The biggest mistake I see from Home Inspectors
I routinely see home inspection reports that recommend that that the buyer get a second opinion from a foundation expert. The typical home buyer thinks foundation repair contractors are foundation experts and are qualified to make a foundation inspection to be used in a real estate transaction. You are not doing your clients any favors when you make this recommendation.
Consider this: the standard TREC contract for home sales restricts who the buyer can retain to make inspections and the restriction is to people who are licensed TREC inspectors or are otherwise permitted by law to inspect homes. Foundation repair contractors are not licensed and are not otherwise permitted by law to make inspections.
The next biggest mistake Home Inspectors make
The TREC Standards of Practice for real estate inspectors defines the term “deficient” as having a deficiency. It then lists a number of specific deficiencies that apply to foundations. The only deficiency that clearly applies to slab-on-ground foundations is exposed and rusted cable ends or anchors.
In my reading of the TREC standards, you should not report a slab-on-ground as deficient unless there is a visible deficiency that has some detrimental effect on the performance of the foundation. Yet I often see TREC inspectors report the foundation as deficient without mentioning a single deficiency.
What they are normally doing is that, in their opinion, the foundation is deficient because the performance if the foundation is not what they feel it should be. Let me give a common example:
The inspector reports the foundation as deficient but does not cite a single specific deficiency. In place of an opinion regarding the performance of the foundation, he or she states that movement was observed due to excessive sloping of the floor.
There are several obvious problems here. First, a floor slope is something you take into consideration regarding foundation performance. It is not a deficiency as defined in the TREC SOP. The statement is that foundation movement was observed is just silly. It is extremely unlikely that any one observed foundation movement. What was perceived was a slope in the floor, not movement. Floor slopes may or may not be related to foundation movement. They may or may not be related to structural performance.
Floor slopes are only one item to take into consideration when forming an opinion of foundation performance. Remember, the purpose of a slab-on-ground foundation is twofold:
1. To transfer the load of the foundation, the house, and its contents to the supporting soil so that there will be little settlement and
2. .To mitigate damage to the house that result from the pressure of the soil caused by the soil shrinking and swelling.
It is emphatically not to maintain a level and planar surface. That is asking for a physical impossibility.
One final point as in Detective Columbo
Ask yourself this question: If you report that there has been foundation movement as indicted by a sloping floor, is that an opinion of foundation performance or an opinion as to the cause of the floor slope.
Remember, you are required to give an opinion of foundation performance, you are not required to give an opinion of the cause of floor slopes.