The foundation is the most crucial element of a home or business property. Prior to obtaining a new home or securing a new commercial space, insurance companies are more and more often mandating home inspections so as to safeguard the home buyer against potentially costly repairs in the future. So what exactly does a home inspector look for when looking at the foundation of a property?
The first thing inspectors do is take a look at the foundation itself and additional support components. If the foundation is actually crumbling or has moved and fractured over time this could very well be cause for concern. A sound foundation is crucial for the structural integrity of a property. Foundations can shift or bulge or even float, suggesting the soil below was not correctly packed down before the foundation was poured and now has settled, leaving portions of the foundation virtually floating in air. The type of soil beneath the property can also impact the stability of the foundation. Soil can pack down, or be displaced, or if lawn sprinklers are close to the house, water damage can gradually erode the foundation. As part of the foundation inspection, wood separation from the soil will also be checked out.
One more component to consider is whether or not an addition has been built on the existing home. If so, how is the current structure supported. Was the total foundation replaced, or was a new foundation poured exclusively to carry the expansion? If a patio was built in without having a slab or footing, what is supporting that structure?
Under-floor ventilation is analyzed to ensure it is up to spec. Under-floor areas are required to be ventilated. This takes place through openings in the exterior foundation walls. They must absolutely deliver cross ventilation and have a net area of 1 square foot for each 150 square feet of under floor area. Every single vent must definitely have corrosion resistant wire mesh with openings of 1/8-inch minimum. There must be access for folks to crawl through of at least 18" x 24." The under floor area must absolutely not be impeded by obstructions or ducts, according to Scribd.com.
Drainage systems, sewer lines and sump pumps will also be inspected, as they are located inside the foundation footprint. As homes shift with time, piping leading to and away from the house may be weakened.
In California specifically, seismic anchoring and bracing components will be analyzed and will need to be up to code to ensure the safety of the property in case of an earthquake.
While evaluating the foundation is just a small part of what a home inspector does, it is a critical one.