When a house or commercial building undergoes a routine appraisal or inspection prior to the closing of a real estate transaction, there are any numbers of problems that may be discovered. Electrical appliances and outlets can fail, there may be plumbing problems including leaks, there may be issues with the integrity of the roof may be compromised by loose tiles or it may leak.
But the costliest component to repair, if damaged, is often the foundation. And foundations are often the hardest to examine for problems. What are the signs that there may be a problem?
Cracks – The most obvious outward signs are usually cracks, and they may be nothing serious or they could be very serious. One issue we see regularly is that basements, where foundation issues usually appear, are often loaded with boxes and other items for storage. A thorough inspection will entail moving everything away from the wall as well as visually moving items to facilitate examination of the floor. It’s a challenging task sometimes, but well worth it if there’s a problem discovered.
A vertical crack is the most common crack found and sometimes it is not serious. If the crack is wider than the thickness of a dime, however, then it is probably a real problem.
A horizontal crack, especially below the outside ground level, could be a sign that there is damage due to temperature and/or exterior water pressure. These should be carefully inspected by an engineer.
A diagonal crack often denotes a serious issue, especially if it runs along a stairway. It is not certain, but possibly a sign that there is a major structural problem with the stairs and should be checked right away.
Other signs of possible foundation defects:
- Sagging or warped floors and/or ceilings.
- Doors and windows that are hard to open.
- Bulging or bowed walls.
- A chimney that seems off-center, or tilted.
Often, a “lopsided” house or building will have a foundation defect due to a poor design or improperly compacted soil, soil shifting, or other mistakes made during construction. Obviously it is important to know what is wrong, but it’s also important to know why and who is to blame. In cases of construction defects there is often a need for an expert witness to offer expert opinions about who made the critical errors.
Justin Hall P.E. not only offers inspection services but also prepares reports necessary for non-technical people to understand what went wrong with the design or construction process that caused expensive problems. We are experienced expert witnesses and can present evidence for court hearings when necessary. Call us at 501-240-9213 for a free consultation.