Can You Spot Foundation Problems in Your Home?

According to a recent study conducted by Harvard University, 40 million Americans live in a house they cannot afford.  The cost of a mortgage, insurance, and taxes are more than they can afford.  The decline in homeownership in the United States has declined for the 12th.consecutive year, while rent prices keep outpacing inflation in this country. The upkeep of a house is a direct correlation between what you pay for your house and the amount you need to save for the upkeep of your home. If you pay $300,000 for a home, $3,000 dollars should be used to keep up with the upkeep of your home.

The upkeep of a house is a direct correlation between what you pay for your house and the amount you need to save for the upkeep of your home. If you pay $300,000 for a home, $3,000 dollars should be used to keep up with the maintenance of your home yearly.

The foundation of your home may not be your priority when thinking about the upkeep of your home, but remember the structural integrity of the foundation is one of the most important parts of your home.

Do you need answers? Contact us, we will be happy to offer a solution to you.


Can You Identify These Common House Foundation Issues?

How many times have you heard someone dismiss foundation cracks as simply an old house that’s “settling”? Ignoring foundation problems such as cracks and uneven floors can lead to serious – and expensive – problems down the road.

Homes are built on dirt and, over time, that dirt will shift and settle. Clay, for example, will contract and expand depending on the moisture. Sand will erode after significant rainfall or flooding. Plus, the average home weighs 160 tons so that’s a lot of pressure on the dirt underneath your home, explains Michael Connolly, marketing manager for Lowcountry Basement Systems, which recently moved into the Charleston market.

“Problems don’t get better, they only get worse, and the worse they get the more expensive they will be to fix,” Connolly says.


Foundation Danger: 5 Things Buyers And Sellers Need To Know

The foundation might not be the most exciting part of the house, but it is arguably the most important.

When you’re buying a home, there are plenty of fun things to focus on, like putting in an outdoor fire pit, chilling a bottle in that fancy new wine fridge, or relaxing in a soaker tub, to name a few. But before you start envisioning organizing your clothes in that fabulous walk-in closet, drop your eyes down a bit to focus on the home’s foundation. It holds up the house, after all. If what lies beneath isn’t good, it can cause lots of headaches (and cost you big).

Whether you’re a buyer with concerns about your potential new home’s foundation or a seller who has noticed some cracks, you’ll likely need to take some kind of action to resolve the issue (or at least know what you’re dealing with). Here’s what to do.


Signs of Foundation Problems

Homeowners often wonder how to identify the different signs of foundation problems. It’s definitely a good question to ask. Here’s why – the longer you wait to treat visible signs of damage, the more severe the damage can become. Left untreated, minor cracks and leaks can turn into serious structural issues that compromise the value and overall health of your home.

Your home’s structural integrity depends on the strength of your foundation. It supports everything else – walls, windows, floors, doorways, roof – so when your foundation is damaged, it can cause serious problems throughout your home.

Like most things in life, your foundation is subject to environmental stress. Expanding and contracting soil, excessive moisture and inadequate drainage are some of the most common threats to your home’s foundation. Over time, environmental stress can cause the foundation to shift, crack or settle unevenly. And homeowners can often miss the early warning signs of foundation damage.


 

Mold in The Basement

Mold and mildews are both common problems indoors and outside your home.  Humidity in your home can be an indicator that you have water seeping into the walls and floor of your basement.  Humidity is a key component to the mold growing in your basement and causing eye irritation, stuffiness, and more serious respiratory problems.  If you have a family member suffering from asthma or other respiratory problems, the mold growing in the basement could be making their symptoms much worse.

What are some of the reasons you have water sitting on the floor of the basement of your home?

Clogged gutters

If the gutters of your home are full of debris, the water may not be finding the correct pathway and overflowing.  Ensuring the gutters are unobstructed to allow the water to flow to the right spout is just common sense, and can save you some headaches along the way.

