House With Foundation Issues

5 Replies

Hi Everyone,

My wife and I live in Texas in the DFW area.

We are looking at purchasing our first home that we plan on turning into a rental property eventually.

The house has had foundation repairs a couple years ago, done by a reputable company with unlimited lifetime transferable warranties.

From my understanding it is not uncommon in Texas to have foundation repairs due to the rough, dry soil that can shift (would love perspective from any DFW investors).

This is our first house and we are so stressed to make the right decision because it’s a new process and we don’t want to buy a bad house and set ourselves back years.

How concerned should we be with these issues? Is it okay to buy a house that has had foundation repair? Any things to look out for?

Thank you,

Hi @Justin Bowman , indeed Foundation is THE "F word" for most first time buyers and it's not hard to undrstand why.  In reality foundation issues are not the biggest threat to your home unless you live in a very non-DFW scenario (think mountain-side, sandy soil, or extremely bad drainage, etc.)  Your most likely culprit in DFW is the soil composition being prone to uneven settling and that darn ever-present construction (and the vibrations large construction can send through the area).  

Make sure that you have the documentation for the pier work done by said reputable company.  This is going to be a key component to the lifetime guarantee meaning anything.

Here in California we see foundation issues all the time, especially because of earthquakes and soil movement. I agree with @Will Fraser that it's not necessarily a reason panic; however, it does mean you may want to exert extra effort in your due diligence in all facets of the foundation and previous repair. You'll really want to examine the warranty from the previous company and any aspects that may void the warranty. You'll want to examine the details of the previous work completed and the issues that were addressed. Also, you may want to have an actual structural engineer or soils engineer examine areas of concern depending on the scope of work from the last repair. These can be costly inspections so you'll also want to make sure that the deal is strong enough to want to inherit these potential risks and costs. 

Growing in DFW and now working as an agent, foundations are definitely at the front of mind for most home owners/buyers. I see that the big three that people look out for are HVAC, roof, and foundation, and rightfully so. These can be major repairs and expenditures if needing major repair or replacing. While I’m not a foundation professional or engineer, nor do I claim to be one, we see most homes in our market that are over 10 years old have some signs of foundation settling and it’s pretty common to see houses have some sort work done. I totally agree with the comments above that it’s crucial to understand the severity, the work completed, and making sure all documentation is clear and transferable.

Foundations can be scary.  But if the company that did the work is reputable, has a solid warranty and isn't a fly by night company you should be fine.  I deal with many problematic foundations.  Especially since our 7.1 quake in 2018 caused a lot of settlement of homes in South Central Alaska.

I would make sure to do the due diligence like stated above.  Be sure to have the documentation of the type of repairs that were done to the foundation.  The methods, hardware and mitigations. 

  Definitely verify the warranty documents well.  You never know what may void a warranty.  Biggest one is undisclosed, not permitted, and improper additions.  Adding additional loads past the specifications of the foundation plus repair done can void the warranty.  Company may think everything is the same as it was and you call them down the road needing them. Then they have their after repair report to show the changes that would cause a void.  So be sure to check and verify on those things.

For instance lifting a sunken foundation and the loads per point repair were set and engineered for 16,000 lbs.  An addition whether above or adjacent increases the loads to a higher 20,000 lbs placing it 4,000 above the warrantied numbers.

Repairs aren't bad. In fact many times proper repairs are a boost to the property value and a selling point. Because a well done repair can basically eliminate any future problems.  Often the reason for the lifetime warranties given so confidently when done right.

I'd be curious to know the repair that was previously done.

In my opinion for a 1st time buyer, my suggestion is to always buy one without foundation problems.  Just less headaches in your life.  I don't think any of the warranties are unlimited.  In many ways they're just trash.....lots and lots of restrictions on them.  While inventory is tight, there are homes for sale without the try to focus there.  There are plenty of agents who try to sale you on the warranty part.....don't be careful.   If you do go that route, try to see fresh water and sewer line tests after the repair was done.  See that a structural engineer has signed off on the work.

Also be aware that the lifetime warranty is normally not a FREE warranty, there is charge for warranty work in many cases.  I think in many cases the work is never completely done....if there are problems you will often likely need more work in the future for all kinds of reasons.   Either the dirt is just plain bad.  Or you solidly fix the problem area, but then that creates problems in other areas, or the initial cause is not fixed.....big trees, drainage, crappy foundation design to begin with..(I call these the chicken wire foundations.) and maybe some other reasons.

Good luck and best wishes.