Have Foundation Problems or Need Foundation Repair? Read This First.
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Home foundation issues are scary for any homeowner as it can lead to major structural problems for your home. There are ways to repair the foundation without tearing it out and starting from scratch. However, it can be very costly. Therefore, the more you know about the different types of foundations, common problems, and your repair options, the better and faster you can work to find a solution.
(Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical or legal advice and is only for informational purposes. If you think you have asbestos in your home, it is best to consult a professional.)
If you find that your foundation problems are too expensive to repair and you are considering selling your home, you've come to the right place. We are professional real estate buyers, and we purchase homes – in any price range and in any condition, even if there are foundation issues.
We can make you a no-obligation cash offer within days, making the entire process for you quick and simple. You get to walk away with money to buy a new home, without having to deal with foundation repairs and the hassle of putting your house on the traditional real estate market.
If you accept our cash offer, there'll be no realtors, no showings, no fees or closing costs for the Seller, and no repairs are needed. You won't have to deal with any of the paperwork involved in selling your home yourself without using a real estate agent either. If you have a home with foundation issues, review our FAQs below to learn more.
What is the purpose of a home's foundation?
A home's foundation performs many crucial functions. It bears the load of the structure, keeps it anchored against natural forces such as earthquakes and storms, and isolates the home against moisture from the ground.
The purpose of a foundation is to hold up and hold together the house above it. As the ground is not quite still and in many cases not totally solid, if a house was built on bare earth, it's more likely to be cracked or damaged over time by natural forces. A properly-built foundation increases the amount of abuse a home structure can handle and helps keep the people inside the home safe.
Are there different types of foundation?
In Texas, the majority of single-family homes are built using one of two types of foundation: concrete slab or pier and beam foundation.
Concrete slab is the most commonly used foundation in modern home building. Its name says it all – it's a slab formed by a block of concrete, which is typically four to eight inches thick and reinforced with steel rods and drainage pipes. Once the foundation's prepared, the home is built directly on top of it.
The benefits of concrete slab are that it's inexpensive and can be laid down quickly. Another advantage is that there's no airspace in between the home and the foundation, which helps prevent mold or termite infestations.
However, homes built on slab foundations are susceptible to warming due to the lack of ventilation between the house and the slab. Repair leaking and damaged lines that are embedded into the slab is very challenging. Also, the low-lying nature of slab foundations offers little protection against floodwater.
Pier and beam foundations are constructed using small circular or square concrete pads that are located in strategic points along the home's outer perimeter. These pads are inserted and secured into the ground using treated wood posts or steel rods. The posts or rods are then connected to the home for support.
Pier and beam foundations are best to use on land where a traditional foundation is difficult to lay. It's not always the first choice, but it's one of the sturdiest and longest-lasting foundation solutions.
Pier and beam is more expensive than concrete slab foundation, and can sometimes lead to creaking and sagging floors, as well as other issues associated with poor ventilation. Also, wood beams can decompose over time, and termite infestation is a constant threat. Additionally, insects, rodents, and small animals can make their nests in the crawl spaces.
What causes foundation damage?
In most cases, water is the primary culprit for causing foundation damage. Variations in moisture cause soil to swell or shrink, which leads to movement beneath the foundation. Your home may be more susceptible to foundation damage if:
- It was built on expansive clay
- It was built on improperly compacted fill soils
- There's poor drainage around the foundation
- There's a plumbing leak under your home
- Tree roots are growing too close to your home
- An earthquake, flood or drought compromised the structure
What are foundation issues commonly seen in Texas?
Areas with high clay content tend to see the most foundation problems, and homes in these regions are at higher risk for foundation damage. The following cities have expansive clay soil, which can cause foundation movement:
- Fort Worth
- Corpus Christi
- San Antonio
Soil conditions in Texas act like a sponge when responding to rain and drought. This expansion and contraction with moisture changes can put considerable stress on your home's foundation. Foundation problems are also prevalent in areas that are prone to flooding, as was seen with Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Additional factors that contribute to foundation issues in Texas include poor drainage around homes, the corrosion of cast iron plumbing, or corrosion of cedar piers beneath older homes.
What is the difference between normal settling and true foundation issues?
It can be difficult to determine the difference between normal settling and severe foundation problems, mainly because foundations are not something most homeowners think about often. Standard settling is nothing to worry about and usually won't have much of an impact on the foundation and structure of your home. With soil expansion and contraction, it's not uncommon for a part of your home to move a few inches, but problems arise when the settlement becomes uneven or extreme.
What are the signs that a home may have foundation problems?
Usually, the signs of foundation problems are apparent, like cracks in plaster walls, doors that stick, sagging floors, pooling water near a slab foundation, or a wet crawl space after a rainfall. Other signs are less subtle, such as excess humidity indoors, which can also signal structural problems. Below are some signs to look for both inside and outside of your home.
- Exterior: Diagonal cracking in bricks, cracks in slab portion, separation around the garage door, windows and/or walls, and displaced moldings.
- Interior: Drywall breaking (not hairline cracks), misaligned doors and windows, cracks in the floor and sheetrock, and unleveled floors.
How does a house get foundation cracks?
As concrete cures, it shrinks slightly. Where the concrete can't shrink evenly, it tends to crack. There are generally three different types of cracks, and recognizing each type can tell you if it is cause for serious concern or not. However, all foundation cracks should be professionally inspected, to determine its severity and if repairs are needed.
