I am in Houston, TX this week looking for investment properties we can buy fix, and sell or fix and sell as a turnkey rental. In some areas, you will find common flaws for the area. What do I mean by flaws? These might be foundation issues, water issues, roof issues, landscaping issues, structural issues, or fascia issues. For instance, Houston had a very hot and dry summer this past year, so a lot of the foundations in the area have broken or cracked due to them not being irrigated correctly during this time. You will find this in many of your southwestern states where they have extreme heat and lIttle precipitation.
How do you know if any one property was affected by the extreme heat? You will need to look for evidence of foundation issues on the exterior fascia and the interior walls and flooring.
Here are some of the main items to look for:
- Many of the homes in that area have brick exteriors. Brick exteriors will easily show shifts, settling, and any movement. You will find that the mortar will crack in areas that have moved. Most times you will find these cracks originating at the roof line or from window or door openings. The lonager the crack in the mortar the more concerned you should be. The biggest concern should arise when the crack is wider than the width of a quarter. It is even more severe, of you find that the crack has gone thru a brick instead of around it. The number of cracks in the brick exterior are also a concern. If the brick fascia is moving forward or bowing outward, you need to do more investigation into the reason for this direction of movement.
- The foundation is obviously a place to look for cracks. In a lot of case, the foundation will show just above the ground and will allow you to see any issues with it. You should look for cracks in areas where a basement window or door are located. Also, you should look at corners and other weight bearing areas on the foundation for cracks? In some cases, the cracks will be on a stucco like material added to the foundation for a nicer finish and not the actual foundation itself. Where you find brick mortar cracking, you might find foundation cracking too.
- You will want to check entry doors and door frames for settling too. In some cases, the settling will be so bad that you will find the door is hard to open or close. You might even see visible cracks in the wood around the opening. Garage doors will not open or close properly or you will find that the garage closes on one side but there is a large gap on the other side
- The basement or crawl space will offer more information about settling. You will need to look in area where windows and doors are located and where most of the weight of the homeborn being held. If you find surface cracks, you might need to do a little more investigative work. If the cracks are wider than a quarter, you should consider that there are some issues with the foundation. Some floor cracks are common and more common in some areas than others, but when you have a lot of cracks running all over the basement floor, you should consider moving onto your next investment property. You should note whererepairs have been made in this area too. The floor may have been releveled or resurfacedTo hide the issue.
- The ceilings and walls will show shifting and settling too. When you are inside the investment property you might find around the door and window openings cracks leading down to the floor or up to the ceiling.If these are large cracks that are prolific throughout the investment property, you might consider walking away or further investigation. Plaster finishes are less forgiving than drywall finishes, so you will see the settling in plaster more readily than you will in dry wall. If the doors in the investment property are closing on there own or they are difficult to open, then there has been some settling that has occurred.
- All of these factors are indicators that shifting and settling has occurred with the investment property you are considering investing in. You will find some evidence of settling in most every home you go into, but the severity and amount of cracking will be the true indicator of whether it is usual or unusual cracking. The more severe cracking might be an indicator of foundation issues or other structural factors being present in that investment property! This you will either need to run or seek further help to investigate the severity and options for resolution. Foundation and structural issues can be quite expensive to resolve.