Broken Foundation House Brick Wall

Foundation Inspections: Defined And Explained

May 15, 2024 5-minute read

Author: Miranda Crace

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A home’s foundation is incredibly important, as its job is to support the entire structure. That means a problem with your foundation could slowly cause damages and result in costly repairs.

A foundation inspection checks the stability and condition of your home to catch problems early on or help you avoid a property that will be expensive to renovate. That’s why it’s a good idea to consider this extra step in the home buying process.

What Is A Foundation Inspection?

A foundation inspection is when a structural or foundation engineer inspects your home’s foundation. They’ll do a walkthrough and check key areas for signs of foundation issues. The goal is for the inspector to identify any foundation damage that could affect the safety of the home. Inspectors will also be aware of any relevant building codes and if the home’s foundation is properly up to code.

An inspection is the perfect time to ask questions if you have concerns about the foundation of a home. The inspecting engineer should be able to answer any questions and give insights into potential problems.

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How Much Does A Foundation Inspection Cost?

Homeowners can expect to pay between $350 – $775 for a professional foundation inspection performed by a structural engineer. As with any home-related expense, the cost of a foundation inspection can vary depending on several factors, from the age of the home to its size.

The cost includes the report the homeowner receives when the inspection process and assessment are complete. The inspection report will explain the problems in detail and any steps needed to conduct the foundation repairs.

When Should I Get A Foundation Inspection?

There are a couple of different times when you might want to get your home’s foundation inspected. Whether you live in a townhouse, a single-family home or a manufactured home, it will need a solid and safe foundation.

When Selling A Home

One time to consider a foundation inspection is when selling a home – especially if it’s an older home. Not only does this ensure you’re selling a safe house, but it will draw in buyers if you can say the home’s foundation has been recently inspected and has no current issues.

When Buying A House

It can also be beneficial to get a foundation inspection when you buy a house – especially if you’re not familiar with the home’s history. If your home inspector finds indications of foundation problems, consider calling a structural engineer to assess the home’s foundation.

Foundation issues are easy to miss if you aren’t actively searching for them or looking in the right places. A foundation inspection could give you peace of mind, as you’ll know the home is safe and sound.

When You Notice Issues

Another time it’s crucial to get a foundation inspection is if you start to notice issues with the structural integrity of your home. Keep an eye out for these signs which could indicate potential issues:

  • Bowing walls
  • Horizontal or vertical cracks in your foundation
  • Uneven floors, doors and walls
  • A musty smell, mold or mildew
  • Water damage
  • Wood rot in beam foundation

If you find any of these signs, you should immediately contact a structural engineer to visit your home and perform an inspection to understand potential problems.

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Foundation Inspections For Manufactured Homes

Manufactured homes are built in factories in accordance with building codes set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These homes are transported to the property site and may be installed on either a temporary or permanent foundation.

A foundation inspection is important for manufactured homes, as the buyer’s lender or bank will request a report confirming that the home meets HUD standards before it is brought to the final property location. Once the home is installed on the desired property, the lender will require another foundation inspection to prove that the manufactured home’s foundation meets the necessary requirements.

Lenders will require that this is a permanent foundation. This ensures that the homeowners living here will be in a home on a solid foundation that has been thoroughly inspected and approved.

How Long Does A Foundation Inspection Take?

The time to complete a foundation inspection on a home varies depending on what the inspector finds. Homeowners can expect the inspection to at least take a couple of hours.

If your inspector finds foundation issues they may need to take additional time to explain the extent of the issue. You may need to inform your inspector about the history of the home and any previous foundation problems or any related issues.

What Do Foundation Inspectors Look For?

Foundation inspectors are going to be walking around your house and property looking for a variety of things that could indicate foundation damage or problems. Inspectors will examine the interior and exterior of the home for any cracks, water damage or other issues with the foundation or surrounding area.

They will also take some time to examine all of the walls, floors and doorways for anything that seems unstable or troubling. Basements and any crawl spaces will also be inspected as they are two places that will often show signs of foundation damage since they are located under the house.

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Home Foundation Inspection FAQs

Let’s discuss some of the most frequently asked questions regarding foundation inspections.

Who will conduct a home foundation inspection?

A home foundation inspection is performed by a structural or foundation engineer. These engineers are professionals in this field with expertise in inspecting foundations and structural issues in homes. Keep in mind that these specialists are not the ones making foundation repairs. Their job is to diagnose and inform you of any issues.

Is a home inspection the same as a foundation inspection?

A home inspection is different from a foundation inspection. A home inspection will look at your home in its entirety and is a recommended step in the home buying process. Your home inspector might suggest a foundation inspection if they see signs of damage. A foundation inspection focuses only on the structure of the home as it relates to the foundation.

Where can I find a foundation inspector?

You can find a foundation inspector by doing independent research online or asking a real estate agent for a recommendation. Make sure to read reviews and verify their licenses and certifications. Consider comparing quotes from multiple companies to find the best price for your budget.

Do I need a foundation inspection if I live in a manufactured home?

Yes, manufactured homes need foundation inspections and are especially important for this type of home. When a new manufactured home is built, a licensed structural engineer inspects the new building twice. First when the home is built and a second time when it’s installed in the desired location.

If you’re purchasing a used manufactured home, ask for a copy of the previous reports. If the report isn’t available or some time has passed, consider getting a new foundation inspection.

The Bottom Line: Foundation Inspections Can Save Your Home From Serious Damage

Conducting a foundation inspection can provide answers and a sense of security for home buyers, sellers and homeowners. Catching foundation problems early helps prevent them from getting worse. That can mean avoiding expensive repairs. Make sure to keep foundation inspections top of mind before you buy a home.

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Miranda Crace

Miranda Crace is a Senior Section Editor for the Rocket Companies, bringing a wealth of knowledge about mortgages, personal finance, real estate, and personal loans for over 10 years. Miranda is dedicated to advancing financial literacy and empowering individuals to achieve their financial and homeownership goals. She graduated from Wayne State University where she studied PR Writing, Film Production, and Film Editing. Her creative talents shine through her contributions to the popular video series "Home Lore" and "The Red Desk," which were nominated for the prestigious Shorty Awards. In her spare time, Miranda enjoys traveling, actively engages in the entrepreneurial community, and savors a perfectly brewed cup of coffee.