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Who is responsible for foundation problems? A homeowner’s guide

No doubt, the last thing you need is to notice a crack in the foundation or some other evidence to suggest a potential problem with your home – be it structural or subterranean. If you’re living in a newly constructed home, it’s even more disturbing. So if you discover a foundation problem, whose responsibility is it?

Most contractors or construction companies offer a warranty, generally for one year on defects in construction. The warranty must be in written form to be legally binding. The best method to lessen the possibilities of this type scenario is to hire a home inspector to look for problems with the home prior to closing.

Many contractors will stand by their work well after the warranty expires if the fault in the foundation can be proven to be a result of poor construction techniques. First, make sure that the problem with the foundation is not a result of landscaping – water erosion due to the location of rain gutter down spouts, lacking French drains in low areas, or some other related issue.

But, past the written warranty period, it is difficult if not impossible to force a contractor to comply. You’ll be best off calling your local contractors association for further direction.

Home inspector checking a house for a family

Homeowners’ insurance liability normally excludes foundation problems. Because settling can be caused by a slew of different events – earthquake activity, subterranean plate movement, and water erosion are just a few – typical insurance plans don’t cover foundation damage.

Endorsements, if any, cover certain situations such as close proximity to underground mining operations, sewer backups or leaks compromising the foundation. In each case, a force acts on the foundation to cause the compromise.

Additional policies are available as a rider covering the home as well as foundation against flood and earthquake activity when in such an area subject to these perils.

Woman scraping a wall

Renter claims due to foundation problems: When a renter signs a lease it is considered an “implied warranty of habitability.” The owner has the obligation to maintain the premises in compliance with local health and building codes.

If the owner becomes non-compliant and does not maintain the premises in good order, resulting in damage to the renter’s property, he or she is responsible for the incurred damage and replacement.

All that being said, the most important and immediate step is to halt the settling progress before significant and expensive damage occurs to your home.

Call the experts at RamJack for a free home inspection and geological assessment. We’ll let you know what’s causing your foundation problems and help you figure out a plan for financing and scheduling your repairs.