Photograph of - cracked  masonry block foundation wall, probably from earth pressure at original construction - notice the wavy mortar. Drop a plumb line to measure total inwards bulging of this block foundation wall. Standards for Inspecting Foundations for Defects

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Foundation damage inspection & reporting standards:

This document describes the national standards used to determine how an inspector, using commonly-accepted home inspection and/or building trade methods and equipment, shall be expected to recognize and diagnose various types of foundation failure or damage.

The photo above shows a bowed masonry block foundation wall with horizontal cracking that occurred due to earth loading at the time of construction, probably by vehicles driving too close to the foundation wall shortly after it was constructed. At this website we explain how it is sometimes possible to be confident about the cause of foundation damage which in turn helps assess the risk presented to the building.

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 INSPECTION STANDARDS - Foundation Inspection Standards - ASHI Standards of Practice (American Society of Home Inspectors)

The following example of foundation inspection standards is quoted or paraphrased from the ASHI standards. Other home inspection associations such as NAHI, CREIA, CAHI (in Canada), FABI, TAREI, CHI, and their brothers have (or should have) a similar standard for inspecting and reporting on the condition of a building foundation.

Those U.S. states or and Canada where home inspectors are licensed also have published their own version (or have based theirs on preexisting versions of) these standards as well. Since the ASHI standards are the oldest and have undergone considerable study and periodic updating, we refer to them here. For the latest version of ASHI's home inspection standards and code of ethics, visit the ASHI website at

4.1.A.1. The inspector shall ... observe foundation

4.2.A.1. ... describe the type of foundation

4.2.E. ... report signs of water penetration/harmful condensation

Notice that in some Standards there was no mention of observations of damage or unsafe conditions!

But notwithstanding Section 4.1 above, the following section requires the inspector to observe and report evidence of significant damage, including to visible portions of the foundation. Significant in this case means in need of immediate major repair; it might also mean in need of further evaluation by a qualified expert.

2.2 inspectors shall ... 2.2.b.3. ... state ... any ... components

... in need of immediate major repair

2.3 These Standards are not intended to limit inspectors from

2.3.A. reporting observations and conditions in addition ...

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

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 DAMAGE REPORTS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.


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


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