Cleaning the gutters of your home does not take long if you do them every year.  Try to have someone to help you with the ladder and make sure you follow safety precautions before you start climbing.

Drainage

If water is just gathering around the foundation of your home with no place to go, it may be a major reason why you have water on the basement floor, and seeping through the walls.   The drainage should be taking the water about ten feet from the foundation of your home.

Flower Beds

The flower beds should have the soil sloping away from the foundation to ensure the water doesn’t find a way to your basement.  Bushes and other types of greenery should be kept trim and away from touching the walls of your home as well.

Mulch

Mulch should also be laid flat close to the foundation to avoid gathering water pools and eventually seeping into the walls of the foundation.

Driveways

Even if this is not as common, unleveled driveways can allow the water to run towards the foundation instead of away creating pools of water to seep into the walls and basement of your home.

Leaking Pipes

Indoor water leaking is also a problem if you have leaking pipes without knowing where they are. Before this problem gets any bigger, replacing those leaking pipes can be the solution to the humidity and water problem in the basement.

If you need to find a solution to the water in the basement of your home, contact us, we will be happy to talk to you and offer a solution to your problem that makes sense.


Basement Waterproofing and Other Home Repairs You Can’t Ignore

It is difficult to budget for a home problem when you don’t know if you have one.  An emergency fund can help you solve that problem, but if you have a basement waterproofing issue you may need a bigger emergency fund than you thought.

How do you know if you have a basement waterproofing issue? One of the first and most obvious ones is whether your basement has damp walls. If you have marks around a  specific area on the walls, that may a sign water is getting into that area. If you notice mold or mildew growing on the corners or any other part of the basement, that means you have a lot of moisture and possible water leakage in some parts of the basement.

Don’t wait too long to take care of those problems.  Ignoring them can bring you bigger more expensive problems in the future.  Call waterproofing companies to give you an estimate, and find out whether they have financing available.

For more about this and other problems, follow the links below.


Ask the Carpenter: Tips for dealing with a wet basement

Q. I get water in part of my unfinished basement. I can’t determine whether it is coming in from the outside or up from the water table. I installed a dehumidifier, but I’ve been told that this actually draws in more water if the problem is the water table. What are your thoughts?

A. You may be getting water in your basement for any of the following reasons: lack of gutters, improper ground sloping, clogged perimeter pipes, or hydrostatic pressure.

Your dehumidifier is not causing the water table to rise. Water is seeping in at the wall and floor joint, and oftentimes that can mean hydrostatic water pressure is present. During wet weather, the soil outside your basement becomes saturated. Exterior footing drains aren’t very effective at relieving water pressure, because they usually become clogged with silt or plant roots. With no place to go, hydrostatic pressure continues to build up, and the water will eventually seep in. You have options:


8 Home Repairs You Should Never Put Off

Or you might have a bigger problem in the future.

Hate to break it to you, but ignoring that ugly water spot on the ceiling is the wrong move. Lingering issues around the house can get worse—much worse—if you don’t address them ASAP. Here’s how to identify and fix seemingly small problems before they morph into expensive repairs.

The basement is damp. A musty basement can lead to mold and mildew. Plus, it stinks. Many times, grading the yard encourages the water to run away from the house, rather than leaking into the basement. Installing gutters and downspout extensions channels rain water away from the foundation, which can help keep the basement dry. The worst case scenario is you’ll need to place drain tile around the footings. This job typically requires a pro and costs several thousand dollars.


Three Ways to Ensure Effective Repair Management

After the hottest July on record for the Salt Lake City area, during which my air conditioning unit worked overtime, I noticed a performance slump along with wet carpet in my basement. So, I turned off the AC and called a repairman. He showed up Monday afternoon and simply removed an internal panel, cleaned the drip tray that captures the condensation from the evaporator coil, and unclogged the ¾” drain pipe. I paid a $120 service fee and realized: Had I taken a few extra minutes, I could have saved myself $120, multiple phone calls, and two days of no air conditioning.

