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Five Things To Inspect Before Buying a Home: A Guide to Saving You Thousands $$$

foundation settlement

Searching for your new home can be involved. There are many boxes to check on your list to make sure that your home-buying experience is a smooth one. An important aspect of buying your home is making sure that the investment you are making is a good one. You want to buy your home at a fair value, and a home’s value can drastically change because of several factors that are not as obvious as one might think.

Many prospective homeowners don’t know just how much a home’s foundation, crawl space, basement, and concrete affect the home’s value. So we’ve created this guide that will help equip you to inspect a prospective new home. You will see what to look out for and see just how much you can save by identifying these issues before you purchase the home (pricing in this blog are strictly estimates; an inspection by a specialist is required to provide accurate pricing, and costs may fall outside of price ranges listed in this blog).

Sunken Floors

Do you notice a sunken floor in the home? This is a typical sign of foundation failure. Your floors will be bouncy, start to dip, or appear uneven to your eyes. Many people would overlook this issue and write it off as unimportant but is imperative to fix sunken floors as soon as you see them. There are a lot of possibilities for what could be causing sunken floors, but some of the most common reasons are a sunken foundation, rotten wood in the crawl space, water damage, or termites.

If you choose to not have the floors addressed, you are putting yourself in a spot to risk foundation failure. In lament terms, you are risking having the floors of your home collapse if they are not replaced. Depending on the cause of the issue, the “fix” can look different. In some cases, it involves replacing sub-floor. With a different cause, it could look like hiring an exterminator. Sometimes, you might have to add support beams to stabilize your foundation.

Just as the fix can come in many forms, the price depends on what is necessary to fix it. In the best-case scenario, the cost would be in the $1,000 range, but it can shoot up to the $10,000 range if the issues are severe enough. DO NOT PANIC. While this goes for every issue on this list, if sunken floors are found BEFORE you purchase the home, you have options. There are a variety of things you could do to make sure the foundation is secure. If you still want to purchase the home, you can make the homeowner fix the damages before selling it or make them come down on the price to where you can take the leftover money and get the issues fixed yourself.

Once the sunken floor is fixed, the change will be noticeable. Your floors will not be uneven, won’t sag, and won’t be bouncy when you walk over them. On the structural side, you can have full confidence in the structural integrity of your home and do not have to stress about the safety of your home.

Mold in the Crawl Space

Most people try to stay out of their crawl space if you can help it. With it being small and dark, we can understand why people would want to stay out of it. However, if you are getting ready to buy a home, it is critical that you check out the crawl space to make sure that there isn’t mold or rot in the space.

When you are in the crawl space, you can look at the wooden boards in the area and notice if they are rotted or not. If they are rotted, it is a sign that you could have mold or moisture in the space. When looking for mold, look for pools of water in the area. That can be a sign that mold is breeding in the crawl space. Furthermore, the mold will sometimes create foul odors that are extremely noticeable.

With rotted wood, you are (once again) risking the physical safety of your family. If the wood that is holding up your home becomes weakened or damage, the house could collapse on itself due to structural failure. With mold, you are risking long-term health effects. Most of the air you breathe in comes from the crawl space. So, if there is mold in the crawl space, you are breathing in mold, which WILL hurt your health.

This is concerning, but it doesn’t mean that it can’t be changed for the better. Regarding mold, LumberKote is our protection system against mold and fungus that comes with moisture in your crawl space. To address issues with moisture in the crawl space, check out this piece that talks about encapsulating your crawl space.

Removing mold from your crawl space is not a job that comes cheap. The average cost of this job is anywhere from $2,000 to $6,000. If the mold is accompanied by rotting wood, that can run you up to another $5,000 in repair costs.

The fix, though, cannot have a proper price tag placed on it. When these issues are fixed, you won’t have sloping floors, pooling water in your crawl space, or harmful bacteria in your breathing air. Giving a complete fix to your issues will provide you with a stabilize home with safe air.

