What is a Buyer’s Home Inspection?

A buyers home inspection

is a systematic evaluation of a home and all of its systems. During a home inspection, all of the systems that make up a home are evaluated and/or tested to ensure that they are performing within normal parameters.

Although a home inspection is non-destructive and not technically exhaustive, our home inspections are thorough, systematic and complete. We check the structure from the foundation to the roof, we check the heating and cooling system, the plumbing system, and the electrical system. We even check built in appliances like the ovens, cooktop or stove, and dishwasher so that you, the buyer, get a clear understanding of the home and its overall functionality and performance.

Inspection items include but are not limited to:

  • Roof
  • Walls
  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Foundations
  • Lights
  • Outlets
  • Heating system
  • Cooling system
  • Dishwasher
  • Oven and Cooktop or stove
  • Microwave
  • Garage door opener

Our process does not end with the visual home inspection – that’s just the information gathering portion of the process. After we have gone through and checked all of the systems, we will meet with you for a walk-through consultation.

The walk-through consultation takes 45 minutes to an hour and allows you to ask questions and allows us to show you how the house operates including such things as the location of your breakers in case they trip off, where to change the filter on the heating and cooling system and where the water shut-offs are located. This is also the part of the home inspection where the “show and tell” takes place, we will show you the issues or problems and tell you why issues are problems, helping you understand the issues that are important and the issues that, while possibly ugly, are simply cosmetic.

Finally, we will prepare and provide you with a complete written home inspection report that provides details about the house and documents the issues identified. The home inspection report, with color pictures, is delivered by email within 24 hours so that you have plenty of time to review the written information and, if necessary, discuss issues to be addressed. Our service doesn’t end with the report delivery. Phone consultations about the home, problems or just the crazy Texas weather are always free and we will reinspection completed repair work for a nominal fee.

The purpose of this process is to give you — our client — the information, knowledge and resources to make an informed buying decision and peace of mind about your choice, because it’s not just an investment, it’s your home.

Avoid Window Condensation when the Weather Turns Cold

A wet window in your home can be a symptom of a few different causes and fall is the perfect time to get your windows fixed, repaired or replaced, before the cold winter months are here. Interior window condensation is caused by excessive moisture in your home, and it happens often in the wintertime when the warm air in your home condenses on the cold windows.

Frost or water on your windows is how condensation forms, when warm moist air comes in contact with cool dry air, like when your bathroom mirror fogs up after a hot shower.

One quick tip to keeping your home windows from fogging up is by applying shaving cream foam to the surface of the window, wiping it down with a clean rag, and then repeating this step every few weeks.

To reduce condensation on your windows in your home, here are numerous other things you can do this fall to prepare for winter.

Circulate the Air
If you circulate the air in your home, it can help reduce the condensation on your windows. So, use your ceiling fans, even in the winter, but you will want the fans to rotate in a clockwise direction to push warm air off of the ceiling and back down to the floor.

Open Your Windows
If it is not too cold, you can open your windows in your home, releasing some of the moist warm air that is still trapped in the house.

Turn Down the Humidifier
In your kitchen or bathroom, you may notice condensation. If you use a humidifier in any part of your home, you can try turning it down. As a result, your humidifier will release less moisture into the air, hopefully reducing condensation.

Kitchen and Bathroom Fans
Speaking of your bathroom and kitchen, use your fans every time you cook or shower. Cooking and showering releases a lot of moisture into the air, and sometimes this moisture cannot escape from your home as well. However, the exhaust fans in your kitchen and your bathroom will help remove this moisture from the air. In addition, run the fans for about 15 – 20 minutes after you shower or cook.

Add Weather Stripping
When you add weather stripping to your windows, it can help keep warm air from leaving your home. And if you are planning on using storm windows during the winter months, this can help reduce even more condensation. Weather stripping also makes your home more energy efficient.