Of course, effectively managing repairs for numerous homes across different cities, counties, or even states is much more challenging than doing so for one’s own home. That’s why many lenders and investors hire a vendor partner to develop and execute a successful repair program for their REO or SFR assets. So, what should you look for in a repair management vendor to ensure your repair dollars are maximized?

Understand the Scope of the Repair

Had I really understood what it took to repair my AC unit, I could have done it myself. Similarly, many lenders and investors want to fully understand the scope of repairs, including all the deficiencies of the asset compared to the comparable properties that are available in the neighborhood. Having dedicated, trained vendor partners in the field that are in tune with the local market is essential. Without their input, including photos, descriptions, and their commitment to the best strategy for the asset, you won’t be nearly as effective as you could.


 

What To Ask A Contractor

Are you planning a home project that requires you to hire a contractor?  Do you know what to ask before you begin?

Five questions you must ask a contractor:

  1. How long have you been doing this kind of work?
  2. Are you Insured?
  3. Will you provide a written estimate and warranty?
  4. Are you a licensed and registered contractor with the state?
  5.  Can you provide references I can contact?

Many honest, long time contractors won’t hesitate when you ask them these questions.  They probably expect them and would be more than happy to answer them.  A long history in the community doing the job you are hiring them to do speaks volumes and build trust between the parties.  If the company you are trying to hire has a long history in your community doing great work, the references request you are supposed to ask won’t be a problem for them.

Now, if you call the references they provided, what are some of the questions you may ask?

  1. Are you satisfied with the work they did?
  2. How long ago was the job completed? Is the job holding up?
  3. Was the price agreed upon the final price, or were there other expenses not specified in the contract?
  4.  Were they clean and orderly? Did they arrive on time?
  5. Would you work again with this contractor or company?

The secret to finding a great home contractor

Right now, renovating a home is much, much easier than it was during the real estate bubble. So how do you pick a contractor?

I recall back during the bubble how often I’d get calls from homeowners complaining they couldn’t get a call back from contractors. The frenzy around housing values going up and up and up drummed up plenty of business for contractors at that time.

During the bubble, I even heard of contractors who were so successful that they wouldn’t even give price quotes. The price would just be whatever it would be and you’d have to be in a position to pay it when the bill came due.


 

 

 

 

 

How to Look For A Good Contractor For Your Home Project?

Children are in school now.  Yes, they do bring homework and projects and other chores we sometimes help them to do, but we do have a bit more time to do those chores the summer months were too short to let us do.

The autumn is a season where there are many chores we must do to prepare for the winter months. from putting away our gardening tools to preparing our home for the winter, the fall months can be very active.  And , if you are thinking about tackling a more serious project, where do you need to start?

You need to first find what project you really want to do and a budget you are allowing yourself to have. If you need to do a project that is indispensable to the well-being of your family – A new roof, or a basement waterproofing project- then you need to first start choosing the best contractor you can find.

If you are doing a home remodeling project for purely aesthetic reasons, then, you still need to follow the steps of how to choose a contractor for your project.

How to choose a good contractor

If you have no family’s references and no friends recommendations of a good contractor, then you will probably google it to get a list.  Here are some of the things you should be looking out for:

  • Contact contractors that are locally owned and operated-make sure they have been in the business for a long time
  • Check their Business Bureau Status
  • Ask for references that are not from friends or family members
  • You Must call those references and talk to the homeowners and ask them about the craftsmanship and other related issues concerning the job they did.
  • Make sure that they are fully bonded and insured
  • Ask for an estimate in writing
  • Ask them about the form of payment they require

For more about home remodeling projects and other news, follow the links below.


Contractors swamped with home remodeling projects in central Ohio

Central Ohio homeowners are spending a record amount of money building additions, updating kitchens and renovating bathrooms.

Fueled by a robust economy and rising home values, which allow homeowners to pull cash out of their homes to fund improvements, Americans are expected to spend more than $300 billion on remodeling this year.

