When you have a home inspection (something you might already be familiar with) during the home buying process, the inspector will look over your house and tell you in detail what’s wrong with it but that’s about where it ends.
You might be wondering if the same is true for a foundation inspection: is it just about telling you what’s wrong? Great question and the answer is NO. There’s more to the purpose of a foundation inspection for your home than just locating or pointing out the problems.
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we have inspected and repaired thousands of home foundations in our 35+ year history in serving the Bryan, College Station, and surrounding Brazos Valley communities like Navasota and Brenham. We have inspected tens of thousands of homes and can tell you that not every inspection turns into a repair project.
This article will define 5 purposes that a home foundation inspection serves, what the results of it are for the homeowner, and discuss how foundation repair contractors charge for this part of their service.
What is a Foundation Inspection? 5 Purposes
Depending on the company, a foundation inspection is sometimes called a consultation or it might just be called “getting a quote” or a “bid” or an “estimate,” and in our case, we call it an “In-Home Assessment.” So as you can see, this process can go by several different names but means the same thing.
In a nutshell, a foundation inspection determines if your home’s foundation needs repair and then provides the plan of action and cost for repairing the foundation.
The foundation inspection is the most important part of the pre-repair process and is critical in identifying and addressing the concerns of the homeowner and ensuring that any problems found have a clear and detailed plan to handle them.
BUT, a visit from a foundation repair expert does not always end in the need for repair. You should expect an inspection to determine if repairs are needed because you don’t necessarily know the answer to that question yet.
1. Inspecting the Home for Foundation Settlement/Problems
A foundation repair expert will look over your property inside and out and watch for or point out problems for the foundation around your home. A foundation inspector is trained to spot settlement signs and review damage that you may not even be aware of that are signals of foundation issues and the need for repair.
The homeowner can help by leading the inspector and pointing out areas of concern as well. The inspection process should be a two-way conversation, not just a guy telling you how it is.
2. Listening to Homeowner’s Concerns About the Home Foundation
While looking over your property, the foundation repair expert would also listen to your concerns as you point out problems you might be seeing around your home. You should expect the person looking at your house to have a keen eye for spotting problems but also a sharp ear for listening to what bothers you and your input into the problem.
3. Determining if Repairs Are Needed
Not every foundation inspection should determine that repairs are needed. In some cases, the foundation inspection will serve as verification that the foundation settlement is not enough to warrant repairs at that moment.
After visiting with a foundation repair professional, the plan might be to wait and see how things do or don’t progress over time and seasons. Sometimes the best course of action can be to not do anything yet, or ever, depending on how the home is being used and what the owner wants for the home.
4. Drawing Up a Repair Plan Diagram
During the inspection, measurements of your home will be taken, and damage and failure points on the exterior and interior of the home are reviewed and noted. The inspector might even take photos of signs and damaged areas.
Then, a plan will be developed for the best way to repair the foundation of your home if repair is indeed needed. This plan would detail the amount and location of supports (piers or piles) that need to be added under the home.
Aspects of a foundation inspection can vary from company to company. Some companies include a drawing of the home to look at and show the support locations. Others will provide a report based on calculations. Some may be much less formal and just give you a verbal estimate and discussion.
5. Providing The Homeowner With An Estimated Cost for Repair
The estimated cost of the foundation repairs is the most important thing you want to hear at a foundation inspection, and that will be covered too. You should be given at least an estimate if not an accurate price for repairing your foundation at the end of the inspection.
You might also receive the repair plan and pricing information in an email following the inspection appointment. All this depends on the repair contractor and how they typically tend to provide the info to their customers.
Cost Of Foundation Repair Inspections: Free vs. Paid
The cost of the inspection service varies from company to company. Some companies offer a free estimate while other companies charge a fee.
The difference between one company and another could be in the amount of detail provided and the investment of time taken to hear a homeowner’s concerns. Or the difference could be simply the difference in your impressions of the actual contractor as a person and not whether the visit is paid or free at all.
The foundation inspection is a crucial step in foundation repair. Whether you decide to go for a paid or a free inspection, the goal is the same. Inspections allow for planning how the repair is done and the steps needed to achieve it.
Free Foundation Inspections
Free inspections might be just as detailed as a paid version. Free foundation consultations can include a sketch just as a paid inspection does, and both could look very professional.
On the surface, free inspections might not seem that different. Free inspections could be just as good at meeting your needs.
Paid Foundation Inspections
The cost of paid consultation inspections varies but typically ranges from $200 to $350. This cost might seem high at first look, but think about why there might be a charge for this. Is your peace of mind worth a fee?
Most companies would likely apply any cost of the consultation towards the cost of the repair, so then it’s not really an issue for you.
Why Would Someone Pay for a Foundation Inspection?
Typically, contractors build in the time value of a free inspection into their final cost somewhere. You might still be paying for that time, you just won’t know it from a clear line item on the bill.
Free inspections honestly might not be as honest as a paid inspection. Remember, getting something for *free* is a common and universal sales tool to make you think you’re getting something for nothing. But what you really could be getting is a “guaranteed foundation problem” rather than an honest assessment of your home.
When you are looking at spending a large amount of money, maybe 10K to 20K on the low end, don’t you want to make sure you really need that work?
Would a small fee be worth it to you to get an honest opinion?
Maybe think about it this way: before having a major medical operation or procedure, do you pay a doctor or maybe several to give you their assessment? Usually, you would pay a diagnostic charge to a mechanic to tell you what is wrong with your car. Lawyers charge for their professional expertise and opinions too.
Maybe It’s Not the Cost that is Important in a Foundation Inspection
Maybe it’s not whether the inspection is paid or free, maybe the real difference is in the feeling you get from interacting with the contractor.
- Do they sound like they are interested in your needs?
- Do they take the time to listen and respond with helpful information?
- Do you feel any pressure to act?
Both free and paid inspections are common in the foundation repair industry. It is recommended to reach out to a local contractor to see whether a free or paid inspection is offered. Ask for details about what you can expect to receive from that company after the inspection.
Listen to your instincts when choosing the right contractor. Getting more than one inspection or consultation (i.e. a second opinion) may be needed to help you feel good about your decision.
Wondering How Anchor Foundation Repair Does Inspections?
Now that you know how foundation inspections are supposed to go in general and how much they might cost (or not), you might wonder specifically how we do things at our company. While we do charge a fee for our In-Home Assessments, the cost is applied to your invoice if we do the repair work for you.
For Anchor Foundation Repair, listening to homeowner concerns is a key factor in determining whether repairs are needed or not. We want to take the time to listen to your worries and answer all the questions you might have about the foundation repair process.
We have established a two-part process to getting you a quote and inspection of your foundation that is the best of both worlds. It starts with a free phone estimate, and next, you have the option for the paid In-Home Assessment.
Check out all the details on how we do foundation inspections if you want to know more.