Raise the Temperature
Did you know that raising the temperature of the windows will reduce the condensation on them? To raise the temperature of your windows, you can slightly raise the temperature of your home. You can also use curtains, blinds, or drapes to raise the window temperature as well.

Use Storm Windows
Using storm windows during the winter months can help reduce condensation on your interior windows. The space between the two windows allows the interior window to stay warmer. Storm windows can also help reduce your heating bills during the winter. And condensation on the storm windows sometimes indicates a leak in the interior windows, so you will want to check and/or reapply your weather stripping as needed.

Getting Your Home Ready To Sell With a Home Inspection

When selling your home, it is a great idea to have solid personal knowledge of all your home’s nooks, crannies, and weak spots. Here are some things you should consider before any home inspector visits your home with potential buyers, possibly bringing up major and minor issues that could cost you money, or worse, the sales deal itself.

  1. Replace Your Bulbs
    It may sound simple but this item is often forgotten about. Be sure to examine all your attached light fixtures. Make sure all the light bulbs are functioning in each room, including those on the outside of the home. House inspectors only get an overhead view and cannot determine if the bulb itself is out or if there’s possibly an underlying electrical problem.
  1. Remove Sink Clogs
    Go through your entire house to all the drains in the sinks and one by one, run the water. If you notice a slow drain, you can try using store-bought clog removers. For very slow or even totally clogged drains or for any slow flow or blockage at the water source, call in a plumber instead.
  1. Check Your Monitors
    Be sure to have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home. Test them before each home inspection and look at the expiration dates. You should have a smoke alarm on every level of your home, including the basement. As for carbon monoxide detectors, there should be at least one in your home, in or near the main bedroom area.
  1. Check For Any Cracks
    If your home has any cracked windows or broken screens, you may want to fix them before the inspector comes. Even if a crack isn’t a big issue on some basement window, it will still likely show up in the home inspector’s report.
  1. Get the Bugs Out
    Do you see a lot of carpenter bees hanging around? What about stinkbugs? Or perhaps a steady line of ants near your home? Any sort of infestation — especially of wood destroying insects like termites — will show up on your inspection report. It’s best to take care of it proactively and hire a pest control company if needed.
  1. Clear Access
    Ensure access to critical areas of your house are free and clear. For example, think about your air conditioning units, furnace, electrical box, hot water heater, attic, and any other possible locked spaces. In addition, make it easier to access plumbing under the sink and back access, as well as any areas blocked off by storage, etc. If the inspector cannot gain access, he or she will be unable to include them in the report, raising questions for your potential buyers.
  1. Filter
    Replace your furnace return air filters. Not only do dirty filters impact the efficiency of your overall HVAC system, they also show neglect, which isn’t the type of impression you want to leave with the inspector.
  1. Trim Your Trees
    Are there any overhanging limbs or branches at your property? Trees that are over roofs can prematurely shorten roof life by inviting moss and lichen to take hold. Rodents can gain easy access to your chimney and other openings. Are any hanging over your power lines? If necessary, hire your local electrical company to come trim those tree branches by the power lines or a qualified tree company.
  1. Observe Grading
    Check to see that the ground slopes away from your home versus toward it to avoid basement water flooding issues. Even if there’s no evidence of water entering your home, it’s a good idea to slope dirt away in flowerbeds and other areas that come in contact with your foundation. Hire a local waterproofing company to come inspect your home and property for any possible issues.
  1. Go With the Flow
    Flush your toilets to see if any are performing as they should. Sometimes a repair is as easy as adjusting the water level in your tank. Sometimes, a clog or hard water might be to blame or perhaps a bad design.
  1. Cap It Off
    Any sort of caps needed in and around your home should be there. Any unused gas lines, even if shut off, should be capped. Also, any chimneys or flues should be capped to prevent debris, including leaves and animals, from clogging off critical vents.
  1. Open and Close
    While you’re at it, go and open and close all your windows and doors to look for anything that’s creaking, loose, or otherwise not functioning properly. Look at hinges, door knobs, and anything else that seems amiss.
  1. Address the Issues
    If you bought your house only a few years ago, chances are you still have a copy of your old home inspection from purchase. Go through the report and look for any unaddressed issues you’ve come to live with over the years. It’s almost like having a cheat sheet.

