After holding my breath through hundreds of home inspections over the past 20 years, I’ve realized that most homeowners are not aware of the true condition of their property. It makes sense that most homeowners’ view of their property is based on what’s visible, after all, you can’t assess what you can’t see. Therein lies the problem, since most, if not all, the attention is given to what’s visible, the invisible areas of your home get ignored (i.e. foundation, electrical, plumbing, roof, HVAC). Like humans, the house has a way of showing warning signs when stressed (cracks, slopes, moisture, lack of systems efficiencies, etc.).
Would you believe the most feared inspection by real estate agents is the foundation inspection? This is because the foundation generally gets little attention due to a lack of visibility. That said, buyers have the highest level of anxiety around the foundation because it is the cornerstone of the house, and generally the most costly to fix. You are probably now seeing where the anxiety is coming from. It’s time for a mindset change about the way you see your home. Most people view their financial statements on a monthly/quarterly basis, and for some people, it’s weekly or daily, but the biggest investment for most people, their home, is often left to chance.
Do you know the warning signs of a bad foundation? The average homeowner probably doesn’t, and that’s a problem. Here are some common views on how to protect your foundation.
You must perform regular inspections if you want to catch any problems with your foundation early. At least twice a year, you should walk around the perimeter of your home and look for any cracks or signs of water damage. You should also inspect the interior of your home for cracks in the walls or ceiling, uneven floors, doors that don’t close properly, or windows out of alignment. These signs can indicate a shift in the foundation or reveal any cracks that need to be filled immediately.
One of the leading causes of foundation problems is poor drainage. When water pools around your home, it can cause the soil to expand and put pressure on your foundation. Over time, this can lead to cracks and other damage. You can protect your home by making sure that you have a sound drainage system in place. This includes gutters and downspouts, which should guide water at least 5 to 10 feet away from your foundation, and into the yard in a way that flows away from the home, not towards it.
A big part of proper drainage is making sure that your gutters and downspouts are clear. Gutters that are full of leaves, twigs, and other debris can’t do their job correctly and will cause water to pool around your home instead of flowing out and down away from your home. Keeping your gutters clean and clear should be a regular part of your overall home maintenance, as it protects your roof, siding, and landscaping.
If you’re going to plant anything sturdy like a bush or a shrub in the flower beds along the base of your home, make sure that everything planted is at least two feet away from the edge of the foundation. This will ensure that both roots and drainage from watering go where they’re supposed to. Also, If you have large trees on your property or even your neighbor’s yard, you should protect against root penetration. Most people don’t know how far a tree’s roots can expand. Most large tree roots grow at least three times the length of the radius of their canopy.
We mentioned before about roots penetrating your foundation and causing issues. But trees can also pull a ton of moisture from the soil, which can dry out the areas around your foundation,—causing problems as well. If you are thinking about planting new trees, you should consider the type of tree, the size at maturity, and where you plant it. Don’t plant anything too close to your home if you expect it to grow large enough to cause foundation issues in a few decades.
If the ground around your home slopes towards your foundation instead of away from it, you need to level the slope. This can be done by adding fill dirt to the low side of your home and grading it so that it slopes away from your house at a minimum of 6 inches for every 10 feet. Not only will this help with drainage, but it will also help to prevent water from pooling next to your foundation and putting pressure on it.
Your home’s plumbing is another significant factor in foundation damage. If you have leaks in your pipes, that water can seep into the soil around your foundation and cause problems. Even minor leaks can cause severe damage over time. This is why scheduling a thorough plumbing inspection at least once a year and fixing any leaks found as soon as possible is essential.
In periods where rain is scarce, the spoil of your foundation could dry and shrink, which could upset your foundation. So giving your foundation a good soaking periodically during the dry season can help prevent that problem.
No homeowner wants to deal with foundation repairs, but foundation problems can affect your home's safety, appearance, and value. If you've seen issues such as floor cracks, bowing walls, or other foundation damage, It is important to address them immediately. If you notice anything suspicious about your foundation or want a clear picture of your real risk for this kind of worry, don’t hesitate to get a professional inspection. They will not only be able to tell you if your foundation is currently in good shape, but they can also give you a few clues about the best prevention measures.
If you have any questions or concerns about your foundation, feel free to reach out. I’ll be happy to provide you with a list of professional inspectors if necessary.
Bounce Williams, Realtor | DRE 01387798