Foundation issues - Warning Signs

While considering fix and flip or fix and hold, one should definitely take into account foundation repairs if the building needs it. It can be an expensive proposition and can eat away your potential profit if not accounted for properly. There are different warning signs that an investor should look for while walking through the property and analyzing numbers.


Interior Warning Signs:

  • Door starts to jam or doesn’t latch

  • Windows don’t close completely

  • Cracks in walls (look over doorways, windows or wall/ceiling joints)

  • Crack in flooring


Please note that a typical house would settle over time and a little unevenness is fine but signs mentioned above should be concerning.


Outdoor/Crawlspace Warning Signs:

  • Foundation wall is not plumb when viewing from all corners of the house. Check out for leaning walls with a level.

  • There is a bulge or curve when looking at the foundation wall from crawlspace. It is a sign that the soil on the outer side of the foundation is expanding and contracting which in turn puts pressure on the walls. This could signal that the foundation has shifted from its original position.

  • One sees a clear crack in the bulging foundation wall. At this point, the situation is really critical and extreme steps must be taken to resolve this.

  • The concrete appears to be chipping and flaking on a poured perimeter foundation. In this case, poke in a few places if it’s a poured perimeter foundation. If you are able to break a piece off the concrete is deteriorating probably due to flaw in concrete mix used during construction (dirty/salty sand or too much water).

  • The posts in the crawl space, if any, is not erected straight or not firmly planted underneath the beams they support or bottom of posts don’t rest firmly on concrete piers.

  • There are puddles or moisture signs in crawl space which may signal towards poor drainage around perimeter foundation. One must make sure that the gutters are not plugged and the slope is away from the foundation.


Major Crack on Foundation Wall - Wall is bulking inside and is displaced from original location



How serious are the foundation cracks?

According to the material properties of the concrete, it shrinks upon curing. This shrinking doesn’t happen evenly and thus tends to crack. Therefore, concrete or block foundations usually have some cracks but one needs to recognize which ones are significant that needs our attention. Let’s explore different type of cracks


Level-1 (Insignificant): Hairline Cracks in the mortar between concrete blocks

Level-2 (Concerning): Stair-step cracks in masonry joints with wall bulging or crack wider than ¼ inch.

Level-3 (Very Concerning): Horizontal cracks. This generally means that the wet soil froze and expanded, pushing in and breaking the foundation. This probably need a new foundation.



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