Two Men Checking Home's Foundation

Can I Live In A House With Foundation Issues?

Jeannette Baum4-Minute Read
May 03, 2021

Whether you’re searching for your dream home or you’ve already found it, there’s a chance something major could come up: Foundation issues.

This is a scary thought, especially when you consider the consequences. When you think of foundation issues, you might imagine the floor crumbling beneath you or your house falling down on top of you. And while your home may not crumble before your eyes, you could experience a huge burden – both financially and otherwise – with foundation problems.

Here’s how to see the signs of foundation issues before you buy a home, and what’s worth living with.

How To Tell If A Home Has Foundation Problems

If you’re buying a home or even looking to put yours up on the market, it’s important to see if a house suffers from foundation issues.

There are a few potential things to look out for when searching for foundation issues:

Slab Leaks

A slab leak is a leaky pipe in a home’s foundation. When the water pipelines leak, it causes water to back up underneath the slab. You can search for slab leaks by first looking at your water bill. If the bill has gone up but your usage hasn’t, chances are there’s a leak. Keep an ear open for the sound of running water, which could signify a leak even if it’s not in a sink or bathtub. Watch out for warm spots on the floor, which could mean a hot water pipe burst. Or, see if your walls and carpet are suffering from mildew or excessive moisture. You might start to see cracks on the floor or walls, which can damage the structural integrity of the home.

Irregular Flooring

This might be a low-key issue you don’t notice right away, but older homes might have uneven flooring since shifts in the foundation can cause the floor to have major cracks from the settling. But even renovated homes can have uneven floors. Take some time to walk around to feel for a difference in the flooring or take a pen and drop it on the ground. If it rolls all the way to the end of a room, there’s a chance there could be uneven flooring. You can also look out for cracks in the garage floor, although in the absence of other warning signs, these are not a cause for concern.

Unclosed Doors And Windows

One random door or window that won’t shut isn’t a big issue. But be on the lookout for many doors and windows that won’t shut, usually on one side of the house or room. Examine the window frame and walls around the doors and windows to see if there’s a bigger issue. There might be foundation problems.

Should You Buy A Home With Foundation Issues?

Whether you find foundation issues on your own or not, the best course of action is to see the results of a home inspection. If you notice something on your own, you can also hire a foundation contractor or a structural engineer to get an expert analysis of the problem and the potential cost to fix it.

An inspection will show you if something is a potential hazard and living in the home could put you at risk. It can also show you the estimated cost to repair it. You may decide to accept the potential cost and use that in your negotiation with the sellers, or use this as a chance to walk from the sale.

Since some structural problems are more concerning than others, you may not need to worry about buying a home with foundation issues. Not all foundation issues will impact the home value, but it comes down to the type of damage, how severe it is and how much it could cost to repair it. Along with that, more issues can surface once you start fixing the foundation issues. A good course of action is to find a couple of expert opinions before buying a home.

The Cost To Fix Foundation Issues

Unless foundation issues came from the result of a natural disaster, like a hurricane or tornado, your homeowners insurance isn’t likely to cover the damage. Since foundation issues can come up simply because time passes, it’s considered normal wear and tear. This means you’re on the hook to pay for the repairs yourself. If you’re buying a home, you could request the sellers fix the issues before you buy the property.

Not all foundation issues are the same, which means the cost to fix them isn’t the same, either. It depends on the damage as well as the repair to fix any surrounding areas that were affected. Where you live could also impact the price since some places and contractors charge accordingly based on the local market.

An average foundation repair is around $4,200. The high end of repairs could run you around $12,000, and the low end could be around $450.

Water damage and related repairs are more expensive than most foundation cracks. Expect costs anywhere from $2,000 to $6,000. Sealing, which is also used to fend off potential water damage, can run upwards of $6,000.

Stabilization is the most expensive repair. Stabilizing bowed walls can run you anywhere from $4,000 to $12,000. Depending on your damage, a contractor might put in carbon fiber or steel.

Since repair costs vary widely, it’s important to have an inspection or professional assess the damage.

Should You Live In A Home With Foundation Issues?

Before you sign a contract and move in, it’s important to have a home properly assessed for foundation problems. While you could live in a home with foundation problems, it doesn’t help the resale value. Fixing the issues could help you when the time comes to sell the home.

If you’re buying a home, make sure you get the proper professional to thoroughly inspect the home. If you discover foundation issues, consider if you really want to live in the home. If you do, negotiate the home price down and handle the renovations yourself. Otherwise, see if the seller will handle the updates before moving in.

While foundation issues can be a deal breaker, your health and safety are the most important factors to consider.

Jeannette Baum

Jeannette is a Marketing Communications Manager for the Quicken Loans’ Publishing House, and she loves writing informational blogs.