Have you been told that you need a foundation inspection for your home or a home you are about
to buy, but are not sure what that means? Inspection of the condition of a home's foundation is provided in your home inspection report, but sometimes your home inspector will recommend that you seek the advice of a foundation specialist for further evaluation. This post is guest contributed by Doug at Granite Foundation Repair to answer your questions about home foundation inspections.
What is a home foundation inspection, and when do you need one?
The foundation is what holds the structures of your home in place. A building derives its stability
from the foundation, and problems with the foundation will reverberate throughout the house. If
a foundation fails, the walls, floors, and roof of the building can lose its shape and function.
Foundation damage will impair the appearance of a building and diminish its market value.
That is why homeowners are wary of problems with their home’s foundation. Signs of damage to
the foundation should be treated with urgency to keep them from progressing into foundation
failure. The foundation inspection is a process of examining a home’s foundation for signs of
damage. It also helps to verify if the signs visible on a foundation are the results of foundation
Home foundation inspection becomes necessary when homeowners detect possible signs of
foundation damage on their building. Owners, who are about to sell their home and want to be
sure of its structural integrity, can also conduct it. It could be ordered by a homebuyer if the
home inspection report reveals issues with the foundation that requires further investigation.
Who conducts the home foundation inspection?
Licensed structural engineers conduct home foundation inspections. Structural engineers have
the necessary training to do a thorough assessment of the home’s foundation.
Home foundation inspections done by non-professionals are likely to be inaccurate. Licensed
structural engineers follow the code of ethics set by their professional bodies. Since they have a
reputation to protect, they work to the highest standard of professionalism.
What can you expect from a home foundation inspection?
The process of a home foundation inspection is relatively straightforward. The goal is to look for
evidence that the home’s foundation has moved. Inspectors will investigate the cause and extent
of the problem and recommend solutions. The engineers check for signs of:
- Foundation settling or sinking
- Upward movement of the foundation
- The sideway motion of the foundation
When you hire a structural engineer to conduct a home foundation inspection, this is what the
process should look like:
Step one: The interview
You will answer some questions to help the engineer understand the problem and determine the
inspection criteria. The questions will focus on the signs of foundation damage you have spotted
in your home and how long the indications have been present.
Step two: Floor Elevation Survey
Next, the engineer will get floor elevation data from when the home was built. That will serve as
the baseline for comparing the current floor elevation. The goal of the floor elevation survey is to
detect deviations in the recent floor elevation.
Step three: Visual inspection of the interior, exterior and surrounding areas
Next is a visual inspection of the building to look for signs of foundation damage like cracks in
the foundation, walls & floors, leaning walls, sloping & sagging floors, etc. The engineer will
also look at the ground’s slope around the home, nearby vegetation, and the gutter system.
Step four: Check plumpness of walls and doors
The inspectors will check doors, cabinets, walls, and trim with a plumb line to see if they are out
of level and to what extent.
Step five: Forensic analysis
A forensic analysis helps to determine the cause of the foundation movement. The cause of the
problem determines the best solution to apply. Examples of probable causes are water pooling at
the home’s base, poor soil compaction during construction, erosion, and flooding.
Step six: Conclusions and recommendation
After concluding the forensic analysis, the engineer can now advise you on the cause of the
issues and the solutions. This recommendation is verbal and may not include complete details of
the problems and solutions.
Step seven: Engineering report delivery
In the final step, you will receive a formal report of the inspection findings. That will include the
interview information, the scope of services, and the recommendations. It will usually comprise a
detailed elevation map of the foundation in CAD format.
How much does a home foundation inspection cost, and how long does it take?
The average time it takes a licensed structural engineer to conduct a complete inspection of a
foundation is 90 minutes or one-and-a-half hours. Depending on the home’s location, the
inspection cost will be between $350 and $500. In some areas, the cost may go up to $1000. But
this cost is a small price to pay for the trouble a home foundation inspection can save you.
Thank you for the great information, Doug! If you still have any questions about the foundation portion of your home inspection, please give us a call! Check out the graph below from fixr.com to see how much it may cost to repair your foundation. For buyers, a home inspection report (and specialized home foundation report, if recommended) may save you from an expensive mistake, or at least give you some numbers to work with when considering your offer price or negotiating.
Texas Premium Inspections
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