Home Foundation Facts, Issues & Warning Signs

Foundation Definition: The load bearing element of a structure responsible for connecting it to the ground and transferring loads from rooftop to soils.

A home’s foundation is much more than the ground we are raised on. It’s the difference between living in a house of cards and a house standing stronger than oak. A house’s structural integrity is only as strong as its foundation. For without a solid foundation, a home is susceptible to cracking, settlement, separation and moisture intrusion.

“This is a scary thought, especially when you consider the consequences,” Rocket Homes’ Lauren Bowling notes.

These structural fallacies, as anyone who’s read “The Three Little Pigs” can attest to, can act as cancers to a home’s structural safety, livability and overall value.

“A house built on an unstable foundation can have a number of serious problems, including cracks in drywall, sticking and poorly operating doors and windows, sloping floors, water intrusion, and moisture damage such as wood rot and mold,” This Old House notes.

A Few Facts About Foundations

But how well do we know the structural bones of our homes? Here are some surprising home foundation facts:

  • The average house weighs 50 tons
  • The average home foundation weighs 7.5 tons
  • The average foundation is comprised of 81% poured, 16% block and 3% other
  • Full basement foundations are most common in the Northeast and Midwest United States

Most homeowners know no home can survive without a strong foundation.

“Foundation problems can be some of the most difficult and costly problems to repair,” This Old House cautions.

Small Foundational Issues Can Transform Into Nightmares

Most foundational issues often begin with the same, seemingly harmless story: cracks on outside foundation. But if you’re soon, as the old childhood adage goes, breaking your mother’s back every time you are stepping on a foundation crack, you have a major, can’t ignore sign your home’s foundation is in major trouble.

For if you have an unsecured foundation cracking or even sinking, you could soon be sinking in budget-breaking quicksand repairs, even if you’ve just bought your home.

“We’ve seen foundations sink 8 inches,” Matt Stock, president of the Chicago-based U.S. Waterproofing, told the National Association of Realtors (NAR). “That was a $150,000 repair for the homeowner.”

The Essential Spring Home Foundation Check

As we’re finally able to enjoy the outdoors again as spring finally dawns on Eastern Iowa, make sure spring is dawning on a healthy future for your home’s foundation by performing the NAR’s essential Spring Home Foundation Check:

  1. Does your foundation smell like mold or mildew? A foundation leak could be the cause.
  2. Look for cracks in outside foundation and cracks in brickwork. Do you notice a leaning or tilting chimney?
  3. Investigate the driveway, garage door and concrete patios for cracks.
  4. Inspect the basement for signs of water damage (peeling paint and chalky deposits).
  5. Do doors or windows stick when opening and shutting? Alas, this is a surefire sign of foundation damage.

Unfortunate Consequences of Foundation Issues

Here are the unfortunate consequences foundation issues can deliver to a home:

  • Depreciating home value
  • Uneven or sloping floors
  • Cracked walls
  • Poor exterior curb appeal
  • Doors and windows that won’t shut
  • Crooked cabinets
  • More expensive repairs in the future
  • The inability to pass inspection during a potential future sale

No matter how new or how strong your home may look as it enters spring, make sure you know the exact health status of its foundation. For a faulty foundation is the last surprise fact you want to find out about your home.

“The last thing we want people to go through is a surprise $30,000 foundation repair charge (with) their dream home,” Stock said.

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