Structural Home Inspection by Florida Engineering Solutions
While most people tend to focus on construction elements such as hardwood floors, lighting fixture, and tile, the most critical aspects of a home have nothing to do with the costly finishes which catch our eye and define our view of a property. After all, does hardwood flooring solve the basic human needs of having a roof over your head? Will the type of tile influence whether or not your home can keep away rodents from entering the property? Will a lighting fixture influence whether your home is warm during the winter and cold during the summer? The answer to all of these questions is no. Most importantly, none of these things exist if the home’s basic structure is not in place or they are in jeopardy.
Throughout the average American’s life, their largest financial investment is, more often than not, their home. The average person affords their home purchase through hard work, to the tune of spending over 90,000 hours or one-third of their entire adult life working. Given that we spend another one-third of our adult lives sleeping, we genuinely spend half (or more) of our meaningful time on earth working. If all of this difficult time and effort will result in income going straight towards our home, we better be sure it is not for nothing. Home insurance is a crucial safety net to mitigate the risks associated with homeownership; however, it is not a one stop solution for all hazards and problems. Structural issues to a home can cost a family tens of thousands of dollars, if not more. This cost does not even factor in the inconvenience and cost associated with either having to move out temporarily in the event of a structural disrepair element or completely starting over and rebuilding in the event of a worst-case scenario. Having the right insurance coverage is vital to allow you to get back on your feet in the event of major structural issues to your home. Our advisors will make sure you have the right plan in place to be sure you have the right coverage and the right insurer so you can collect on this same coverage in the event of a significant incident. After all, what is the use of insurance coverage if you cannot access it when needed? What is the use of the safety net funding if there is an unnecessary amount of red tape and long periods before you can collect on this coverage?
Insurance is designed to help us after something happens. But how do we avoid these major issues in the first place? The answer is calling qualified professionals like our team at Florida Engineering Solutions. We take a two-pronged approach to protecting your home. First, we advise you on the best insurance for your situation. Additionally, we perform an exhaustive inspection to help ensure that you have the best chances to avoid anything negative from happening in the first place. What does our process look like? Upfront, we provide free property inspections and insurance program assessments, yes, free. Through this process, you will get to know us, and we will get to know you as well as our home. Our initial evaluation will include a review of your property with an eye for any notable conditions you should be concerned about.
Here are a few general ideas on what we look for, signs of issues, and insight into our proactive approach:
Home Perimeter Evaluation
Walls should generally be straight and not tilting, both up and down and side to side. Simple ways to review this are levelers or standing at the end corner of a wall and looking down it horizontally and vertically. Any obvious leaning or bulging should be examined immediately.
Concrete is foundational to many properties and a strong indicator of the structural strength of a property. Concrete cracks inside the home or outside the home may sign structural issues or soil issues for your structure. Soil issues do not always immediately mean structural issues; however, unstable soil or expanding and contracting of this soil can pressure the structure and/or its foundation, setting the stage for issues. Note concrete cracks can be normal and are very common. Smaller hairline cracks may not be an issue and maybe just small ordinary items such as settling or expansion, contraction, or weather changing. Larger apparent cracks are those to be concerned about.
Light Slab Tests
Full slab testing can be very involved; however, initial probing can be completed quickly with nothing more than a walk around review and a screwdriver. A visual review of a property followed by a few jabs at the foundation will be very telling about the site’s structural status.
Light Wood Tests
Just like slab testing, wood testing initially can be completed with minimal tools and in a quick review. A screwdriver or other handheld tool will allow our professionals to chip away small pieces of material in strategic locations to show water infiltration, microbial growth, and other possible damage. Microbial growth, standing water, or other things might not be an issue now but will likely be down the road.
Crawl spaces are not fun to access and difficult to do so. Our team is used to this exercise, and some of our staff members even enjoy it. Crawl spaces are usually extremely telling. These spaces will show you a great view of the home supports, the soil below the home, and perimeter walls. For properties without crawl spaces, it is ok. Other property evaluation techniques will allow us to put together a robust assessment.
As a review of concrete slabs and crawl spaces, a walkthrough of a basement space can be very telling as to the current and future condition of a property’s structural elements. What is studied in a basement review is very similar to what you look for in concrete slab review and crawl space review. In particular, the supports and foundation need to be reviewed. If these elements are shaky or showing weakness, this may foreshadow a significant issue now or in the future. Basements are only one of many aspects of a property evaluation and review. For those properties that do not have basements, we will rely on the remaining evaluation options.
Reviewing the indoor conditions of a property can be as telling as any of the other evaluation techniques. There are a variety of signs of structural issues. Some can be tile cracking, drywall cracking, window issues, doors all of sudden not fitting frames, and many others. Some of these issues can result from causes such as settling, poor installation, or other elements. In other cases, they will be signs of major existing or impending problems. The trained eyes of our professionals will be able to decipher the difference.
After our review and evaluation are completed, we will provide you an initial report for free. This report will include guidance for structural maintenance to the existing property/home, preventative repair steps to be taken now, and preventative repairs to be made in the future. If need be, we can also include contractor recommendations. Additionally, we will include a customized insurance program summary quote explaining what we recommend and why we recommend it. This certainly a lot of work to put forth for a possible future client, but that is how confident we are in our services. We know you will be a customer for life after you get to know us.
Also, we offer a variety of solutions for those exploring homeownership. Our offerings include inspections for various needs, including existing ownership check-ins, incoming ownership due diligence efforts, and troubleshooting potential problem cases. We suggest to anyone and everyone to make a structural inspection part of their purchasing process and periodic reviews of their current properties. Before closing, a qualified professional should perform an analysis. Remember, not all professionals are qualified. Many homes portray the appearance of a structurally sound home, particularly on the exterior. For many, this is not the case – in some instances, even for new construction. In the past few years, the market has been strong, and construction has been in overdrive. With qualified contractors limited, many unqualified professional general and subcontractors have found plenty of work constructing poorly assembled homes without the end consumer realizing this. Often homeowners purchase properties with severe underlying problems that are not detectable to the untrained eye. Our qualified professionals will separate the strong properties from those with poor workmanship and impending issues.
For our home inspection, our process is thorough yet straightforward. We perform a visual analysis of the property’s key components, including beams, joists, and the spacing between these elements to determine if these pieces are of load-bearing capacity. We identify problem areas such as foundation settling, structural elements tied to property additions, and other potential weak spots. Our findings are categorized and summarized in an inspection report for you. Ideally, the property passes inspections with no issues; however, we do not live in an ideal world. If we uncover problems, we will not merely tell you there is an issue. We will create an actionable repair plan for your review. This plan will allow you to work with your contracting team to implement repair procedures for the damages. We can also work as your liaison between yourself and your repair crew by overseeing and managing the project.
In the event of a developing structural issue, we are just a call away, ready to address the situation right away. Our staff is as responsive and prides itself on our unparalleled customer service.