Closing on a New Home with Foundation Problems? Do This Next.

new home with brick exteriorHow likely is it that the home you’re about to buy has foundation problems? A soil shift of just one inch over a distance of about thirty feet can be enough to trigger a repair issue, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the damage will be severe.

People are often surprised to learn how simple and affordable foundation repairs can be when they get the right help.

dog at new homeLet’s say you’ve already closed on the home you want like the homeowner in this article. After weeks or months of careful research and relentless hunting, you’ve finally found the one that fits your dream list, only to discover that the house has undisclosed issues with the foundation. While this may raise ethical questions about the seller, the important thing to know is that in most cases, you can still enjoy many trouble-free years in the house.

Buying a house is often one of the biggest lifetime investments you’ll make. Any time there’s a problem with the purchase, it can be a stressful experience for everyone. If a foundation problem is keeping you awake at night, here are three practical things you can do immediately to take some of the emotion and anxiety out of the equation and quickly get things moving in the right direction again.

  1. Resist the urge to panic. Buying your dream home doesn’t have to turn into a nightmare, even with a foundation issue. Foundation issues can help reduce the sale price in your favor and most foundation problems can be easily resolved.
  2. Arm yourself with the right information, starting with an “engineer’s report” from a licensed structural engineer.
  3. Use the engineer’s findings to identify pricing and project timelines by sending the report to a reputable foundation repair expert. A foundation repair company, like Olshan, can price the engineer’s recommendation at no additional cost.

vertical cracks in brick near windowFirst, even though the house may have foundation damage, remember that these kinds of problems are common, depending on the active soil conditions where you live. Although we tend to think of the ground under our feet as solid, the fact is that soil expands, contracts, and shifts constantly with changes in weather and moisture. This natural push and pull can stress parts of a home’s foundation. In most cases (with the right experts, materials, and techniques), you can not only correct the immediate fault, but also help protect your home from future damage.

If you are interested in purchasing a home that you suspect may have foundation issues, calmly gather the facts from an independent source. From an emotional standpoint, it’s best not to stress and instead focus on getting a plan in place to restore the foundation to a satisfactory condition.

Many homeowners (and sometimes realtors) in this situation make the mistake of trying to use a foundation repair company’s quote to reduce the asking price. A good foundation repair contractor or foundation repair company can give you trustworthy advice on your repair options, cost estimates and timelines, but to a prospective homebuyer, their estimates are usually not what you want as your first bargaining chip. If you are looking for leverage or documentation that will stand in court, you will need a formal engineer’s report from a structural engineer who is licensed and regulated by a government agency in your region. Sometimes this is a county authority, but in most cases, it’s your state’s board of engineers. The engineer is trained to identify structural problems that threaten the integrity of the house and can help you understand the physical risk underneath your home.

Once you have this technical report in hand, now is the time to share this information with a reputable foundation repair expert (like Olshan) and get advice and estimates to get things fixed. The best companies will work hand-in-hand with the structural engineer to help you select the most effective repair solution from the options available to you. Home inspectors can sometimes identify obvious foundation issues, but they may not spot them all, and they definitely can’t help you price the repairs. This is where information from experienced foundation repair companies can give you an advantage.

foundation repair outside home

What makes this process so tricky – and time sensitive – is when a transaction is still in progress. If you don’t yet own the home, the seller normally must give permission for inspections by engineers or evaluations from repair companies. When it’s done right, the information might help you to lower the price of the house. If repairs are completed before you close the deal, the good news is that warranties can be easily transferred to the buyer if you work with the right repair company.

The good news is that foundation problems don’t have to be a deal breaker when you’re closing on a new home. And they can sometimes help you land an even better deal by detouring less information buyers.

If you are considering the purchase of a home with foundation problems, take your time, know that good advice is available, and work with the right partners in the right order. Chances are, you’ll end up with a lifetime of enjoyment with a properly repaired foundation supporting your home and your lifestyle.