House with structural issues?

One of the most serious and expensive problems a homeowner can face are those related to structural issues. Structural problems can occur due to numerous causes such as soil migration, overgrown tree roots, clogged or cracked drains, improper construction or deterioration due to age or lack of maintenance. To repair a structural problem correctly the underlying problem or the source must first be identified. Often the underlying cause is complex and requires extensive amount of work to correctly repair the issue. Unfortunately we see it all the time; a homeowner tries to fix the problem without eliminating the underlying cause of the issue and the issue comes back again and again… Structural problems are the most expensive to fix and if not addressed correctly will result in further damage.

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House Structural Issues Causes

A homeowner facing structural issues has several options such as fix the damage themselves, list on the open market and disclose the issue to the buyer or sell a house to an investor. Before we get into the options and the nuances of each, it is important to point out the types of structural issues and causes that could potentially exist.

  • Faulty or Damaged Foundation. The most common structural issue usually occurs in the basement and can be due to faulty concrete from when the house was built or, more likely, due to age and settling. With time the earth underneath and around the house changes over time, altering the way the house sits. Though settling is expected with every home, severe settling can lead to major issues at the foundation of the home.
  • Severe Settling. Caused by the state of the soil underneath the house, severe settling can lead to foundational problems such as cracked or caving walls in the basement or fractured slab resulting in mis-alignment of the house. Issues with soil are purely geographical and are usually influenced by the amount of water that the soil takes on and the type of soil the house was built on.
  • Drainage Issues. Incorrectly installed drainage or damaged drains in the home will lead to foundational damage and are typically caused by improper rain water run-off.
  • Tree Roots. Trees are beautiful to look at but can be devastating to a home’s foundation. Trees growing too close to a home can crush the foundation of the house and require excavating, installing new drainage and rebuilding the basement walls or the slab foundation.
  • A Compromised Roof. Structural problems with a sagging, leaking, or aged roof are most often caused by water damage, frame movement, weather damage, or neglect.
  • Wall and Ceiling cracks. Not always will these cracks pose grave threats, but they must be monitored in case they do. Cracks that are accompanied by sagging can point to structural problems. The positioning of the cracks is important; if the cracks are near the outer corners of door frames or windows, the odds are in the favor of a structural issue somewhere in the house, either near the foundation or the interior structure of the home.
  • Horizontal cracks on Basement Walls. Horizontally running cracks anywhere on the basement wall are a first sign of an expensive structural issue. Cracks running parallel to the ground are almost always due to lateral pressure from the soil around the house. These cracks are the first sign that the wall is beginning to bow out. The outside pressure is very strong and with time will cause the walls to buckle leading to water damage and misalignment of the structure.
  • Diagonal cracks on Basement Walls. Diagonal cracks along the basement wall can be an indication of uneven settling or expansion/contraction of the soil near the home and/or improper rain water drainage.
  • Uneven Floors. Due most likely to construction or foundation issues, or settling; uneven floors can also be caused by pest damage, poor supports, or crack floor joists. Additionally, a subfloor with poor ventilation will cause mold and deterioration to occur.
  • Pest or Critter damage. Unaddressed pests or critters can cause severe structural damage to a home in a very short amount of time. The most common and famous pest to cause damage quickly are termites. Termites eat away at integral parts of the home (support beams, joists and other wooden materials); they often go unnoticed until its too late and much of the structure of the home is damaged. Carpenter ants and carpenter bees are another unwelcome pest; these bore into and hollow out wood within the frame and structure of the home, effectively weakening both. Rats and mice chew at insulation and wiring within the walls of the home and leave behind undesirable waste. Squirrels will also damage a house by chewing siding and setting up camp in attics. With critter invasion comes critter waste; thousands of dollars of professional services are often required to remove the unwanted critters and to decontaminate or sterilize the damaged materials.
  • Timber or Wood rot. When timber or wood is not properly shielded from the weather elements or moisture and forms of fungi, deterioration takes place. Pests are sometimes a contributing factor to the decay of wood as well.
  • Crumbling Concrete. Also referred to as spalling, crumbling concrete occurs when the concrete itself is exposed to different chemicals or high moisture. The issue often occurs in crawl spaces and damp environments. Concrete supports deteriorate with time and exposure to the elements risking the home’s foundation.
  • Slab Heave. When the soil underneath the slab expands or contracts in an uneven matter, usually as a result of moisture, the slab of the basement floor or the slab foundation may lift or severely crack and cause major structural problems with the footing of the house.
  • Masonry issues. Mortar deterioration, brick cracks, erosion or displaced or overstressed masonry units are all signs of possible structural problems. These issues can occur naturally over time due in part to age, settling and environmental exposure.

What to do if structural issues are suspected.

The first step is to hire a structural engineer to determine the cause and the extent of the problem. Is it a simple fix or is the problem complex and what exactly needs to be done to correct the issue properly. A reputable structural engineer will determine the problem and the extent of the repairs required as well as the cost of the work. There is usually a cost of several hundred dollars but it is well worth it. More often then not structural issues are fixed with a ‘band aid’ approach without addressing the actual issue. Be careful and get several opinions; there are many stories out there when a homeowner hired someone who they thought was “reasonably priced” and ended up with a bigger problem. Make sure to deal with a reputable company and if someone’s estimate is too good to be true, it probably is…

There are several options available to the homeowner:

  • Fix the problem and sell your house. The homeowner can hire a company to properly address the underlying issue and repair the damage. If the work scope is minimal, this option makes financial sense and may be very much worth the financial trouble as the house should sell near market value. Please note, per Ohio Revised Code, you are legally obligated to disclose any known issues with your home (Code 5302.30) to the buyer. The buyer will most likely request paid receipts and the scope of work from the contractor doing the work. Save all paperwork to be ready.
  • Sell the house on the open market. The house can be listed in the MLS and sold on the open market in as-is condition. Just as above, you must disclose any known issues with the house to a buyer. There are several issues with this option; first, most buyers are extremely wary of structural issues. Depending on your local market, a large portion of the buyers may be first-time-home-buyers that would not be willing to take on such a repair. Secondly, most buyers are paying minimal down payment indicating that they do not have the cash reserves necessary to repair a structural issue. Third, the buyers lender will simply not lend money to a buyer on a house that has structural problems. Once the home buyer will apply for a mortgage, the lender will request Property Disclosure Forms and if there are any indications of structural issues, the lender will deny the loan. Additionally the lender will send an appraisal to the house to ensure the house is worth what the buyer is willing to pay for it as well as to check for major issues, including any signs of structural problems.
  • Sell your house to a cash investor. This third option is often the simplest. Sell the home in as-is condition without spending money on structural engineer consultations or spending your precious time getting estimates for contractors to find out the costs can run from $5,000 to over $40,000… In our experience, for a medium job, the estimates are closer to $20,000 and more depending the size of the house. Because we pay cash, we are not dependent on the lenders rules or timelines. We can close quickly and easily saving you stress, time and money.

The Process

We buy houses in As-Is condition all over the Cleveland suburbs. You choose your closing date and we will pay all closing costs. No fees, no realtor commissions and no closing costs.

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Please fill out the form below and we will contact you shortly or alternatively call us at (216) 220-7373

Additional Situations & Scenarios

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