Foundation & Structure
A foundation holds a house above ground, prevents it from moving along with the earth it sits in, and protects against cold and moisture. A foundation's structure varies depending on when a home was built, the climate in which the home was built, and whether or not the home was built with a basement, atop a crawlspace or on a concrete slab. The inspection will determine what type of foundation the home has (raised or slab) and what material has been used to construct it (brick, concrete, stone, etc.), and observe the current condition of visible, exposed areas of foundation walls, grade slab, bearing walls, posts, piers, beams, joists, trusses, subfloors, chimney foundations, stairs, and other similar structural components.
Older homes may be built with stone, mortar or brick foundations; however, most homes built in the latter half of the twentieth century are constructed on foundations made from a combination of concrete and steel reinforcements, which are built in several different ways. Poured concrete foundations are typically reinforced with steel and considered favorable. Concrete slab foundations consist of a flat piece of poured concrete; slab foundations are difficult to inspect because much of the foundation is hidden. Cement block foundations often are found in homes with basements.
During a home inspection, the structure's performance will evaluated by first looking at the area around it. The surrounding perimeter of the structure/yard will be evaluated for adequate land grading and water drainage adjacent to the foundation. Should this be lacking, it may create an environment for water to pool along the foundation. The foundation should also have an appropriate clearance from any trees and/or vegetation so as not to adversely affect the structure.
The basement/crawlspace will be checked for adequate ventilation of the area to provide the needed air flow to help dissipate moisture from under the structure.
The basement/crawlspace area will be reviewed to determine if insulation is present and the approximate insulation thickness in the area. Insulating the underside of the first floor flooring via the crawlspace or basement will provide increased energy efficiency, especially in colder months.
Any visible piping and ductwork within the basement/crawlspace area will be checked, as any loose, leaking or poorly insulated piping and ducts will reduce the energy efficiency and performance of the systems.
The foundation will be inspected for any indications of flooding, moisture or water penetration. The inspection will check for the presence of vapor barriers within the area that minimize moisture intrusion from the ground and allow for the evaporation of moisture through the structure. Most basements and crawlspaces are susceptible to moisture issues and water penetration. The type and degree of moisture-related issues varies, but even if the water doesn't damage your home's structure it may create an environment favored by wood-destroying organisms and insects that will.
Foundation inspections involve both a review of the home's interior, usually focusing on the basement or crawl space, as well as its exterior, where foundation cracks and shifts are often apparent. The appearance and nature of cracks in a foundation can foreshadow water leaks, structural issues and vulnerability in the event of an earthquake or other natural disaster. Often cracks and unevenness are due to "settling" – the slight sinking or tilting that happens over time to almost all structures.
Some foundation settling or damage may be inevitable, particularly in an older home, but our inspection can help you determine the degree of danger or needed repairs to the home. Depending on the type of foundation your home has, sealants and reinforcements may be able to combat any early signs of trouble for many years to come
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