Foundation problems are not uncommon in Central Texas. Our clay soil expands or contracts as the moisture content in the soil changes throughout the year. The expansion and contraction of the soil can place disproportionate stresses on the foundation causing it settle. Settlement in one area may not be the same in other areas, thus we’ll see wall cracks, door jams and windows askew. It is unusual not to find at least some minor, cosmetic wall cracking in an Austin home. Cosmetic cracks normally will not affect the value or performance of the house. The question most buyers ask is, should I buy a home with a foundation problem? The short, and not very satisfying answer is, it depends.
Who Can Identify a Foundation Problem & Recommend Repairs?
General home inspectors can identify a foundation problem, but they are probably not qualified to recommend the necessity of repairs or any specifics repairs. A reputable foundation contractor is the best person to evaluate the potential problem. Foundation inspections range from $0-$250 and for a house that might have a foundation problem, it is money well spent for a buyer.
What Questions Should I Ask a Foundation Contractor During the Inspection?
If you can be at the foundation inspection, you’ll be able to ask questions and get the answers to determine whether or not you should buy a house with a foundation problem. That answer probably has a lot to do with what your budget for repairs might be and whether or not those repairs will alleviate the problem. To evaluate the impact of the potential foundation problem, ask your foundation contractor the following questions.
- Is the problem symptomatic of an on-going, debilitating failure?
- How much will it cost to cure the failure?
- Is the fix worth the cost to correct?
- Would I be comfortable owning a house with these foundation problems?
Not Every Foundation Repair Costs Tens of Thousands
Though some foundation repairs can get pretty costly, the foundation contractors tell us the majority of the foundation repairs they make are less than $10,000. You might not want to discard a house that could require some foundation work if you have the repair budget. Even if you don’t have the cash on hand, you might be able to negotiate with the seller to cover the costs of the repair. Once you’ve identified the problem and how much it will cost to correct, ask yourself if you put this money into the house, will you get your money out of it?
Not All Foundation Problems Need Repair
Not all foundation settlement or “problems” need repair. Many times home maintenance will mitigate much of the problem. Proper watering and irrigation resolve many of the more common shortcomings. Be sure to ask the foundation contractor about ways to maximize the performance of your foundation.
Before You Say No to a House with a Foundation Problem, Find Out More
No house is perfect and expecting perfection will rule out most homes. The foundation is another item in the checklist of items that a home buyer must evaluate with the aid of a qualified professional. The truth is, almost all foundations settle. You want to understand why the foundation settled and determine if it will be an ongoing problem or if it can be remedied. Don’t rule out a home simply because someone says there is a foundation “problem.” In fact, the expression “foundation problem” scares off some buyers leaving a buying opportunity for another more informed home buyer.
Considering Buying a Home in Austin?
Our team of experienced buyer’s agents know how to help you evaluate homes to make sure you’re buying the right home for your and your family. If you’re looking for a Realtor who specializes in representing buyers, not someone who is trained to hard sell you the most expensive house you can afford, we’re the right team for you. Check out our Austin Home Buyers section to learn more about our Buyer Representation Program. Then, fill out our Buyer Survey, call us at (512) 827-8323 or email us at info@11OaksRealty.com to schedule a no obligation consultation.