Selling a home with foundation issues can be daunting, but the process doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It’s important to identify the underlying problems and address them accordingly, using licensed contractors for repair methods that comply with building code standards. Furthermore, it’s necessary to consider the cost and time associated with repairs, as well as disclosure requirements. Knowing your options can help you navigate the challenges of selling a home with foundation issues.
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Signs of Foundation Issues
Look for structural or foundation issues on both the inside and the outside of your house, as they could be warning signs that you need to call a structural engineer for a closer inspection.
Nail pops, seam breaks, and hairline cracks are worth investigating. Luckily, most of them amount to false alarms in terms of structural damage. They may be due to normal wear and tear in older homes, or poor craftsmanship. While they’re not exactly good signs, they’re not as immediately concerning as:
- Cracks larger than ¼ inch in walls, brickwork, or tiling
- Horizontal or L-shaped cracks
- Walls that appear to bulge
- Gaps between the house and trim, garage door and pavement, etc.
- Doors or windows that stick or won’t close
- Gaps around door or window frames
- Signs of foundation sinking, especially vertical cracks
- Signs of foundation rising—often due to the ground swelling with water or roots
- Sagging, uneven, or sloping floors or ceilings
- Damp crawlspaces or basements—you may also notice musty smells
- Drainage problems and water pooling near the foundation—you may see excess weeds
What Causes Foundation Issues?
Water is one of the main culprits of foundation problems. Dry, shrinking soil and waterlogged, swelling soil can both cause the foundation to shift, and water seeping around the foundation from heavy rain or plumbing issues can lead to erosion. Poor construction or multiple soil types can also result in the foundation settling at different rates, which causes stress on the foundation. Clay-heavy soils can cause the most drastic shifts, as clay is highly absorbent and will soak up a lot of water.
Roots can also creep underneath the foundation and cause foundation upheaval. Just like burrowing your feet under a blanket, the roots cause the foundation to rise, and the different pressures on different parts of the foundation can lead to cracking. Once you have cracks, water can get in and cause further damage.
The important thing to remember is that foundation problems generally progress over a long period of time as the soil repeatedly swells and contracts. It’s vital to be vigilant in order to catch foundation problems early.
What to Do If You Think You Have Foundation Issues
If you think there’s a problem, call a structural engineer for a closer inspection. The engineer will take a look at the lot, moisture levels, soil type, drainage, and other factors. Don’t call the foundation repair company until you get the inspection results. You might get lucky and discover that the initial red flags aren’t indicative of structural damage, as in many cases involving minor cracks and nail pops.
If you do indeed have foundation problems, after the initial inspection, take steps to address the underlying issues that could have caused the foundation problem before repairs begin. Filling in a crack without addressing the cause is little better than putting a band-aid on the issue, and you’ll soon be dealing with foundation damage again.
When it comes time to decide whether to fix foundation issues or sell as-is, consider the cost and time involved in repairs along with any potential benefits of selling as-is. Foundation repair is not a good candidate for a DIY project.
Hiring a professional for repairs requires research and choosing reputable contractors, not just comparing prices. Get at least three quotes from various contractors, and look for the name “International Code Council Evaluation Services (ICC-ES),” a respected nonprofit that reviews contractors’ building products, materials, and systems for code compliance.
Selling a house with foundation issues without doing repairs is possible, but comes with its own caveats, such as buyers using foundation issues as a bargaining tool for a lower price. Since repairing a foundation is an essential repair, buyers will factor the probable repair costs into their final offer.
Direct cash investors, such as house flippers and instant-offer services such as Cash is King, may be willing to purchase houses with foundation issues as-is without you needing to enact repairs. This can be a great way to sell your house with foundation issues quickly. If your home will need significant repairs, it’s one of the signs that you should sell to an investor instead of going through the traditional home-selling process.
Don’t be tempted to hide the foundation issues during the sale. For one, you’re at risk of being sued if you don’t fill out the Seller Disclosure to the best of your knowledge, and two, the issues are highly likely to be found during the home inspection. Transparency and disclosure are key when dealing with potential buyers so they understand what they are buying into and feel comfortable going forward.
