Foundation Issues

Foundation and structural issues can be a major concern.  They can lead to expensive repairs and big headaches, and can throw a monkey wrench into the sale or purchase of a home.  Since we have many older homes in the area, foundation issues in Grand Rapids are common.  Here are some ways to identify structural problems, and an overview of the repair options available for you.

WindowHow To Identify Foundation Issues 

Many signs can point to structural problems within a house.  Start by checking if you have uneven or sloping floors.  If you’re not sure, you can always test it by putting a small rubber ball on the ground.  If it rolls, you have uneven flooring.  Secondly, check for cracks in your walls, molding, or floor.  Cracks are a sign of stress or pressure, and can be an indicator of foundation issues.

If you have windows that no longer close properly or doors that stick,  the frame of the house may have shifted.  Also, if your walls are separating from the ceiling anywhere in the house, you should take a closer look.

You can also check for foundation problems from outside your house.  If you can see any part of the foundation, look for cracks or bulging.

If you have a concrete foundation, it should not crack or chip when struck.  If it does, the concrete may have been made with dirty or salty sand, or too much water.  This is fairly common in early 1900s homes, which has definitely led to some foundation issues in Grand Rapids houses.

Look for separation between exterior walls.  Doors and windows may separate from their frames, and the corners may become uneven.  Exterior walls can also ‘rotate,’ where different parts of the wall stick out from the rest.

If you are noticing some of these signs, it is a good idea to have a professional come take a look at your home.  Ignoring the  issue may cause the issue to get much worse.

WallConcrete Cracks

If you have a concrete or concrete block foundation, cracks are common.  Which should you pay attention to?

Hairline Cracks – Generally, these are the least worrisome.  They can occur for a number of reasons, and don’t necessarily indicate a problem.

Stair-Step Cracks – If there are cracks among masonry joints, you should take a closer look.  If the wall is bulging at this point, or the crack is greater than 1/4 of an inch, call a professional.  It is likely that a moisture problem (such as a clogged gutter or water drainage) is exerting pressure on your foundation.

Horizontal Cracks – These are the most serious.  For a foundation in Grand Rapids, this may mean that your soil has frozen and expanded, breaking your structure.  Or, you may have soil that expands and shrinks based on the moisture level.  In this case, you may need a new foundation or serious repair.

What to do if you have a foundation issue in Grand Rapids

If your house is showing some of these signs, have a structural engineer evaluate your property.  These evaluations be pricey, ranging anywhere from $350 – $700 depending on the scope of the work.  A full set of designs to solve the problems can cost up to $2,000.

HouseOnce the problem has been identified, there are many potential solutions.

-The wall can be braced with steel or carbon fiber mesh to strengthen the structure.  Typically, this will cost between $350 and $700 for every 6 feet of wall.

-The foundation can be underpinned with concrete piers or helical screws.  This is a more expensive fix, ranging from $1200-$1400 for every 6-8 feet of wall.

-Foundation replacement, which can cost up to $40,000 depending on your home.

The structural engineer should be able to make a recommendation on the right course of action, and offer you a few options for moving forward.  Since this analysis (and the repairs) can be expensive, make sure you bring an experienced, knowledgeable engineer to your home.  They can save you time and headache in the long run.

As always, feel free to contact us at Honeybee Homes at (616) 606-3390 for additional help regarding your home.