Why House Sales Fail: Foundation Problems
When considering a major transaction like buying a home or selling one, it’s crucial to have the foundation inspected. Sales fall through more often than you’d think because of major structural issues. Homeowners tend to focus on the areas of their home they actually live in every day, so it’s easy to forget what’s going on underneath it all. But as anyone who’s owned a home can tell you, a solid infrastructure is a huge component of property value.
Foundation repair can cost tens of thousands of dollars, so even if you’re more interested in repainting the den or remodelling the upstairs bathroom, learning a few tips can save you a lot of money. If you’re showing your home to potential buyers, they’ll be on the look-out for signs of foundation damage. Don’t give them anything to find by eliminating problems altogether.
Types of foundation problems
Signs of foundation problems are easy to spot. Keep your eye out for cracks in the drywall, ceilings or brick, uneven or gapped floors, doors and windows that get stuck.
The ground shifts much more than we tend to notice with the naked eye. It expands and contracts as temperature and moisture levels change, so it’s important to know what your house – and everything in it – is sitting on. It’s important to know what kind of soil makes up your property and how much water it contains. For example, clay soil absorbs water so it expands and gets soft when it rains. But as the sun shines and evaporates the moisture, the soil shrinks down and dries out, becoming crumbly and dusty.
In fact, soil is tested long before a structure is built in order to determine how it will hold weight and what the most appropriate foundation footing is. The footing supports the weight of the house and keeps it securely in place so it doesn’t sink into the ground – that’s pretty important!
Only a foundation built with materials appropriate for those conditions will stand the test of time. Concrete is the most common foundation material and even it shrinks and grows as the environment changes. Whether the concrete is poured or in blocks depends on soil and other factors.
Cracks and Repairs
It’s not uncommon for residential foundations to crack in the corners and next to windows, so don’t panic if the home you’re trying to sell isn’t perfect. Vertical settlement cracks in poured concrete don’t cause structural damage even though they can look imposing. A professional can treat it with a polyurethane foam injection that fills every last spot in the fissure and prevents future leakage and rusting.
Large horizontal cracks that are more than a quarter-inch wide are the ones that signal structural damage and need professional attention. They’re often caused by the expansion and contraction of clay soil that puts lateral pressure on the walls and makes them bow. This is definitely not a selling feature. To fix it, an epoxy/industrial strength glue is inserted within the crack, therefore eliminating it. It holds both sides of the wall together and seals the opening completely. If you’ve got a current leak in your foundation however, it may need to be filled with polyurethane resin.
The occasional small crack is nothing to worry about (even if you can’t stop looking at it) but if you notice many of them, it’s a good idea to call in an expert. Large cracks in concrete basements or garage floors that go untreated can trigger more significant structural damage in the future. Don’t neglect a floor just because you don’t use the space every day – stay on top of maintenance and get an inspection if you’re unsure.
Once water has found a way through your foundation, it can get a lot worse before you find a way to stop it. Concrete isn’t naturally waterproof. While it can keep liquid water out, vapour can permeate. If you want to avoid soaking your socks in a mildewed basement, waterproofing or “dampproofing” is the way to go. An asphalt based coating is applied to the wall that seals all moisture out. Officially, “waterproofing” is a more expensive and complete means of keeping your home dry, but is worth the cost if you live in an area with a high water table or past leakage.
A strong and stable foundation can be the key to closing the deal when selling your home. Save time and trouble by having professionals like F.M. Foundations inspect your foundation. Regular maintenance is the key to saving money on homeownership in the long run. We are available to assess any foundation issues and provide a solution to remove any doubt about whether or not your home will pass an inspection. Happy selling!