Why Hire a Home Inspector in North Dallas?

Home inspections are a necessary part of the home buying process. Buying a home without one is the same as buying a car without getting it checked out by another independent car mechanic.

When you make an offer on a house, a good real estate agent will recommend you include a home inspection clause. Typically you would pay for a home inspection yourself, so you will need to know what to expect during this inspection.

First realize that you are not a home inspector. Home inspection is definitely one of those jobs best left to professionals. Few of us have the expertise to identify plumbing, sewer, electrical, and structural problems. Combine that with the emotional factors you may have about buying a home, and it’s easy to see why potential home buyers are not the ones who need to do the inspecting.

It is typically recommended that you accompany your home inspector so you can ask questions and see the good and not-so-good for yourself.

A qualified home inspector reviews a property’s visible and accessible areas outside and inside to identify any safety and health issues, negative and positive aspects of the property and any conditions that need further specialized attention.

An inspection often includes structural elements such as the foundation, walls, roof, windows, doors, insulation, basement or crawlspace and the attic. Electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling systems are also part of a home inspection. It can even include examining the appliances and should also report any evidence of pests like termites and inspection for radon.

Once the inspection is complete, a home inspector provides a written, comprehensive report detailing any issues with the home. This is not “pass” or “fail.” The inspection report gives you the information you need to decide whether or not to buy the home “as is” or negotiate with the seller to either fix some of the problems or reduce the price. Know that no home is perfect. It is not uncommon for a report to include 50 or more issues.  In addition, the report identifies issues found the day of inspection and cannot predict problems that may arise a few months or a few weeks down the road.

Prep Your Home for Winter Before Selling

You have decided to sell your home, but it is wintertime (or about to be), which is typically the slowest time of the year for home sales. Here are some words of advice to help you prepare your home to make the best impression, especially during winter months, and make your home stand out to potential buyers.

For a potential buyer, the first thing he or she will see if the outside of your home, and this makes a big difference. If the curb appeal as it is called is unacceptable, a buyer may not even leave his/her vehicle. Look for ways to remove all the new debris that fell during fall and winter months, like tree limbs and branches and excess leaves. Look for ways to boost the front yard with minor home decor like an American flag or fresh potted plants out front. If it is icy, be sure to de-ice your front driveway and any sidewalks as well as your back yard patio and deck to ensure the safety of those walking outside during the winter months.

Do a thorough walk around the outside of your home and spot areas that need a good cleaning or repair work, like screen repairs and touch-up paint and others. Get the roof inspected, and be sure the walls and fences are in excellent shape too. Check all exterior light fixtures and make are all light bulbs are in working order as well. Clean up your porch and deck as best as you can too. Don’t go too overboard on any holiday decorations outside either. It may appear beautiful to you and your family but others may not think the same way as you do. Other tips include that we recommend you get your windows cleaned inside and out and buy a new front door welcome mat too. And if you find a home improvement project is just too large for you, call a bonded, licensed and insured home remodeling company in the area.

When you hire a home inspector before showing off your home in the wintertime, know that he/she may have a few extra winter tools with them in prep for a winter home inspection, items like extra flashlight batteries and hand warmers, changing of boots and/or clothing and socks, de-icing granules and a thermal imaging camera.

So when you are ready to sell your home, check out these quick home improvement tips to ensure your potential buyers a safe and thorough home walk-through in your home.

Buying Your First Home?

Buying your first home? Congrats! Before you commit to buying one, here are some quick simple tips we have come up with for buying your first home.

