Foundation Inspection In SF Bay Area

If your home’s foundation is strong, the rest of the house can be considered structurally stable.

This makes sense, as the foundation is the most important structural element of your property.

The foundation is where everything in the house directly depends on. It bears the load of the entire structure and transfers it to the ground safely and efficiently. It also provides groundwater and acts as a barrier against water and soil vapor. Once compromised, it can lead to various issues that may escalate rapidly since it’s hidden underground.

Therefore, if you have foundation problems, it is important that you find out early by having it inspected.

We put together this handy guide regarding foundation inspections so you will know when you may need one and what you can do about it.

Foundation Inspection In SF Bay Area

Foundation problems cause instability in your home, manifesting in widening cracks, crumbling floors, and eventually, a collapsing roof.

Sure, you wouldn’t want that scenario. Any concerns about the foundation need immediate attention. If problems with your foundation worsen and result in a collapse, repairs could become costly. In severe cases, your property may face condemnation.

A foundation inspection is exactly what it says: it involves a licensed structural engineering professional physically assessing your home foundation in order to gauge its structural health.

What is a Foundation Inspection In SF Bay Area

There are many instances that would warrant a professional foundation inspection, such as:

You are Selling a House

You are Selling a House In SF Bay Area

As someone selling a property, it’s important to disclose any issues the house might have to potential buyers. Getting a home inspection is vital, especially for older houses that could have wear and tear and structural problems.

Being transparent about issues helps establish trust with buyers and protects you from potential legal troubles down the road.

Furthermore, in most states, you are required to fill out a disclosure form, so it is important to get ahead of foundation issues (if there are any).

If the inspection uncovers any structural damage, then you can decide whether to repair it yourself, give your buyer repair credits, or just sell as-is.

You are Buying a House
As a buyer, you’d want to invest in a property with a solid structure. Bringing in a structural engineer to inspect the property before finalizing the purchase not only guarantees your safety but also protects you from making repair expenses down the line.
The inspection report will help in determining if you’ll engage in negotiations with the seller or opt out of the transaction.

You Have Noticed Cracks in Your Walls, Flooring, and/or Ceiling
If you have been noticing symptoms of foundation damage such as bowing walls, vertical cracks, and slanted floors, a foundation inspection would give you a more in-depth look at the actual state of your property.

You are Being Required by Your Mortgage Lender
Certain mortgage lenders require the borrower to fix the issues before granting approval for the loan. They want to be certain that you have the capacity to repair the foundation issues and pay the mortgage. So, before you can do anything with the property, a home foundation inspection is usually the first step.

An unbiased third party such as a licensed structural engineer is usually the one who performs the foundation inspection.

Structural engineers are experts in building design, examining, and assessing its core parts. They hold a bachelor’s in civil engineering and a master’s in structural engineering. Their title often includes P.E., indicating they’re licensed in their state.

If a home inspector detects possible foundation issues, they’ll advise consulting a structural engineer or foundation expert for a thorough inspection and proper repairs.

Do Structural Engineers Perform The Foundation Inspection In SF Bay Area

The foundation inspection process is fairly straightforward.
The goal is to determine if there are any flaws, bowed walls, harmed or drooping floors and ceilings, along with other indicators of concern. This enables you to take action before the foundation problems become too significant (and costly!) to address.

What do House Foundation Inspections Involve?

When scheduling an inspection, it typically begins with discussing any issues you’ve noticed at your property.
It is advisable that you are present during the inspection so that the foundation inspector can readily ask you questions that may help them narrow down the problem and recommend the best solution for foundation repair.

Homeowner Interview

You’ll likely get questions about past natural events like storms, earthquakes, or floods. They may also ask about water pooling in the basement, doors, and windows sticking, or if the floor seems uneven.
This helps the inspector pinpoint areas needing foundation repairs to solve any issues you’re facing.

Visual inspection of the foundation

The building inspector will enter the lower area or basement to visually examine the base.
They’ll look for any remaining dampness or smell, which often happens with cracked bases that water has entered. The size, location, and details of these cracks will be recorded for later fixing. Generally, cracks larger than a quarter inch suggest base issues, especially if there are horizontal ones.
If the property has a wooden support and beam base, it will also be inspected for decay and mold, which can lead to significant structural problems.
They’ll measure the floor heights to see if the base has moved due to ground changes. They’ll also check if the walls of the basement base are upright because bent walls indicate pressure from groundwater, which, if not dealt with, can cause major harm.

