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Facts About Foundations

With housing inventory at an all time low, the Dallas estate market is poised for a tense spring. Buyers are having to compete with multiple offers,and make major decisions quickly - but this doesn't mean you should throw caution to the wind and buy without a home inspection.

In a competitive market, you may not be able to negotiate every little thing you want, but you still want to go into such a major purchase with an understanding of your future expenses, especially on the 5 major areas of the house: foundation, plumbing, electrical, hvac, and roof. In our experience, home buyers in North Texas have the most questions about foundations. So here are a few facts about foundations.

1. In North Texas, foundation problems are common because of the effects of both extremely dry weather and extremely wet weather on our soil.

2. You can find signs of foundation movement both inside and outside the house. On the inside, look for cracks in the drywall, sloping floors, doors out of alignment, and cracked tile. On the outside, look for cracks in the bricks, expansion joint separation, window & door separation, frieze board separation, and brick/slab separation. Basically. foundation movement causes stress on the structure and things pull apart.

Drywall crack: not all cracks are foundation movement, but cracks like this one extending from the doorway toward the ceiling are good indicators of foundation movement.

Expansion joint separation: again, not all cracks and mortar problems are foundation related, but this one is a good sign the foundation is the culprit.

3. Apart from visual signs of foundation movement, there are other signs that you might want to dig a little deeper. If your inspector finds evidence of previous foundation repairs, you should ask for the paperwork and have the foundation evaluated by a structural engineer unless it's newly completed. Prior repair doesn't mean it won't have to be repaired again. In older homes, we often see multiple generations of foundation repair.

If a home has been recently "flipped," look for signs that foundation problems have been covered up, like new paint patches or mortar filling. Sometimes flippers focus only on aesthetic upgrades without doing underlying repairs.

Previous Foundation Repair

4. Proper drainage around the foundation is key to avoiding problems. It's important to direct water away from the foundation, so if you have a slope like in this photo, you would need to look into a surface drain or french drain system.

Our Inspectors will tell you that they see more downspouts that are installed improperly than ones that are. Your gutter drain pipe should extend at least three feet from the house to get the water away from the foundation.

Even in a competitive market, it's important not to lose sight of the big picture. Your home investment doesn't stop with the purchase: there are maintenance and future expenses to consider, and going in with as much info as possible will keep you from being blindsided by big ticket items later on.


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