9 Signs It's Safe to Buy a House With Past Foundation Repair

foundation repair pittsburgh
Published on January 28, 2022

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Is it safe to buy a house with foundation repair? Since no two properties are alike, prospective buyers should consider several factors before making that decision! In many if not most cases, repaired foundation damage should last for decades if not indefinitely.

Before buying a home with past foundation repair, consider:

  1. Repair method
  2. Repair quality
  3. Reputation of repair contractors
  4. Repair guarantee, if any
  5. Preventative measures such as waterproofing, to stop future foundation damage
  6. Foundation age
  7. Property grade and slope
  8. The property’s soil condition
  9. Other factors affecting the home’s desirability

A new home is probably the most expensive investment you’ll ever make. In turn, you want to ensure you’re making an informed decision overall. To help you decide on a home with foundation issues, check out some added information about repairs and maintenance.

As always, discuss this information with a real estate agent or repair contractor near you. Their input is invaluable when it comes to choosing a home you’ll love for years to come!

Is It Safe to Buy a House With Foundation Repair?

There is no “one size fits all” answer as to whether or not you should buy a house with foundation repair. As with any other damage, you’ll need to consider some important factors before making your decision.

Repair method

Epoxy or cement fillers might repair minor foundation cracks. These fillers expand to seep into cracks and gaps inside concrete. They then dry and harden, closing up those cracks.

While fillers might fill in minor cracks, they’re not always effective for severe leaks and other major issues. A severely damaged foundation might require underpinning, or the insertion of pins and piers around the foundation. These pins prop the foundation back into place and keep it secure.

Shimming is also a quick fix for minor pier and beam damage. Wedge-shaped shims, pounded between piers and beams, help support a structure. However, if the piers and beams are damaged severely, they usually need replacing!

Note a foundation repair method before deciding if you should buy a home. Quick fixes aren’t right for every type of damage, or foundation design. Ensure the repairs are appropriate for the damage suffered before buying!

sealing foundation cracks for a home

Repair quality

Obviously the quality of foundation repairs affect their longevity! As with repair methods, note if a contractor used high-quality materials. For example, new steel piers and beams will typically last far longer than wood. Steel pins inserted around a foundation also last longer than poured concrete piers.

As a prospective homebuyer might not have skills needed to assess repairs, schedule a foundation inspection before buying. A foundation repair contractor can usually evaluate those repair methods and materials. He or she can then advise on their overall quality and reliability.

Reputation of repair contractors

As with any project around a house, a contractor’s skill has a great impact on the quality of foundation repair! If possible, research the reputation of the contractors hired for foundation repair on a house you might purchase. Check if there are issues with their work or complaints from past clients.

Additionally, you might note if a homeowner performed DIY repairs. While minor crack patching and filling might last, larger repairs require a contractor’s expertise. Homeowners also tend to use low-quality patching and repair materials from a local hardware store. These materials often break down far sooner than those used by qualified contractors.

Repair guarantee

Did a contractor offer a guarantee for their foundation repair work? High-quality repairs should always come with a full, written warranty! A short warranty, or none at all, might indicate unreliable repairs.

Prospective buyers should also note if that warranty is transferrable. In other words, is it in force even if the home changes owners? If not, its overall length or promises don’t matter!

On the other hand, a long and transferrable warranty is a sign of high-quality foundation repair work. If a home comes with a full, written warranty for foundation repairs, this is a good sign of reliable, reputable work.

Preventative measures

Has a homeowner put preventative measures into place, to avoid future foundation damage? These measures might include waterproofing, a French drain installation, or crawlspace encapsulation. Preventative measures protect foundation repair and can ensure they stay reliable over the years.

Foundation age

The older a foundation, the more likely it is to suffer damage including cracks and leaks. If a home’s foundation is several decades old, you might be facing added repair costs before too long. The same is true with foundation repair materials! They also might degrade over the years, so consider a property’s age before purchasing.

Property grading

Property grading refers to its overall slope. Residential lots are typically sloped downward slightly, toward a nearby street or drain. This allows for water runoff, preventing underground moisture from collecting around a foundation.

On the other hand, foundations do need some soil packed up around the foundation, to provide strength and support. Overly steep grading might result in erosion or soil runoff. A landscaping engineer or foundation repair contractor can check if a property is graded as needed.

grading a foundation repair for a home

Soil conditions

Various soil compositions affect foundations differently. For example, clay soil absorbs water easily, holding that moisture against a foundation. Clay then shrinks as it dries, so it doesn’t support a foundation as it should. In turn, homes built on clay soil might settle and shift, risking foundation damage.

A foundation repair contractor should inspect a property’s soil before you make a purchasing decision. He or she can note the soil’s composition, moisture levels, and other such factors. You can then evaluate how that soil might affect the home’s foundation in the future.

Other factors affecting the home’s desirability

Even if a home’s foundation might need future repairs, this is just one factor to consider before buying! You might ask yourself some questions about a home’s desirability, beyond its foundation issues.

