If you’re dealing with foundation damage, you may feel a sense of panic. Believe us—we feel your pain. For both homeowners and real estate investors, foundation damage is one of the scariest to-dos you’ll find. This damage manifests in a number of ways, from foundation cracks to a damaged concrete slab to leaks in the basement walls.
Regardless of the severity of the foundation damage, here’s how to assess and tackle the problem.
Signs of Foundation Issues
While you should always hire a structural engineer to evaluate any and all properties with suspected foundation, there are a few easy clues visible to the naked, uneducated eye.
Leaky pipes don’t always indicate a foundation problem, but they do always indicate that further investigation is necessary. Dripping water can damage concrete over time.
Ground sloping toward the house—also called negative drainage—can cause water pooling. Remember: Water plus foundation is always bad news. If one part of the property is located on loose, wet soil and another part on compacted clay soils, for example, it can cause differential movement. That’s when parts of the foundation shift in opposite directions, leading to cracks.
If there are trees located too close to the property, keep an eye out. Tree roots can push against the foundation or dry out the soil, causing your foundation to shift.
These can be common, especially when they appear in the mortar between bricks or concrete blocks, but they can be a sign of foundation issues. While sometimes these are caused by seasonal expansion—especially when located around window frames and doorways—make sure a structural engineer evaluates the scene.
Know What You’re Willing to Handle
When you dive into real estate, you have to understand what problems you are willing to deal with—and which ones you need to walk away from. This list might change depending on your investing stage. Most first-time home buyers will want to skip properties with foundation warning signs. Seasoned flippers who’ve scored a serious deal, however, may brush these off as no big deal.
Technically, anyone can do anything. However, every investor will eventually find the sweet spot problem they like solving… and the ones that will make their skin crawl. In addition to foundation damage, other big-ticket snags include: