Construction currently comprises a huge portion of America’s gross domestic product (GDP) that is worth $784.9 billion. In 2030, construction GDP in the United States is expected to boom to $15.5 trillion. It stands to reason that this kind of wealth thrives from the excellent professional integrity of American builders and their standards.
A recent study of 225 building failures between the years 1989 to 2000, with 63% of these coming from low-rise structures, reveals some curious conclusions. A significant contributing factor points to the construction deficiencies and the negligence of these conditions on old buildings between 30 to 60 years of service. Such data highlights the importance of post-construction assessment for structures that stood for a very long time.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on a rock.” These words from the Bible (Matthew 7:24-27) uses an analogy all builders understand very well. Hence, the important of foundation inspection is always a standard operating procedure for anyone thinking of either acquiring or renovating an old property.
The average foundation inspection cost Americans usually pay for could be anywhere between $350 and $1,000. The conservative estimate does not always reflect actual costs and prices can always vary according to the size of the property, the presence of crawlspace and whether or not the building requires repairs.
According to Home Advisor, the lowest average cost of foundation inspection by a structural engineer is roughly around $200. The highest possible fee, on the other hand, is approximately $1,300. What usually contributes to the price change is the time needed by hired experts to finish covering all areas of investigation for the foundation inspection.
Hiring A Structural Engineer
When one pays for a foundation inspection, all expenses go down to the professional fee needed for the assessment. In effect, the overall foundation inspection cost depends on how much the expert charges the client. A home inspector may qualify as a foundation expert and they can be a reliable source to advise the next step. However, when clients asked for a more comprehensive analysis of the problem, they often recommend seeking second opinions from structural engineers.
Regardless of how well a foundation repair company would deliver their convincing sales pitch, it still does not hold a candle against the qualification of a structural engineer. Apart from graduating a 5-year college course, they have also completed another half a decade of internship before acquiring their license. Ironically, one can always count for the recommendation of structural engineers regarding which local company to choose in repairing specific problems they detect.
When it comes to hiring structural engineers, there are certain pros and cons that come with experience. Fresh graduates normally earn around $18.57 to $26.07 per hour. On the one hand, they are relatively cheaper than decades-older experienced counterparts who would often ask for a higher hourly rate between $30.43 and $42.28. Within reason, homeowners would not mind paying a higher fee when one has to account for better peace of mind.
Contents Of The Assessment
If there is one compelling advantage a client can benefit from hiring structural engineers, it is the acquisition of ‘engineering report.’ This type of foundation inspection report clarifies all the specific details that justify their final recommendation or conclusion. When a client tries to acquire this report from private contractors, the average fee could cost anywhere from $500 to $600 on top of the total average cost of foundation inspection. But from a licensed structural engineer, the cost of an engineering report is roughly around $300.
Complete foundation inspection reports have certain variations depending on which state, but they all have the same basic elements of the interior and exterior examination. These are the following details one must expect from a comprehensive exterior assessment:
- Water drainage, irrigation, and landscaping
- Cracks and fissures on exterior walls
- Degraded building material or concrete breakdown
- Bucking walls, irregular slopes or exterior budges
In terms of interior assessment, the fundamental idea is to verify the consistency of the elevation levels. But other than that, he or she will also be doing the following further tests to supplement the overall engineering report:
- Looking for improper ventilation, mold, and water damage
- Measure the integrity of floors and concrete walls within the foundation
- Assess the stability of support beams and other load-bearing mechanisms
- Isolate internal cracks and evaluate their threat degree
- Test the tightness or looseness of doors, windows, and vents
Some people may not always appreciate the necessity of engineering reports and may think of this document as optional. However, adding this to the overall foundation inspection cost is still well within the rights of every client. In fact, this transparency document could be used as supporting evidence if one is trapped in a very bad real estate deal.
To Repair Or To Bargain?
The average cost of foundation repairs is anywhere $1,761 to $5,955. However, this cost could easily balloon up to $10,663 if the structural engineer recommends major foundation repairs that often include hydraulic piers or slab-jacking. Small cracks could entail as low as $500. However, before deciding on paying for the foundation repairs as objectively recommended by the structural engineer, there are ways to repair the bad deal from the property seller.
In case the seller advertised the property while failing to mention any of the underlying dangers in the building as reported by the inspector, the buyer has the right to hold them accountable. All property sellers are legally obligated to disclose any information regarding foundation or structural damage. There are cases when the seller covers the costs of major foundation repairs for the house or building there are putting on the market. However, those who have no such insurance policy for repair costs might be amenable for a huge discount. Consulting with a real estate lawyer in this particular case is not a totally surprising solution.