Foundation Issues ~ When to get a structural engineer in?

7 Replies

I am in the Madison, WI area and a new to real estate! Recently there was a foreclosure put on the market. From my unprofessional eye, the foundation looks respectable after walking the property. My question is, when in the timeline would you bring an engineer to get it professionally inspected? Obviously a major foundation issue would be a deal breaker and the numbers wouldn't work. Do you put in offers before knowing the condition of the foundation or is this where contingencies come into play after an offer is accepted from the bank? Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks!

@Sam Koenig I don't know for sure about your state, but in NJ that is the way it is and I think it is the same everywhere nationwide.


When buying at foreclosures, you buy as it is. Any inspection or due diligence needs to be done prior to the bidding.
if you end up being the highest bidder, you won't have any option to back out. You'll be contractually obligated to take ownership.

Having said, since you also mentioned about the bank, maybe you are referring here to REOs?
In which case, you have more options. Some banks will allow to do your inspections, others won't. It depends.

If you have access to the property get it inspected before you make the offer.  Most banks will not let you put a contingency on the offer as the other poster stated, they sell it as is.

I call the foundation leveler who advertises free estimates on the radio. I ask if they have ever been to the property (you’d be surprised how many times they have) and ask for the report or a new estimate. You can use their report for a price concession if the come out and recommend leveling. Structural engineer report is $500 and not sure how their e&o insurance works.

@Sam Koenig it may vary from bank to bank and state to state, but I've always had an inspection contingency in my offers on every property, bank owned or not. I would not pay for an inspection prior to submitting an initial offer as you may be out the funds and not even get an offer accepted. Is there a particular reason you're concerned about the foundation? If not I would put in your offer with an inspection contingency included and if it's accepted get it inspected and go from there. If you find a major issue you didn't previously know about during the inspection then you can change your offer or walk away

Originally posted by @Odie Ayaga :

@Sam Koenig it may vary from bank to bank and state to state, but I've always had an inspection contingency in my offers on every property, bank owned or not. I would not pay for an inspection prior to submitting an initial offer as you may be out the funds and not even get an offer accepted. Is there a particular reason you're concerned about the foundation? If not I would put in your offer with an inspection contingency included and if it's accepted get it inspected and go from there. If you find a major issue you didn't previously know about during the inspection then you can change your offer or walk away

 As a lender, I'd work with Odie! He (?) has the situation nailed.

If you have no idea about construction, you should get a full building inspection.  If you have experience, I would get a structural engineer inspection when you seen major cracks in the foundation or main level drywall.  There are also cases of improper framing practices like removing walls and 'opening up rooms' without proper support.