How Expertise and Due Diligence Reduced Homeowner’s Cost from $10,000 to $600 and Saved a Transaction from Falling Through

Would saving $9,400 make a difference to you? Most homeowners — whether they are preparing to sell, buying or just maintaining — are overpaying for repairs. Why? Because they often don’t have access to the critical information they need or have real estate due diligence experts to evaluate and assess the property.

Recently I was working with clients who had their hearts set on a beautiful home that was a perfect fit for their family. The transaction was proceeding smoothly until an appraiser found a crack in the exterior brickwork. I immediately knew this could be a sign of foundation troubles, but I also knew there was no reason to panic. While this discovery might have spelled doom for less-experienced agents, I knew to step back and assess. 

Knowing What to Look For

When I’m walking a house, I’m attuned to potential trouble spots. Years of experience have taught me what to look for. It starts as I walk up to a house and notice if the driveway is cracked or has dropped away from the garage which is a sign of soil movement. My eyes scan for mortar cracks in brickwork. I also look for patched concrete on the driveway and front porch which is an indicator of previous foundation repairs. Once inside I am looking for wall cracks and floor tile cracks and I can sense a sloping floor that might warrant investigation. I know which parts of Austin are built on clay soils that tend to grow or shrink based on the moisture content, and I know the impact shifting soil can have on a foundation. 

In this case, the sellers being proactive and wanting to ensure the best outcome, called in a foundation repair company, which visited the property, made an assessment and presented a $10,000 estimate to repair the foundation.

One thing to keep in mind is while a foundation repair is an expensive undertaking — I’ve seen them cost anywhere from $3,000 to $30,000 — the repair is only a part of the overall cost of the process. The cost of the repair itself must be considered, but often numerous ancillary costs come into the picture. For example, sometimes wallboard problems occur as a house is leveled, impacting plumbing and flooring or the process of leveling a foundation can take a significant toll on landscaping. These hidden costs could be scary, but might end up being completely avoidable with expert level due diligence.

Make Better and More Informed Decisions with Expert Advice

The sellers immediately called in a foundation repair company, but my process involves one more step of due-diligence. These companies are perfectly legitimate and indispensable businesses, however, it’s their mission to fix foundations and make them as level as possible—not necessarily to assess whether a foundation actually needs repair in order to maintain the structural integrity of the home. 

For that, you need a structural engineer, and that’s the first call I make when I suspect foundation problems.

A licensed structural engineer has the training, expertise and experience to determine whether a foundation is indeed in need of repair. That is something you absolutely want to determine before dropping thousands of dollars on a fix. The engineer will come in, take measurements, and make a thorough assessment before making a call as to whether the foundation repair is warranted.

And guess what? Hiring an engineer costs about $600. Compare that to diving headfirst into a $10,000 repair. It’s a no-brainer!

The happy ending for this case resulted in no unnecessary work being done. The foundation was deemed to be safe and sound by a trained and licensed professional. As a result, we completed a successful transaction between a satisfied seller and buyer. 

I’m lucky to have been able to work in this incredible field for 16 years. I get to work with amazing people day after day and I appreciate the experience I have built up over the years. Every day is an education and I’m thrilled to get to share this knowledge with my clients. 

Understanding the subtleties of completing real estate transactions are a crucial part of my profession, one I take very seriously, and can save clients thousands of dollars. 

Get the expert representation you deserve! If you’re looking to buy or sell a home, I’d love to chat!


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Maxavenue Staff