With an increased number of houses being sold “as is,” naive buyers who are not represented by a qualified Buyer’s Agent often times find themselves making mistakes that can cost thousands of dollars in foundation repairs.
First, let me dispel a commonly held belief. Myth: “Settling only occurs within the first couple of years a house was built.” False. Settling can show up 40 years later. This condition could be a cumulative effect from a drought cycle for example.
Soil Shrinking and swelling shows up a lot in Middle Tennessee! That beautiful tree next to the house may be the cause of sidewalk upheaval, foundation block separation and stair step cracking of the brick at the corner of a house. Middle Tennessee Buyers and Property Owners often times discover lateral and verbal cracking during the dry months of September and October.
Here’s some tips to help Middle Tennessee Home Buyer’s – Look for:
- Rock Outcroppings. Typically soils and rocks under or beneath house footings move (or don’t move at all) at different rates, causing cracking and separation issues.
- Sink Holes. Sink holes can be an issue in Middle Tennessee and yet how many Buyers and their Realtor even discuss this as a risk factor when buying a house or land only?
- Tile Cracking on the Interior of a Screened in Porch. This condition may be caused by a slab setting on gravel which was not sufficiently compacted. Unfortunately, it would have only cost $200 for a contractor to properly compact the gravel to begin with. Fixing the problem now may cost $16,000!
- Contractor Issues. Keystone and Quoin Brick treatment can be very aesthetically appealing but many don’t know it could cause cracking and distress if not done properly. TIP: Specify a control joint(s) in the construction plans for example. Palladium Windows are beautiful but if the builder only used a vinyl frame to hold up the arch there will be cracking problems over time. Similarly, framing errors, not natural settling, could cause cracking where a vaulted ceiling meets a flat ceiling.
- Buying Raw Land. Rarely do Buyers or their Builders have soil tested prior to or as a contingency in a Land Purchase Agreement. This could be a big mistake because of the wide variations in types of soils in Middle Tennessee. Limestone rock is prevalent but is also very soluble. Some areas have alluvial & colluvial soils, other have soil that is very dry and stiff but when wet, turns into a pudding like consistency. Other soils perform like a viscous fluid, syrup if you will, which is obviously not good.
If a Builder suspects a soils issue, digging deeper and not wider for pouring a footing generally is best. If soil is soft, pouring wider will still not bode well for a house built on “jello”! Many builders are clueless with regards to soils and their affect on future foundation issues. For a quality builder, I highly recommend Scott Corbin 615-405-7237 (email: email@example.com). Scott can build you that new dream home or large renovation in Murfreesboro Tennessee.
- Hire a qualified structural engineer in the pre-offer to purchase stage. A visual inspection, engineering report with photos and a budget with estimates to fix foundation issues may well be worth the estimated $350 to avoid thousands and thousands of costs later on.
- Check Homeowner Insurance Policies. Does the company cover damage resulting from sink holes, for example?
Understand that there is no “perfect home” out there. However, exercising proper due diligence prior to purchase can help you save money and your “mind” as well. Let me use my real estate expertise to help you and your friends and family members when buying or selling real estate anywhere in Middle Tennessee.