Real Estate Blog for Communities across the U.S.

Sinkholes Highlight Foundation Issues in Real Estate Transactions

Early diagnosis, combined with engineered solutions installed by specialty contractors, can often correct structural problems and restore home value

Just when real estate agents in many parts of the country begin to see price stabilization or even price increases in long-depressed markets, the specter of unstableFoundation Repair soil makes national news. The recent tragedy of a Florida sinkhole swallowing a house and causing the death of a homeowner has focused attention on something we take for granted: the soil that supports buildings, roads and other man-made structures.

Sinkholes are just one way for soil conditions to cause building damage

Sinkholes are caused when ground water erodes bedrock composed of limestone, sandstone or salt. Water that is slightly acidic can chemically cause these solid materials to dissolve and wash away. While sinkholes can dramatically alter the landscape, causing structural damage along the way, there are numerous other soil issues that can damage a building foundation. For example, soil with high clay content can expand during wet weather, causing foundation walls to crack and/or tilt inward. Another way that soil can damage a building is by compressing or shrinking, creating voids beneath foundation walls and slabs that cause these heavy masonry elements to crack and sink.

The good news: Foundation damage can often be corrected quickly and affordably

What’s the difference between a minor foundation crack and a crack that indicates a serious structural issue? Unless you are a structural engineer or a foundation repair specialist, you’re not qualified to answer this question. Fortunately, these experts have the tools and know-how to make an accurate assessment of a wide variety of foundation issues. What’s more, there are engineered solutions available to restore a building’s structural integrity and overcome many soil issues. Instead of demolishing a damaged foundation wall or concrete slab, a foundation repair specialist can install steel piers beneath settled sections of a foundation. The piers can extend through weak or unstable soil and connect the foundation to solid, stable bedrock or soil at greater depth. Once the piers are anchored in this way, it’s even possible to elevate a settled foundation.

Early inspection and (if necessary) correction is critical, for homeowners and real estate agents alike

Foundation piers, tiebacks and anchors are just a few of the engineered solutions that can restore a damaged foundation quickly and affordably. Many repairs can be made in just a single day. But to take advantage of this technology, it’s important to get structural problems diagnosed quickly. The soil conditions that lead to foundation damage aren’t going to disappear or lessen. For more details on the structural damage that can occur to foundations check out this video explaining why homeowners should fix their foundation.

This is a guest post by Tim Snyder. Tim writes about sustainability, energy efficiency, and home building topics. Tim has been featured on many blogs including Clean Techies.

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One Comment

  1. It should be noted however, that most home inspectors are qualified to check for the possibility of sinkholes or even foundation problems. They may note visual identifiers of a problem but not the cause. If you live in an area known for having sink holes, it may be a good idea to have an inspection completed by a professional before buying.

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