A home’s foundation is as essential as it sounds. Without a proper foundation, a variety of structural issues can plague a home that could end up costing you scads of cash to repair. But how do you know if a house has foundation problems, and how hard are they to fix?
Is it settling?
The first step is to know if the problems your house is facing is really foundation related or if it is settling. Foundation repairs are normally caused by bad building practices. Settling, on the other hand, is more of a natural process. Even expertly crafted buildings can some times settle after construction is completed. The tower at Pisa is a prime example of a settled building. If your region sees extreme weather the year your house is built, say flooding, and a few years later there is a severe drought, the soil will expand and contract more than its natural level, causing the building to move up or down.
Signs of a house needing foundation work
Apart from cracks, look for:
- Doors and windows jamming: If your doors and windows are not opening and closing like they should and if the jamming against the frame is consistent in consecutive floors, it may be a sure sign of foundation damage.
- Roof damage: It may seem odd, but the top floors and the roof are among the first affected in case your foundation has moved. Go up to the attic, get between the roof and the floorboards, look closely for any signs of damage. The roof gets damaged because it is the furthest away from the foundation and even small changes down there will be amplified the higher up you go. If your home is brick built, look for step shaped cracks on the roof or in the walls that are in contact with the roof.
- A damaged foundation: The most obvious thing is to see length wisecracks on the foundation slabs. If they look like a log split along the grain, your foundation may be in trouble.
It is a distressing thing, but if you do see any signs, catching it early is the best way to reduce the amount of money you will eventually end up spending on it.