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Foundation Problems – Tips for Sellers and Buyers

When selling or buying a house, foundation problems can be a serious issue to be resolved. For the seller, known issues with the foundation must be disclosed, and often become a strong bargaining chip for the buyer. For this reason, a seller should consider his options for dealing with a foundation repair issue. One suggestion is to not repair the issue and be upfront with potential buyers, letting them know your price already reflects the need for repairs and letting them choose the people they trust to do the job. The reasoning behind this is that if you do the repairs prior to listing, you may scare away potential buyers without having a chance to explain the problems and how they were fixed.

On the flip side, making the repairs yourself and having the work done by a well-rated professional can also be a good selling tactic. The warranty and reputation of the contractor can be a strong selling point. After doing a foundation repair, a hydrostatic test is an important next step and shouldn’t be skipped. Leveling a foundation often causes plumbing issues due to the strain put on the piping during the leveling, and a hydrostatic test will reveal if the pipes have held tight or if there are plumbing problems that need to be addressed.

As a potential home buyer, be alert to things like doors and windows that don’t open and close well, or cracks on walls and ceilings when you are touring a property. These can be indicators of a shift in the foundation and may need to be checked out. If you have found a house you simply love but there are foundation issues, either disclosed to you, or that you, your real estate agent, or the inspector have discovered, it may still be worth your consideration. A foundation issue can lower the price of a home by 20%-25%, and the actual repairs typically will cost much less than that.

What about the case of a house that had foundation repairs but has been repaired? it is very important that you ask for information about the contractor who did the repairs and do your homework to check their reviews. Also, make sure the foundation repair warranty is transferable and be sure you understand what it covers. Make sure that a hydrostatic test was done and ask for a copy of the test results. If this step wasn’t done, you could take possession of the home and shortly thereafter find yourself with costly plumbing repairs within or under the foundation. These sorts of issues will not be revealed in the home inspection, it is beyond the scope of their testing. If you request hydrostatic testing, it falls outside of the residential contract and must be authorized by the seller in writing separately.

Bottom line, foundation issues are serious for both the seller and buyer, but not always insurmountable.