No Bones About It…Have Your Home’s Structure Checked Before You Buy
When it comes to home-shopping, it’s easy to be blinded by outside appearances: a sparkling paint job, a manicured lawn, a nostalgic white picket fence. Yes, nice touches with knockout curb appeal, but you know the old adage: All that glitters…
Just as a doctor will request an X-ray, so, too, should a home-buyer contract a certified inspector to examine the bones of the home to determine the strength and stability behind its pristine façade. Complete 500-point home inspections, like those done at A-Pro, include a visual assessment of the home’s skeleton, including the foundation and floor, wall, ceiling, and roof structures. Structural deficiencies are noted in the detailed inspection report.
Roof Truss Problems: Truss failure may result in the roof not being able to withstand excessive loads of wind and snow. Your inspector may discover bracing problems (missing nails, the absence of necessary bracing, poor grade lumber, etc.); removed or cut web members; improperly installed trusses; torn out or buckled connector plates; cracked members; and “trust lift,” a condition caused by seasonally-induced expansion and contraction of lumber.
Sagging Ceiling: A sagging ceiling may indicate a sinking or shifting foundation, especially if it’s accompanied by foundation cracks, hard-to-open doors and windows, and tell-tale cracks in upper walls. Other possible causes may be an inadequate support structure (i.e., joists too far apart, missing beams, or frame too small to handle the load), water pooling atop the ceiling due to a leak, or termites feasting on load-bearing beams.
Sagging/Sloping Floors: Sagging or sloping wood floors can be an indication of a number of issues. These include a shifting or sinking foundation, rotting or termite-infested beams and joists, poorly executed structural cuts to make room for plumbing or wiring and ill-advised removal of supports for home renovation projects.
Foundation Cracks: The inspector will carefully examine the basement’s poured concrete or concrete block walls for cracks, which can be a sign of foundational problems depending on their location, type (horizontal, vertical, diagonal) and severity. While many cracks are harmless, some fissures can blossom into indicators that the home has serious foundation damage. This is particularly true of horizontal cracks that can form due to constant pressure against the sides of the walls. Most important, even small cracks will need to be carefully monitored to see if they are widening or spreading.
Drywall and Plaster Cracks: The majority of cracks in drywall and plaster—running vertically or horizontally along the drywall seam or at joints—pose only a cosmetic annoyance to the homeowner. Diagonal cracks are a different matter. If accompanied by other indicators of structural problems (foundation cracks, bowed walls, sagging roof, etc.), wall cracks add another layer of evidence that the problem may be more than cosmetic in nature. When the cracks appear over doorways, windows, or where walls meet ceilings, there is even great cause for concern.