If you’re unsure when it’s time to schedule a foundation inspection, this is the article for you. We’re going to outline when it’s time to call a foundation inspector, what happens during an inspection, who’s qualified to perform one, and how much it usually costs.

What Is A Foundation Inspection?

A foundation inspection is when a licensed contractor or structural engineer examines your home for clear and hidden signs of foundation damage. Your foundation needs to be structurally sound because your home literally rests on top. If your foundation fails, it could have a domino effect on the rest of your home, leading to little things becoming larger annoyances over time. While some foundation issues are not dangerous or life-threatening, an inspection can tell you when you should be concerned.

Foundation inspections are usually around an hour long and involve a few standard procedures.

  1. Professionals want to know what signs led you to call an inspector. If you call about something that isn’t a foundation issue, they will let you know. But if there is an issue with your foundation, they’ll commend you for calling as soon as possible.
  2. Once the professional inspects and reviews the issues you called about, they will walk around your home looking for anything you didn’t notice. Inspectors usually look for cracks, sticking windows, sticking doors, leaning chimneys, and leaning fireplaces. This step might also include taking measurements of your home using a walking wheel, tape measure, and laser tape measure.
  3. This part of the inspection involves taking pictures of everything that looks like foundation damage. This allows professionals insight into what your home looked like before they completed any repairs.
  4. After visual inspections are completed, foundation repair experts might take floor measurements using a Ziplevel altimeter or something similar. This device will detect height discrepancies up to 1/10th of an inch, making it easier to tell if your floor is sloping.
  5. Finally, you’ll receive a full report detailing any discovered foundation issues. This will include a list of solutions, permit information, if a structural engineer needs to be involved, and a repair estimate. This complete report will tell you what kind of repairs your home needs, such as underpinning, wall anchors, grouting, or something else.

Who’s Qualified To Perform A Foundation Inspection?

Foundation repair professionals and structural engineers are both qualified to perform a foundation inspection. Some people are skeptical of hiring a foundation repair company to perform the inspection because they assume a contractor might find more issues so that they can charge more. In reality, most foundation repair professionals perform inspections for free and include an estimate in the report so you can still make the final decision. Privately hired structural engineers always charge a fee for a foundation inspection.

You also want to hire a local foundation company that is familiar with your area’s building codes and requirements. Make sure they have all the necessary work permits that your county or city requires. We also recommend hiring a company that upholds the product warranties on their foundation repair solutions. A bad foundation repair company will claim they don’t follow the warranties on their equipment, which means they don’t trust their own products.

When Should You Schedule A Foundation Inspection?

You should schedule a foundation inspection if you notice signs of foundation damage, have recently experienced a natural disaster, or want to sell, buy, or renovate a home.

  • Foundation damage – Pay attention to any of the following signs,
    • Sticking windows
    • Sticking doors
    • Window frame cracks
    • Door frame cracks
    • Ceiling cracks
    • Sloping floors
    • Drywall cracks
    • Stucco cracks
    • Fascia cracks
    • Gaps between windows, doors, and walls
    • Floor cracks
    • Leaning chimney/fireplace
    • Footing cracks
  • Natural disasters – If your home experiences a sinkhole, earthquake, or hurricane, call a foundation repair company as soon as possible. Natural disasters that affect the ground can compromise the structural integrity of your foundation. This also includes mudslides, floods, and snowstorms because an increase in groundwater can shift the soil below your foundation.

  • Buying or selling a home – If you plan on selling your home, a foundation inspection can increase the value of your property. If an expert determines that your foundation is in excellent condition, it could increase your home’s desirability on the market. If the inspection finds something critical, you can repair it quickly before getting into legal trouble. If you plan on buying a home, ask the seller if they’ve had a foundation inspection recently. If not, factor the cost into your offer.
  • Renovations – If you plan on adding a new floor, schedule a foundation inspection to see if your home can handle the additional weight. If your foundation cannot support the weight of a new home, an inspection will save you a lot of money.

How Much Does A Home Foundation Inspection Cost?

Foundation inspections performed by repair professionals are usually free for homeowners. If you want an inspection done because you’re selling your home and you want to boost its value, contractors will usually charge a small fee. If you hire a structural engineer yourself, you could pay anywhere from $500 to $1,500. This price is also based on your home’s size and the inspection’s depth.