Should I buy a property with major foundation issues?

5 Replies

Often times, there are properties I see in our market that have been listed for 60 + days at a relatively low price and am finding out it is because many of them have foundation issues. Would you guys consider this an opportunity or something that could be more of a hassle? Would love to connect with someone who focuses on these type of properties.

Hey @Stephanie Choi

Some people really get scared about foundation issues because they COULD lead to some more framing issues. I personally haven't done a project with major foundation issues yet. I have had a patch up on a foundation and it wasn't all that tough. Tip! Look at the walls and drywall/ plaster if there are pretty wide cracks in them you might want to keep enough in the budget for strengthening the framing. Smaller cracks vice versa. 

Outside of the construction side be sure you get a builders risk insurance policy. JUST IN CASE. I hope that helped out a bit. And if you need any help with the insurance aspect feel free to reach out. I would love to help. 

@Stephanie Choi builders risk covers vacant properties, covers the dwelling (house) even though its under construction, materials, fixtures, and equipment. A normal homeowners policy doesn't cover a loss if the property is vacant unless you pay extra for that specifically.

@Stephanie Choi  There is more to foundation repairs than just the foundation. Here is what I collected as "warnings" or lessons (from various sources and some experienced myself) about foundation problems and/or repairs:

1. If you have brick on the exterior, you might have to do tuckpointing. $$$

2. If you have tiles inside, the tiles will crack. And if they have to drill holes for interior piers, you pretty much will have to replace the entire flooring. $$$$

3. You'll have drywall cracks, so you should factor in drywall repairs and repainting. $$$

4. If the doors were adjusted to a crooked foundation, you might need to readjust or even buy new doors. $$$

5. A hydrostatic plumbing test is recommended to be performed by a licensed plumber post Foundation work. Plumbing leaks may void warranty. Old houses have cast iron pipers that will disintegrate (because of age and/or foundation shift). You'll have to replace all plumbing at that point. $$$$

6. Depending on how bad is the foundation state (how many inches you have to correct), is very possible the sewer line will disconnect/break in the horizontal portions. Repairing that requires tunneling, a repair that could be very expensive. $$$$

7. If the driveway- garage differential is big (for example, the driveway slab is sunken and you need to raise the house, you'll end up with an even bigger gap after repair) you might need to replace the driveway. $$$$

8. If you are dealing with an addition built on 12" beams (or if the original foundation is old and not built to current standards), the repair company might not be able to push the piers down to refusal depth or psi due to the beam not taking the load, thus leveling it, but not guaranteeing it will not continue to move in the future, thus not providing warranty.

9. The owner may be required to provide a structural engineers evaluation prior to warranty work.

10. Damages to the property, interior and exterior as a result of the foundation movement are not covered, during and after works completion. This usually includes but is not limited to PLUMBING, flooring, landscape, utility lines and masonry. The foundation repair does not cover any repairs that may be needed to the home during and after works completion. And you'll have new cracks in unexpected places, old cracks that will not close, but instead enlarge. My suggestion is to add at least 25% to the cost of the foundation repair as mitigation to the problems that will come from the foundation repair.

If anyone has more experience with any of these, please correct me if mistaken.

A rule of thumb for a "quick and dirty" foundation estimate without engaging a foundation contractor...yet.

Take the floor area and divide by 49. Generally piers need to be set 7' apart, so 7x7= 49sf.

Let's say the house is one story @ 1,400sf. 1400/49 = 28.6 or total of 29 Piers.

Now multiply the number if piers by $250. 29x250 = $7,250.

Now add $200 for permit & $400 for Engineer's letter (yes, both of these are required by the City). 200+400 = $600

Total foundation price = $7,850.

In the above scenario, this assumes all piers need to be replaced (this is usually not the case). It does not account for new beams. I do not have a rule of thumb for beam replacement cost, but it's usually another line item on the foundation bid. It should also be noted price per pier cost can vary different from contractor to contractor, from around $200/pier on the low end, to $600/pier on the Retail end. 

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

We hate spam just as much as you