What’s Involved in a Home Foundation Inspection?

During a foundation inspection, an inspector will check your home’s interior, exterior, and surrounding property for signs of weakness or damage.
Written by Melanie Mergen
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
During a foundation inspection, an inspector will examine the interior and exterior of your home for any signs of damage or weakness in your home’s foundation. They’ll also take a look at the surrounding property for signs like ground shifting or drainage problems.
Finding out you need “foundation repair” can be overwhelming. If you have concerns about your home’s foundation, call a professional as soon as possible to avoid serious consequences.
A typical house foundation inspection could cost between $300 and $500, but it ultimately depends on a variety of elements, like the size and complexity of your home’s structure and the property it sits on.
A foundation inspection can help you protect the investment that is your home. Courtesy of
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What is a foundation inspection?

During a foundation inspection, an expert will evaluate your home’s foundation and inform you about any areas of concern, their risks, and possible solutions.
A typical foundation inspection can be broken into three steps:
  • Pre-inspection, when you and the inspector talk about what to expect and you can voice any questions or concerns.
  • Inspection, when the inspector evaluates the interior and exterior of your home for damage like cracks or bowing, as well as your surrounding property for potential ground shifting or drainage issues.
  • Post-inspection report, when your inspector shares their findings with you. A good foundation inspector’s report will be rich in detail and have photos and recommendations to fix specific areas of concern.
How your foundation is inspected depends on what type of foundation you have. A few of the most common types include full basement, concrete slab, and pier and beam or crawlspace.

Full basement

If your house is supported by a full basement foundation, your inspector will check interior floors, walls, and ceilings, as well as the exterior foundation for signs of cracking or other damage or weakness.
If your basement doesn’t cover the whole perimeter of your house, the inspector would check the remaining area based on what type of foundation that part of your house has.
Basement walls can experience cracking and
water seepage
over time, which can create serious problems for the integrity of your foundation.

Concrete slab

Concrete slab foundations are one of the easiest and cheapest types of foundation to create; essentially, your house is built on a slab of concrete.
One unfortunate thing about concrete slab foundations is that they’re more vulnerable to certain foundation issues, like cracking from ground shifting. Additionally, if pipes or other elements under your home need work, your foundation will have to be cut into, which can weaken it over time.
Concrete slab foundations are also more difficult to inspect since you can’t look around inside like you could with a basement or crawl space. The inspector will have to evaluate the exterior and look for any signs that point to settling, as well as any signs within the home itself, like cracking or bowing walls.

Pier and beam/crawl space

Compared to concrete slabs, pier and beam or crawl space foundations are much easier to inspect because you can look at the condition of your home’s beams from the inside.
With this type of foundation, your home sits on piers and beams that extend deep into the soil for extra stability. They slightly elevate your home, which creates room for a crawl space underneath and can provide some extra protection against flooding. Pier and beam foundations are popular in coastal areas or other locations where the ground can be prone to shifting.
Beams that are made from wood can be vulnerable to damage from moisture and pests.

Who performs a foundation inspection?

If you’re concerned about your home’s foundation, a structural or foundation engineer can inspect it for you. Foundation repair businesses also typically offer their own inspections. 
A good inspector will be able to help you understand the severity of your situation and what your options are to address it.
Remember that a structural or foundation engineer will only give you their evaluation of the state of your foundation—they won’t be the ones to complete repairs for you. 
For some, this can offer peace of mind because, in theory, the engineer doesn’t stand to gain from any repairs they recommend to you. Others prefer the same business to handle both the inspection and requisite repairs.
Before you select an inspector, make sure to review their credentials and look over customer reviews, if available. It’s also worth seeking out multiple quotes and requesting to see sample reports of their work.
Make sure the person you choose is licensed and insured to inspect a home with your foundation type. You should also verify whether your city requires permits for foundation inspections.

Should you hire a professional or do it yourself?

It’s up to you to look for potentially serious foundation issues in your home. Once you notice any warning signs, it’s time to call in a professional so you know what you’re facing.

Signs you may need a foundation inspection

Signs it might be time to inspect your home’s foundation include:
  • Difficult to open doors and windows
  • Sloping floors 
  • Cracks, especially horizontal ones
  • Cracked windows
  • Mold, mildew, or water seepage in basement
  • Rotting wood
Especially in older homes, a house will experience some natural settling that isn’t of concern. 
Certain cracks can either be a harmless effect of that settling or something more serious. 
Generally, hairline vertical cracks may not necessarily be a problem, but horizontal cracks can often be cause for concern. So, too, can cracks that are wider than about ⅛ inch, or the width of a pen or pencil. 
It’s a good idea to monitor cracks to see if they’re expanding over time. If you’re unsure how serious yours may be, it’s always best to have a professional check.
Sloping floors can be a natural part of settling, too, but there is a limit. The
National Association of Homebuilders
(NAHB) recommends that your sloping not exceed a half-inch over 20 feet. 
Older homes may slope a bit more than this without constituting a problem, but you should consult a professional to decide whether repairs are needed at that point.
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Emergency foundation inspections

There are other situations that make a home foundation inspection far more urgent. 
Natural disasters
, mudslides, flooding, and sinkholes can create emergency situations for your foundation. So can unexpected accidents, like a vehicle crashing into your home or a large tree falling in your yard.
Separating, bowing, and bulging walls are signs you may be dealing with an emergencyfoundation situation. If that’s the case, your household may be forced to
until you can find out whether your home is safe, or whether you need to make certain repairs first. 

Is a home foundation inspection worth it?

A home foundation inspection is almost always worth it. It can give you the knowledge you need if your foundation has problems or peace of mind if there are no serious issues. 
Addressing issues early on can also prevent serious damage in the future, saving you money in the long term.
Plus, if your inspection shows your foundation is in good shape, it can raise your home’s value if you plan to sell.
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During a home foundation inspection, an inspector will look around the interior and exterior of your home for signs of structural damage. They’ll also look at the property your home sits on for other areas of concern, like signs of ground shifting or water drainage issues.
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