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Real Talk: How Long is Your Foundation Certification Good For?

April 6, 2021

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If you’re a homeowner ready to schedule a foundation inspection, an obvious question to ask is, how long is a foundation certification good for? After all, you want to know that a new foundation, foundation repairs, or home foundation inspection for any reason will last for more than just a few months or even a few short years!

Every contractor guarantees their repairs or inspections on a case-by-case basis, as foundation damage can occur at any time and due to a number of factors. To ensure a foundation in good repair, it’s vital to schedule regular inspections and get updated certifications as needed.

It might seem confusing and perhaps even a bit disappointing to know that a foundation inspector cannot guarantee your home’s condition to last. However, knowing a bit more about these inspections as well as what causes foundation damage can help ensure your home is always in good repair.

As always, it’s vital that you discuss any concerns or questions you have with a foundation repair contractor near you. He or she can offer personalized recommendations for your home so you know the foundation is always strong and secure, or so that you can schedule needed fixes quickly!

What Is a Foundation Certification?

foundation building certification

A foundation certification is provided after a full home and foundation inspection, typically conducted by a structural engineer. The certification states that the foundation meets guidelines set out by local regulatory agencies, or a federal agency such as the FHA (Federal Housing Administration) or HUD (the Department of Housing and Urban Development).

In many cases, a foundation certification might be required by a mortgage lender, so they are assured of the home’s overall condition or know if the foundation needs repairs. A foundation certification might also be needed by an insurance provider, before they will write a homeowner’s insurance policy.

How Long Is a Foundation Cert Good For?

Even a so-called “permanent foundation certificate” doesn’t mean that your home will never need foundation repairs, as a home’s condition is never permanent! Note some common reasons for foundation damage so you better understand why a permanent foundation certificate doesn’t mean that you never need to schedule foundation inspections for your home:

  • Improper drainage can mean excess moisture in the soil. A structure’s foundation absorbs this moisture, leading to concrete softening and other damage over the years.
  • Flooding around the home can also mean overly moist soil and the potential for foundation damage. This can include natural floods such as from a swollen river or heavy rainfall, or it can include floods resulting from a broken or leaking irrigation system, a leaking pool or septic tank, or an overflowing well.
  • Moist soil can also expand over the years, putting pressure on a foundation, leading to cracks, chips, and other damage.
  • While moist soil is very damaging to a home’s foundation, overly dry soil doesn’t provide adequate support for a foundation, so it can eventually settle and shift and then crack.
  • Adding significant weight to the home without strengthening the foundation can cause weakening and cracks. This weight can result from an added story or sunroom, or even something smaller, such as slate roofing or heavy stone floors and countertops.
  • Earthquakes and other strong or prolonged vibrations can damage a home’s foundation.
  • Overgrown tree roots, especially from large and mature trees, can wrap around a home’s foundation. Those roots continue to grow over time so that they put pressure on the foundation, leading to cracks and other damage.

Knowing these common causes of foundation damage can help a homeowner better understand why even a “permanent” foundation certification isn’t necessarily good for a lifetime! In many cases, those certificates are only good as long as there is no change to a property’s condition, and if the homeowner has regular foundation inspections over the years.

How Much Is a Foundation Certification?

crack on the wall

Most homeowners can expect to pay between $350 and $1000 for a foundation inspection and certification. While this might seem a bit steep, note that a foundation inspection involves more than just a quick check of visible concrete or a home’s perimeter! Note what most foundation inspectors include in their assessment of a home and its foundation:

  • Inspections typically begin with an interior check, looking for minor cracks, uneven doorjambs and window frames, and other signs of a sinking and settling foundation.
  • The inspector will examine load-bearing walls and beams for signs of weakening and other structural instability.
  • Interior concrete walls and floors are inspected for cracks, chips, spalling, and weakening.
  • The home might be inspected for mold or insect infestation, or other signs of foundation cracks that allow in excess moisture and unwanted pests.

After inspecting other areas of the home, an inspector will then check the area under a home’s crawlspace or inside and outside the basement, and any exposed foundation concrete he or she can access. They might even inspect the soil around the home, to note its overall moisture composition and if it’s compacted properly, ensuring the foundation has needed support.