Contact a mortgage company or bank and get pre-qualified first. You will then know how much of a loan you qualify for, and how much out-of-pocket cash you will need to pay. They will also let you know how much of a down payment you will need to pay so you can save for it ahead of time.

Contact a real estate agent. It’s a smart idea to ask family and friends for a referral of someone who they’ve used before and has a good reputation. You can also check real estate listings websites online for referrals and reviews.

Create a checklist of the things you want in your new home (example: commuting distance, square footage, lot size, timeframe, school district), as well as absolute musts, what you require for a new home for you and your family.

Go with your realtor to look at potential homes that match your checklist. It might take some time to find the perfect fit for you, so be prepared for a potentially long search ahead.

Select a home and then make an offer. Be patient. This may take several tries and you may have to up your offer or — in some cases — write a letter explaining why you would be the best buyer. You may be competing with tons of people for this home. Don’t be surprised if the current homeowner doesn’t accept it and instead accepts another family’s offer and you have to move onto another home.

Go through the appraisal, home inspection (with a qualified and certified home inspector) and closing process.

Close and get the keys to your new home. And then throw an awesome housewarming party!

Save $$$ With These Home Inspection Tips for North Texas Residents

Keep from making some common home-buying mistakes before you purchase a new or existing older home for you and your family. Here are some helpful tips.

It may or may not seem obvious to you, but you should definitely attend each home inspection with the home inspector that you are considering purchasing. Many folks don’t even realize that they are permitted to attend the home inspections too. In fact, good experienced home inspectors would expect you to be in attendance with them for each home inspection. That way, they can show you potential problems in person and you can further discuss any home questions or concerns you may have too. In addition, unfortunately, a few home inspectors might try to cut corners while charging you full price, which is another important reason to be there. Lastly, don’t let snow or mud or other debris prevent your inspector from checking hard to reach areas.

It is vital that you get recommendations, and many of them, online and from other friends and family members too, before hiring a home inspector. Even though your real estate agent may suggest a particular home inspector, that inspector could turn out to be in cahoots with the real estate agent, tricking you into buying a potential lemon of a house. You can also go to sites like Angie’s List or the American Society of Home Inspectors to interview and search for a qualified and certified home inspector. Ask the inspector questions over the phone before hiring him or her, like their background, how many years they’ve been doing this, how many house they’ve inspected to date, training and certifications, licenses and insurance too, continuing education classes taken, etc.

Never be too intimidated to ask him or her questions either, over the phone and in person during the home inspections. And you can never ask TOO many questions either. A great home inspector will be patient and understanding and will answer all your questions thoroughly and in ways you can better understand too. And if you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. Also for a list of what questions it is recommended to ask the home inspector, just google search for a list!

For a typical home inspection, the utilities will still be connected by the sellers, but sometimes that is not always the case. Regardless of the situation, be sure all utilities are on and connected properly before each inspection service. If they are turned off, you may miss seeing important issues, like outlets working or not, appliances functioning, having sufficient water flow and more.

If the home you’re buying gets its water from a drinking well, you need to have the water tested for contaminants. Also make sure the home inspector also tests for mold and potential pest problems. If he or she is not qualified to do so, either hire independent pest and mold inspectors or find a home inspector that is qualified to also test for pests and mold too.

Are you considering buying a new home? Believe it or not, new homes still need to be inspected. Many have defects, even if they met county codes, and it is highly recommended that a home inspector still performs an inspection on them with you. Even if the builder reassures you that the house is perfect, get it inspected anyway. Save your urge to gamble for the casinos.

Lastly if your home inspector sees an issue and recommends that you hire a specialist, make sure you take his or her word for it and do just that. It may save you a lot more money down the road after you are already living in that home with your family.

Home Inspection Checklist

Electricity: A home inspector needs to ensure that all outlets are grounded and functioning properly, that the electrical panel is up to code, and be sure to check all wiring throughout the entire home up and down. Having bad wires can lead to overheating and potentially fire.

