Foundation Wall Cracks and Real Estate Transactions in MO and IL: Saving a home and a deal. : Basement Files

• Nov. 10, 2010 – Foundation Wall Cracks and Real Estate Transactions in MO and IL: Saving a home and a deal.

Leaky foundation wall crackA crack in a home’s foundation walls is never something to be taken lightly or simply dismiss. 

It is true that many times foundation wall cracks are caused by normal concrete shrinkage, rather than some real structural problems, but the differences between the two types aren’t always obvious, especially to the untrained eye.

Homeowners, when faced with such a problem, have mixed reactions. Some will panic and call a professional right away, some will simply dismiss the problem or patch it up using a DIY approach.

In Real Estate transactions, a foundation wall crack can be a deal breaker, and render a house almost impossible to sell. The last thing a potential buyer wants to see is a crack, of any shape, size, or kind in the basement wall, and tend to look even more suspiciously at walls that were visibly patched up. 

Realtors have a hard time listing such properties, and home inspectors can’t vow for their structural integrity if they can’t properly access the nature of the problem due to some unskilled and unprofessional patching job, which many times, can be masking a serious issue. 

As we all know, the law in most states, including Illinois and Missouri, demands that sellers of real property disclose any fact that may affect the value or integrity of the property, by completing and signing Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement.

Yet, real estate attorneys and sales professionals agree that between 70 and 80% of all the real estate lawsuits filed by home buyers are related to disclosure issues and facts that were not properly disclosed prior to the closing.

For a seller, disclosing a foundation wall crack could mean selling the property for at least 10% less than its market value, so it is understandable that they’d want it to magically disappear.

What they don’t know is that, many times, having the foundation properly fixed costs much less than what they would lose by selling a house with foundation issues. And definitely much less than they would pay to defend themselves in a lawsuit for failure to disclose the problem.

With that in mind, whether you are a seller,  a Real Estate agent inspecting a listing, or a home buyer shopping for a house, it is always a good idea to know what you’re dealing with when you are faced with a foundation wall crack.

Shrinkage Cracks:

Shrinkage cracks happen quite often in poured concrete foundations. They are normally related to the conditions in which the concrete was mixed, poured and cured. Variations in temperature, air and ground moisture can cause the concrete to crack slightly as it dries.

Shrinkage cracks are always vertical, very thin, hairline cracks which are even from top to bottom. Poor drainage and high water tables can cause them to leak into the basement

If the crack is uneven, wider in one of the extremities, it can be a sign of external pressures. (foundation settlement, expanding soil, etc..).

These need to be accessed by a professional and fixed accordingly, as soon as the problem is noticed, because foundation problems only tend to get worse overtime.

stair step crackHorizontal or Stair Step Cracks:

Horizontal cracks in any foundation and stair step cracks on any brick or concrete walls, even if above grade, are always a reason for concern. They are a clear sign of foundation movement, and the causes need to be detected and corrected as soon as possible. 

Corner Cracks Around Windows and Doors

Whether they are around a basement window or on the drywall of any window upstairs, these types of cracks can also be sign of foundation movement and should be inspected by a professional.

Saving a deal

Keep in mind that most foundation wall cracks, even the ones that pose some structural concern, can be fixed and shouldn’t necessarily become a deal breaker. If you live in Missouri or Southern Illinois, Woods Basement Systems, a foundation repair contractor serving Saint Louis, MO, Springfield, IL and nearby areas,  can help.

They have experience inspecting and estimating foundation repair jobs for Real Estate transactions.  

They will perform a free inspection and, based on the written estimate, seller will be able to make informed choices, buyers will be able to negotiate down the price of the property:
Real Estate agents will also be able to advice their clients on the best course of action and hopefully close a deal that would be, otherwise, broken from the start. 


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