Foundation Measurements

There are a few home inspectors out there offering free foundation measurements that really don't accomplish much other than add anxiety to an already stressful time of a home purchase. 

I don't think a foundation measurement is necessary in a majority of cases and here's why:

First, a prospective home buyer must ask themselves what they are trying to accomplish by having the level of the foundation and slab measured.  Second, there is no such thing as a level foundation or slab; at least not in the way the typical home buyer thinks of level.  We hope that construction professionals perform due diligence, but there are tolerances that give them some wiggle room.  If a foundation/slab is off one or two inches say for instance from front to back or three corners compared to a fourth, it’s not considered that much out of the ordinary; especially if we are talking a 50+ foot span.  It can happen on pier/post and beam systems too.  I’ve read instances where a foundation slab was out of level by +6″ and it was poured that way!

The basic foundation industry standard before a foundation repair is recommended  is a differential of > 3″; and even then the repair may not be recommended.  (i.e.: If a slab tips on the soil but stays intact without causing structural problems, it usually is left alone.)  Simply put; it can be calculated by settlement, deflection or a combination of both.  But if there are no significant settlement indicators on the exterior or interior of the home, what has the measurement proved?

Here is where I’m going:  Point of reference.  A home inspection is a snapshot in time.  If there are  indications of non-uniform settlement of the foundation system since the original construction of the home, a measurement on the day of the inspection can’t be of anymore benefit than what can be seen unless a prior measurement was done.  Yes, chances are based on significant indicators (cracks ≥ 1/4″ or sloping floors) it may be obvious the home has moved.  A foundation level check or measurement is moot since a competent inspection professional can already see and confirm movement and make recommendations accordingly.  

The standard for Texas foundations is provided by The Foundation Performance Association based out of Houston, Texas.  If you need an expert analysis, I would recommend a licensed Professional Engineer who upholds the standards set forth by the FPA.  They know what they are doing and will spend the time necessary to exclusively evaluate a foundation and compose a report regarding such.  A home inspector simply can’t perform due diligence to a comprehensive home inspection and comprehensive foundation analysis since most aren't qualified to do so.

For a no-nonsense, comprehensive and competent home inspection, contact Joe today!

Have a great day!

Disclaimer:  There are areas in Central Texas that have expansive soils; especially off the Balcones Escarpment.  If you live in a home in one of these areas or are looking to buy a home, having a foundation measurement done may be prudent to give you a baseline should there be future movement.