Vertical cracks are the most common and least severe. They are cracks that go straight up and down, or maybe on a very slight diagonal. These types of breaks are usually the result of normal foundation settling and are the easiest and least expensive to have sealed. A urethane or epoxy material can be injected into the crack to seal it, and prevent it from reopening or growing as the home foundation continues to settle.
Diagonal cracks that run along your foundation at a 30-75 degree angle are also common. This type of crack may be a thin hairline, but it's usually wider at one end than the other. Diagonal cracks are caused by one side of a home's foundation settling lower than the rest of the foundation. This can be the result of a house being built on a hill, or due to the expansion or contraction of the soil under a portion of the home. Diagonal cracks are more expensive to repair than a vertical crack, as it may be necessary to address the cause of the differential settlement after the crack is sealed. But the solution can be merely installing new gutters so rainwater directs away from the section that regularly becomes flooded, as this water could be the cause of your foundation shifting.
Horizontal cracks are the most serious, as they can be a sign of severe damage to your home's foundation and structural integrity. Several things can cause this type of cracking, including soil pressure outside of the foundation. Horizontal cracks will require the most extensive repairs, which will likely include reinforcing your foundation to secure it and prevent further damage.
Who should I call to see if my foundation has issues?
If you suspect foundation issues, it's best to contact a structural engineer first for an unbiased evaluation. Many foundation repair companies offer to do free assessments, but they stand to profit off of the results.
How is the foundation repaired?
Foundation repair options vary on the area of the property and site conditions where the repairs are needed. Below is a list of some popular methods that used to repair foundations today.
- Steel piers: Using steel piers take less time and are less disruptive to the landscape than traditional concrete piers. Steel piers have progressed greatly, and have become more technical and data-driven to install.
- Helical piers: These work best for exterior foundation repair and interior slab repairs. They are useful for new construction homes and as a repair method. They are also a good match for light-loaded areas like porch columns or structures that have vinyl siding.
- Concrete pier foundation repair: Before the introduction of hydraulic driven steel piers, using concrete piers was the preferred method of repair. Concrete piers offer a permanent way to repair a foundation, but it's also the most expensive. Its big drawback is that it's challenging to get drilling rigs into residential yards. Foundation repair contractors have to dig a lot of dirt from the holes for the piers, and cleanup is difficult.
- High-density polyurethane foam: Slab repair is simplified with high-density polyurethane foam, which is injected into a checkerboard grid that's approximately 6 ft on center in the affected area. High-density polyurethane has become a popular method because of its affordable price and fast repair time. However, if HVAC ducts run through the floor, the foam could infiltrate and clog them. Additionally, plumbing tests are required before the foam injection to ensure there are no leaks in the supply or drain lines.
How much does foundation repair cost?
In the Houston area, most homeowners pay on average $4,075 to repair foundation issues. Major repairs involving hydraulic piers can cost upwards of $10,000, whereas minor cracks cost as low as $500. The typical Houston homeowner pays between $1,849 and $6,436 to fix home foundation problems. However, for homes with significant foundation issues, that costs can rise significantly and easily end up in the five figures.
Does homeowner's insurance cover foundation repair?
If foundation repairs are needed for your home, your first step is to call your homeowner's insurance company to determine what may or may not be covered under your policy. Some policies specifically cover foundation damage, but typically, the small cracks that come from normal settling are excluded. Usually, if the foundation problems were caused by a natural event like a fire or storm, it should be covered. However, foundation damage caused by earthquakes or floods is not covered, unless you have separate policies for those events.
How do you vet a foundation company?
Foundation repairs can be a big investment, so when choosing a foundation company to make necessary repairs, you want to make sure you're getting the best work done for the best price. Therefore, it's recommended to get at least three quotes from three different contractors. Many offer free appraisals, so take advantage of that. When vetting repair companies, there are many things to consider, including how long they've been in business, check their online ratings and reviews, ask for ask for references, request proof of insurance, and review their warranties to ensure it would be transferrable to the next owner if/when you decide to sell your home.
I'm selling my home, and the buyer's inspector says there are foundation issues. What now?
The first step is to hire a structural engineer to evaluate your foundation so you can get an unbiased, professional assessment. This will cost you money, but the upfront expense could prove the buyer's inspector wrong and end up saving you thousands of dollars in unnecessary repairs. If the structural engineer confirms that there are indeed foundation issues, then you'll know how many piers your home will need, and you can get estimates for repair costs.
I know my home has severe foundation issues, but I can't afford to fix it. Can I still sell it?
Yes, you can sell your home with foundation issues – even severe ones, but its real estate value can drop significantly, and most conventional buyers are not interested in buying a house with foundation problems. Also, most banks would not give a mortgage on a property with serious foundation issues. In that case, your pool of buyers becomes extremely small, as you'll likely only be able to sell “as is” to cash buyers. This is where AMI can help.
When you work with a professional home buyer such as AMI, we buy your home “as is” – even with foundation issues – and we give you a cash offer. Additionally, there are no realtor or closing costs, and you get to sell your home quickly. Also, you don't have to spend your money on expensive foundation repairs, as we are buying your home in its current condition.
Learn more about our process and request a free, no-obligation offer today.