Foundation settling

I have a grave situation. My client is considering purchasing a nice house, part of a duplex in a nice area. The interior seems good in most areas but… there are obvious signs of slab foundation settling on one corner of house as per the attached pictures. He is buying at a drastically reduced price as is. Homes in his area are sold for $130,000 and he is buying at about $55,000. Built in 1987. How much concern should I give him about his settling problem? What are your thoughts? Should I suggest that he run away? The bedroom wall crack shown seems to be fresh since the renovation about a year or two ago.

Can you diagnose the source of the movement? If so, at that price couldn’t he spend a little money to at least stop the movement if not partially correct it?

I’m not certain what the 2nd and 3rd photos are showing but the movement in the other two seems to be new enough that you could address it without much cosmetic correction needed.

How much of a drop has actually occurred? Do you have better photos, perhaps a photo of the slab perimeter?

Ultimately, I don’t see it being our job to advise the client about whether to purchase or not.

**Confucious say: There is a reason it is priced $75K below market!!! **

The first photo is a 1/4 crack. 2nd photo: about 1/2 gab under tub. 3rd: tile in rear of toilet buckle because of shift. 4th photo shows crack in bedroom near that corner fresh within year since renovation

Then I would recommend a structural engineer or a foundation specialist and let him decide what to do based on their plan for repairs. That does sound pretty significant, but that shouldn’t change your response. Report what you see and send him to the correct expert.

And I certainly don’t mean to offend, but what camera are you using to capture these photos? The quality is pretty low, specifically framing of the issue and the focus/resolution. Again, no offense intended.

Actually, looking a little closer it looks as though your lens is smudged. There are blurry areas which seem to correspond on each photo.

Thanks. no offense. I did resize the photos so that I could upload them to this. Original photos were higher resolution. I could have taken closer photos. And yes I did note dirty lens. I hurried out the door running late and couldn’t find the camera case so I stuck camera in my bag, causing lens problems I didn’t notice until I saw in photos later. Thanks for the advise. Very much appreciated.


First you don’t make suggestions as to purchasing or not purchasing the home…you let the report speak for itself.

Second, your report should reflect not only any issues involved but the ramifications of those issues along with WHO to contact for further evaluations in those areas where you are not an expert and advise them that it would be wise to get estimates so they can make an informed decision as to weather or not this would be a good investment. The GC side of my business purchase homes that even most builders wont touch IF the home is repairable and the price is right…this is what we convey to our clients…the purchase of any home should be based upon several factors including if it makes what we call “dollars and sense.” One must take out the emotional aspect during consideration of purchasing any product.

Third, if you or any inspector is using the term “settling” or a derivative thereof, then you are misleading your client as to what the home actually is experiencing which is simply movement.

I gringe when I hear people use that term…homes don’t settle…they move…be it due to expansive soils, soil erosion, improper construction methods and/or at times simply expansion and contraction of the materials themselves such as framing members and some exterior veneers.
Not sure your background but I will say that many homes that have structural issues can easily be repaired and at times fairly inexpensive in the scheme of things.
I recently saw a home where a builder spend some serious money on cosmetic items such as custom cabinets, granite counter tops, hardwood floors etc…yet he failed to spend approximately $5000.00 in repairs of structural issues which would have given my client a fairly clean report…instead they decided to walk when the builder refused to make those repairs.

Finally, when seeking additional opinion on a topic it would be good to provide us with more than a couple pictures and more info on the home… especially elevations pictures which often can reveal some of the causes of the issues at hand.

My experience is that improper or lack of water management is the number one culprit of foundation issues followed by improper footing / foundation design for a particular load path (or improper load path) and at times improper lot preparation including improper compaction of fill lots.

Being this was a slab house built in the late 80’s, was this a track neighborhood?