Lead Paint: This is mostly an issue with older houses, particularly when you replace old windows. So with old metal windows, there is the potential for lead.

Roof: Did you know that roof issues are responsible for 39 percent of homeowners insurance claims? Ask the home inspector to find out how old the roof is and if they can tell if any current issues exist. If any do, you may have to first bring the roof up to code if you plan on purchasing it or ask the seller to bring it up to code for you before you commit to buying it.

Asbestos: For homebuyers considering a home built before 1980, make sure to ask your home inspector if they have worked with asbestos and can make a good judgment about whether asbestos fibers are present during the inspection.

Gases: Radon is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, but it is carcinogenic and radioactive. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends all homes be tested for the presence of radon.

Water Drainage: One of the biggest issues in any home is going to be water disbursement. Perhaps there is even the potential for damage to the foundation. If water is found to be near the house, you want the water to flow away from the house and not towards it. While external water damage is easy to spot with a visual inspection most of the time, potentially damage may be hidden inside a home’s walls and that can be harder to detect. Be sure your home inspector takes extra precautions of using an infrared camera to find water damage that exists below the surface of a home. This includes checking your gutters and spouts because if they aren’t functioning, it can damage the foundation.

Chimney: Often, if there’s damage to the chimney lining on the inside, if the masonry around the chimney is faulty, corroded, or whatever, a chimney replacement or repair job can become quite costly and a huge undertaking.

HVAC System: Home inspectors can confirm your home’s ventilation, air conditioning and heating system is functional during the inspection day, but they cannot make any guarantee that it will keep working when you buy the house. However, they should be able to tell you approximately how old your heater and AC unit are, from their serial numbers.

Waste Systems: In an older house, there may still be a septic system. There have been times where a septic system has been abandoned and, over time, it created a cave-in and collapsed. With that, even sewer pipes can be damaged by tree roots. They should be checked out as well and that can be done with a snake.

Flooring: Look for wood destroying insects and pests. Subfloors that are covered up with carpet, tile, or laminate can cause additional issues if not carefully examined and inspected.

Foundation: You want to make sure the house’s foundation is absolutely stable. Again, any issues can be extremely costly if not detected.

Exhaust Fans: Make sure they are venting to the outside. And not into the attic. It can cause mold.

What to do with a Home Inspection Report

The home inspection has been done and you have the inspection report… Now What?

STEP 1

Read the home inspection report.

Take the time to read your home inspection report thoroughly and ask your home inspector for help if you don’t fully understand what something means.

Consider the big picture.

Take a broad view of the report and Don’t Panic! Some items are deficient in the home inspection report because building standards change and some items are deficient because they are broken, don’t work or are in an unsafe condition. Especially when buying a home that is a few years older, understand not all deficiencies mean mean big problems.

The home inspection report is part of the due diligence process in purchasing a home. It is a “TEST DRIVE” of the home, its major various systems and components. The inspection is Visual, Non-Destructive and Not Technically Exhaustive.

If needed, schedule any further review.

Now is the time to schedule additional reviews. Any further review should be done by a qualified professional and they should be instructed to evaluate the system, not just a single issue.

A home inspector is a generalist, does not do repairs, is limited by the conditions of the house at the time of the inspection and can’t do any destructive inspection (like opening the wall) or specialized testing (like plumbing leak test or putting pressure gauges on the AC system). Inspectors sometimes identify the symptoms of a problem; a technician or licensed professional may be needed for further diagnosis.

STEP 2

Prioritize the results.

In Texas, the inspector presents the information in a system by system order and does not break issues down in order of importance. It is important that you consider the information and evaluate it. We recommend the following categories for breaking down the information.

