A home inspector can often identify potential signs of foundation issues during a general home inspection, but it's important to note that they are not structural engineers. Their evaluation is typically based on visible clues and general observations. Here are ways in which a home inspector may assess the possibility of foundation issues:
1. Visual Inspection:
- The home inspector will visually inspect both the interior and exterior of the property for signs of foundation issues. This includes looking for cracks in the walls, floors, and ceilings.
2. Exterior Observations:
- Outside the home, the inspector will check for any noticeable changes in the foundation, such as visible cracks, bulges, or uneven settling. They may also examine the condition of the exterior walls, including brick or siding.
3. Doors and Windows:
- Foundation issues can sometimes manifest as difficulty in opening or closing doors and windows. The inspector may check for any signs of misalignment, sticking, or gaps around doors and windows.
4. Crawl Space or Basement Inspection:
- If the home has a crawl space or basement, the inspector may enter these areas to assess the condition of the foundation walls and support structures. They will look for cracks, water intrusion, or other signs of movement.
5. Sloping Floors:
- A sloping or uneven floor can be an indication of foundation settling or issues. The inspector may use a level to check for any noticeable slopes in different areas of the home.
6. Cracks in Drywall or Plaster:
- Cracks in the walls, especially those that appear near corners of doors and windows, can be suggestive of foundation movement. The inspector will carefully examine these areas for any visible signs.
7. Exterior Grading:
- The slope of the land around the home, known as the grading, can affect the foundation. Improper grading that allows water to pool around the foundation may contribute to foundation issues. The inspector will assess the exterior grading.
It's important to keep in mind that a home inspector's evaluation is not a substitute for a specialized structural engineer's assessment. If the home inspector identifies potential foundation issues or recommends further evaluation, it may be advisable to consult with a licensed structural engineer for a more in-depth analysis.
If you're concerned about the foundation of a property, especially in regions prone to soil movement or settling, you may consider including a specialized foundation inspection by a structural engineer as part of the overall due diligence process before purchasing a home.
We also have a local foundation specialist we work with regularly that we can put you in contact with.