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Structural Integrity

PhotoFew things can lower the value of a house like foundation problems. Whether you're a homeowner or a homebuyer, learn how to spot current or potential problems by looking out for the following signs.

Inside the house:

    • Floors slope or have depressions, humps, or soft, spongy spots; tiles are raised or cracked; hardwood is warped.

 

 

    • Wallpaper is torn, wrinkled, or curling.

 

 

    • Cabinetry won't stay shut and/or has separated from walls or ceilings.

 

 

    • Doors or windows don't open and close properly, and/or have gaps between them and the framing; frames are askew.

 

 

    • Cracks in sheetrock, walls (particularly at joints), ceilings, the basement, moldings; in and around fireplaces; and at the corners of window and door frames.

 

 

    • A lot of nails popping out of sheetrock or corner frames.

 

 

  • Bowed basement walls.

 

Outside the house:

    • There are cracks in the brick veneer or mortar, most commonly found in a zigzag or "step" pattern that follows mortar.

 

 

    • The brick veneer is pulling away from window or door frames, leaving a gap.

 

 

    • Fascia boards are separating; this is especially common at the corners of the house.

 

 

    • The roofline is uneven.

 

 

    • The chimney is cracked and/or tilted.

 

 

    • Visible cracks in the foundation. Hairline cracks are normal and unlikely to be problematic; larger cracks, which can let water in, are cause for concern.

 

 

  • Gaps between garage doors and the ground.

 

If you see any such signs around your current house, don't hesitate to contact a professional – left unaddressed, small problems can become big ones. If you're considering buying a home that exhibits any of these signs, be sure to have it inspected so you have a clear understanding of its condition.

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