The cost of correcting unlevel homes: balancing value and investment.
When looking for a new home, you may think that unlevel floors are an instant deal-breaker, but don’t worry. It is common to encounter foundational damage, particularly in older houses, but most of the usual issues are simple to repair.
While many foundational issues can be easy to fix, there are some situations where repairs can be more complicated and require professional help.
For example, if the foundational damage is extensive or has been left untreated for a long time, the repairs may require more than just patching up cracks or filling gaps. In some cases, the damage may have spread to other parts of the house or caused structural problems that must be addressed before the foundational issues can be resolved.
Additionally, suppose soil settlement, expansive soils, or water damage cause foundational damage. In that case, the underlying problem may need to be addressed in addition to repairing the foundation. In these cases, a specialist may need to be brought in to assess the situation and recommend the appropriate repairs.
Knowing the common causes of structural damage and what it costs to repair them can let you confidently decide whether a house is worth your time and money.
What are the signs of an unlevel home?
When looking for a home to invest in, it’s vital to check for signs of foundational damage. Some signs are evident, while other symptoms can be hard to spot if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
The more serious the structural damage is, the more it will cost to repair. If you spot any of these telltale symptoms, it’s time to contact an expert for further evaluation.
- Exterior or interior wall cracks.
- Uneven or sinking floors.
- Chimney damage.
- Stuck or stiff doors and windows.
- Cracked floor tiles.
- Damaged siding.
- The sinking ground on the exterior of the house
- Gaps between the inside wall and roof.
How much will an unlevel home cost repair?
If you’ve identified any of the symptoms above, you’ll want to know how much it will cost to repair the damage. This depends on several factors. Contacting a structural engineer is the only way to confidently know how much you should expect to pay for repairs.
Here are some factors an expert will consider when determining the cost of fixing an unlevel house.
The extent of the damage
The first and most obvious influence on the cost of repair is the extent of the damage to the house’s foundation.
Not all cracks are created equal. The direction, width, and length of the cracks in and around a house will indicate severe structural damage. Significant wall cracking can be a sign of something more serious. The longer a problem is left unfixed, the more expensive it will be to repair.
Before buying an unlevel house, consider the hidden costs that may reveal themselves when repairing structural damage. An uneven floor may look like a simple fix on paper, but structural damage can be deep-rooted and require significant time and money to repair.
For example, it may look like a damaged beam could easily be replaced, but the cost of extraction and replacement can add up. Removing one affected foundation part can also reveal other areas that must be repaired. An expert will help you identify hidden costs, so you can be confident you’ve considered all avenues before purchasing a new home.
The location of the property
A property’s location considerably impacts how costly it will be to fix the problem. Approximately 20% of properties are built on expansive soil. This means the soil expands as it gets wet and contracts when it dries. As the soil moves, it can strain the foundations of a property.
Houses built on non-cohesive soil containing lots of sand, chalk, or gravel are also prone to subsidence because water flow can easily wash these materials away.
Knowing precisely what soil a house is built on can be tricky. A structural engineer will help you understand the root cause of foundational damage and determine how much it will cost to solve the problem permanently.
The house foundation
Depending on your foundation type, you may have to pay more to have the property repaired. For example, pier-and-beam foundations are typically cheaper to fix because it’s easier to access the foundation of the damaged structure.
Old or historic houses are prone to uneven floors because they were typically designed with outdated, shallow foundations. A home with an inadequate foundation will likely require more extensive work to repair completely.
Why a thorough inspection is critical?
It’s essential to consult an expert to know whether you’re getting good value for money. If you inspect a home for damage, you may miss critical details and hidden costs that could leave you out of pocket.
A structural engineer can see potential problems that you can’t. A thorough inspection of the house’s structure will give you peace of mind that you’re making the correct choice.
Understanding the extent of damage in an unlevel home can also give you the power to ask for concessions. With the information you gain, you could ask a seller to:
- Reduce the price of the home
- Make repairs before finalizing the agreement
- Offer repair credit once the deal is finalized.
Once you know how much you will pay for repairs, you can decide whether a house is worth your investment.