Your home’s foundation is usually one of its most crucial components. Since the foundation is what everything else sits upon, any issues could turn into a massive and costly headache.
As the name suggests, a foundation inspection is when a licensed inspector checks your house’s foundation to ensure it is structurally sound. There are three types of foundation options: Slab, Basement, and Pier and Beam Foundations (AKA Crawlspace). The inspector will check inside and outside the home for signs of damage, such as cracks, bowed walls, or slants.
The precise nature of a home foundation inspection depends on the type of foundation you have. Here is a breakdown of all three options.
(A Large Sectional House on Stilts Near Beach)
The foundation of your home can change your insurance eligibility and rates. There are three main types of foundations in home construction:
Here are some visual examples of what each foundation looks like in the wild.
1. Open Foundation Inspection
An open foundation can be 20 feet in the sky or just a foot off the ground. Open foundations can also be called Piers & Pilings, Posts, or Stilts. The critical characteristic of an open foundation is there is visible open space beneath the dwelling’s structure. The extra space is intentional — to prevent floodwaters from entering the home.
Beneath the house structures: open air.
2. Pier Foundation Inspection
A pier foundation means your home sits on wooden or concrete piers that go deep into the ground. If your house has a full crawl space underneath it, you have a pier and beam foundation. This design’s benefit is that the inspector can easily enter the crawl space and check on the beams. Typically, damage occurs when moisture or pests get into the foundation.
For example, if you have termite-infested wooden beams, it is only a matter of time before part of your home collapses.
Crawl Space Inspections
A crawl space is not visible from the outside of the house, but you will likely see a small door that provides access to the air gap below.
Beneath the house structure: air gap and dirt.
3. Closed Foundation Inspections
A closed foundation means a basement or slab of concrete is beneath the house structure, and then the home is affixed directly on top of that concrete foundation.
Since the basement walls are holding up the rest of the house, the inspector will need to go inside to see whether there’s damage to the floors, walls, or ceilings. If your basement extends above ground level, the inspector will check the exterior for noticeable weak points or foundation cracks.
Some houses have full basements, while others have a basement and either a slab or pier foundation. If your basement does not span the entire home, the inspector will check the rest of the foundation based on its type.
A slab foundation is just a bare concrete slab settled into the ground. While slabs are the easiest to create, they can come with some significant foundation problems. Since pipes and other infrastructure pieces are inside the concrete, contractors must break it open to do any work.
Another issue with slab foundations is that they can crack more easily due to ground shifting. Since concrete is not exactly flexible, if one side of your house sinks lower than the other, the slab will crack.
It is harder to see how well the foundation looks since the inspector cannot go inside and check it out.
Instead, they will scrutinize the exterior and pay attention to any signs of settling. The inspector may also check the home’s interior. The inspector checks if the walls are cracking or bending outward due to the slab shifting.
Beneath the house structure: concrete.
*Note: When it comes to home insurance, most insurance carriers accept either a closed foundation or crawl space. If you have an open foundation, it will be harder to find coverage.
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