So you’ve been working with a realtor to find the right Upper Peninsula home at the right price, and you’ve finally found the perfect one!
Or at least, that’s the hope. But before you buy, you need a home inspector to assure that this building will stand for many years to come. One of the most important things he will do for you is conduct a thorough foundation inspection.
The foundation upholds and affects the structure of every other part of the house. Foundations are more complex than you might think and difficult to upgrade. if something goes awry, you could end up paying for it dearly!
Luckily, UP Home Inspection is here for your foundation inspection with expert home evaluation services. We believe that when you understand what is going on with your house, you’ll be able to make the right decisions before and after purchase.
This article will help you understand what we look for in a foundation inspection. We’ll explore types of home foundations in the UP, common home foundation flaws, and what to do about them!
Types of Home Foundations
Before we even start a foundation inspection we assess what type of foundation a home has. Commonly used foundations in the U.P. include:
In the construction world, the word monolithic means, “all in one pour.” The foundation is built with one single pour of concrete, creating a slab with thicker areas under load bearing walls and around the perimeter. This type of foundation is durable and stable. It is often used on top of clay and rock to bypass the need for costly excavation of these dense materials. However, a downfall is that it’s hard to upgrade or repair.
Catch your footing, because that’s what holds up the house when you build a crawl space. The concrete walls are short, creating a space that you need to get down on your hands and knees to get to. They provide a bit of storage, but are typically unheated and moisture control, water leaks and seepage are potential risks.
Many cabins and camp homes in the U.P. are built on crawl spaces. Crawl space foundation inspections can pose a challenge to the home inspector, especially when he’s a big guy! At U.P. Home Inspection, we use a robotic technology to safely inspect every inch of your crawl space.
A full basement consists of footings that run along the perimeter and extend well below the frost line. Ceilings need to be 7 feet high or taller to be considered full. A full basement offers a large amount of storage space, heating control, and can be turned into a habitable living space.
Common Foundation Materials
Foundations are built with a variety of different materials, each with their own pros and cons. A thorough foundation inspection will reveal any flaws in the foundation of the home you are considering.
Here are the most common materials we find in U.P. foundations:
- CMU (concrete masonry unit) – These are known popularly as cinder blocks. They are common in newer homes but some date back to the early 20th century.
- Stone – We see a lot of stone foundations in older U.P. homes. Stone material varies by region. In mining areas rubble foundations are common. Sandstone foundations are very typical in older Marquette homes.
- Poured concrete – These may be found in homes built from 1900 onward.
- Pier – A pier foundation consists of wooden posts under all or part of home (e.g. sunrooms). A lot of cabins up here have pier foundations instead of poured so they can insulate the floor joists and still have access.
- Wood Foundations – We have seen several in the UP. The term “wood foundation” is misleading because there is a concrete footer. However, the wall is made of wood. Many people are alarmed when they learn that a house has a wood foundation. However in our experience they can be very stable and are an acceptable foundation method for a U.P. home.
Foundation Faults We Look For
As you can imagine, houses come with a lot of risk in terms of their foundations. A great many things can happen that can affect the value of a home.
Two big flaws of poured concrete and block walls include vertical and horizontal cracking. Foundation cracking typically indicates settling.
Vertical cracking is when the entire wall is pushing in or settling into the earth. Horizontal cracking is an inward bowing issue, typically occurring at the frost line. You may not see it on the outside, but you certainly will see it in the basement.
A foundation inspection of a concrete block basement wall will sometimes reveal step cracking. This type of cracking looks like stairs or steps. It means the wall has settled and opened up the mortar joints. It can also indicate a wall that has been pushed in unevenly.
Any type of foundation is subject to aging and weathering over time. We see a lot of old sandstone foundations that are especially prone to degrading, especially in Marquette County. You can often see fallen flakes or fragments of stone or concrete lying next to a foundation wall. This is a condition called spalling.
Any type of foundation needs to be sealed and maintained to preserve its integrity. This is vital to extending the life expectancy of your home.
Moisture and Mortar Failure
Moisture intrusion is bad news anywhere in your home. Your foundation is no exception. So it’s one of the things we keep a keen eye out for during every foundation inspection!
If we see moisture on the foundation wall or slab it means moisture is making its way into home. Then, we try to determine what is causing the issue. This could be a variety of things, including:
- Seasonal rains/saturated soil
- Improper drainage
Moisture is a huge issue with foundations. Moisture can seep into your walls and freeze, causing deterioration. Even if it doesn’t deteriorate the foundation, if moisture gets in it can cause mold issues, property damage, etc.
What to Do if Your Foundation Inspection Reveals Flaws
Foundation issues should be taken seriously. But it doesn’t have to kill your deal. If you love the home, it’s worth finding out what it would take to correct the issue.
If it is a moisture issue you will want to mitigate it if you can. Damp proofing, sump pumps, drainage systems, etc. can help prevent water from coming in and/or remove any that does.
There is a lot to assessing foundations. It’s an art of its own. We highly recommend that you contact a reputable foundation company and follow their recommendation. Specialized foundation companies have trained engineers who can properly assess structural issues and provide expert advice on how to fix them.
This is not the time to hire the guy who tells you to take a picture of his t-shirt because he doesn’t have a business card. Find a professional, reputable company. You will not regret it.
Looking for a Home Inspector Who Knows Foundations?
Whether the home you are considering has a monolithic slab or a full-blown basement, you’re going to need a home inspector who knows exactly what to look for.
That’s where UP Home Inspection comes in! Our home evaluation services go beyond standard reporting. We also take the time to answer your questions and explain your best options for resolving any issues we find.
Every home inspection we do includes a thorough foundation inspection. Visit our convenient online scheduling page to book your inspection today!
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