How strong are your bones?
No, this post isn’t sponsored by the Dairy Farmers of America — we’re talking about your home.
Your home’s structural integrity – the strength of its “bones” – is not only important to homeowners, but it’s also very important to home buyers.
And rightfully so.
Nobody wants to sink their savings into something that’s at risk of bending, cracking, or, worse, collapsing!
While most of the homes you’ll find on the market right now don’t have severe structural issues, even the slightest hint of a future problem may be enough to send buyers elsewhere.
For that reason – and, more importantly, for the general health of your home – it’s important to know the signs of structural issues and resolve them before they cause big problems.
Types of Structural Problems
“Structure” comes in many forms, which means there are many types of problems that can arise. Knowing the pitfalls to look for can help you find an issue and fix it before it causes problems.
The foundation is the base holding up the home from underneath. Foundations are typically built to last, but ground movement or sagging can lead to vulnerabilities. If dirt settles or moves over time, the footings created in the original foundation might shift out of place, or concrete slabs can crack causing uneven flooring.
2. Bearing Walls
Many walls within a home are there to do the simple job of separating rooms, but some have a much bigger job.
Bearing walls are in place to help hold up the weight of an upper level or a roof. If these walls are damaged or removed, the weight they were meant to bear could come crashing down.
Floor and roof framing, much like a load-bearing wall, is there to help hold up a structure. Damages in these can lead to sagging floors or roof leaks.
Signs of Structural Doubt
The consequences of untreated structural issues can be severe. To avoid leaving a problem until it’s too late, look for signs of structural failures often.
Cracks in Walls or Floors
Cracking usually occurs due to shifts in the foundation and the creation of an uneven surface.
Sagging or Uneven Floors
When something isn’t being supported properly, it tends to start to fall. Floors that are no longer supported by a good foundation or framing may not be able to stay up on their own for long!
Gaps Where They Shouldn’t Be
There are many gaps that we do want in a home, such as spaces between the door and the floor (so it doesn’t scrape).
However, gaps in the wrong places, like between floor planks or the walls, could indicate the shifting of the support.
What’s At Risk?
There are far more reasons why you should fix a structural problem than why you shouldn’t. Unlike outdated paint colors or ugly light fixtures, structural problems can cause serious (and costly) long-term problems.
This is the main reason to fix structural issues quickly. Without proper support, floors, roofs, and entire homes can come crashing down.
Your Home Sale
Buyers will likely run from a home with structural issues. These aren’t issues to be ignored or covered with pretty wallpaper. If you’re selling your home, structural problems will show up in an inspection – if you even make it to that point – and potentially cost you a sale.
Obviously, the base of a home is extremely important. Even if that warped footing hasn’t fallen yet, it may in the future. Fixing these issues can help you and any prospective homebuyer rest easy knowing the home will be able to stand the test of time.
How to Fix Issues?
If you’re handy with tools and knowledgeable about home renovation, some small structural problems might be fixed by a trip to the hardware store.
However, most will require a call to professionals. Not only are these issues often difficult and unsafe to access, they typically require expertise to remedy properly.
If you see signs of instability, call a specialist to get the proper diagnosis. Your home – and your future home sale – may depend on it!