You come across the home of your dreams. Perhaps it reminds you of a childhood home or one from a bygone age. The fact that it’s older only adds to its charm and it wouldn’t be the same without all those years in its walls. But what about the foundations? These can be particularly problematic, especially in older homes – here’s what to look out for.


If you’re buying an older home you need to check the concrete foundations first for any signs of age related damage. In general there will be some cracks in older concrete. Hairline cracks are to be expected but anything over ¼ of an inch could point to structural damage. Even if repaired these could pose a problem in the future.


When you buy an older home the first thing you should check is the doors and windows. There will be tell tale signs for foundation issues there. The first thing to look for is stress around the frames, especially at the top and sides. If doors and windows don’t open properly this is a good indication there are some foundation issues waiting for you.


The structural integrity of the house you want to buy is very important and signs of wear can indicate that the foundations are beginning to subside. Over time the building weakens and moves, this causes tension in the beams and supports of the building. Check these over before investing as foundation problems can be a significant expense.


One very common cause of foundation problems, especially in older homes, is tree roots. Trees can live from 50 to 100 years, so a sapling tree near the home when it was built will be well established for newer occupants. Tree roots look to establish themselves in small cracks which occur around the foundations. These then split the concrete leading to costly repairs.


Another common cause of foundation issues in older homes is ground swelling. This is when the soil the foundations are laid on becomes porous  and threatens to saturate the foundations and cause them to sink. It’s best to enlist the help of a structural engineer to identify and treat any signs of ground swelling.


If you’re buying an older home and you don’t have much expertise on foundation signs and causes, the advice on this list should help. You can easily look at doors and windows and examine the concrete round the side. However, it’s recommended you enlist the services of a structural engineer, such as for a more detailed picture of what you need and how to address it.


 It won’t surprise you to learn that repairing and replacing foundations isn’t cheap. If you want simple cracks repaired you might be looking at around $3500, but a replacement can cost up to $50000. If you still need to buy the house it’s best to negotiate this money off the price of the home as it’s unlikely you will manage the work yourself.




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