Cost of Repairing Foundation Issues
There’s no denying that repairing foundation issues can be expensive. Even minor repairs can run into the hundreds of dollars. Here’s a rough guide to what foundation repairs may cost:
- Structural engineer inspection: $300–$800
- Soil testing and soil report: $700–$1,800
- Building permit: around $1,600
- Tree removal (if roots are the issue): $200–$2,000
- Minor cracks (<⅛ of an inch): $250–$800
- House settling/sinking: $600–$1,600 for slabjacking/mudjacking (pumping concrete under the foundation to raise it); $1,000–$3,000 per unit for foundation piers
- House shifting: $700–$25,000; may require slabjacking, foundation piers, wall reinforcement, etc. depending on the severity of the shift
- Bowing walls: $4,000–$12,000; may require wall reinforcement or foundation piers
- Basement underpinning: $1,000–$3,000 per hydraulic pier to raise the foundation
It’s easy to see why contractors advertising low prices can be appealing, but it’s important to hire an experienced contractor for any type of foundation repair. Research contractors thoroughly and verify their compliance with building code standards before making any decisions based solely on price.
Run calculations for repair costs versus expected returns before you decide what to do. Ultimately, it might be more cost-effective to sell the house as-is if the cost of repairs is too high.
Options for Selling a Home With Foundation Issues
When deciding to sell a home with foundation issues, owners have two options: repairing the foundation before selling or selling as-is. Repairing the foundation can be costly and time-consuming, but may attract more potential buyers. On the other hand, selling as-is could be easier and faster, but might not attract as many interested parties. It’s important to consider both options carefully before making a decision.
Repairing the Foundation Before Selling
If you have the time and financial resources to correct the underlying issues causing your foundation problems, making the repairs before you sell can be a good option. While you will still have to disclose the former issues and the repair measures taken, the buyer can be reassured by the knowledge that you took good care of the home and they won’t have to deal with the issue themselves.
Once the issue has been resolved, you can proceed with your home sale much as you would normally.
If it’s not feasible to make repairs, selling as-is may be the best option. This means the buyer is aware of any potential issues regarding the property and takes full responsibility for them.
Benefits of selling as-is include:
- Not having to spend money to make costly foundation repairs
- Saving time and money on home-selling items such as staging and showing
- Selling to a cash investor means no risk of financing being denied
- Selling to an investor is generally a much faster closing process
Some downsides may include:
- Getting lower offers—however, a good cash investor will offer fair prices, and may even exceed what traditional homebuyers are willing to offer you
Selling as-is can provide a quick and easy solution, especially if you find a cash investor interested in the property.
Disclosure Requirements for Houses With Foundation Problems
Disclosing foundation issues is essential when selling a house, as failure to do so could result in legal consequences. As a seller, it’s important to be upfront about any existing or potential problems with the home’s foundation. If you’ve made repairs, include the assessment from a qualified structural engineer and details of any repairs that have been made.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does It Take to Fix a Foundation Issue?
The amount of time to fix a foundation issue varies depending on the severity of the problem and the type of repair needed. Generally, it takes about one to three days to repair a slab foundation.
Is It Possible to Fix Foundation Issues Without Professional Help?
It’s not advisable to fix foundation issues without professional help. Foundation repair requires specialized knowledge, tools, and techniques which are best handled by experienced contractors.
What Happens if Foundation Issues Are Not Addressed?
If foundation issues are not addressed, the structural integrity of the house may be compromised, leading to further damage and even more costly repairs.
What Type of Loan Should I Look for When Buying a House With Foundation Issues?
Most mortgage lenders will be leery of financing a deal to purchase a house with foundation issues. When buying a house with foundation issues, consider looking for a rehabilitation loan. This type of loan can help finance repairs and may be the best choice.
You Can Sell a Home With Foundation Issues
Selling a home with foundation issues can be daunting, but taking the necessary steps to identify and address the underlying causes, obtaining quotes from licensed contractors for standard-compliant repairs, informing buyers of any issues, and enlisting an experienced agent can make the process easier. Alternatively, you can seek out a cash investor like Cash is King and sell your home as-is for a fair price quickly, easily, and without having to make repairs.
With a willingness to consider all options, you can successfully sell your home even with foundation problems.
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