Is It OK to Buy a House with Foundation Problems?
Thinking about buying a home in Oklahoma? You’re probably facing a common issue homebuyers must consider — foundation problems. In our area’s shifting clay soil, and the drastic temperature and moisture fluctuations our weather gives us, homes often move. And it’s not always easy to tell when a potential future home is showing signs of normal shifting versus when foundation repairs are needed.
At Edens Structural Solutions, we believe every homeowner should be confident in the safety of their home’s foundation—including homebuyers looking for the right place to enjoy their lives. That peace of mind begins with knowing what to look for and how to tell when it’s worth investing in a home and when you should pass.
Take these 5 steps to assess your needs in a new home and identify any foundation issues with a potential purchase—so you can evaluate whether the home is a good fit for you before you buy it.
1. Look for Signs of Foundation Damage
When you’re walking through homes considering how well they fit your needs and desires in a new house, remember to check for signs of foundation issues. You might make a checklist to take with you, and it should include the following items:
Every home settles over time, so you can expect to see some signs of minor settling in any home you visit. Cracks that are less than a quarter of an inch wide are usually signs of normal settling.
Potential foundation damage
Foundation problems usually manifest themselves with several signs. As you visit a potential future home, look for:
- Large cracks in interior or exterior walls—Cracks that are wider than a quarter of an inch can signal that the foundation is shifting quite a bit, making structural damage more likely.
- Doors and windows that are stuck or show gaps—As the foundation moves, windows and doors take the brunt of the movement. If they’re not working smoothly, it could be a sign the foundation is weakened.
- Foundation pulling away from soil—If there’s a large gap between the soil and the exterior walls of the home, it’s a sign the foundation is moving a lot.
2. Consult with Your Real Estate Agent
Beyond looking for issues with your own eyes, you can and should draw on the expertise of those helping you with your purchase.
- Ask your real estate agent or lawyer what sellers are required to disclose.
- Request copies of any reports and inspections the seller has recently acquired, so you can assess them for yourself.
- Find out if there is any information available through prior records, such as a property title search or municipal work permits, that may hint at foundation issues or show repairs have been made.
3. Get a Professional Foundation Inspection
If you’re really in love with a particular home but are seeing signs that it may need foundation repair, then it’s a smart idea to invest in a foundation inspection.
- Hire a foundation inspector or a structural engineer to do a full inspection of the foundation. This will allow you to see how severe any damage is.
- Based on the results of the inspection, including recommended foundation repairs, you can decide whether to move forward anyway—or take it as a cue that the home is not for you, and look elsewhere.
- Be sure to keep records and copies of all documents, which will come in handy when you apply for a mortgage and homeowner’s insurance.
4. Request Foundation Repairs
If the home needs repairs to its foundation, there are a number of ways you, as a buyer, can address it.
- Negotiate for a lower price—Homes with foundation damage typically sell for 20-25% less than similar homes with good foundations. Factor this into the price.
- Ask the seller to make repairs—Often, sellers are willing to make repairs to obtain a sale. Keep in mind, though, that some sellers may elect for the least expensive solution, even if it’s not the best one.
- Consider adding repair costs to your mortgage—If it fits your budget, it may be worth handling the repairs yourself, and paying for it with part of your mortgage loan.
5. Decide What You Can Live with…and What You Can’t
With any house purchase, you’ll have to determine what you’re willing to compromise about, because no home is perfect. Buying a home is a balancing act, and that includes deciding what types of foundation issues you can handle and what you need to say no to.
- Are you planning to flip the house? If the damage is relatively minor, it may be worth making the repairs before you resell the home.
- Do you have handyman skills that allow you to DIY some repairs? DIY efforts in other areas (such as painting) can save you money, which could then be put toward foundation repair.
- Do you have room in your budget for foundation repair without causing you to lose money on your investment?
- Do you plan to live in the home right away? If so, foundation repairs may delay your enjoyment of your new home.
- Do you want a home that is move-in ready? Then a home with foundation issues may not be the best choice.
In the end, it is up to you to decide what you want most, so you can be sure your home purchase is as wonderful as you want it to be. In any event, having a foundation inspection before you sign a contract is a great place to begin.
Foundation Inspections and Repairs that Give You Confidence
Before you buy a new home, be sure you’re getting exactly what you want, with no unpleasant surprises about the foundation. The team at Edens Structural Solutions has over 30 years of experience providing Tulsa area homeowners with thorough foundation inspections, accurate results, and detailed solutions so you can trust your foundation to perform well over the long-term.
Contact us for a free estimate and consultation. We’re here to serve you!