“I’ve been doing this since 1981 and have never seen it this busy,” said Todd Schmidt, owner of the Grove City remodeling firm Renovations Unlimited.

While the remodeling boom is good for contractors, it means longer waits for homeowners eager to polish up their properties.

Bill and Marcia Miller tried for two years to get a contractor to update the laundry room of their Dublin-area home.


 

Flood Insurance Coverage; Do You Have It?

 

If hurricanes Irma and Harvey have taught us anything is the fact that natural disasters can occur quickly, and with disastrous consequences.  Hurricanes in the United States are commonplace, specially in Florida and the coastal regions of the country. 

With the hurricanes or heavy rains, flooding is a natural disaster that can occur to any of us.  Flooding can affect people in  every state, and is one of the most common natural disasters in the country.

As homeowners, we cannot control the occurrence of hurricanes, nor  predict the severity or the financial implications that come along with those disasters, but we can help our homes and our financial stability  by ensuring that we do have flood insurance for our homes.

If you have homeowners insurance, it does not mean you have flood insurance.  Make sure you buy it separately through your home insurance agent, so you know you are protected.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) one inch of water in your home can cost you more than $20,000 in damages, why risk not having flood insurance coverage?

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


What Flood Insurance Does and Does Not Cover

Hurricanes Irma and Harvey puts renewed attention on the policies. Here’s what you need to know.

The devastation from Hurricane Irma is far from over, but property owners in Florida—as well as those who faced Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana—are already facing the daunting task of rebuilding.

Beyond the human tragedy, the widespread flood damage caused by the storm serves as an important reminder to homeowners in the region—and around the country—about what is covered by insurance and what you need to know about protecting yourself.

As most property owners know, homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flood damage. But even in Florida, Texas and Louisiana—where many people live in coastal areas—only about 20 percent have flood insurance, according to a study by the Washington Post.


About 80% of Hurricane Harvey victims do not have flood insurance, face big bills

NEW YORK – Homeowners suffering flood damage from Harvey are more likely to be on the hook for losses than victims of prior storms — a potentially crushing blow to personal finances and neighborhoods along the Gulf Coast.

Insurance experts say only a small fraction of homeowners in Harvey’s path of destruction have flood insurance. That means families with flooded basements, soaked furniture and water-damaged walls will have to dig deep into their pockets or take on more debt to fix up their homes. Some may be forced to sell, if they can, and leave their communities.

All these people taken out in boats, they have a second problem: They have no insurance,” said Robert Hunter, director of insurance at the Consumer Federation of America.


Home Improvements For The Fall

There are many home issues to keep mind when buying or remodeling  a home.  The biggest home tickets are the roof, a foundation stabilization problem, basement waterproofing and the installation of an Air condition and heating system.

A roof in need of repairs can be visible from the outside.  Loose shingles or other issues like water getting into some parts of your home are visible to you and do not need a home inspector to tell you that.  A new roof is an expensive project for the homeowner, but one that cannot be postponed.

For the foundation of your home, there are two types of foundation problems: cracks that are visible to you and can become a bigger issue if ignored.  And the  displacement from unstable soil, faulty construction, old concrete , tree roots that are too close to the foundation, or the foundation has been exposed to too much water through out the years and has deteriorated over time.  Some of the early signs that you have a problem with the stability of your home are: Uneven flooring, cracked tiles or windows, and windows and doors not closing properly.

Like the roof, a foundation repair can be costly.  And if you had problems with the foundation and ignored the issues, the problems likely got worse, and so will the price.  The roof and the foundation are issues that if ignored can be costly later on.  The damage will be more and the work and material needed to solve those issues are going to cost you more.

The air conditioning and heating system is an expensive addition  to any home, but the financing is almost always available through the same companies that offer you the system.  Nowadays, the refinancing for a heating and cooling systems is about three years.  After that, you only need to maintain the upkeep of the system. With a new system, it is only a yearly checkup for the AC and the furnace in the home .

