Every week, we ask a real estate professional for their Short List, a collection of tips and recommendations on an essential topic in real estate. This week, we spoke with ConcreteNetwork.com, which in collaboration with Ram Jack founder Steve Gregory, provided tips for identifying home foundation issues prior to closing. See the full guide here.
Texas’s most prominent difference from the rest of the country is its combination of variable seasonal cycles and expansive clay soils—in other words, soil that is prone to large volume changes. Some other areas of the country have similarly expansive soil, but they don’t generally experience the wide range of seasonal fluctuation that Texas does. In the Lone Star State, it’s not unusual to have a very cold winter followed by a hot and dry summer, and then the next summer could be cool and wet. This kind of fluctuation in the soil’s moisture content causes it to expand and contract greatly. This constant heaving and shrinking can break the foundation of a home, much like a piece of wire that’s been bent to many times. Texas is also unique in the fact that engineers have developed special foundations, including post-tensioned, to combat these problems.
For agents working with prospective homebuyers, here are some warning signs to look for when viewing a home:
7. Cracks – Cracks are the most obvious and commonly known indication of foundation issues. Prospective homebuyers should check for cracks in the following places:
- Fireplace bricks
- Sheet rock
- In the exposed concrete at the base of the house
- Brick siding
6. Jammed doors and windows – I recommend testing windows and doors throughout the house to make sure they open and close smoothly. Large openings such as these are usually the first points of pressure with a moving foundation. If doors and windows are sticking or showing gaps, it could signify a problem.
5. Sloping floors – When a foundation shifts, floor sloping can occur near the point of the foundation failure. You may want to bring a pocket level to check the floors when viewing potential homes, or download a handy level app on your smartphone.
4. Nail heads protruding from the walls – As the foundation of a home settles, the framing will begin to distort, as this happens strain is placed on the interior finish and can work the nail heads out of the sheetrock.
3. Separation around garage door, windows, and/or walls – Often as a foundation settles, it will also rotate outward or longitudinally. This is evident at the corners and along weak points in the structure such as windows and doors.
2. Drainage – Look for areas where water can pond against the homes footing.
1. Plumbing leaks – Make sure the home is checked for plumbing leaks.
The Concrete Network’s purpose is to educate homeowners, contractors, builders, and designers on popular concrete techniques and applications. With thousands of articles, photographs, and a comprehensive directory of concrete contractors and product suppliers, The Concrete Network offers the most comprehensive online resource for independent, authoritative information about concrete construction.
Founded by Steve Gregory, Ram Jack is a home repair company, offering a wide variety of services, from residential foundation repair to working on pipelines to mud jacking.