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Is It Safe to Live in a House with Foundation Problems? Everything You Need to Know

By Amy Poole

If you’re a homeowner or considering buying a new property, the building’s condition is important to your well-being and financial investment. You might have noticed some issues in your home’s current state, which might lead you to ask: is it safe to live in a house with foundation problems?

Is It Safe to Live in a House with Foundation Problems?

While there are many important reasons for a property’s foundation, you don’t need to worry that as soon as you notice a crack, your entire home will sink and fall apart. You can live in a home with foundation problems, and many people do it without any awareness of the issues.

Sometimes, it takes years for a mild issue to develop into something big for it to pose a risk. However, this doesn’t mean that we suggest neglecting the issue, as this could become a much bigger problem later on.

Importance of the Home’s Foundation

A home’s foundation is what physically sets it apart from the ground, and it’s the lowest part of the property’s structure. As such, a strong foundation can protect your home from sinking, structural issues, water damage, and other issues.

Distributes Weight

Additionally, a foundation evenly distributes a building’s weight to the ground, offering more stability and preventing other building parts from overloading.

Keeps the House Upright

Have you ever seen houses that are sinking? That’s because the foundation isn’t strong enough to hold up the house, resulting in an unstable stance. A well-designed foundation can keep your house upright.

Prevents Structural and Interior Damage

There are so many issues that a poor foundation can create (more on this later), which means that a secure and intact foundation can prevent water and structural damage.

How to Tell If Your Home Is Foundationally Sound

When inspecting your home for any telltale signs of foundation problems, look at the walls and ceilings to check that there aren’t any cracks. All cabinets and wall- and floor-foundation furniture should be completely intact and remain securely in place, suggesting that your home’s foundation is fine.

Telltale Signs of Foundation Problems

There are some common signs to look out for that indicate your home has some foundation problems (whether they’re mild or major). Here are some telltale signs to keep an eye out for:

  • Exterior cracks
  • Interior sheetrock cracks
  • Uneven floors
  • Door frames and/or window frames that don’t align properly
  • Rotten wood
  • Wrinkling posters and wallpaper
  • Tile cracks
  • Joint separation
  • Walls pulling away from your home

Critically Unsafe Foundation Problems

Here are some of the most important signs you shouldn’t ignore:

  • Counters and cabinets separating from the wall
  • Cracks — in the chimney, in the walls, and on the floor
  • A musty basement smell
  • Sagging floors and ceiling
  • Nails coming out of drywall
  • Dips in the floor that create a sinking feeling
  • Gaps between the windows and wall

Foundation Problems That Don’t Need Immediate Attention

You shouldn’t ignore any foundation problems, as this could cause a lot more issues down the line.

What Happens if Foundation Problems Aren’t Fixed?

If you fail to ignore foundation problems, the issues will only worsen and you can even create a bigger dilemma for yourself.

Structural Damage

Wall cracks and uneven floors are just two signs of foundation problems. But if you don’t fix these issues, you can expect a bigger problem, such as every part of your home being affected by an uneven, broken foundation. This damage can be extensive in the long term, but it can prevent any safety issues for your family.

Water Damage

Foundation problems make your home more susceptible to water damage. This is because an unsteady, shifting foundation places pressure on your basement walls. As a result, water can seep into your solid foundation, forming mold and mildew.

Additionally, moisture damage can create poor health conditions, such as throat and eye irritation, respiratory issues, coughing, and more.

Plumbing Issues

Foundation problems left alone put your home’s plumbing at risk. In particular, above-ground pipes running through walls and underneath floors can become at risk since a shifting foundation will create impactful structural damage.

How Long Does it Take to Fix Foundation Issues?

Fixing foundation issues isn’t as lengthy as you’d imagine, and the average time span is a few weeks. Of course, the duration depends on the extent of the damage.

Here are some factors that affect the duration of foundation treatment:

  1. The size of the foundation

It won’t take as much time and effort to repair a foundation measuring 600 sq. ft. compared to a space measuring 4,000 sq. ft.

  1. The severity of the foundation problems

This is the main factor determining how long a project takes to repair. The more severe the damage, the longer it’ll take.

  1. Weather

Rain can affect how long it takes to repair a home’s foundation. The best weather condition is sunlight, which allows materials to dry out. Some contractors will work during certain weather conditions, too.

  1. Undiscovered issues

There’s a chance that your contractor might uncover more foundation problems or structural damage, which will require more attention and time.

