During 2020 and into 2021 with stay-at-home restrictions, many families started looking for more living space. Basements represent one of the best ways to find that space including adding a home office, family room, gym, workshop, or fan cave.
In this way, a basement can add a great deal to a home’s value on the real estate market. Conversely, a damaged basement from bulging walls to flooding after a heavy rain can reduce a home’s market value by as much as 30 percent. In fact, in our recent survey, 88% of prospective home buyers said they wouldn’t buy a home in need of foundation repair.
As a real estate professional, the more you know about basements the better you’ll be able to make smart investment decisions and guide your clients. As basement repair experts, we’ve been there, done that when it comes to home foundations. Here are our six steps to identify potential basement issues and what to do about them.
1. Do a Preliminary Structural Inspection
Since the entire weight of the home is resting on top of the basement, it’s critical that its structure is sound. This includes the interior beams and supports. Any structural issues can turn into safety and livability issues.
Look for wall cracks, sticking windows and doors, uneven floors, moisture issues, or crumbling cement. See our article signs your home has a foundation problem for more insight. For structural damage repair options, it’s best to seek out professional experts.
2. Look for Water Issues
Any excess moisture or water in a basement can lead to mold, pests, and structural damage over time. Look for wet spots on the floor, water stains on the walls, mold or mildew, and evidence of flooding. Watch for DIY wall sealants and similar efforts to address or mitigate water damage.
Repair options include basement waterproofing with an interior drainage system and a sump pump, mold cleaning, and even flood vents.
3. Assess the Building’s Insulation
The best basement wall insulation is rigid waterproof panels that seal against water and create a vapor barrier. The insulation also has a direct impact on utility costs, with heating and cooling systems either operating efficiently or burning extra energy to overcome poor insulation. Watch for the insulation on the HVAC ductwork.
If you find poor basement insulation, it may also be an indicator of the insulation in the rest of the home, including the attic. It’s best to upgrade the basement insulation if it already has sufficient waterproofing and vapor protection.
4. Look for Pests
Any basement cracks allow an easy entry for insects. That coupled with moisture forms a breeding ground for ants and even termites. Look for droppings, nests, entryways for the pests, and wood damage.
Options for repair include eliminating the moisture problems along with any cracks and gaps that allow pests entry. It may also require a professional exterminator.
5. Inspect Basement Mechanicals
Home mechanicals are often located in the basement. This includes a furnace, water heater, electrical circuit box, washer, and dryer. Look for signs of water and even rust that indicates ongoing moisture issues. Watch for a water line along the base of appliances that shows the extent of basement flooding.
Once you’ve identified any issues with the mechanicals, it’s best to request additional inspections and testing by qualified technicians.
6. Don’t Forget What’s Outside
Any water that collects in the basement arrives from outside. Look at the outside basement walls for cracks, soil pulling away from the walls, along with shrub and tree roots. Landscaping should be graded to allow rainwater to flow away from the foundation. Likewise, the gutters and downspouts should be clear and routing water well away from the foundation.