You can follow the link below to read more about home repairs.


Home Improvement May Be More Affordable Than You Expect: 3 True Stories

Would you love to upgrade or repair your home? Is there a home improvement project you’ve had simmering on the back burner for ages … but never got around to because you assumed you couldn’t afford it? Well, think again. Home repair and upgrade may be more affordable than you thought. You just need to be a little flexible, do your homework, and find a contractor who’s right for you. Read 3 true stories of homeowners who discovered that high-quality home improvement didn’t have to bust their budget.

WE GOT THE “NEW DECK” LOOK WE WANTED AT A PRICE WE COULD AFFORD

When we bought our home a year ago, we really wanted to rip out the ugly old deck (which was splintered, with loose boards and peeling paint) and do brick pavers instead. However, we couldn’t afford everything on our “to-do” home repair list all at once.


 

Basement Waterproofing and Foundation Repair

According to the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness, peak tornado season for the state of Ohio is officially between the months of  April and July. It does not mean however that tornados won’t happen at any other time. In 2016, there were 24 tornados in Ohio and the severity of each was different. According to the Ohio weather safety page, the basement of your home is the safest place to be in case of a tornado warning. 

Extreme downpours or a few inches of rain can easily tell you whether you have a dry basement or not.  If there is a problem with the drainage of your home, the few inches of rain can find a way to the basement  and make the basement unlivable.

Finding a safe, comfortable place in case of a tornado warning becomes a bit unlikely if the basement has issues.  But, that is not the right reason to find a waterproofing company. If you have water in the basement of your home, the structural integrity of the home becomes an issue, and a huge liability if you ignore the problem.

There are many problems associated with a wet basement:

  • Structural damage to the home
  • Damage to the walls, floors and belongings stored in the basement
  • Respiratory Issues
  • unlivable wasted space
  • Mold and mildew
  • humidity that can affect the air quality of your home

Finding the right waterproofing company to take care of your basement issues is not difficult.  At Pioneer Basement Solutions, we have a long history in the community with great customer satisfaction.  We let our work and customers speak for our workmanship and professionalism. If you want to tackle the basement problem, contact us, we will be happy to work with you.


Basement Waterproofing and Sump Pumps

Sump pumps are a necessity every household should have.  Flooding occurs in the basement of our homes when rain, snow or faulty pipes break, and we have a water problem we need to fix right away.

Many homes have sump pups already installed in the basement of our homes, the problem is that we don’t really know whether they are in working order or not.  The buying of a sump pump can be as inexpensive as you want it, or you can pay a nice price for a battery-powered sump pump that can cost you close to $500. There are many sump pumps that offer nice warranties when you buy them, and considering the time and expense you need to spend if you have a flooded basement, the price is really not something to frown upon.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


 

How to prevent basement flooding

That’s doable with a reliable sump pump and backup system, or after a relatively inexpensive fix for cracked foundations, says Roy Spencer, founder and president of Downers Grove-based Perma-Seal.

“My feeling is that all basements should be dry all the time, no matter how much it rains. But in order to do that, you have to do certain things,” Spencer said. “The sump pump is critical, so it needs to be reliable and it needs to be powerful enough. A reliable sump pump is critical. It’s the heart and soul of any waterproofing system.”

If you’re getting seepage, small puddles caused by water running in through cracks in the foundation, Spencer says that is also an “easy fix” that could cost between $400 and $800, depending on the size of the crack to be sealed and how much work has to be done to find it.

For instance, unfinished basements, he said, are typically easier to repair than finished basements with walls and carpeted floors.

Ultimately, Spencer said it’s important to know what caused your flooding.


What You Need to Know Before Buying a Sump Pump

Have a serious flooding problem at home? A sump pump could help. Find out whether one is right for you—and what to consider when buying one.

