Uneven Tile- A Deal Breaker?

3 Replies

Hello BP,

I'm currently in the process of submitting offers to purchase my first primary residence that will double as an investment property (rent out the bedrooms), in Oceanside, California.  One of the properties that I just submitted an offer on (and checked out) looks to be in beautiful condition and pretty much turn-key.  It's a 3 bed, 2 1/2 bath in a decent neighborhood, and I submitted an offer 5K over asking price (the market here is brutal and I keep getting beat out), as well as submitted a letter to the seller in hopes of making my offer stand out. The ONLY flaw that I can visually see is that the first floor has some beautiful tile (not sure on the type... it's really thick tile and kind of like stone or slate?), and seems extremely durable... but there are a few individual tiles that are jutting out of the floor in some spots of about a half an inch, to an inch!!  It not only poses a tripping hazard (worried about getting sued in the future when it becomes 100% rental), but also an eyesore. 

I submitted the offer anyways, not thinking anything too much about it (I'm not the most savvy when it comes to flooring / construction in general), and then curiously started researching the cost of replacing a few uneven tiles in the property.  It's not a deal breaker for me if it's just uneven floors due to a poor installation job, because I need a place to live and I can deal with the minor trip hazard until I can get it fixed.  What did get me nervous, however- is when I was searching online... there were numerous sites that said uneven tile could be the cause foundation problems (house settling too much, etc.), and I don't know much but I DO know that foundation problems are something that I really, really want to avoid (especially when paying at / a tinyyy bit above market).

Question is- with the house looking in otherwise great condition, how can one spot a foundation problem? Is uneven tile a dead giveaway? Will it almost certainly come out in an inspection that the foundation is faulty? I don't want to buy the property and inherit a nightmare. If it helps at all, I'll be using a VA loan so their inspectors are the ones that will be tearing through my property. I'm sure there's not enough detail in this post without quality pictures to base an opinion off of, but I essentially want to know if the uneven tile is a foretelling of something much larger, and should be avoided altogether, and if an inspector will easily be able to tell me what the cause of the uneven tile is. Should I hire a second inspector as well due to this circumstance? Or also get a contractor or two that specialize in foundation / flooring to check it out and give me their opinion?

Any and all help is much appreciated!

@Jimmy Watson

Uneven tiles could mean the job of a shoddy contractor. Broken tiles on the other hand, may signal a foundation issue.  But I am NOT a foundation expert.

If I were you, hire a foundation specialist to come out. And your experienced home inspector as well. At least that will give you a piece of mind that it's not an issue. Or if it is, you can walk away. 

@Jimmy Watson 

It could be that the slab has some dips and humps in it. If the tile is two feet or more in length it makes it hard to keep them straight if that is the case.  But 1/2" or more seems like a big problem. Make the offer contingent on inspection. 

Thank you both for your replies! Hopefully the cause will come out during inspection, but I'll do just that and hire a foundation expert. When I get back into the property, I'll post some better pictures

P.S. if anyone lurking here on the forums in Oceanside, CA 92057 is a contractor / foundation expert (or has any recommendations)... PM me if you would like to do some business!

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