More Blog Posts on Similar Subjects:

  1. There’s cracks running along the home’s concrete tie beam. What’s wrong?

  2. How much is the ground required to slope away from a house?

  3. What causes stair-step cracks in a block or brick wall?

  4. Why is the concrete window sill cracking?

  5. What causes a horizontal crack in a block or brick wall?

  6. How can I tell if a diagonal crack in drywall at the corner of a window or door indicates a structural problem?

  7. Should I buy a fixer-upper?

  8. What are the warning signs of a dangerous deck?

  9. Who can clean up mold found during a home inspection in Florida?

  10. How much of a roof truss can I cut out to make a storage platform in the attic?

  11. How do I recognize serious structural problems in a house?

  12. Is this old home a Sears Catalog kit house?

  13. What is a collar tie?

  14. How do I remove cigarette odor in a house?

  15. Will a house without air conditioning pass a 4 point inspection?

  16. How much can I cut out of a floor joist?

  17. Should I hire an engineer to inspect the house?

  18. Does it make sense to buy an older mobile home and remodel it?

  19. I’d swear that crack wasn’t there yesterday. What happened?

  20. What causes wood rot on a home?

  21. What should I look for when buying a former rental house?

  22. Why do the floors slope in this old house?

  23. Can I take that wall out? Is it load-bearing?

  24. Can I do my own home inspection?

  25. What causes cracks in a driveway?

  26. What are the questions a home inspector won’t answer?

  27. What are the warning signs of a dangerous attic pull-down ladder?

  28. How can I tell when it’s time to paint the house?

  29. What are the common problems of different types of house foundations?

  30. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1970’s house?

  31. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1960s home?

  32. What is a “continuous load path”?

  33. How can homebuyers protect themselves against buying a house over a sinkhole?

  34. What would cause long horizontal lines of brick mortar to fall out?

  35. What are the rules for cutting, notching, or boring holes in an engineered wood truss?

  36. Should I buy a house with a crawl space?

  37. What are the pros and cons of concrete block versus wood frame construction?

  38. Why is a horizontal board running along the bottom of the plywood siding of the house?

  39. Why would a house with Hardieplank siding have exterior wood rot problems?

  40. Should I buy a house that has been remodeled/renovated without building permits or has open permits?

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How to Look

at a House


A blog with answers
to your questions about
HOME INSPECTION
and HOME MAINTENANCE

Welcome to our blog!
We want you to be an informed homebuyer, and each blog post is a question that we have answered for our friends and customers over the years. Hope they help you make a good choice for your next home.

2) What is the cost of the repair?

The seller or seller’s realtor will sometimes provide an estimate from a local foundation repair company to the buyer as part of the disclosures. Read the estimate carefully. Does it include only stabilizing the home? Are cosmetic repairs to the exterior included? How about repairs to the interior cracks, and door and window repairs?
   What is the guarantee? Typically, a foundation repair company only guarantees the area in which they make repairs. So if settlement at the back left corner of the home has been repaired, a new set of cracks in the front left corner of the home in the future represents additional work that you have to pay for.

    We occasionally inspect a home with clear evidence of structural distress, where the sellers present us with documentation that the problem was repaired by a licensed foundation contractor, based on specifications prepared by a structural engineer—only to have to advise them that the problems we saw are in the opposite corner of the home from the repaired area shown in their documentation drawings.

3) Is it a “rented suit”?

There’s a joke that Warren Buffet, the billionaire investor, likes to tell about evaluating long-term risk: “A fellow traveling abroad got a call from his sister to tell him that his dad has died. The brother replied that it was impossible for him to get home for the funeral; he volunteered, however, to shoulder its cost. Upon returning, the brother received a bill from the mortuary for $4,500, which he promptly paid. A month later, and a month after that also, he paid $10 pursuant to an add-on invoice. When a third $10 invoice came, he called his sister for an explanation. ‘Oh,’ she replied, ‘I forgot to tell you. We buried dad in a rented suit.’”

   Some houses with structural problems are like Warren’s rented suit. If the cost of repair only fixes the damage done by the geological defect under the home, but not the underlying cause, then the settlement or heaving will continue and may keep you paying new repair bills every few years.

   Talk to the structural engineer that prepared the repair plan about the likelihood of further settlement or heaving in years to come. There are no guarantees, only a judgement of possibilities. So it’s a good idea to add in some additional future cost when you calculate whether the price of the house plus the cost of immediate repairs equals a good deal.

   If you are concerned about the possibility of sinkhole activity on your property, find out more at these blog posts:

  1. What are the warning signs of a sinkhole?

  2. What causes sinkholes?

  3. How can homebuyers protect themselves against buying a home over a sinkhole?


While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
©2015 - McGarry and Madsen Inspection.

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