Is it Safe to Buy a House with Foundation Problems?
There’s so much to consider when you’re buying a house, whether it’s in Austin, San Marcos, or a Texas city in between. In fact, you may be so caught up in the process that you may overlook one valuable detail: the condition of the home’s foundation. A problematic house foundation may mean that the current sellers either didn’t want to deal with the problem, or it’s so bad that it’s beyond repair.
As a homebuyer, the last thing you want is to be stuck with a faulty foundation, especially if adds to the cost of the home you’re buying. It can be heartbreaking to discover foundation problems in a home you love, as well as a major deal-breaker. And with more and more buyers doing virtual tours of potential homes (due to COVID-19) instead of in-person visits, you may find that some of the stickier details, like foundation problems, aren’t visible to you at all until AFTER you’re in a contract on a home.
But, not all is lost. Not all foundation issues are a lost cause. Granted, some foundation issues often require major repairs, so it’s certainly best to be aware of any red flags and warning signs before you buy a home that needs to be repaired from the ground up. Here are a few things to look for, prior to getting an actual foundation inspection when you’re looking to buy a home and have any type of concern about the foundation.
What Should you Do When You Discover Problems with Your Future Home’s Foundation?
Get a Thorough Home Inspection
A home inspection isn’t mandatory, but most lenders will require an inspection prior to approving any funding. While small cracks in a foundation are nothing unusual, as it’s often caused by ‘settling’ of the house, minor cracks less than a quarter of an inch are probably safe, and often don’t require any major repairs. However, cracks that are larger than that should be a cause for concern, as it could mean a serious problem is lurking underneath. This could involve anything from a thorough patching job to a major overhaul and reinforcement of the foundation. Even if you are just starting to look at possible homes, do a full walkthrough in and around the house and make note of any cracks, or problem areas where it looks as if there might be deterioration.
This is where you have to decide if it’s worth it. Can you handle the cost of the repairs, the time involved, and the stress you’ll more than likely have to deal with?
Financing Issues with Certain Home Loans
If you’ve been prequalified for a loan, especially a Veterans Affairs (VA loan), or a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) loan (known as an FHA loan), among other options, you may have to refinance if there are foundation problems. The VA and FHA programs require that the home you’re buying is structurally sound. Unfortunately, foundation problems may actually result in these lenders declining to finance the house. Keep in mind that even if a lender decides to finance the home in the end, you, as the buyer, may be subject to higher interest rates or you may have to put down a larger payment.
Speak with a Foundation Repair Professional
If you feel the foundation problems could be extreme, you should contact a foundation repair company to provide an overview. A foundation specialist will have a better understanding, from an engineering perspective, than a home inspector as to how involved the problem really is. You may have to pay additional for the foundation inspection from an Austin foundation repair company, but it’s worth having it looked at before you go forward with the purchase.
You should also be aware that if you notice problems with the foundation, it’s likely these issues may extend throughout the rest of the house. Check for cracks in the drywall, make sure there are no uneven floors, and inspect all of your doors and windows to make sure that they’re not crooked and close properly. You may think that these little things need a minor touch-up, but they could be foreshadowing an even worse set of issues, based solely on the foundation.
The Foundation Repair Process
A foundation contractor will give you good news or bad news. In the end, it’s your decision on what you want to do. If the foundation is in very bad shape, you may have to take immediate action to repair it, so it’s an opportunity to work with the seller on getting a lower price for the house. Often, a home with foundation issues will sell for roughly 20% to 25% less than the listing price. Yet the cost to repair the foundation is typically around 10% of the home’s value. If the foundation is in such bad shape, you may not want to deal with the headache of fixing it; you may prefer to move on to another house. Many foundation problems are actually fixable, so there’s a good chance that you won’t have problems with the house in the future if you decide to move forward.
Even if the foundation needs minor repair, you should make sure that the ground beneath the house hasn’t shifted. A soil test can be performed, especially if the house is not on level ground, to determine if the foundation is at risk of shifting. If there are problems with the soil, there exists the chance for more detailed repairs, such as lifting the house to reinforce the foundation. The foundation may in fact be in such poor shape, that it may have to be completely replaced.
When It Comes to a Home’s Foundation, It’s Best to Be Prepared
Any major decision, like buying a house, can be risky. While a house may look lovely on the outside, take time to investigate it thoroughly inside and out. The foundation repair may be less of an issue than you think, so if you suspect that there may be problems, and it’s a house that you really love, contact Done Right Foundation Repair at (512) 360-0385 or 210-590-5150; we can help with your inspection and repair.