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Home Buying Hazards: Cracked or Damaged Foundations

written by: •edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 5/28/2011

Caveat emptor - "let the buyer beware" is a phrase that applies to home buying as it does with any other purchase. Because certain repairs must be disclosed by sellers, as a buyer, you may wonder should you buy a house with foundation repairs. All forms of foundation repair are problematic.

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    Identifying Foundation Repairs

    house foundation Foundations may become damaged due to any number of reasons including water lines or tree roots growing uncontrollably. While many states require home sellers to disclose information about major foundation repairs, others do not.

    During the home inspection process, the buyer may be informed that there are potential problems with the foundation. Before putting in a final offer, the buyer should request a second inspection from a contractor they have hired on their own.

    Most home sellers work through a real estate agent and the inspector is agreed upon in advance between the two parties with no input from the buyer. The seller and the real estate agent have a vested interest in not having problems such as foundation repairs disclosed in the final inspection report.

    Buyer protections

    Buyers should inquire with the seller prior to signing an agreement as to whether or not any foundation repairs have been made. While many states will require that a buyer disclose this, there are far more that do not have this requirement.

    Asking the seller protects the buyer because they are fully aware of any repairs. Asking for the report from the inspector who approved the repairs may also be helpful.

    Buyers who are informed that there have been repairs made to the foundation have several options including asking for an independent inspector whom they hire on their own, negotiating the sale to a lower price, or not placing an offer on the home.

    Visual checks

    When visiting a home that you are interested in purchasing, check for signs of possible foundation damage. Cracks can be seen visually in some cases and different colors can signal that a repair has been made. Basements should also be checked for signs of water damage and mold which could signal that damage has occurred.

    Purchase and sale agreements

    Remember that buyers can also include contingency clauses in their purchase and sale agreements if they suspect there may be a problem with a foundation or any other major repairs. This helps the buyer by avoiding unneeded hassles if they decide to not purchase a home based on findings in a home inspection.

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    Inquiring About Foundation Repairs

    Foundation Repairs For those who find themselves asking the question should you buy a house with foundation repairs it is important to understand what caused the original damage, the likelihood that the damage may recur, and learn how well the original damage was repaired. Here are some general questions that buyers can ask:

    What was the cause of the original damage?

    Damage to foundations is sometimes caused by extreme weather such as floods, unusually wet weather, or frost waves. These are unforeseen and generally not ongoing problems.

    While water is the most common cause of foundation cracks and damage, there are other causes. For example, if tree roots become overgrown, they could damage. Homeowners who suffer damage from tree roots and have the repairs done without removing the tree may experience continuing problems.

    How extensive was the damage?

    Some foundation damage may be cosmetic in nature such as minor cracks caused by settling. In these cases, the repairs may be simple and are often done by the homeowner. If potential buyers learn about issues with a foundation, it's essential to determine how bad the damage was and how it was repaired.

    What material were used for the repairs?

    There are numerous ways to fix a foundation including surface repairs and using special material to fill holes and cracks. Buyers need to know about the type of material used as well when the repairs were done, who did the repairs, and are there any warranties or guarantees that apply. If there are warranties or guarantees, it is also important to learn if they will transfer to the new owner.

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    Cost of Foundation Repairs

    cost of repairs Similar to other defects in a property, foundation repair effects on house prices can be significant. Home repairs such as window replacement, painting and other general maintenance are anticipated expenses when owning a home. However, foundation repairs can take a big bite out of a maintenance fund as well as reduce the stability of the home.Depending on the severity of the damage, they can also be extremely inconvenient.

    Foundation repair costs can be as little as $200 and as much as $3,000 depending on the extent of the damage. Those who are considering purchasing a home that has prior damage should carefully evaluate whether or not the repairs were done properly and made with top quality materials. Requesting an inspection of the foundation from a qualified foundation inspector will provide the buyer with peace of mind that the best possible quality job has been completed.

    Buyers who are faced with damaged foundations at the time of purchase should contact at least three contractors for quotes to determine how much these repairs will cost. The cost of foundation repairs can then be used to negotiate a lower selling price with the seller of the property.

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    Authors unknown, "Stone foundations crack for several reasons," "How much will foundation repair cost me?," e Foundation Repair,

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