Should I Walk Away From a Home With Foundation Issues?

We get it – having a home showing signs of foundation issues is intimidating. Having to get up and go to work, take care of the kids, make sure the significant other is happy, and deal with the tribulations of life can be too much as it is. Walking away and ignoring foundation issues is tempting. 

It doesn’t help with your peace of mind.

Whether you buy, sell, or keep your home, doing foundation repair on those issues is generally to your benefit. 

Dalinghaus Construction has been in the foundation repair game in Southern California, Arizona, and Nevada since 2015, with our team having over 100 years of combined experience. We’ve inspected over 10,000 homes and worked on over 2,000 foundation repair projects for the peace of mind of many homeowners. It’s important to us that you have the resources to figure out if you should walk away from a home with foundation issues. 

Should I buy a home with foundation issues?

There’s nothing wrong with buying a home with foundation issues. Being able to do so is difficult since you would have to be a cash buyer. You might find some places willing to loan, but banks generally don’t do that with a damaged home. 

You have to also be willing to take on a project to repair the foundation. This isn’t to say that you’re in danger from living in a damaged home. The issues are generally cosmetic and would have to be severe to be structural. 

Foundation issues don’t tend to get better; they usually get worse. And the expenses for repair will increase over time. 

Homes with foundation issues are usually marked down when they’re on the market. They can be negotiated down by 30% of their original value. Minimum. 

So to say a $1 million home can be marked down to $700,000.

Make sure you can identify the signs and symptoms of a home with foundation issues

  • Drywall cracks
  • Stucco cracks
  • Concrete slab cracks
  • Ceiling cracks
  • Tile cracks
  • Chimney cracks
  • Leaning chimney
  • Sloping floors
  • Doors and windows are hard to open and close
  • Water leaks

Keep in mind you’ll find more than one sign. If any of these signs and symptoms are isolated, it might be an entirely different issue. 

Patching and painting the home

Sometimes sellers will patch and paint homes before they sell them. This doesn’t fix foundation issues so much as it covers them up. So the foundation is still damaged. 

If an inspector or appraiser is quick, they will see it. 

Keep in mind – Not disclosing foundation issues when a home is on the market is illegal.

Getting an expert, an engineer, or a contractor to diagnose the problem. And go as far as to get a repair plan to reduce the cost of the home.  

If the undisclosed foundation issues turn you off from buying a home, you can back out if it’s still in Escrow. If you bought the home already and the seller didn’t initially disclose that information, that’s a legal battle, which tends to be like Sisyphus battling the boulder he pushes uphill. 

Have a foundation inspector inspect the home

After the home inspection is done and reviewed, you should have a foundation inspection done. Keep in mind this will be out of your pocket since you will be the buyer.

Living in a home with foundation issues

Having a home with foundation issues should be fixed as soon as feasibly possible. Again, foundation issues don’t get better. They tend to get worse over time. 

It would take a miracle for a home to recover. We’ve experienced instances where enough rain caused enough swelling to bring a home back up. The problem is this is a temporary fix. When the soil dries, the swelling will reduce and expose the issues again. 

And it’s not something you can just water with a hose all the time like they do in some areas. It will eventually fail. The soil will only sustain for so long until the water lines will break and cause a different issue. 

Water moves soil as it flows through the ground, eroding the soil over time.  

Watering the soil around the foundation is like applying a little bit of gauze to an open wound. Eventually, you need the wound looked at and remedied. 

Take a look at our article on how your foundation handles flooding/moisture.

Sometimes you can do the right things and your home still has a problem

The best thing to do is avoid areas where foundation settlement is prominent or buy a home with pre-construction caissons or helical piers. 

Even with the best soil compaction, your home is still susceptible to foundation issues if left unaddressed. If you’re having a pipe leak or lack proper drainage in your home during a rainy season, that moisture can still affect your foundation. 

There isn’t really a way to avoid foundation settlement. There are pockets all over the place in the United States.

Is foundation repair worth it? 

It’s ultimately up to you as the homeowner, whether you want to keep or sell the home. 

If you want to sell the home, foundation repair can bring it back to its original value. Our average foundation repair projects are around $26,000. So even if you had that million-dollar home with issues, you would still make more after foundation repair as opposed to selling the home as is

Again, homes with foundation issues can be negotiated down by 30%. So rather than losing out on $300,000 for your $1 million home, you’ll only lose out on $26,000.

Even if the home costs $100,000 to repair – which does happen – you still will have that $200,000 in your pocket.

Stipulation – This is the case most of the time. It depends on the value of the home without the foundation repair and if the project is worth it. However, it may be in your best interest to sell right away.

Again, it’s up to you. 

And if you plan to keep the home, walking away from the foundation problems probably isn’t in your best interest. Rather, take it on. Accommodating for foundation issues is in your best interest, especially if it means you have some peace of mind.

If you do nothing, other things around your home will likely get worse. 

Worst-case scenario, your home is dangerous and deemed to be unlivable, becoming red-tagged by your city. Cracks are so bad on the ceiling that you can see the sunshine, your floors slope so bad that you can ski on them, and your chimney leans like Michael Jackson being “bad.”

Fix it if you can. 

And if you’re a home buyer, it is fixable. You only have to take it on. 

Walking away from foundation issues is tempting, but usually not the best answer. Ask a professional to help you out. 

You’ve learned about buying homes with foundation issues, signs and symptoms, how some sellers try to cover up the issues, living in a home with foundation issues, what if you do nothing, and if foundation repair is worth it. If you still haven’t found your peace of mind, there is no shame in asking for help from a professional. After all, professionals are what they are for a reason. 

Dalinghaus Construction can help with your foundation inspection needs when we schedule you with one of our project design specialists. 

Note: A home inspection for a home on the market is $1000. Any foundation repair company you go with will charge an inspection fee for any home on the market (the amount will vary). However, a foundation evaluation is FREE for homes not on the market. 

Read our article Is Foundation Repair Worth It? (How You Benefit) if you’re still concerned about repairing your home.

For additional questions or to schedule an evaluation, call Dalinghaus Construction at (877)360-9277.

WRITTEN BY

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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