Large cracks in the foundation of a house can be a sign of major structural problems, and it is important to pay attention to any horizontal cracks in the base or stair-like cracks in exterior bricks. Tiny cracks caused by normal sedimentation can usually be patched up, but major foundation problems may require major repairs or even total foundation replacement, which can be costly. If you detect even small cracks in a clay house, you should call a structural engineer immediately. When there are issues with the foundation, there are likely to be other problems in the house as well.
Buying a house with foundation problems means you will have to deal with more home repairs in the future. However, there are rehabilitation loans that can allow for the repair of certain foundation problems after the sale of the house. It is important to report any problems during home inspections to the seller, as they are responsible for maintenance and repairs. Home inspections are critical in determining how serious the foundation problems are and how to move forward.
Large cracks will allow water and other things to enter the house and cause more damage. If you want to do your own check first, look for signs such as cracks in floors or walls, an uneven floor, misaligned doors and windows, gaps between walls and ceilings, sloping floors or cracked floors. Small cracks or leaks can be minor, but they can also hide larger problems that are not so obvious. If the foundation is still solid, those small cracks can be repaired by a professional, who will probably also recommend that you level the ground around the foundation to divert water from the house.
Usually, the lender finances the house, so it is anticipated that it will be appraised after the foundation work is completed, and the difference in the price of housing and mortgage is used to pay for the repair of the foundation. If there are any cracks in walls, ceilings or exterior of the home during a home inspection or your own observation, you should consider hiring a structural engineer to conduct a closer inspection of the foundation.