Structural Issues: My Top 6 Prevention Tips

structural-issues-real-estateCould there be potential structural issues lurking in your home?

(click the image above for a short video)

Today I thought I would share this slightly humorous trailer on one of the phrases that buyers find the scariest: “structural issues.” Cue the ominous, threatening music ;-).

In Colorado it’s fairly common to come across houses with structural issues. It’s something that buyers as well as homeowners need to be aware of.

A client of mine recently went under contract on a home in Centennial. We knew from our initial visit that there were some things going on. This house was built in the 1960’s, so you could certainly expect some settling and maybe some other issues as well (aluminum wiring, possibly asbestos, cracks in the sewer line, etc.).

The first thing we did was schedule an inspection along with a sewer scope (see the video on that process here). We asked a structural engineer to come along, too.

I always love hearing what engineers have to say, and this time was no different. The most common thing I hear is that the walls have moved and/or are bowing. This is usually the result of pressure from dirt that has been soaked with water pushing against the foundation walls. The three most common issues I see on a regular basis are:

  • Vegetation growing right next to the house (think bushes, ivy, flowers, etc.);
  • Leaking gutters (gutters are supposed to move the water from downpour or snow 5 feet or more away from the house); and
  • Concrete or grading that slopes toward the house.

Back in the 1960’s, I doubt new homeowners got their soils reports or a booklet on how important it is to keep water away from the foundation…so it makes sense that this was neglected in this 50 year-old home. However, I see this all the time even with homes that are only 10-15 years old.

It’s easy to ignore foundation or structural “hygiene” (for lack of a better word) or tell yourself you’ll take care of it later. Structural issues are not cheap (as my client can tell you) but small fixes like these can be. In most cases, your biggest investment with them will be in the time you spend doing them, not the supplies. So do what’s right and address these small things before they become big and potentially prevent you from being able to sell your house at the price you want (or at all).

Here’s my list of Top 6 Prevention Tips when it comes to future structural issues:

  1. Clean gutters yearly. If you don’t want to do yourself or it’s too dangerous, call this month’s featured vendor – 4th Dimension Concepts (844-565-8317) — for a discount on cleaning gutters.
  2. Make sure all of your downspouts effectively carry water 4-5’ away from the foundation.
  3. Replace leaking gutters (corners can be an issue).
  4. Check hose bibs for leaks, especially if you leave them on and use a spray nozzle.
  5. Make sure you don’t have any plants/bushes or other things that require water to live within 4-5’ of the foundation. If you do, have them removed and replace with rock or mulch.
  6. Check the grading around your home to make sure that when it rains or snows, the water is directed away from your foundation. (Let me know if you need a referral for a landscaper or concrete expert to help you with this.)

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