Home Inspections 101: How To Assess The Structural Integrity Of A Property

December 15, 2022

As residential and commercial properties age over time, the structure of the building or home starts to change. Aside from that, other factors such as drastic weather changes, poor construction and natural events such as earthquakes can compromise their stability.

This is why home inspections are necessary because they help determine whether the damage sustained requires repair or remodeling. Thus, if you’re a home seller, insurer or realtor, carrying out the inspections can ensure your property is given an accurate valuation before it’s put into the market.

Here’s how to assess the structural integrity of a property:

  • Check The Exterior Walls And Foundation

During your home inspection, you should examine the exterior walls and the floor. These are the areas most vulnerable to structural issues, especially for older homes and elevated homes built on stilts or columns.

You can begin your inspection by moving around the structure to look for cracks between bricks and mortar, plaster or stonework. To determine how the foundation is holding up, see if the soil is eroding. Check the patio, deck, or porch to find out if there are gaps where the walls and the soil meet. If you’re having trouble identifying signs of structural damage, a Tulsa home inspector can do it from an engineer's perspective. An expert can also find any indications you may have missed.

  • Examine The Roof And Chimney

Continuing on with the exterior inspection, you can check the roof and chimney if you have one. Fortunately, it’s easier to find signs of damage in your chimney and roof upon closer inspection if it’s connected to the exterior wall. Lookout for cracks along the bricks that carry onto the wall.

This could be a sign of a common structural issue called shifting where a home starts to move out of its foundation. Examine your roof to see whether it's starting to slump down or has uneven lines or leaks. This could indicate that the incorrectly sized timer frames or timber frames are shifting. These signs are more prevalent in roofs that have outlasted their lifespan of a few decades and have not undergone the repair work needed to maintain its condition.

  • Check Interior Walls And Ceiling

Once you’ve completed the exterior home inspection assessment, you can check the inside of your property. Just like the outside walls, you should also inspect the ceiling for cracks that lead down to the walls.

While cracks themselves might not indicate a serious issue because there are many factors that cause them, the location, size and pattern of cracks could be a sign of structural damage. Thus, you should carefully inspect the cracks in the concrete walls and other areas where there is a sagging ceiling. Furthermore, search for cracks that are wide, branch out into a ‘spiderweb’ pattern and run horizontally.

  • Inspect The Floors

The final area to examine is the interior flooring. Problems with the structure’s foundation can be easily detected by inspecting it. The floor in your home should be even and solid under your foot. But if you notice cracks and slanting, that could mean the foundation has shifted the floor.

If the floor was constructed over a crawlspace foundation, it may feel bouncy. Due to the weakened subfloor beam or joist in this instance, damage to the structural integrity of your floor is possible.

  • Observe The Doors And Windows

It may be beneficial to check your doors and windows because the signs of structural damage can be spotted on the areas surrounding them. Frequently, damage to the walls near the doors and ceiling will be visible before cracks form.

Check if your doors swing open or remain ajar by default. Uneven or widened gaps between the door frame and the hinges, and doors and windows that don’t open or close smoothly are also some of the signs that you should look out for.

Similar to how you inspected the doors, you should also check your kitchen cabinets. They ought to be able to open and close without restraint. Furthermore, be sure to inspect whether the walls around the doors or windows are bulging or leaning, which could be a clear indication that the foundation is shifting or the wall is pulling away.

Conclusion

Assessing the structural integrity of a property for a home inspection consists of examining various areas of the house or building for signs of damage or compromise. You can begin on the outside and look for cracks, soil erosion in the garden, and gaps between the wall and the ground.

Inside, you can search for a sagging roof, cracks, and uneven flooring, along with stuck doors and windows that could be signs that tell you that the foundation is shifting. Doing all these could allow you to determine the stability of your property before selling or remodeling it.

 

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