You’re about to buy a home. Maybe it’s your first home. Maybe it’s your “forever home.” Either way, it’s likely to be the biggest investment you’ve ever made. So, you hire a home inspector to make sure that your new house is safe, secure and ready for moving day.


But what if that home inspector misses something? What if, six months from now, you discover an issue that might’ve prevented you from buying the house altogether? Or, at the very least, what if you find an issue that might’ve given you leverage to get a lower price?


Home inspectors are generally very good at their jobs — but they’re not infallible. And while they may be experts at finding problems with plumbing and wiring, they sometimes miss foundation, concrete and other structural problems. That’s why it’s important to make sure your new home isn’t plagued with structural issues that will affect its resale value.


Here are a few structural problems a home inspector may miss or misinterpret.


  1.  Sticking windows and/or doors It might be tempting to chalk a sticking window or stubborn door up to the age of the home. It’s not uncommon for potential buyers and inspectors to dismiss these symptoms as simply a home “settling.” But there may be more to it. A window or door may stick in its frame because the structure around it has actually shifted and is no longer true. This shift may be due to the home’s foundation sinking into the soil beneath it, causing the structure above it to skew. This can happen when poorly compacted fill soil compresses over time. Or it may happen when soil washes away or dries up and shrinks due to extreme weather events such as flooding and drought. Whatever the cause, the problem can be quite serious and may foreshadow more severe issues down the line.
  2.  Gapping floors and/or ceilings This is another aesthetic issue that is easy to blame on a home settling, especially if the structure is more than 20 years old. But there may be an underlying reason that an interior wall separates from the floor or ceiling. And as with sticking doors and windows, this reason may be a foundation settlement issue. So, if you’re looking to buy a home that has ceiling or floor gaps, it may be time to bring in a foundation expert to have a closer look.
  3. Bouncing or uneven floors Unlike the issues mentioned above, bouncing or uneven floors may occur simply because the joists that support the floor have warped due to either an excess of moisture causing swelling or a lack of moisture causing shrinking. This is most often seen in a home that is built over a crawl space rather than a fully sealed basement — although waterproofing issues can cause basements to give off enough humidity to cause these issues as well. That being said, foundation settlement can cause bouncing and uneven floors too, so it is well worth having an expert inspect them to determine the cause and resolution. Even if your home has a full basement, it may have an addition that is built over a crawl space, so that addition may be prone to bouncing and uneven floors, where the rest of the home is not.
  4.  Drywall or plaster cracks This is another aesthetic problem that can indicate a deeper structural issue. As a foundation settles, it typically does so in an uneven manner. That means certain parts of the house may sink while others don’t. Or perhaps they sink at different rates. This can cause the home’s framing to skew, which in addition to windows and doors sticking and floors and ceilings gapping, can cause interior walls to crack. The trouble is, interior wall cracks — especially hairline cracks — are all too easy to fill and paint. This makes them easy to miss at an inspection.
  5. Separating chimney While a home inspector should spot an issue as obvious as a chimney that has become separated from the rest of the home, it is possible that it may be missed. As with the above issues, a chimney separation is likely caused by poor soil beneath it, but it may be exacerbated because the chimney’s foundation may not be physically connected to the main structure. This can happen immediately after a home’s construction or years later as it settles into poorly compacted or washed out soil.
  6. Driveway, pool deck, patio and sidewalk cracks It seems as if we’ve become used to seeing cracked concrete. Walk down any residential sidewalk, and you’ll see cracked, broken and sunken slabs. You’ll see these same issues in other concrete structures too, including driveways, patios and pool decks. While these may not seem as severe as foundation-related problems, they do affect the value of your home. And, in some cases, may actually present tripping hazards that could mean liability issues for the owner. What they do have in common with foundation issues, however, is the cause — poor soil. As with a foundation, concrete slabs can sink and crack over time as they settle into poorly compacted fill soil or into voids left behind after soil washes out or shrinks due to drought.

If you’re looking to buy or sell a home and suspect it may have foundation, crawl space or concrete issues, contact Vesta Foundation Solutions. We have the expertise and equipment to accurately assess and permanently repair most foundation, crawl space and concrete issues.