Even minor foundation problems can impact the construction and overall condition of the structure, and repairs could cost a small fortune to make. You may ultimately decide to buy a house that has known foundation problems, but you need to be aware of what you are getting into and how foundation problems will impact you going forward.

Early Signs of Foundation Problems

Before you can make an educated decision about your purchase, you need to have a solid understanding of the home’s foundation problems. Regardless of whether the home is in Naples, Ft. Myers, Tampa, or other Florida communities, the signs of how to identify foundation problems are the same. Some of these include:

  • A noticeable slope through the floor
  • A cracked foundation
  • Thin cracks in the interior or exterior walls
  • Windows and doors that are difficult to open
  • Cracks in the floor or ceiling

While these are signs that the home could have a foundation problem, they could be caused by various other factors. The best way to know with certainty if the house’s foundation is damaged is to order a foundation inspection from a licensed professional.

What Causes House Foundation Problems?

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Before you decide if making the repairs is worth the time and expense, you need to have a solid understanding of what causes foundation problems. The most common causes of foundation problems in Florida are:

  • Soil erosion around the home’s foundation
  • Soil shrinkage that causes the ground to move away from the slab
  • Soil that was not compacted appropriately before the foundation was installed
  • Ground movement, which may be related to flooding, sandy soil, and other factors

You can see that some of these causes can impact homes throughout Florida and beyond. Unless the causes of foundation problems are properly addressed before the home repairs are made, the home may show additional signs of damage in the future. For example, soil can continue to settle, and other issues may continue to impact the foundation. With this in mind, there is no way to be fully protected against these problems as a homeowner in Florida, but you could take steps to mitigate the risk in some cases by addressing the root cause. By speaking with professionals, you can better understand the situation and your potential risks going forward.

How Serious Is the Foundation Damage?

Because the foundation is the solid base that the entire house is constructed on, it must be perfectly level and in good condition. Even a modest angle can lead to issues with the integrity of its construction. Repair expenses generally include the cost to repair the foundation, to address the cause of the foundation problems, and to repair any structural or cosmetic damage to the home. To assess the full scope of the damage and to estimate the expenses required to repair the damage, start by ordering a foundation inspection. This inspection will give you a firm understanding of the scope of the foundation problem that you are dealing with.

Then, take the additional step of ordering an inspection from a structural engineer. The engineer will inspect the structural integrity of the home and will tell you how much the cost is to repair identified issues with the house’s construction. This could include major support beams, roof beams, and more. If the damage has caused aesthetic issues with the interior or exterior of the house, you may need to talk to a flooring installer, a drywall expert, a window installer, and other professionals based on the scope of the damage. Finally, because many problems related to Florida home foundations are tied to the soil, a consultation with a landscaper to discuss grading or other recommendations is in order.

Who Will Pay for the Repairs?

Foundation and structural problems with a home in Tampa, Clearwater, or other areas require prompt attention. This is because the ground could continue to settle, or other issues could continue to impact the foundation. If this happens, the structural integrity and the aesthetics of the home could continue to be damaged.

Repair expenses can mount, and the value of the property could be impacted. With this in mind, you may decide that you do not want to purchase a house that has known issues. On the other hand, you could choose to negotiate for the seller to make the repairs before you finalize the purchase. Another option is to negotiate for the seller to provide a repair allowance and for you to agree to do the repairs yourself. Each situation is unique, so you should gather all of the facts through various professional inspections and rely on advice from your real estate agent.

Who Should Make the Repairs?

Regardless of whether the seller agrees to make the repairs before closing or you agree to assume responsibility for the repairs, those repairs should ultimately be completed by a licensed professional. Because this issue can impact the structural integrity and the value of the property going forward, look for a professional who will stand behind the repair work with a guaranty. In addition, obtain all necessary documentation to show that the home has a clean bill of health after the repairs are made. When the time comes for you to sell the home, you may be required to provide these documents to your buyer.

Initially discovering that a house has a foundation problem can be alarming. After all, foundation problems can cause serious property damage throughout the structure, and these damages can be expensive and time-consuming to repair. However, not all minor cracks and stuck windows are signs that the home’s foundation is damaged. It is always best to gather the full facts before you decide how this discovery will impact your purchase plans.