If you’ve ever wondered, “What is a sump pump?” then you’re lucky, because you probably don’t need one. But for the unlucky owners of wet basements, here’s the scoop: A sump pump sits in the basement, either beneath (in the case of a submersible pump) or above the floor. It pumps out water that collects in the sump basin, discharging it to the outdoors.

You’ll never have to buy one if you purchase a house that never floods. And even if you do buy a house with a water problem, there may be several ways to correct it before resorting to a sump pump and pit. Should you decide to invest in one, put your money toward a model that is high-quality and well-reviewed—in fact, it may make sense to buy two or three!


7 Causes of Sump Pump Failure and What to Do

With all of this rain the past few days, the last thing you need is your sump pump to fail on you. It’s already happened to several homeowners in the area, and fortunately my company has been able to help those people out.

But prevention is always better than reaction.  This article will hopefully shed some insight on how to prevent your sump pump failing on you when you need it most.

If you have a basement in Indiana, then you know all about sump pumps. The problem is that these things fail all the time. While it’s not to say that we have a fool-proof method for preventing 100% of failures, there are certainly some tips you can follow to better your chances of a properly working sump pump


 

Home Inspection: What to Expect and What to Look for Before You Sign

Everyone I know is a bit skeptical when it comes down  to signing documents for home contractors, inspectors, insurance agents , etc. One of the reasons is that everyone is a bit afraid to sign.  Unless you know the contractor or home inspector, chances are you are dealing with a stranger you know nothing about.  You don’t know if they are trustworthy or competent, or whether they belong to an association where they have to follow a code of ethics. 

Asking some basic questions before you sign a contract can truly save you a lot of headaches later on.  You are the paying customer, ask them questions to make sure everyone is satisfied before the work begins.

For more about home inspectors, follow the links below.


Top home inspection deal breakers

A home inspection can be stressful for both parties. Almost every inspection comes back with at least some sort of repair and, most often, those problems are minor and easy enough to negotiate. However, there are some deal breakers that can cause buyers to run for the hills.

Mold

Erin Craft, home inspector with Destination Bay Home Inspections, says this is one of the biggest problems that can potentially kill a deal.

“We see this issue in attics, basements, or crawl spaces,” he said. “There is a lot of fear when it comes to mold, and we’ve had buyers stop us right in the middle of the inspection and say they are walking away. They see it as a huge risk, both to their health and their wallet.”

However, Craft says before ditching the deal, consider doing a bit more investigating, especially if it’s a home you really love.


Make sure you understand terms of service before paying a home inspector

I was buying a house and hired a home inspector. We went through the whole inspection, and I even paid him his fee. Then he gave me a form that indicated that he would not give me the written report unless I signed a document.

The document stated that I agreed that I could only get back the $400 I paid him in case there was a problem with the inspection or his report, or I could pay him an extra $1,500 and the cap would be eliminated. Don’t you think that he should have told me this before I hired him? He’s a member of ASHI.

We think it is highly questionable that a home inspector would spring those terms on you so late in the game. ASHI stands for the American Society of Home Inspectors, and they have a code of ethics. Among their code is a requirement for the home inspector to “act in good faith toward each client” and that ASHI inspectors should “avoid activities that harm the public, discredit themselves or reduce public confidence in the profession.”


Dear Monty: Agent tells home seller not to attend home

Q: We accepted an offer on our home. The contract is subject to a satisfactory home inspection. Our agent called to set up a time for the inspection and asked us to vacate the house. My thinking is that if there is some discovery made during the investigation that both parties observing will aid in understanding the issue. Do you agree with her suggestion?

A: Most of the states that regulate inspectors are seeking inspections that reveal “significant” material defects that negatively affect the value of the property or create a concern for safety that is not apparent at the times the buyer viewed the home. The customer can overlook the fact this is a pre-owned home. They sometimes compare a pre-owned home inspection with the “certified” used car. Most every home has a wart somewhere, which is the buyer’s responsibility unless the seller agreed to remove the wart as part of the contract. Education of all participants, which requires investing time, is a key to ensuring a home inspection goes smoothly.