Buying a house is an exciting experience to go through. You visit and tour some beautiful homes and tick one off your list until you stumble across the right one. However, while exploring your options, you should remember one thing: the structural considerations.
By checking the structural considerations and architectural engineering design, you might spot a minor problem that can turn into a large and potentially dangerous one. Hence, it’s crucial to study the property’s foundation.
Continue reading to learn about the six real-estate structural considerations you should be wary of before buying a house:
1. Cracked Or Bulging Walls And Ceiling
Cracks on the walls may be quite common. Not all of them are indicative of serious structural damage. However, you should still keep an eye on those cracks. Over time, small cracks can easily escalate into bigger ones.
Cracks that measure less than 1/8-inch thick are known as stress cracks. These cracks aren’t dangerous, but cracks that are 1/4-inch wide and bigger are unsafe. For instance, vertical cracks on concrete walls that widen at the top or bottom can be a sign that the wall is weak.
After determining the size of the cracks, examine their position. If you find long, horizontal cracks in areas where upstairs ceilings and partition walls join, the house has roof truss issues. Roof truss issues will make the ceilings break off the walls. You should also watch out for large cracks that are paired with sagging ceilings and cracks above doorways. On the other hand, you don’t have to worry about small cracks over doors or windows since they’re safe.
Some of the main types of cracks include:
- Cracks in any of the foundation walls;
- Interior cracks, like those in the plasterboard;
- Exterior cracks, such as those on the brickwork and rendering of external walls
If you aren’t certain about the cracks you see or aren’t able to identify dangerous cracks, you can avail of the services of a structural design consultancy.
2. Misaligned Doors And Windows
Misaligned doors and windows refer to those that don’t stick well, don’t latch as well as they used to, or those that can’t be opened well. Typically, the remedy for these types of doors and windows is to have them fixed. But even after repair, they remain misaligned. If that’s the case, then the problem lies in the home’s building and structure.
A few common indicators of misaligned doors and windows include:
- Doors and windows that are hard to open
- A leaky home when it rains
Once you’ve determined that misaligned doors and windows are a structural problem, you should install helical pliers. Helical pliers are screwed deep down to any stable soil area to strengthen the foundation of the property.
3. Damaged Flooring
As you inspect the home, examine every corner, including the flooring. Check the condition of floorboards by removing any carpets, rugs, or floor coverings you find. A problem with the floorboards, such as rotting floors, is indicative of a serious problem. For example, floors that are rotting, soft, smelly may be caused by a broken pipe. Damp floorboards may also be a sign of pest infestation.
Another serious issue is crowning floors, which have bumps. They’re usually found close to water sources or in places with high humidity. These floorboards draw water from the top, swelling in the middle.
Though creaky floors may seem harmless, they can be a serious issue as well. Floorboards that are too loose lack support, so they’ll eventually collapse.
Other wood flooring problems you should be mindful of are:
- Abnormal gaps, particularly those that are too big and irregular
- Buckling, which happens when the floorboards are exposed to a lot of moisture
- Excessive wear and tear can be a sign that the floors were installed too quickly.
Asbestos being one of the top structural issues may be a thing of the past since stringent construction measures and standards have been put in place. However, if you’re buying a house that’s at least 20 to 30 years old, the risk of asbestos is high.
Many years back, asbestos was used as a part of building structures to serve as a fire safety barrier and insulation. Today, asbestos is frowned upon and viewed as a structural defect.
However, the most pressing concern surrounding the presence of asbestos in a home’s structure is the fact that it’s a dangerous mineral that poses serious respiratory health hazards.
To identify asbestos during your house tour and inspection, keep the following signs in mind:
- An attic that’s made of insulation materials you suspect were made between the 1920s and 1980s
- Ceilings that have the distinct, aged feature in the form of spray-on ceiling tiles
- A fire-resistant window putty that’s apparently made of asbestos.
5. Soil Pulling Away From The House Walls
When studying the property’s yard and exteriors, don’t just go around the garden. Check the sides of the home’s walls and foundation as well, so you can be on the lookout for soil that’s pulling away from the sides. This is an important consideration when buying a house.
When the foundation is laid out properly and there isn’t any structural damage in the home, the soil surrounding the home is supposed to adhere well to the home’s perimeter. If it doesn’t, it means that the home’s foundation was either improperly laid out or done too quickly.
Lastly, the presence of molds in the house is both a health and structural concern. Black mold around the ceiling corner or on the floor’s skirting can signify the presence of a larger structural issue. One problem is water and moisture seeping through the home’s foundation, making it weaker and unfit.
These warning signs will help you detect mold infestation:
- Discolored or water-stained indoor ceilings or walls
- Discolored or water-stained outdoor ceilings or walls
- Walls, floors, window sills that are filled with standing water or condensed
Though buying a house is both a rewarding and exciting experience, it can be challenging since you’ll have to consider not just the location and aesthetics but also the structure. You can always consult a structural engineer for residential homes, so you’ll be certain that the house you’re planning to buy has a strong foundation.
In case you have any architectural, structural, HVAC, and MEP design including fire sprinkler design requirements, or need commercial HVAC design, feel free to contact us. We provide you with the full permit set design + T24 for your request.
Zion Reese is a professional home inspector who specializes in structural damage. He helps clients identify possible areas that need fixing. At present, he’s completing his license to be a real estate agent.