One, is the home in a good neighborhood, close to family and work? Two, is it priced affordably, leaving you with enough funds to address foundation issues? Three, is it in good condition overall? If the answer to these questions is yes, the home might still be a good purchase!

Prospective buyers should remember that a home is rarely perfect and without needed repairs or updates. A full foundation inspection can alert you to the risk of future damage and repair costs. You can then decide if the home is a good buying decision overall.

Does Foundation Repair Affect Home Value?

High-quality foundation repair typically increases home value, versus a home with foundation damage! Note that foundation damage tends to get worse the longer it’s ignored. In turn, small cracks can become severe leaks and other costly issues.

Foundation issues also risk what is called secondary damage around the property. This damage might include interior and exterior wall cracks, ceiling cracks, and buckled floors. A sinking structure might also experience roof and plumbing damage, mold, wood rot, and insect infestation. All of these also lower a property’s value!

Timely repairs help avoid these secondary issues. They also keep cracks and leaks from getting worse, and reduce the risk of sinking and settling. Even if foundation repair doesn’t increase property values, it can protect against those values decreasing due to these structural issues.

Can You Get a Mortgage on a House With Foundation Problems?

Whether or not you can get a mortgage on a house with foundation problems depends on damage extent. For instance, a few minor cracks might not affect the home’s value or structural stability. In turn, these might not cause issues with mortgage lenders.

On the other hand, severe foundation damage affects a home’s overall structure and risks costly secondary damage, as said. If left unchecked, the home’s value might decrease over time.

Mortgage lenders usually don’t offer loans for homes they know won’t keep their value over time! That house is your loan collateral, meaning the lender can seize and resell it if you don’t pay your loan. If the property loses value, a lender can’t get back their loan amount. In turn, rarely can you get a mortgage for a home with severe foundation or structural issues.

Can You Sell a Home With Foundation Problems?

There is typically no law against selling a home with foundation problems. However, homeowners are usually obligated to disclose any known foundation damage and needed repairs! Trying to simply cover over cracks and other damage can be a costly mistake.

On the other hand, a homeowner should never assume their property has foundation damage without a proper inspection. One reason for this is that other issues might cause wall cracks, popped drywall nails, and the like. Two, some foundation issues might only need minor repairs to address!

A foundation inspection and repair quote also allows you to decide what to do next. You might invest in those repairs, ensuring a quicker home sale. You might lower the home’s asking price, to attract buyers willing to make those repairs. A real estate agent or property appraiser can offer added advice on how to sell a home with foundation damage.

foundation repair problems

How Long Does Foundation Repair Last?

Epoxies and other foundation crack fillers might last 3 to 10 years, depending on their quality. These materials degrade over time, so plan on repeating the work as needed.

Carbon fiber straps, used to repair bowing basement walls, usually last a decade or more. Underpinning and house leveling are often guaranteed for several decades, if not even a century. In turn, these repairs often outlast a homeowner!

Repair quality, a contractor’s skill, and preventative measures all affect these expected lifespans. Waterproofing basement walls, for example, keep them strong over the years. Improved soil grading also prevents moisture buildup around a foundation. This also helps protect those repairs, so they last as long as possible.

What Happens If You Don’t Fix Foundation Problems?

Ignoring foundation problems is not recommended! Cracks along foundation concrete let moisture into the material. This moisture risks even more damage, softening the foundation. Not only are more cracks likely to appear but a structure might settle on that weakened foundation.

A settling structure is what risks secondary damage inside and outside a home. This includes wall and ceiling cracks, buckled floors, and uneven surfaces. Door and window frames get pulled out of alignment so that doors and windows stick. You also might not be able to lock those doors and windows securely! Foundation cracks and moisture seeping in through those gaps also risks mold and mildew. These both spread quickly, risking wood rot and flooring damage. Mold especially is also very unhealthy, and both create extremely unpleasant odors.

Remember, too, that foundation damage affects property values. The longer you ignore these issues and the more extensive the damage, the lower your property values! You might eventually erase any equity you’ve built in that property or become “upside down” on your mortgage, owing more than the property is worth.

How Much Does It Cost to Put a New Foundation Under a House?

In some cases, it’s recommended you replace a foundation entirely. This process might be cheaper than needed repairs, while providing a solid foundation for your property! It’s an especially excellent investment if you might sell your home down the road. You can then advertise it as having a new foundation in good condition.

A homeowner might spend around $10,000 on average for a new foundation under a 1200 square foot home. Low-end prices run around $4500 while some foundations might cost $40,000 or more. Your foundation repair contractor can advise on the best foundation material and how to save on those costs, if possible.

Pittsburgh Foundation Repair Pros is happy to help answer the question, is it safe to buy a house with foundation repair? Hopefully you’ve found this information helpful! If you’re in the market for expert fixes, call our Pittsburg foundation repair contractors. We offer FREE foundation inspections and price quotes. So, what are you waiting for? Call us today to get started with the repairs you need to have done.


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