  • Things that may hinder your ability to finance, occupy or insure the home – An older roof may not be leaking but might not be insurable.  Peeling paint and damaged siding or trim or conditions conducive to wood destroying insects can become Lender Required Repairs. An exterior door that doesn’t close or lock properly can be a safety issue. And, no one wants to spend a day moving into a home and not be able to take a hot shower because of a water heater problem.
  • Safety hazards – Are there issues or defects that make living in the home unsafe? Typically, these are things like unsafe electrical, loose heater or water heater flue vents, improper combustion air, missing smoke or carbon monoxide detectors or even missing hand rails. These are not necessarily expensive but very important repair items.
  • Major defects – Are there big ticket and costly issues that need to be addressed. These are typically major system repairs or upgrades like Foundation repairs, Electrical system upgrade, Roof replacement, Heating or Cooling systems that are at or near the end of life.
  • Things that lead to major defects – These are items that, if left alone, will become major or expensive defects. Issues like a small leak can rot out the sub-floor over time, trees close to the roof may tear shingles during a strong wind, or poor drainage that holds water by the house can result in foundation problems.

STEP 3

Make your Repair/Negotiation Items list.

  • Must Have Repairs: These are the make or break issues.
  • Really Want Repairs: Issues that are desirable but can be negotiated.
  • Upgrades: Okay, it would be great if these items could be done, and they probably won’t be, but we want to at least raise them through the repair amendment.

STEP 4

Meet with your real estate agent.

Your real estate agent will assist with negotiation strategies, options and preparing a repair amendment. There are three basic options for addressing issues. 1. Request seller to make repairs. 2. Request a price adjustment and take care of the items after closing. 3. Accept the imperfections and live with them.

This is important. Every house and every deal is different. Your agent will be help explain your options, assist with the preparation of a repair amendment – if necessary – and guide you through the negotiation process. Neither your home inspector nor your real estate agent can tell you what to do, but they can answer questions and provide some guidance so that you have the information to make good decisions about the purchase of your new home.

What Is A Home Inspection?

THE HOME INSPECTION

A standard home inspection is visual, non-destructive evaluation of a home and includes a review of the main systems, including: structural, electrical, heating/cooling and plumbing systems and most built in appliances.

Structural Inspection: The inspector will walk the roof when it is safe and accessible and will check the roofing system and roof penetrations. The inspector will also get into the attic checking for water penetration and proper framing. Walls (and associated components such as ceilings, windows, doors and floors) are checked inside and out from the top down to the foundation. And, the foundation system is evaluated for evidence of performance problems. Structurally, the inspector checks the house from top to bottom. Be aware; however, that this evaluation is visual and does not use sophisticated or specialized measurement tools. Also, if the roof is not safely accessible due to height, pitch or condition it will be evaluated without walking the surface. On pier and beam homes, when safe and accessible, the inspector will crawl below the house to check structural support, for evidence of water intrusion or damage and ventilation.

Electrical Inspection: The inspector will check the electrical service entrance (where the wires come in and meter is located) the panel (where your breakers are) and every accessible outlet, switch, ceiling fan, and light fixture that you have in the house.

Heating, Cooling and Ventilation Inspection: The inspector will visually check your air conditioners (both inside and out), the heating units as well as the filters, visible ducts and vents. A functional test is performed by turning on the systems and checking for hot and cold air at registers. Be aware that some types of heating systems, specifically heat pumps, are not tested when the weather is too warm and cooling systems are not operated when it is too cold.

Plumbing Inspection: The inspector will check for hot and cold water and proper operation of all your sinks, faucets, commodes, bath tubs, showers and jut tubs. Water heaters are visually evaluated for installation and overall condition.

Appliance Inspection: The inspector checks basic operation of most built in appliances in the house including the cooktop, oven, cooking vent, microwave, dishwasher, garbage disposal, bathroom vents and garage door openers.

Optional Inspections: Upon your request, the inspection will also check (or have a specialist evaluate) a number of system that are considered to be optional under Texas guidelines. Some of the most common optional inspections include pool systems, lawn sprinklers and outbuildings. Other components that are less common include septic systems (visual or certified), well water systems and boat docks.

