From unique architectural features to mature landscaping, older Wichita homes for sale offer several positive aspects not available with newer construction. But to have the value their beauty promises, these houses must have a solid foundation. While a foundation inspection by a qualified specialist is necessary to identify all issues related to structural integrity, a homeowner can get a pretty good idea of the shape it's in with a few simple steps. In fact, our real estate agents recommend they be part of an annual maintenance program to help keep the home in great condition, year after year.
- Peruse the exterior of the house
A visual inspection can tell you whether the walls are straight and perpendicular to the ground. A level will yield better results. If you see bulging walls or signs of leaning, call a professional inspector right away to verify your concerns and offer recommendations for solutions. Survey the grade of the ground surrounding the house. It should slope slightly away from the building so that rainwater drains away from the foundation.
- Look for cracks
Tiny hairline fractures in concrete or brick walls are perfectly normal results of the house settling. Large cracks, 1/4 inch or wider, are signs of a much bigger problem. Chances are, the soil around the house is shifting and creating uneven pressure on the exterior walls. It's time to call in the pros.
- Examine concrete slabs
Using a screwdriver as a probe, periodically attempt to penetrate the concrete at various points around the structure. If the slab is deteriorating, you will be able to chip or break off chunks of concrete. If you are, the concrete was poured with an incorrect mix at its onset. Possible culprits are too much water and dirty or salty sand. Unfortunately, there is only one remedy to this issue other than creating a new foundation. Homes built in the early 1900s are most likely to exhibit this type of problem.
- Investigate crawl spaces
These are narrow spaces between the ground and the bottom floor of the house, designed to reveal the condition of posts, piers, and concrete supports. Check for signs of moisture causing mildew and mold on wooden supports, which can cause them to warp and possibly fail. Using a screwdriver, as you did when checking the concrete slabs, probe the wood for signs of decay. If there is standing moisture, there could be a problem with the home's drainage.
- Check pipes for leaks
The steady dripping from small leaks can actually account for thousands of gallons of wasted water over a single year. Not only is this bad for your water bill, that excess water had to go somewhere. If its destination lies under the house, it can be the source of many serious issues. Besides being a breeding ground for harmful insects, water is the greatest natural enemy of your home's foundation. It can cause the soil to shift and the wooden supports to rot and disintegrate.
- Look inside for more clues
Signs of ailing foundations can be seen inside the house as well as outside. Cracks, particularly where walls and ceilings meet, around doorways and windows, and even in tile flooring, can be danger signs. Doors may stick or not stay closed. Windows may jam open or shut. A ball placed on the floor may roll if the flooring is no longer horizontal to the ground.
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