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.

long as the company is in business. So, if the contractor is bankrupt or a problems crops up in a new location, you are out of luck. Also, an engineer cannot predict with certainty that the house will not have new problems in the future if the underlying condition that caused the original problem progresses further, and there may be additional restrictions on the warranty that do not allow a claim for interior damage (cracked drywall, doors that don’t close, or fractured floor tile) resulting from further movement.

    While these things are not a reason to walk away from a house that has had foundation repair, it is important to go into it with your eyes open. By that we mean taking a careful look at the house with a knowledgeable, experienced home inspector or other building construction professional at your side. Homebuyers often focus on the details of the engineer’s report and contractor’s warranty, which should be reviewed carefully, but are not as important as seeing how well the structure has fared since the repairs.

    We inspected a house recently that had been underpinned along nearly all the exterior walls about four years ago, but showed the subtle signs of further movement when examined. The tiny cracks shown in the photo above were along faults that had been previously repaired. While they cracks may seem insignificant, once you understand that the structural damage behind them had been painted with elastomeric paint, which is manufactured specifically to conceal small hairline cracks, and it had already exceeded its elastic limit since a recent paint job, you get it: the settlement was still continuing, and not in a small way. A highly textured finish had been applied to the walls to cover the areas where the bottom of the wall had rotated outward before being stabilized, but probing with a small tool revealed the extent of the problem.

    The fireplace showed more settlement than other areas, and we were advised that the seller opted to not have that area pinned. To avoid having a similar problem, it would be a good idea to have a conversation with the foundation repair contractor to learn if further work was recommended but declined, and if there have been any recent callbacks.

    The home was unusual because of the extent of new movement, but these things happen sometimes. So our recommendation is not to write off a home just because it has had foundation repair, but examine it very carefully with a professional during your contractual inspection period.

    To read more about how to recognize structural defects in a home, see our blog post ”How do I recognize serious structural problems in a house?”

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  To learn more valuable strategies for getting the best possible home inspection, here’s a few of our other blog posts:

  1. How can I make sure I don’t get screwed on my home inspection?

  2. Should I trust the Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement?

  3. Can I do my own home inspection?

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

  5. What makes a house fail the home inspection?

  6. The seller gave me an old home inspection report from a previous home inspection. Should I use it or get my own inspector?

  7. Why are expired building permits a problem for both the buyer and seller of a home?   

    To read about issues related to homes of particular type or one built in a specific decade, visit one of these blog posts:

  1. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1950s house?

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

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

  4. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1980s house?

  5. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1990s house?

  6. What problems should I look for when buying a country house or rural property?

  7. What problems should I look when when buying a house that has been moved?

  8. What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been vacant or abandoned?

  9. What are the most common problems with older mobile homes?

  10. What should I look for when buying a “flipper” house?

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

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.
© McGarry and Madsen Inspection

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