It can be very frustrating to attempt to sell a house that has foundation problems. On the one hand the potential buyers are afraid that the house may collapse or that sometime bad will happen because of the foundation problem, which usually means foundation movement. On the other hand, even when you do find a buyer, the bank or lender might not fund the loan because the appraiser indicated in his report foundation problems. Then, you start calling foundation repair companies and learn than you’ll be spending tens of thousands of dollars if you want your foundation repaired. What a mess! However, it’s really not as hard as you think (or as you have experienced). Calling a structural engineer from the beginning can make the process much more manageable and more than likely you won’t have to spend tens of thousands of dollars for a foundation repair. Below is how a Structural Engineer can help you with a House with Foundation Problems.
1) Structural Engineer inspection of foundation “Problems”
The Structural Engineer is the only professional who can check a foundation for “Problems”. Many times, the so called foundation problems are not really a problem. One must understand that there’s more to the house than just foundation movement, there’s also wall and roof framing, which can be affected by temperature, moisture, wind, etc. A Structural Engineer can generally differentiate between an actual foundation movement crack and another type of Crack.
Moreover, even when the foundation moves, the movement is not a problem if the foundation or the framing structure have not failed. If there is no failure, why does anyone call it a problem? It’s a problem because no one knows if it is a problem or not, and they want you to get a structural engineer to verify if it is. Many times, the foundation is fine, and all you see is superficial cracks.
2) Structural Engineer’s Report allows Lending
A letter from the Structural Engineer stating that the house is structurally sound not only calms the doubts of the future buyers but also allows them to get proper financing to buy the house. Most of the times, a level A Structural Inspection is all you need. A letter from a Structural Engineer is the only thing a Bank or lender will accept, so don’t get misled into having a foundation repair company or someone else do a report unless it is a licensed Professional Engineer.
3) Suggests Easy solution to the problem
A structural report also gives further relief to the future buyer (as well potential remedies for the seller, if any) by suggesting easy and inexpensive solutions to the problem that do not require investing thousands of dollars. Many, many, many foundations do not require the investment of doing foundation repair work. In fact, most foundation repairs do not work. So, if you’re selling the house and decide after all to spend thousands of dollars on a foundation repair instead of a few hundred dollars on a Structural Engineer’s Report, then make sure you sell that house fast after the repair because nobody knows how long it will last; hopefully, those homeowners who have read this and decide to go with the "cheap" foundation repair will have the conscience to inform the buyers that the work probably won't last. Also, if you do foundation repair, many buyers are resistant to looking at your house because they are not confident about the repair and do not want to deal with the potential of future problems because they had no idea how bad the foundation was before the repair.