How Much Does Foundation Repair Cost?

The total cost of repairs can vary depending on the issue at hand, the size of your property, the contractor’s hourly rate, and any additional dilemmas that the crew come across during the inspection stage.

Foundation Repair Process – Facts and Figures

Here’s what to expect during the foundation repair process:

  1. Assessment

A structural engineer will visit your home for an assessment to determine the cause of any problem(s) and make notes of any damage, including the root cause.

  1. Receive a quote

Once someone undergoes a home assessment, they can provide a quote for the entire project.

  1. Determine the cause

This stage is critical in preventing the issue from arising again, and it prevents the contractors from simply masking a bigger problem. Prepare for some questions your way regarding drought issues, erosion damage, and plumbing damage, along with physically showing the contractors where the problems are located.

  1. Repair implementation

After the assessment and analysis stages, it’s time to get down to business and make the repairs. This can involve a lot of mechanisms and equipment. You can also expect your house to be on a higher level to level out the foundation before allowing it to settle.

  1. Follow preventative steps

Remember, the new fixes don’t necessarily stop these issues from arising ever again. Take advice from the experts and follow the methods later on to prevent foundation problems in the future.

Is Foundation Repair Necessary?

When a house is first built, there’s a settling-in period where it gets used to the new environment, and, so, you might see some foundation cracks in the walls, ceiling, and floors. A small crack here and there is perfectly normal, and you’ll be advised of these changes when you first purchase your home.

In any other situation, it’s essential that you act on any foundation problems as soon as you discover them to prevent a bigger issue at hand and give yourself peace of mind. Unaddressed problems can literally cause your home to fall apart.

Financing Foundation Repair

Repairing a foundation problem can be a huge financial commitment, but there’s some financial aid available to assist you.

Home Equity Loans

These loans are popular with home improvements, but you’ll need to have enough equity already in your home to qualify for this finance option.

The main difference between home equity loans and home equity lines of credit is an equity loan offers a single lump sum of money that you need to repay the costs, whereas a home equity line of credit lets you borrow money more than once up to a certain amount.

Personal Loan

This type of finance is usually for homeowners who don’t qualify for a home equity loan. Also, these loans are usually for mid-sized improvements, and they’re more readily available, have lower interest rates, quicker payouts, and more convenient repayment processes.

Home Repair Loan Program

This program is when companies partner with financial institutions, specializing in finance for home repairs. For this reason, there are usually more flexible repayment terms and low-interest rates.

How to Prevent Foundation Problems

Homeowners can undergo the following practices to avoid any house foundation issues:

  • Make the foundation waterproof
  • Improve your garden grading
  • Install downspouts and gutters for waterproofing your home
  • Fix diagonal cracks as soon as possible
  • Check for leaks and stains regularly, and patch them when applicable

Buying or Selling a Home With Foundation Problems

It’s possible to buy or sell a home with foundation problems, although this can cause some issues with potential buyers. It isn’t illegal to conceal any foundation problems, it’s better protocol to amend the issues before listing it on the property market as available.

Final Verdict: Can You Safely Live in a Home With Foundation Problems?

Is it safe to live in a house with foundation issues? The answer is yes, and you could even have some types of foundation problems currently without even knowing it — especially in older homes. Regularly inspect your foundation and be productive about any issues that you discover to improve the structural integrity and prevent any water damage later.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it worth it to purchase a home with foundation issues?

Foundation problems are serious, and you shouldn’t ignore them. So you shouldn’t buy a home with foundation issues just because it’s on the market at a lower price. Instead, consider this option if you’re willing to invest the time and money into addressing these issues, with the idea of a profit at the other end.

Can you take out a mortgage to fix foundation problems?

Most mortgage providers won’t loan you the money if you can’t prove that your new home has a sturdy foundation.

Should I sell my house with foundation problems?

It’s possible to sell a property with foundation problems, but this can make the selling process more complex and longwinded. Instead, consider fixing the issues to improve your chances of a sale. Alternatively, the total value of your home will fall dramatically.

Should I get a home foundation inspection?

There are signs to check your foundation is sound, but you can miss some issues. Consider hiring an underpinning or foundation repair contractor, who uses a variety of methods for a thorough home inspection.

Does homeowners insurance cover foundation repairs?

It might cover foundation damage, such as fixing cracked walls, but this will be stated in your insurance agreement, if so.

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