Front porch footings

Does anyone have information on footings? I used an 18" probe and was unable to find any cement footings under the post for a front porch. Is that right?

Be careful using probes in the ground. Hidden wires! We can’t inspect what we do not see.

Your State should have a Construction Standard.

The Dwelling and attached structures such as decks and garages, shall be supported on a structural system designed to transmit and safely distribute the loads to the soil. Loads for determining the footing size shall include the weight of the live load, roof, wall, floors, pier or column, plus the weight of the structural system and the soil over the footing.

The reason here in Wisconsin we need building permits and a permit requires plans/prints from an architect or engineer.

Haha. We know everyone gets permits!!

Unless the footing is visible or I am doing a phased inspection then I do not comment on same, even if you use a probe the only comment that can be made is that concrete was at the place you probed however that does not speak of the strength of the concrete or any defects it may have, putting on the report that the footing was “good” may end up taking on liability for which you don’t need.

Basically if a component or system is not visible or can be inspect then I noted same and move on.

Can’t even say “concrete” really. I have known of a few contractors that would use ‘rocks’ from the jobsite as a footing for posts. One cannot definitively comment on what you cannot see.

If you probe vertically (parallel to the post) and don’t hit the footing, you still don’t know if the footing is there (just deep) or not… and so you haven’t discovered a reportable issue (defect).

The most you can do with probing is probe at an angle through the area where you’d expect the post to be just under the surface of the ground. If you don’t hit the footing or a solid post (rot), you’ve got a reportable problem.

Is probing invasive or technically exhaustive?

I have to agree with Jonas. We have farm fields loaded with “field stone”. Who knows what’s under ground.

Should we throw out the SOP?

The former, but not the latter.

I used an 18th" probe and never hit anything solid. The porch has very minor indications of sagging at the front. You can see minor separation at joints, etc. Reportable or not ???

I would say that it appears that the front porch may not be properly supported, recommened further evaluation and repairs by a qualifed professional.


I see you have added the words “sagging at front”, “minor separation”.

Based on that, the SOP is pretty clear. Material defect, structural issue. Report as you the on-site inspector see it. If you observed sagging and minor separation of the porch, why would you not write that observation in your report?

As Home Inspector’s we detect “observable” condition’s. A reasonably competent and diligent home inspection is not required to be technically exhaustive.

There must be more to the story. I see you have been a member since 2004. You only gave a couple sentences.

I always put life safety first. Ok. Front Porch. Does it have stairs? Is it a deck like porch, any roof, another porch above it, what is the size of porch, how is it attached to house, what is condition of the porch materials? You are the observer.


While probing is not required of a home inspection if you feel the need to provide that additional layer of service head Nicks advice in an earlier post and probe at an angle to try and detect a continuation of the structural support down and into the soil. I have built many structures where the construction documents required the top of the footing to be 24" below grade and I’m in climate zone 10 (no freezing).

Unless the footing is visible or I am doing a phased inspection then I do not comment.
Visual. SOP.
Mr.Haynes is correct.
What would you know if you hit it anyway?

Footer size and placement depend upon frost, weight.
cylinder and bell
Typical… below frost line.
The frost line in Montreal extends 6.5 feet bellow grade.

Since I observed sagging and separation I am obligated to report on what I think the problem is. If I observe and do not report…possible problem.


Not sure what your observation is. Sagging and separation of a “porch” is most probably an adverse fact. This observation is and should be reported in your written report.

Home Inspectors are not required to determine cause and effect, or report what the “problem is”. You do not even have to advise your client to contact anyone to repair.

Always include or list in your written report any material adverse facts that you observed or have knowledge of.

I use this.

Well stated Joe Farsetta. I am keeping that one!

Just observe and report what ya see, with your recommendations … CCIR (Component, Condition, Implication, Recommendation). In situations where your gut feeling is that somethings wrong, you can word things a little stronger … another example would be

P.S. A good contractor with a post hole digger could also check things out … :wink:

Nice narrative.