Other Inspections: There are other items / components / issues that may need to be inspected or evaluated that are outside the scope of a Home Inspection and often require a separate license to provide. The most common is a Wood Destroying Insect Inspection (often called a termite inspection), a mold inspection and environmental hazard inspection. These inspections typically require licenses beyond or outside of the Home Inspection License and are often governed by other agencies.

Foundation Care and Maintenance In Expansive Clay Soils

FOUNDATION CARE INFORMATION

As Home Inspectors, we want to provide you with valuable information that you can use when making your home purchase decision. Whether you’ve lived in Dallas all your life or you are new to the area, Foundation Care is important to know and proper foundation care and maintenance will help you maintain your foundation.

Maintenance Recommendations For Foundation Care On Expansive Clay Soil

INTRODUCTION OF FOUNDATION CARE

Differential movement of building foundations is a common problem in this area, because of the highly expansive clay soil and changing weather conditions, and costs owners thousands of dollars a year in repair bills. As the building ages, it is probable the foundation will continue to experience differential movement, regardless of how well it was constructed or its present condition. This differential movement does not stop as buildings become older; older structures with a history of minimal differential movement have been known to develop foundation problems in a very short time due to changing conditions at the perimeter of the building foundation.

REASON FOR FOUNDATION CARE PROBLEMS

The primary reason for foundation problems is the highly expansive nature of the clay soil on which the building rests. The clay expands or contracts as its moisture content changes with the weather. Depending on the area, the amount of contraction or shrinkage ranges from minimal to upwards of 65% of the total wet volume. The average amount of shrinkage that can be expected in this region is approximately 35%, with wide variation depending on the location.

EFFECT OF PLANTS ON FOUNDATION CARE

Because of the highly expansive nature of the soil, trees and other large plants can significantly contribute to differential settlement of a foundation. The roots of trees and large plants consume the moisture from the soil, causing the soil to shrink much faster than other soil areas exposed to the weather.

EFFECT OF WET SPOTS ON FOUNDATION CARE

Wet spots caused by dripping faucets, leaking drains, air conditioning condensate drains, leaking water pipes, etc., can cause differential settlement at the location where the soil has been kept wet.

EFFECT OF POOR DRAINAGE ON FOUNDATION CARE

Water standing or running alongside a foundation after rains may cause differential settlement of a foundation. If soil grading is such that water runs alongside a foundation during rains, the water will run under the edge of the foundation and carry away soil supporting the foundation. The effect is much more pronounced if the soil was very dry prior to the beginning of the rain.

An owner can significantly reduce the rate of differential settlement by observing the following recommendations:

  1. Try to maintain constant moisture content in the soil around the foundation. Water the soil evenly and around the entire foundation during extended dry periods.
  2. Cut and cap the roots of any large trees growing closer to the foundation than the mature height of the trees. The roots from trees can consume more water from the soil than can be added with a watering system.
  3. Properly grade the soil by filling in low spots and leveling off high spots adjacent to the foundation so that the surface of the soil slopes gradually away from the building. A recommended slope is 1 inch per foot for a distance of 3 to 4 feet from the foundation.
  4. Control roof water runoff and help prevent soil erosion by using a gutter and downspout system. This is especially important if a building has no eaves which overhang the walls or if the eaves are less than 1 foot wide.
  5. Water trees and shrubs growing near a building during extended dry periods as they cause shrinking of the soil due to their high water consumption. Keep in mind that moderate to large trees consume 50 to 75 gallons of water from the soil every day.

FOUNDATION CARE SUMMARY

Remember: the intent of foundation maintenance is to maintain a constant moisture content in the soil around and below the entire foundation and to prevent soil erosion that can result from water flowing off the roof or other large flat surfaces near the building.

Adapted from an article by: D. M. Robinson, Registered Professional Engineer, #23598,
PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING INSPECTIONS, INC

 

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