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Property Managers: Do You Know the Signs of Foundation Failure?

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Property Managers, let’s face it – you’re a damn superhuman with mutant tier abilities to juggle:

  •   Mountains of work orders
  •   Pest Control (ants, mice, & rats – oh my)
  •   Showing/leasing units to possible serial killers
  •   Mediating tenant squabbles with the tact and patience of a seasoned hostage negotiator
  •   Hosing off vomit stuck to sidewalk from Friday night revelries  
  •   Building maintenance (because some people can’t screw in a lightbulb without supervision and a 4-step action plan)

*Note – I once lived beneath a guy who did the stompstompclap of Queen’s We Will Rock You. If you live on the second floor, do us all low-level dwellers a favor and kicker dance somewhere else – like hell. Hell is a good place for you.

You are Deadpool – and we here at Dalinghaus sincerely hope you never find anyone dead in a pool because we’ve heard horror stories.

Speaking of IFC Midnight, here’s a horrific tale you might be living right now, and unlike in film, you can’t call cut

So, there’s this particular apartment, apartment complex, or home that requires just as much love and affection as your idiot high school girlfriend (and she ate popcorn with braces, so –) that requires constant maintenance:

  •   Constant patch and paint of drywall
  •   The doors had to be shaved down to stop sticking in their crooked frames
  •   The only tenant who didn’t complain of vertigo due to sloping floors is a retired sea captain

You know the unit because you get those butterflies in your gut every time you show it.

There is the sheer gap in the corner. There is the cracked tile in the kitchen. There is the closet where they found Tony swinging from the rafters, Tony the pet python.   

We hate to break it to ya – but your property might be suffering from foundation failure caused by settlement or heave.  

Batman had the JokerSuperman had Lex Luthor. You have your mother-in-law, and expansive soil, both formidable foes.

The good news, depending on how you look at it, only one of these antagonists is permanent.

Unless foundation failure is addressed, it’s never going to that big happy place in the sky.

This can directly translate into:

  •   Lost tenants
  •   A Red-tagged Apartment/Complex/Home
  •   You flipping a sign on the freeway

In this blog post, we are going to walk you through the tell-tale signs and symptoms of foundation issues in the interior and exterior of the home/complex/unit.

Interior Signs & Symptoms of Foundation Failure 

We are going to start with crack…or cracks more specifically. You have a pretty good idea of who the complex plug is, but you’re just as tired of plugging up cracks in the drywall.

Cracks are not just a cosmetic issue – they point to deeper issues that not even years of therapy will touch.

Drywall Cracks

Drywall cracks can prove indicative of foundation failure. Look for:

  • Cracks that are thicker than a quarter-inch
  • Cracks jutting out from window/door frames
  •   Bulging and bowing walls
  •   Pulling drywall tape

As a general rule of thumb, if you’ve patched and painted multiple times (and that kid Kyle with the Monster neck tattoo stopped kicking holes in the drywall since his stint upstate) odds are high these cracks are from foundation issues.

Sticking Doors & Windows  

Sticking doors & windows can be a major issue.

Go throughout the unit and open and close all of the doors. Check to see if they are out of square.

Doors and windows that are difficult to open and off-center/out-of-frame are concrete signs that there are foundation problems.

Sloped Floors

Sloped floors can make you feel like you’re walking uphill. No need to hit the gym when you can just pace the apartment – or so a few philistine tenants who lived above me believed.

A simple test is to place a marble on the floor in different areas of the room and watch where the ball rolls and how fast.

The faster the marble rolls, the steeper the slope. This can be a major trip hazard, and no one wants grandma to trip and fall and break her neck – trust me.

While you are checking for floor slope, you can also look for gaps between the baseboards and floor.  

In some extreme cases, floorboards pull away from each other.

Exhibit A – 

Slab Cracks

Look for cracked slab in the garage or cracked tile in the kitchen and bathrooms. This can also result in bumps in the carpet and other tripping hazards.

Exterior Signs & Symptoms of Foundation Failure

We don’t need to tell you: first impressions are everything. Sure, the apartment complex might have a cool blue pool and some nice, manicured shrubbery, but if you have cracks zipping through your stucco, it might cause potential tenants to think twice.  

Stucco Cracks

In SoCal and Central AZ, many home exteriors are comprised of stucco due to its ability to keep out the heat. Stucco, just like drywall, is susceptible to fracturing. Be sure to look for:

  •   Stair-step cracks
  •   Cracks jutting out from window/door frames

Leaning Chimneys

Leaning chimneys, for those of you in frostbite areas, prove another top-tier example.  

Many chimneys are built with their own separate footing, so separation tends to point to one of the two footings under duress from lateral creep or a poorly constructed chimney footing. 

Sidewalk Cracks  

Cracks in your sidewalk are a major trip hazard and a lawsuit waiting to happen. This a huge liability risk and easily repaired with polyurethane injectionsCracks can and do break backs.  

While this isn’t directly a sign of foundation failure, a cracked sidewalk can be indicative of expansive soils, which is the primary cause of foundation failure.   

Settling Retaining Walls 

Retaining walls are another area of concern when it comes to slope stabilization and liability. 

Nobody wants their BMW (Babe-Magnet-Widget) swept away in a mudslide because the complex’s stupid retaining wall failed. 

Check out our article How Much Does a Retaining Wall Cost (New & Repaired) so you can ensure you’re not being taken for a ride to end up in a van down by the river.

Footing Cracks

This one might take some work on your end. Most tenants don’t pull out a magnifying glass, get on their hands and knees and examine a home’s footing. Sure, you’ve seen stranger things – no doubt.   

Footing cracks, especially vertical cracks, are indicative of foundation failure. These cracks need to be treated as soon as possible to ensure water doesn’t soak in and rust the rebar.

However, most importantly, the underlying cause of foundation failure needs to be addressed with either push piershelical piers, or polyurethane injection, or a combination of the three.  

If you find any of the following signs and symptoms, but especially if you’re suffering from a stiff cocktail of them, call a foundation specialist.

Most foundation specialists will perform a pro bono evaluation, saving you and your company some fat stacks.

If the contractor determines you need foundation repair – it is best to seriously consider following through because:

  • Foundation Failure is not a selling feature and it gets worse over time – ultimately nullifying any and all remodeling endeavors
  • You will be able to garner new tenants and keep old ones
  • The foundation repair will pay for itself – it’s an investment 

*Note – We offer financing. Click the blue-button below. Do it – we know you want to –  

Choose Dalinghaus  

If you choose to utilize Dalinghaus Construction Inc. for your foundation repair needs, you will enjoy fantastic customer service and a lifetime warranty on all steel pier systems.   

With 100 years of combined experience under our belt and over 2000 foundation repairs, we are confident we can give you and your clientele peace of mind with a job well done!

If you live in SoCal or Central Arizona and would like a FREE foundation inspection, click the link below –


Brian Dalinghaus

Brian is one of the Co-Founders of Dalinghaus Construction. He has been in the foundation repair industry since 2005. During his career, he has been associated with helping over 4,000 homes and structures throughout California and Arizona.

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