Visual inspection of the surroundings

A lot of foundation issues arise from improper drainage.
The structural engineer will walk around your property to check how well water is managed during storms, how the ground is sloped, and what kind of soil is nearby. They’ll also look for cracks in your walls or roof edges, which often means there’s a foundation issue.
Tree roots can also crack foundations. If there are big trees or bushes around, the report will mention them so you can talk to a tree specialist later about how to keep your foundation safe.

Forensic analysis

The structural engineer will determine the cause of the foundation issues based on the above findings.

Some of the main causes of foundation problems are:

  • Change in soil properties brought about by natural disasters;
  • Inadequate understanding of soil properties leads to poor grading and insufficient foundation design.

Submission of Inspection Report

After the finalization, the verified and certified report from the structural engineer about the foundation inspection will be sent to the homeowner. This report will include findings, analysis, conclusions, and suggestions for foundation repairs.
The suggestions will be based on the results of a detailed investigation. For example, if the soil underneath is identified to lack strength, solutions like injecting grout or mortar to reinforce it may be proposed. If foundation issues stem from drainage problems, recommendations will be provided to address the house’s sewer system.

How Long Does a Foundation Inspection Take?

A foundation inspection typically takes around 2 hours to complete from the interview to the property walkthrough.

How Much Does a Home Foundation Inspection Cost?

Most of the time, you can obtain complimentary foundation assessments from foundation repair firms. While this no-cost evaluation might seem appealing, their conclusions may steer you towards utilizing their foundation repair services which may not be necessary.
It’s better to hire structural engineers for the home foundation assessment, as they offer an impartial evaluation. They’re not driven by potential financial gains from their repair recommendations, thus providing you with an unbiased viewpoint.
A professional foundation assessment typically costs less than $1,000. The fee may vary depending on the residence’s size, foundation accessibility, project complexity, or engineer expertise.
Nevertheless, it is a small price to pay for peace of mind. It could save you from headaches down the line and from spending thousands of dollars on unplanned foundation repairs, especially when the issues are caught early.

What Information Can be Obtained from a Foundation Inspection In SF Bay Area

A structural engineer foundation inspection report determines whether the house or the building is still safe to be occupied.

It can indicate if there’s a foundation settling and suggest ways to fix it.

If there are cracks, the engineer can check if they endanger the house’s structure and suggest repairs.

The report also shows if the freezing and thawing cycle affects the foundation and how to reduce its impact.

Having a foundation report helps you make informed property decisions.

If there are no foundation problems, the report helps you confidently sell your property, signaling its structural soundness. For buyers, it offers peace of mind, which is invaluable!

What Happens if a House Inspection Finds a Foundation Problem?

What are Methods of Foundation Repair?

There are different ways to address foundation issues which are outlined in the foundation report.

For minor cracks, structural epoxy can be injected to prevent the cracks from growing further and aggravating the damage.

In some cases of foundation settling, slab jacking could be the answer. This means drilling holes and injecting grout or foam to raise the foundation.

For homes tilting, underpinning with hydraulic piers can steady it. This involves driving concrete or steel tubes deep into the ground to reach a stable layer.

The cost of foundation repair varies from $250 to over $100,000, depending on the work needed. It’s crucial to have a professional involved to ensure the right and efficient solution.

What are Methods of Foundation Repair In SF Bay Area

Having your foundation inspected can save you plenty of headaches down the line.
As a seller, this also allows you to stay ahead of any foundation issues and helps you decide how to proceed with the home sale: do you fix them first, or just sell the property as it is?
On the other hand, as a buyer, you can leverage the report during negotiations. Depending on the findings, you may feel reassured that you’re investing in a property that’s certified safe, or it could save you from buying a property with repairs you’re not prepared for.
In any case, there are numerous advantages to getting a home foundation inspection.
If you’re contemplating selling your property, whether you plan to make repairs beforehand or opt for an as-is sale, we’re here to assist you!
At We Buy Houses in SF Bay Area, we connect you with one of our local buyers familiar with the market conditions in your area, so you’ll get the best price for your property.
You won’t have to deal with real estate agents and their commissions, so you get everything that’s on offer. We even cover all closing costs for you!
Fill out the form below to receive a free quote for your home or give us a call at (408) 557-7554, and we’d be happy to answer any questions you may have!

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Gagan Saini

Author: Saini

My name is Saini, and I founded the We Buy Houses in SF Bay Area team with years of experience in the real estate industry. I have assisted numerous sellers in selling their homes quickly, “AS-IS”, and for a fair price.

He’s been featured in multiple publications including Yahoo Finance, GoBankingRates, LegalZoom, The Mortgage Report, Apartment Therapy, US News and World Report, and SuperMoney among others.

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