Home Foundation Inspections – How They’re Done

Home Foundation Inspections - How They’re Done
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If you’re looking for information about home foundation inspections, don’t hit that back button because you’ve landed on the right page.
 
Are you worried that your home has foundation damage? Are you thinking about buying a home? If so, this article has valuable information about home foundation inspections. You’ll learn why you might need a foundation inspection, how professional home foundation inspections are done and get a short, easy-to-follow guide that will help you conduct a DIY foundation inspection.
 
bay area underpinning foundation inspection

What Are Professional Home Foundation Inspections?

Professional home foundation inspections are when a foundation repair contractor or a structural engineer inspects your home’s foundation to make sure it’s structurally sound. If they give the thumbs up, your home is safe to live in.

How Are Professional Home Foundation Inspections Done?

During a professional foundation inspection, the foundation repair contractor or structural engineer visually inspects the foundation, inside and out, looking for signs the foundation has moved. Of course, they will ask the homeowner if they’ve noticed anything suspicious.
 
foundation inspection by bay area underpinning

The foundation repair contractor or structural engineer will also perform a floor level survey to see if there’s any differential settlement. Differential settlement happens when part of the foundation sinks into the soil. See Foundation Settlement and the below graphic for more information. 

differential settlement infographic
After the inspection, the repair contractor or structural engineer will write up a report detailing any problems and suggesting one or more repair solutions. A foundation repair contractor will also estimate how much it will cost to fix the damage. 
 
The person inspecting the foundation will also let you know if the repair will require a permit or input from a structural engineer (if a foundation repair contractor did the inspection).
 
For more information about how home foundation inspections are done, see Home Foundation Inspection: What To Expect.
 
how is a foundation inspection done

When To Get a Foundation Inspection

 You should get a foundation inspection as soon as possible in the following emergencies:
 
  • A natural disaster such as an earthquake, flood, hurricane, etc. Also, sinkhole activity and mudslides.
  • The home was hit by something. For example, a big truck.
 
 You should also get a foundation inspection if you notice any of the following:
 
  • Horizontal wall cracks
  • Ceiling cracks – Watch for cracks across the ceiling and down a wall.
  • Wet basement
  • Bowed basement walls, with or without cracking
  • Uneven floors
  • Floor cracks – Look for wall-to-wall floor cracks. Cracks limited to one tile were probably caused when something fell on the floor.
  • Large diagonal cracks
  • Doors and windows that don’t open and close properly
  • Pooled water around the foundation
  • Stair step cracks in brick or masonry
Of course, if you see anything else that looks suspicious, get a foundation inspection. Problems caught early cost less to repair because foundation problems worsen over time.

Home Foundation Inspections – Buying or Selling a Home

You should always get a foundation inspection if you’re buying a home. If you know about the foundation problem before, you can figure it into your offer. You don’t want to find out about a problem after signing on the dotted line.

If you’re selling a foundation, you’re required to alert buyers about any problems with the foundation. If the foundation is in good shape, that’s good for you, the seller. 

Photo of a Bay Area Underpinning truck

DIY Home Foundation Inspections For Homeowners

Homeowners should perform a periodic DIY foundation inspection because, as we mentioned above, foundation problems caught early are less expensive to repair. This doesn’t replace a professional foundation inspection, of course. However, it can be a useful tool in helping to spot foundation issues early.

Exterior foundation inspection
Go outside and walk around the house. The foundation walls should be straight and without any cracks. They should also not be bulging outward. 

Drainage inspection
Is there any water pooled around the foundation? Is the ground soggy? If so, you might have a drainage problem. Also, where is the excess water coming from? Do you have any broken pipes?

Interior foundation inspection
Now, walk around the inside of your home. Are there any cracks on the walls? Any separations between the crown molding and the wall or between the baseboard and the wall? Are the walls straight and not bowing or leaning inward?

How do the floors look? Are they even or sloped? What happens when something round is placed on the floor? 

Are all the windows and doors opening and closing correctly? Trouble opening and closing multiple doors or windows could mean you have a foundation problem.

Crawl space inspection
While we don’t recommend you start crawling around inside your home’s crawl space, you can open the entrance to the crawl space and have a peek inside using a flashlight. Do you see any standing water? Damp areas on the walls? Wood rot? Mold growth? Leaking pipes? How does the crawl space smell? Does it feel humid? 

Also, look at the baseboards on the floor above the crawl space. Is there any mold on them? Does your home have a musty smell? A certain percentage of air from the crawl space flows up and into your home’s living area. Therefore, a musty smell in your home is a sign of a problem in the crawl space.

How Much Do Home Foundation Inspections Cost?

We offer homeowners FREE foundation estimates and inspections as long as the house is not currently on the market. In some case-by-case situations, there may be a charge. 

However, we do not typically charge for foundation inspections and estimates at Bay Area Underpinning. Like most foundation companies, a foundation inspection is free. 

After the Inspection – What if You Need Foundation Repair?

The good news is that most foundation problems can be repaired. If the home is experiencing differential settlement, it can be lifted and leveled using push or helical piers. 

If you think your home might need a foundation inspection and you’re in our Northern California service area, contact us today for a free inspection and repair estimate.
Steve Egloff

Steve Egloff

Steve is the CEO at Bay Area Underpinning, a foundation repair contractor serving the San Fransisco Bay Area, California. Bay Area Underpinning was founded in 2005 with the goal of providing a cost-effective, engineered solution to foundation settlement problems with an emphasis on educating customers to make them feel comfortable with the various methods of foundation repair.

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