Few things can lower the value of a house like foundation problems. Whether you're a homeowner or a homebuyer, learn how to spot current or potential problems by looking out for the following signs.
Inside the house:
- Floors slope or have depressions, humps, or soft, spongy spots; tiles are raised or cracked; hardwood is warped.
- Wallpaper is torn, wrinkled, or curling.
- Cabinetry won't stay shut and/or has separated from walls or ceilings.
- Doors or windows don't open and close properly, and/or have gaps between them and the framing; frames are askew.
- Cracks in sheetrock, walls (particularly at joints), ceilings, the basement, moldings; in and around fireplaces; and at the corners of window and door frames.
- A lot of nails popping out of sheetrock or corner frames.
- Bowed basement walls.
Outside the house:
- There are cracks in the brick veneer or mortar, most commonly found in a zigzag or "step" pattern that follows mortar.
- The brick veneer is pulling away from window or door frames, leaving a gap.
- Fascia boards are separating; this is especially common at the corners of the house.
- The roofline is uneven.
- The chimney is cracked and/or tilted.
- Visible cracks in the foundation. Hairline cracks are normal and unlikely to be problematic; larger cracks, which can let water in, are cause for concern.
- Gaps between garage doors and the ground.
If you see any such signs around your current house, don't hesitate to contact a professional – left unaddressed, small problems can become big ones. If you're considering buying a home that exhibits any of these signs, be sure to have it inspected so you have a clear understanding of its condition.