A strong foundation is necessary for all buildings, as it's responsible for holding the entire weight of the construction. If you suspect issues in the foundation of your house, instead of hiring a costly inspector, you may be able to identify the issues yourself (saving some money), so you can organise the necessary repairs.
First, you need to confirm that the issues you've noticed are actually foundation related. Some common signs for foundation issues that may be seen both inside and outside the house include:
- Vertical and horizontal cracking on walls, cracking above doors or windows, etc.
- Wall distortions, where a wall warps or bends unusually.
- Uneven flooring
- Gaps in a door or window frame, etc.
Note that some signs of light damage may not mean that there are foundation issues, and won't necessarily affect the function of the foundation. If you're unsure, it's best to seek professional help for a better assessment.
If possible, you should then attempt to identify possible causes of the foundation problems. The most common causes are water-related. The presence of water in soil affects the soil moisture, which can cause the soil to shrink or expand, thus causing movement of the foundation. Some signs for water damage include water-stained walls, dark floor stains, unexplained mould growth and strange puddles of water around the house.
Termites can also affect the structural integrity of a foundation. Termites feed on all types of wood and can cause structures to be compromised, thin or hollowed. A common sign of a termite infestation is warped windows or doors. Other signs may not be obvious until severe damage has occurred. If you suspect termite damage, it's suggested to contact a local pest control service as soon as possible for a more thorough inspection.
Once a possible source of the problem has been identified, you can investigate potential solutions. Although signs of damage may appear minor at the time, more serious issues can develop later on if problems aren't properly addressed. In most cases, foundation work should be done by a properly licensed contractor.
To ensure you get the best price you can, you may wish to get an independent assessment of your house from more than one contractor. However, ensure the contractor you decide on is properly certified, and don't make decisions based solely on the price of the repair – remember the foundation holds up the entire house, and you want it to be as reliable as possible.