Foundation Cracks found at Home Inspection

Foundation cracks are common.  Not all foundation cracks are serious, but some are.  You’re looking at pictures of a ranch home in the Rochester area, with a collapsing foundation.  The buyer was excited after putting his offer in, as most people are.  That excitement turned to concern during the Home Inspection when I found two of the foundation walls bowing inward.

Why do foundation cracks happen?

Foundation Cracks in Rochester, New York Home Inspection
There was fresh caulk and paint hiding the crack.

Cracks happen all the time in foundations, and for lots of different reasons.  Some typical cracks are caused simply by concrete curing.  Others are small settlement cracks that are structurally insignificant after years without expansion.  Then there’s this type of crack, from one end of the basement to the other, hidden by a combination of caulk and paint by a homeowner who desperately wants to sell the house rather than pay for the expensive structural repairs.  There are many factors that lead to this type of foundation cracks; missing downspouts and damaged gutters are a prime cause.  Both these conditions cause an excessive amount of roof run off water to be deposited near the foundation.  The resulting hydraulic pressure is more than the foundation can handle and it begins to bow inward.  That’s where the problem starts, and it won’t stop until the conditions causing it are repaired and the foundation is reinforced.

You don’t want to buy this!  At least not without knowing and properly negotiating repairs into the deal.  Trust me, after the ink is signed on the papers, it’s too late to go back.

Doesn’t the seller have to disclose the problem?

New York State requires sellers to complete a full disclosure of the property condition, but gives sellers the option of “don’t know” when asking about the various items on the form.  Conveniently, many sellers seem to check the “don’t know” box when I find repairs like

Foundation Cracks in Rochester, NY Home Inspection
The lower part of the square is flush against the wall.

this.  If the seller isn’t disclosing, there’s only one way to find all the problems and conditions; a complete and thorough Home Inspection.  Based on the fact that the wall was freshly caulked and painted, I’m willing to bet that the seller probably wasn’t being entirely truthful when they checked “don’t know” on that disclosure form.  That’s between them and their conscience.  My concern is finding the problem for you; my client.

For me, the most rewarding part of this job is to have a client look me in the eye and genuinely thank me for finding something that would have cost him thousands of dollars that he didn’t have.  You’re going to spend 30 years paying for the home that you buy.  Let me make sure that you don’t have to deal with a $30,000 repair on day one.

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