House Hunting for Vintage Gems – How to Spot Common Issues

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Over the years, the construction of new Houston homes has improved drastically thanks to new products, techniques, and equipment. We also have more building codes and inspections designed to protect homeowners against poor-quality construction. Nevertheless, the demand for vintage homes continues to increase as many people hope to get a good deal on a home that they can renovate to their tastes. If you’re in the market for such a home, here are a few tips to help you weed out the most common problems and make sure you are getting a great home. 

Cracked Walls in Your Houston Home 

Hairline cracks are common, especially in newly built homes. As a general rule, new construction homes should be finished settling after about a year. However, some houses may experience additional settling, which could last for a few more years or, alternatively, reoccur in the future. 

The normal settling process may be aggravated by a series of factors, such as heavy rain, flooding, earthquakes, and sinkholes. In that case, the interior and exterior walls will begin to show signs of more severe damage in the form of diagonal cracks that get deeper and wider over time. When that happens, house settling turns into differential settlement, which is no longer a “normal” process.  

When a foundation is affected by differential settlement, large cracks may also develop at the exterior corners of the home, and in severe cases, the cracks might even work their way inside the drywall. This usually happens when the foundation cracks, meaning the walls are no longer fully supported. If you see any cracked walls in a home you intend to buy, make sure to have an inspection done to determine the depth of the problem and how it can be repaired. 

Your Houston Home ‘Find’ Has a Crumbling Foundation 

Another common sign of trouble is crumbling around the foundation. Also referred to as concrete spalling, this can happen when the water has collected underneath the foundation over time, softening the concrete. At first, it may look like a few loose flakes of concrete. But dragging a screwdriver or another hard tool across the concrete surface will tell you how far the damage has gone. If the screwdriver leaves a white streak behind, the underlying concrete is still sound and stable, which means there may not be a problem at all. If the concrete structure continues to flake and break off as you drag the screwdriver, it might have gotten too soft to support the house. In that case, repairing the foundation can be very difficult, so it might be necessary to replace a part of it or, in the worst-case scenario, the entire structure.   

Signs of Seepage Around The Home

Even if the walls of a home appear solid, you will also want to look for signs of seepage, which are usually more obvious on the ground floor. This can best be identified by a musty smell that permeates the lower level of the house. If water is seeping through, there will also be visual signs of damage, such as discoloration and/or efflorescence, which tends to occur as a result of water-soluble minerals being carried to the surface of the wall by water.  

Plumbing Leaks In Your Houston Home

Let’s assume the house you want to purchase passes the initial inspection. In that case, you should still conduct a thorough assessment of the home’s plumbing system. Much of a home’s plumbing runs beneath or through the foundation. As a result, even minor shifts could apply pressure to the pipes and cause underground leaks. If a leak is left unaddressed, it will eventually erode the soil from beneath the structure and cause a serious foundation problem. Depending on how long the plumbing leak has been going on, it might have also affected the slab, floor, drywall, and even furniture.  

Sticking Doors and Windows

In an older Houston home, windows and doors that stick can be another sign of foundation trouble. In general, sticking windows and doors occur as a result of uneven settling of the foundation, which may cause the door/window frames to shift out of their original position. This may cause doors or windows to bind in some places, making them difficult to open or close. You can test windows and doors without any special tools to determine whether or not they open and close properly. 

Uneven Floors

As you walk through the house, make note of any uneven floors you come across. Some floors may be uneven due to damaged joists, while others are a sign of deeper damage that might have been caused by a foundation problem. If the floor sags in some areas, appears uneven or feels bouncy and/or soft, make sure to have a professional inspect both the floor and foundation.  

These are just some of the common problems you may come across in older homes as you search for your very own vintage gem. Make sure to look closely at any home you are considering purchasing for signs of major foundation damage that might cost thousands of dollars to repair in the future. If you are looking for a reliable foundation repair contractor that’s ready to offer you a free foundation inspection and estimate as well as plenty of information about different foundation repair solutions, feel free to contact Allied Foundation today!

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