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rmartin1286 01-19-2009 11:56 AM

Determining whether or not you have foundation problems?
I'm about to buy my first house, and we have a couple we are considering. The one we like the most is in pretty good condition other than the fact that it has one crack in the bricks. The crack goes from the corner of a windowsill down almost to the ground, but the bricks aren't separated, it's just a crack. Could this be signs of foundation problems? There are no cracks on the inside of the house, none in the doorways or walls or ceilings or anything. It was built in 1969. There is another small crack (maybe 6 inches long, and so thin it's barely noticable) in the bricks over the side door on the outside of the house. Other than that, the home appears to be in perfect condition. Anyone have any experience with this type of thing? What we are trying to determine now is whether or not it would be worth our while to go ahead and pay $500 for a home inspection. We are going to get an inspection done, it would be foolish not to, but if it has foundation problems and that can be determined beforehand, we don't want to waste the money.

Jack of most 01-22-2009 07:56 AM

I take it this is a slab on grade foundation?
A home inspector won't tell you that your foundation is bad. All they SHOULD do is recommend a professional engineer for a foundation inspection. Typically a crack 1/16" or less isn't even notated on a report. An 1/8" or more is and a recommendation is made. The engineer inspection should be paid by the seller, and you would still have time to back out of the deal. Short $500. Saving more than $20,000 in foundation repairs.
Be there during the inspection, ask questions and voice any concerns.
FYI any house built before 1974 could also have aluminum wiring. HAVE THIS CHECKED THOROUGHLY.

Aggie67 01-22-2009 10:57 AM

You're in the driver's seat, as a buyer. Typically if the inspector finds cracks, he'll note "have licensed structural engineer inspect foundation" in his report. Turn that info right around to the seller, and tell him the sale is contingent on the issue being resolved.

When I sold my last house, I had some pretty wicked step cracks. Buyer asked for the issue to be inspected and resolved. I brought in an engineer (PE can't do his own house in NJ), came up with repair list, pulled a permit, did it myself in 3 days. Cost me a couple bags of mortar, some rebar, and a gallon of paint (I had half a cube of block at the shop). I had to jack the house to make the fix, but I do this for a living and it was a snap. Anyone can do it, really, as long as you know someone who knows how to do it and can show you, and has the right tools.

rmartin1286 01-22-2009 03:55 PM

Ok, thanks guys, I'll keep that in mind. As far as the wiring goes, I'm not sure what kind it is, but we definitely wouldn't buy the house if the electrical work was old or out of date. Mostly because I doubt the seller would be interested in completely redoing the wiring just to sell it. It's a fairly cheap house for where we are located (Florence, SC) and it appears to be in great shape, but I'd definetly get a home inspection.

Speaking of doing the foundation work yourself (if there was a problem), how would you go about doing that? I'm not sure I know anyone who would have the first clue about how to repair something like that. Is it a very involved process? Or could I do it myself?

buletbob 01-22-2009 04:10 PM

what type of foundation is it . is it a poured foundation with a brick ledge? does the brick go all the way down to the grade? is there a basement?
Most foundation repairs should be performed by an experienced contractor, DYI's Don'T have the tools to perform this type of work. In the mean time try to answer the above questions so we could be of more help. BOB

rmartin1286 01-22-2009 04:16 PM

I'm not exactly sure, but here are pictures of the house:

No basement or anything. Crack is on the side of the house where the awnings are, on the back window.

buletbob 01-22-2009 05:16 PM

I,m thinking its a brick veneer resting on a poured foundation brick ledge. I could be wrong. if it is i would dig down along side of the foundation where the crack goes into the soil. if the brick is resting on the ledge see if the crack continues down into the concrete foundation. if so then you have a foundation crack that could be addressed with a couple of heila coils. which will bring the foundation up and the crack will disappear. I have a few pictures of a job that we did but can not up load them. I'm not that familiar with foundation construction down in the SC. area.
There is a crawl space, I can see the foundation vents along the walls. is there any access to the crawl. BOB

rmartin1286 01-22-2009 07:46 PM

Ok, thanks, I'll check that out. If anyone has any more suggestions, please post them! I'm eager to learn more about this type of problem.

Aggie67 01-23-2009 08:09 AM

My repair consisted of installing vertical rebar in the open cells of block from the footing up to the course above the crack line, and then filling in the voids with mortar. We also had to replace a couple damaged blocks. We passed all 3 inspections (jacking, rebar, final).

I have pictures from each phase of the job, but posting them would only encourage folks to DIY without involving a PE.

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