You finally found your dream home. But do you know whether it has foundation problems? Surprisingly, many new homes have foundation issues. Some common signs of problems are cracking in the drywall, doors that jam when you try to open them, and cracks in basement walls or to a slab foundation. Should you throw in the towel and find another home? Well, perhaps not. Foundation issues do not automatically mean that you shouldn’t buy a particular home. Some problems can actually be fixed affordably through simple methods like pressure grouting. Others, however, will require major repairs, which can get costly. In the end, only you can decide whether or not the time, money and effort you’ll have to put into repairing the problems is worth it. Fortunately, though, there are a few tips that can help you make your decision.
Hire an Expert
To find out exactly what’s wrong with the home and what type of repairs are required, the best bet is to hire a structural engineer. A structural engineer can perform an inspection and let you know what’s wrong with the home foundation—and may even be willing to give you a professional opinion on whether or not the investment is worth it.
It’s not a good idea, however, to rely solely on the expert opinion of a home inspector, as they generally do not have an extensive understanding of structural engineering. While most home inspectors mean well, it’s best to consult a structural engineer for foundation questions or issues.
Check for Disclosures
Has the prior homeowner had structural repairs made to the foundation already? If so, make sure you get the details of what work was done and any warranty on it. Has the house been redecorated by the current homeowner? If so, ensure that the seller has disclosed any structural repair work that might have been done during the renovations.
Know What the Structural Issues Mean in Terms of Your Financing
If you happen to find out about the home’s structural issues after you’ve already secured financing for your home purchase, you might have to make some changes. Most lenders require the home for which they are providing the loan to be “structurally sound.” Or a lender may offer financing even if structural issues are evident, but might make you pay for the increased risk through higher interest costs or a sizeable increase to your down payment. And don’t even think about being dishonest with your lender. If you’re caught, you could end up in some serious trouble—and with a lot of money to pay back all at once.
Don’t Leave Repairs to the Current Owner
While it might be tempting to continue with the purchase of a home after the current owner agrees to make repairs, this could be a costly mistake. It is not in the seller’s interests to make sure the right repairs are done by experts. The better option is for you to decide who to hire for your foundation repair.
And before you give up on buying a home that you truly love, make sure you know whether the issues are actually going to cause you problems or not. Many foundation problems can be remedied by methods that are not exorbitant in cost. Getting an expert opinion from a structural engineer can help you make an informed decision.