|Slip Sliding Away|
|Tales From The Crawl Space|
Today's home inspection was on a vacant home in the San Diego State area just off of College Avenue. The client was most interested in having a visual Foundation Inspection done as they had already completed their standard home inspection. The area where the home is located consists of homes built in the 1930s and 40s and most of the homes have been upgraded or maintained meticulously. This particular home was in various stages of being remodeled, the wood floors had been sanded and partially refinished, and some of the doors had been replaced. The garage had been converted, and there was a permit card in the basement indicating that the city of San Diego had been out to verify that this conversion was done properly.
I began the home inspection by walking around the exterior of the structure looking for cracks and other signs of settlement. As I got the south side of the home I noticed that large portions of the patio slab have subsided and were pulling away from the home. The rear yard was terraced, and several of the retaining walls had cracks in them as well. This was not good news. I moved onto the interior of the structure and was not able to find anything remarkable within the home. Doors and windows opened and closed properly, the floor seem to be fairly level and except for a few cracks on the plaster ceiling all seemed well.
So far I had surmised that while the lot seemed to be moving in a southerly direction the home appeared to be setting on a fairly stable foundation. Well that was my understanding until I decided to take a look in the crawlspace.
The crawlspace was easily entered by a full height door on the south side of the property. The foundation system consisted largely of post-and peer construction with concrete footings underneath the posts. What was noted was that most of the soil was lowered and did not provide adequate support for the footings any longer.
Further into the crawlspace I came upon the foundation wall which had suffered severe moisture damage over the years. The foundation wall was "spalling", which means the exterior surface of the foundation was sloughing off due to elevated moisture content and salts and lime being leached from the concrete over the years. The rebar within the concrete was exposed and was rusting. The home was bolted to the foundation but the problem was the foundation bolts were rusting as well. This was more bad news. I was forced to make a recommendation that this home foundation was structurally compromised and further evaluation by a licensed structural engineer was recommended.
So what is the moral of the story? Sometimes you need to look beyond the surface to find exactly what the home is trying to tell you. As I had mentioned, the home appeared to be in fairly decent shape. Many rooms had fresh paint, doors and windows had been painted and for the most part it seemed move-in ready. Without a thorough foundation inspection a potential home buyer may have bought this home without doing the dirty work of going in the crawlspace to look for signs of structural movement. And that brings us to why I love my job. I get to offer insight and lean on my experiences in construction and other fields to describe a condition that may help an unsuspecting buyer avoid a loss in a home that "looked" fine on the surface.
Until next time,
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|Last Updated on Friday, 06 May 2011 14:34|