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Whether you just purchased your “forever home,” or plan on putting your house on the market, every homeowner should pay attention to the common items that affect their home's value. Many factors affect home values nationwide. National and regional economic variables, demand for real estate, and interest and unemployment rates all create ups and downs in your home's value. Your home's actual value, however, is more directly affected by factors like square footage and the overall quality of the construction of your home's systems and finishings. One major factor that is often far from any homeowner's mind is the integrity of their home's foundation.

Common Foundation Problems
Foundation problems arise for many reasons with different causes and degrees of severity. Three common sources of foundation issues are:

The soil upon which the foundation was built may be weak, causing settlement. Settlement occurs when one or more areas of the home “sag” or “droop” as the soil under the foundation compacts. Cracks appear in walls, floors slope, windows and doors won't close properly, and chimneys can tilt as a result of the settlement. Saturated, wet, soil may expand and create pressure against foundation walls, causing your walls to tilt, bow or bulge. This is especially common in areas with significant amounts of clay soils which are particularly affected by moisture content.

Prolonged periods of drought may also cause problems. Soil can shrink and pull away from the foundation, causing settlement and cracks to appear as the foundation shifts to accommodate the extra space created by contracting soils.

Soil conditions in Nebraska are particularly challenging as they contain a mixture of sand, silt and clay. Clay soils expand significantly when exposed to water. Improperly prepared soil beneath a foundation, or footings that have not been sunk deep enough into the ground can be affected by clay soil expansion. As the clay soils take on moisture they cause expansion in the soil that heaves upward towards the concrete slab or pushes laterally against foundation walls. This can create cracks in exposed sections of basement concrete slabs or bowing and leaning foundation walls. Expansive soils are present throughout the United States, and every year these soils cause billions of dollars in damage to homes. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that a quarter of all homes in the United States have some type of damage caused by expansive soils. These soils can easily create a larger financial loss to homeowners than floods, hurricanes and tornados.

Foundation Problems and Home Value
Regardless of the cause, foundation problems can greatly reduce the value of a home. How much the value drops depends upon the severity of the problem. Rare Daily estimates that a home with foundation issues sees a reduction in value in the range of 10-15%. Using that 10-15% figure, a $200,000 home with foundation issues could lose $20,000 - $30,000 in actual value. Foundation problems can be catastrophic if ignored and will never simply fix themselves over time. However, if you identify the problem before it becomes too advanced, most foundation issues have simple, permanent solutions – many of which can be completed within a day.

In addition to affecting the overall value of your home, structural problems are a red flag to both home inspectors and potential buyers, making it hard to sell your home. In many states, like Nebraska, known foundation issues MUST legally be disclosed at the time of sale. Failure to do so can lead to lawsuits and repeated lost bids from potential buyers. Structural issues can also decrease curb appeal and impact the buyer's first impression. Would you want to purchase a home that has a visibly bowed or cracked basement wall, or a tilted chimney?

Some common warning signs that can indicate the presence of foundation issues include:

Windows that stick or have become difficult to open or close over time.
Uneven floors and/or sticking doors.
Visible lateral, vertical or stair step cracks in foundation walls.
Visible cracks in concrete floors.
Cracks or splits in drywall - especially at corners around doorways and windows.
Sagging or springy floors over crawlspaces.
Leaning or tilting chimneys.
Cracks or heaving/lifted garage slabs.

HOW WILL REPAIRING A FOUNDATION PROBLEM AFFECT HOME VALUE?

Repaired foundations are not a home defect, and can actually show that you care enough about your home to make proper repairs. Foundation repairs happen all the time, and in some cases the repairs can make the foundation stronger than its original construction. Well-done structural repairs generally satisfy buyers and don't decrease the value of your home. Homeowners who have repaired structural problems should be proactive in selling the quality of the repairs to potential buyers. Working with a creditable and professional structural contractor who provides a transferable warranty will also help reinforce the value of the repairs. What better way to put a potential buyer's mind at ease than a warranty from the contractor?

If your foundation has a problem, whether you have plans to sell your home or not, it's smart to repair sooner than later. Small problems now will lead to larger problems in the future. You'll be able to work with a contractor without the pressure of having to make the repairs quickly and can schedule the work at your convenience. Also, by catching and fixing the problems now, you will likely save significantly versus waiting for the problems to become emergencies. By fixing these problems now, you can have the peace-of-mind that your foundation is stable and not getting any worse.

Learn more about how foundation repair affects home value from one of of our pros in the video below:

At Thrasher, we use products and techniques designed, manufactured, and distributed by Supportworks, Inc., an international network of more than 100 of the most experienced structural repair contractors and engineers in North America. The Supportworks™ team of in-house structural and geotechnical engineers have carefully designed, tested, and patented solutions for repairing foundation problems of all types. Each of our products is based on time-honored solutions that meet all local and international standards. For more information and to set up a free, no-obligation inspection and estimate, contact Thrasher today.