Do Mobile Homes Need a Foundation?

mobile house

A mobile home is built in a factory and then delivered to a lot where it is then placed on a designated site or pad. Despite being manufactured elsewhere and often lighter than standard site-built homes, a mobile home still needs a foundation; putting that home directly onto underlying soil would mean having it suffer tremendous water damage and eventually sinking into the ground!

Various foundation types are available for mobile homes, including:

  • Standard basement foundations, which provide added living or storage space and resistance to earthquakes and underground vibrations.
  • Pit or crawlspace foundations, which are similar to basements; however, a mobile home doesn’t open to a crawlspace so it won’t provide added living space, although an encapsulated crawlspace might allow for storage or room for household appliances.
  • Slab foundations allow a mobile home to rest on piers above that concrete site. These are very affordable but aren’t a good choice for sloping lots, and movement can damage plumbing and other features running through the slab.
  • Footer foundations are very affordable and allow for quick access under the home. However, they are most prone to damage and need repairs and replacing more often than other foundation types.

What Is an Engineer Cert for Manufactured Homes?

While manufactured or mobile homes are built offsite and then installed onto a lot, they will have a foundation or slab under them, as said, to ensure they stay stable over the years. As with other types of homes, a potential buyer might be required to obtain an engineer’s certificate for manufactured homes before he or she qualifies for a mortgage loan or insurance. A manufactured home owner might also schedule an inspection regularly, to note their mobile home’s overall condition.

If a potential buyer is applying for an FHA or VA (Veteran’s Administration) loan for a mobile home, they are often required to have the structure’s foundation inspected by an engineer, who will provide them with a certificate of his or her findings. Their inspection follows what is called The Permanent Foundation Guide for Manufactured Homes, or PFGMH, provided by HUD.

During their inspection, the engineer will check the home’s foundation type as well as dead loads, snow loads, wind loads, and needed ventilation. He or she will also note modifications and alterations to the home such as the addition of sunrooms or garages, and if the home has had extensive repairs including re-roofing.

If the mobile home does not meet PFGMH guidelines, the engineer might note recommended repairs. This can include various systems that might be retrofitted to the manufactured home, which is simpler than reworking or reinstalling an entirely new foundation.

As with foundation inspections for site-built homes, this certification is only valid as long as there are no modifications or damage to the home. If you’re considering purchasing a mobile home and have been told that you need to obtain an engineer’s certificate, check with a foundation inspection company near you for their recommendations.

When Does a Home Need a Foundation Inspection?

home foundation inspection

Ultimately, a homeowner should have their home’s foundation inspected every five to seven years, as regular inspections spot signs of weakening and early damage. The sooner a homeowner addresses needed foundation fixes, the less risk of the foundation developing larger cracks and chips that just get costlier over time! Sealing off cracks and chips quickly also keeps out moisture, reducing the risk of water damage and mold growth inside the home.

However, a homeowner would do well to schedule a foundation inspection at the first sign of foundation damage. Note some often overlooked signs of a weak or damaged foundation, so you know when to schedule a needed inspection:

  • Cracks along interior and exterior walls and ceiling tiles.
  • Buckled flooring or tile pulling away from the flooring under it.
  • Carpet that seems stretched or threadbare in certain areas.
  • Doors and windows that stick or swing open on their own.
  • Baseboards or crown molding pulling away from the walls.
  • Gaps in room corners where two walls should meet.
  • Cracks along a home’s roof.
  • A damp basement or standing water in the basement.
  • Mold growth.
  • Insect infestation.
  • Sudden plumbing issues in the home, such as recurring clogs or water leaks.

A foundation inspection contractor can note if any of these issues are related to needed foundation repairs; he or she can also recommend the best fixes for your home. Scheduling an inspection as soon as you notice any of these signs of potential damage will ensure you keep your home’s foundation in good condition and will also avoid risks of secondary damage to the home.

Total Foundation Repair Austin is happy to bring this information to our readers and we hope it answered the question, how long is a foundation certification good for? If you still have questions or need foundation repair in Austin and surrounding cities, give us a call! We offer FREE quotes on all the foundation repair you need to have done, and stand behind our work with a full guarantee you can trust.


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