Are Damaged Foundations Fixable?
Conventional wisdom says to walk away from a home in need of foundation repair. But are there exceptions to this rule? In some cases, foundation damage is fixable—and home buyers who've fallen in love with a house can proceed with purchase, whether in Grande Dunes or elsewhere. In other cases, it really is best to walk away.
Easy Fix: Settled Foundations
Slabjacking shifts a settled foundation back to its original place using grout. This is an inexpensive way to restore a foundation that is no longer level. Costs stat at $500. Slabjacking is recommended in areas where the soil is unlikely to shift. If an engineer feels the home or surrounding soil will experience structural shifts, they will suggest a more permanent - and pricey - repair, such as underpinning. This costs anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 for every pier that lifts the home's foundation. Since this can become one of the pricier ways to repair a foundation, home buyers need to do the math, then decide.
It Depends: Cracked Foundation
Concrete is prone to cracking as it dries, so home buyers may notice cracked foundations on newer homes. As a general rule, cracks that are less than 1/4-inch thick are easy to fix by sealing the foundation.
Horizontal cracks and step cracks (which resemble a staircase) are big red flags. Water can easily penetrate these cracks, so there may be additional problems with the basement. Long cracks are another red flag. A foundation that has long cracks may collapse if the problems aren't fixed. Home buyers may be able to fix these large cracks by slabjacking, but if there are other problems with the foundation, it may be better to find another property. Most foundation problems can only be fixed by a professional, so they tend to be extremely costly.
Buyer Beware: Leaky Foundations
Leaky foundations introduce water into the home. Over time, this can cause issues ranging from basement flooding to rot and mold. It's critical to fix a leaky foundation right away, because homes will continue to experience significant problems until the root cause is fixed. Mold could also pose health risks for the residents.
By sealing the foundation and installing a waterproof barrier, homeowners can prevent water-related problems from happening. Costs vary anywhere from $2,000 to $6,000 and include excavation labor to expose the foundation for improvement.
This is one issue where home buyers may want to walk away, especially if the home already shows signs of water damage. The costs of fixing the foundation and the existing problems may be too great.
Typical Foundation Repair Costs
On the low end, foundation works costs around $500 to fix visible cracks. Major repairs can set a homeowner back by more than $10,000 if they involve hydraulic pliers. The average cost to repair a damaged foundation is $4,000.
If foundation issues appear evident, conduct a foundation inspection report. A structural engineer will come out, review the foundation, and make a recommendation for what can fix the foundation. Home buyers can then take this report to contractors and ask for estimates, which can be compared to the average.
If foundation problems are discovered in a home inspection, home buyers can ask the seller to renegotiate the price. Buyers may be able to get a seller concession that reflects the estimate for foundation repair. Many contracts give buyers the option to walk if the home inspection reveals problems that a buyer does not want to fix.
Home buyers who can afford to fix the foundation damage and who feel otherwise confident in the home can safely proceed with the purchase, while those who'd rather save the money for something else have a credible escape route.