Photograph of a bulged, cracked, leaning stone foundation wall. How to Evaluate the Significance of Foundation Movement or Damage

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How to Evaluate the Significance or Amount of Foundation Movement when a foundation is leaning, bulging, bowing, or settling.

This document describes how to recognize and diagnose various types of foundation failure or damage, such as foundation cracks, masonry foundation crack patterns, and moving, leaning, bulging, or bowing building foundation walls.

Types of foundation cracks, crack patterns, differences in the meaning of cracks in different foundation materials, site conditions, building history, and other evidence of building movement and damage are described to assist in recognizing foundation defects and to help the inspector separate cosmetic or low-risk conditions from those likely to be important and potentially costly to repair.

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

Foundation DAMAGE SEVERITY - How to Evaluate the Significance or Amount of Foundation Movement when a foundation is leaning, bulging, bowing, or settling

The photo above shows a cracked, bulged, leaning stone foundation wall at the edge of an embankment - a condition we discuss further at this website.

These examples of foundation damage are almost always very important and need expert attention

This list is not complete. Suggestions welcomed.

Some simple "rule of thumb" for evaluating the seriousness of foundation damage

Amount, type, & direction of foundation movement

The importance of the amount of foundation movement varies

These additional conditions change the importance of the amount of foundation movement

Climate, seismic, & other local foundation structural requirements

Other Expert Views regarding Evaluating Foundation Crack Size / Width or Extent of Foundation Movement

British Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, RICS - Degree of Damage - per W.H. Ransom (RICS)

Foundation DAMAGE SEVERITY TERMS - How to Characterize the Severity of Foundation Damage
StructAPedia ®

Based on multiple national ASHI seminar polls conducted by the author - American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)

Minor, single, isolated, cosmetic, marketing concerns

Modest foundation damage, monitoring appropriate

Significant, expert foundation assessment needed. Foundation repair may be needed

WARNING: Don't make conclusions just based on crack size and location. The inspector must consider other site factors conditions, history, materials, external forces, etc. Sudden catastrophes CAN occur, especially where site drainage or other conditions risk undermining or sudden forces on the foundation.

Continue reading at FOUNDATION REPAIR METHODS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see FOUNDATION CRACK DICTIONARY for a discussion of the diagnosis of specific crack patterns in masonry

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FOUNDATION DAMAGE SEVERITY at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.


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