Downspouts

Improper downspouts are often overlooked since it’s hard to tell if they are properly placed until you get a major rain or storm. When you have downspouts that are pushing water out too close to the home, you run into a scenario in which the water seeps into your crawl space and foundation. This water can pool up in the crawl space, rot the wood, and create an overall weakened foundation in your home.

The fix for downspouts is pretty simple. Our crew hand dig trenches, lay pipe in the trench, put gravel in the trench to prevent water erosion to your soil, and connect the pipe to your downspouts. After covering up the trenches, you can’t even notice that the landscape has been altered. What you WILL notice, though, is that the water runs off at a different location on your property, one that won’t damage your foundation.

The cost is a few thousand dollars, but the impact is priceless. By directing the water to an area away from your foundation, you are adding years to your house. You won’t have to worry about cracked walls, sinking floors, rotting wood, or mold since you won’t have water seeping into your house’s structure.

Water in the crawl space

As a cumulation of the previous two entries, looking for water in the crawl space is something that you NEED to look at before purchasing a home. As mentioned above, you will be able to notice pools of water in your crawl space. However, there are other signs that there is water or moisture in the crawl space. Sinking floors, as touched on above, bugs in the crawl space, rotted wood, and bulging walls can all be a sign of water in your crawl space.

There are a number of ways that you can fix the issue of water in the crawl space. Putting a sump pump, which would suck moisture out of the air, in the area would be one way of doing it. Another option is to encapsulate your crawl space, which would make your crawl space immune to dampness. Along with taking the water out of your crawl space, an encapsulation would protect your home from low quality air.

Removing the dampness from your crawl space is a costly job. Based off the fix that is right for you, the price can vary. If you need an encapsulation, the cost could range from $5,000 to $15,000 depending on the size and severity of the issue. A sump pump by itself could be a couple thousand dollars while a dehumidifier could run you anywhere from $1,860 to $2,510.

The differences you see in the home after addressing water in the crawl space are immaculate. Just some of the benefits you will see are lowered energy cost, being able to use the area as a storage space (since there won’t be moisture or exposure to the natural ground in the crawl space), and protecting your family along with your most valuable asset. You won’t have to stress about invasive insects, dangerous breathing air, or an instable foundation after fixing these issues.

Cracks in the wall or ceilings

Cracks are one of the signs that would be harder for a homeowner to hide, but you should still keep your eyes peeled during inspection. Look closely at corners, walls, and ceilings throughout and outside the home to look for both vertical and horizontal cracks in the foundation. If the home has brick, you will see noticeable cracks in the brick if there are foundation issues. Whether outside, inside, or in the ground, most cracks are a sign of potential foundation repair being needed.

There are a variety of meanings in the cracks that you could see. The outcomes, if left unattended, can range from partial collapse, pooling of water in the crawl space or basement, erosion of soil, or the structure settling. Simply put, the integrity of your home is at risk if you allow cracks in the walls and ceilings to remain unattended.

Not every crack is a sign of immediate failure. Houses are complex structures that are built on ever-changing surfaces. So, while you shouldn’t hit the panic button at the sign of a crack, you need to keep your eye on it. Do not allow a homeowner to understate the severity of the issue when they are selling the house. At the bare minimum, a foundation specialist should still be called to take a look at the issue. Just because a home needs repair doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it. You need to make sure that due diligence and repair work is done by both parties involved.

The price for foundation repair is not something that can be generalized. Everything is subject to the condition of the house, the location, the size, and things of that nature. We can say for certain that the longer you allow the problem to simmer, the more expensive it will be. The sooner you can identify and fix these issues, the more money you will save.

Don’t allow yourself to get taken advantage of by a dishonest seller.

Purchasing a home is a large investment! You should make sure that you are comfortable with the safety of your home. Never feel bad for inspecting these issues in depth. With how much you are spending, you do not want to spend thousands of dollars AFTER the sale because of something that wasn’t found during the pre-sale inspection.

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