Foundation Question

Hi Folks…Thanks in advance for any input you might have. I am looking to purchase a brand new house in Cary, NC and my biggest fear is structural problems. As someone that is not a structural engineer how do I determine if the foundation is adequate for the house it is supporting? Are there things to look for or calculations that can be made to determine this? Are these things the types of things that will be explored during a standard home inspection? What kinds of things do I need to know about soil composition and how that would impact a structure? Are there other questions I should be asking? Thanks again for your input!

I suggest you hire a home inspector ! This is what will save you money and stress ! :mrgreen:


For starters if the house is already built you will have to ask the contractor to give you the dimensions of the footings and the amount of reinforcing steel (if any). You will also need to know the depth of the footing and the soil bearing capacity. Other factors include how uniform is the soil density, is part on a fill and part on natural ground? It all boils down to two basic issues; is the foundation strong enough to hold up the house and hold back the soil and is the soil strong enough to hold up the foundation. As you can quickly see all these questions and calculations ideally need to be done before the house is built. Most residential structural failures take several years to develop so no one will be able to just look at the house and make any prediction for the future. You might talk with neighbors in the area to see if they have had any structural issues, this might give some insight to local soil issues such as soils with high shrink & swell problems. You might talk to owners of other houses built by this contractor to get some insight on some quality issues. If you decide to hire a structural engineer ask some questions first on how they plan to determine the stability of the foundation. If all they plan to do is just look at it save your money and take your family on a vacation. To do it right after the house is built could require allot of effort, time and money. Good luck…

William, hire a qualified home inspector to inspect it for you. Make sure he’s an InterNACHI member, which will tell you that he has certain basic qualification and then call several.

Put simply… check out the qualifications of the person you hire to evaluate the condition of the home you intend to buy.