The Foundation

As home inspectors, part of our job is to visually inspect the foundation of the home. We start on the outside by walking the perimeter of the home. We look for cracks in the foundation block, or concrete slabs noting the size (larger than ¼” should be evaluated) and any telltale signs of cracking in the skirt or siding such as step cracking in the brick. We also evaluate any unusual soil separation or negative grading around the edges of the foundation. Inside the home, we look at the condition of the walls and ceilings and any telltale cracking. The shape of the crack and the direction it runs in the wall are also considered. Horizontal cracks and those that run at jagged angles can be a sign of possible foundation shifting or settling. Uneven and sloping floors are also looked for as this is a sign that the piers could be shifting or settling.

If you have a crawlspace, the following items play a role in the health of your foundation. Efflorescence, water stains, or discoloration on the inside of the foundation block tell us about the presence of moisture. Mud tubes (from termites), small boreholes (from powder post beetles), and damaged wood are evidence of the presence of wood-destroying organisms which can also affect the foundation.

The type and condition of the piers or supports, the beam material, floor structure, the presence of a vapor barrier, the presence and type of insulation and adequate ventilation. The condition of the piers, sills, joists and subfloor can also give us clues to the overall health and well-being of the crawlspace and foundation. One thing we look for is the addition of posts or beams that have been added since the original construction. Many homeowners take it upon themselves to add posts to reduce bounce or sag in the floors above or attempt to level the flooring. Many of these handyman attempts are done incorrectly.

Bottom line is that the home inspector is like a general practitioner that is trained to look for tell-tale signs and deficiencies that tell us the general condition of your foundation and whether a specialist should be consulted. When the home inspector is conducting a home inspection and observes deficiencies associated with any of the above, we may recommend an evaluation by a structural contractor, a termite moisture inspector, or worst case, a structural engineer.

Are you purchasing a home or are you a homeowner? If you need a home inspection or a home inspector in Norfolk, a home inspection in Virginia Beach, a home inspection in Portsmouth, Suffolk, Cape Charles, Chesapeake, Williamsburg, or anywhere in Hampton Roads, call one of our licensed, insured, and certified professional home inspectors today.

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