Most times it’s easy to determine if a home has structural damage. Tilted windows, door frames, and sagging roofs are visible to the naked eye. Experienced professionals can find out the how serious the damage truly is.
Structural damage is any type of damage that affects the core integrity of your home, especially your roof and load-bearing walls. Load-bearing walls carry the majority of your home’s weight. Without these walls, your home would collapse. Leaning windows and door frames are also common signs of a structurally weakened home.
High winds are the typical culprit when it comes to this type of damage, but strong floods have also been known to cause structural damage. Windstorm and flood damage stress metal fasteners and 2×4’s in your home, causing them to buckle. Water damage may also undermine a structure’s integrity by rusting and weakening foundational metal structures.
Most structural damage is obvious. Visual inspection is the best way to initially find structural damage, according to Jerome Connor, a structural engineering professor at MIT.
Doors and windows that don’t open like they once did are strong signs of structural damage. A shifted door frame can indicate a shift in the overall structure.
Other Things to Look For:
- Cracks in wood structures
- Hard to open doors and windows
- Damaged wires, pipes, and gas lines
- Wet insulation
- Wet electrical circuits
- Rust seeping out of cracks
- Cracks in foundation
On the surface, structural damage may seem minor. A door or window that’s a little tougher to open doesn’t seem like a big deal. But it could indicate more significant, underlying damage. Hidden damage can cause irreversible, long-term damage to a home. It also compromises the safety of your home.
Inspect Your Roof First
Your roof is a good starting point when inspecting a home for structural damage. If there’s damage, you’ll probably be able to see sagging in the ridge of your roof. The ridge may sag in the middle or at the ends of the edge.
The best way to inspect your roof is from a distance. Standing farther away from your home gives you more perspective to see irregularities in your roof. A damaged roof indicates damage to the frame supporting the roof.
If you still suspect structural damage, look for the windows and doors in your home that don’t open and close like they should.
Repairing Structural Damage
Fixing a house with structural damage is a complicated job that varies greatly. Some homes may simply need joints and fasteners while others require entirely rebuilt load-bearing walls.
An initial visual inspection by you or a building inspector may not be enough to determine the extent of home repairs. Civil engineering consultants can determine weak points in a structure that need to be addressed. If you don’t properly brace your home before starting repairs, you could further damage your home.
Some people familiar with construction work find it worth their time to make their own repairs. This isn’t recommended, even with relatively minor repairs.
If you have an older home, asbestos is a likely concern for you. Houses built in prior to the 1980’s were built with asbestos-containing materials. These materials don’t pose a threat when they remain undisturbed, but you could expose yourself and your family to deadly asbestos fibers if you don’t know what to look for.
Other Things to Look For:
- Other concerns when repairing structural damage include:
- Registering for building permits
- Using additional bracing to prevent collapse of roof or walls
- Discovering more damage than anticipated
Hiring a Professional
Hiring a professional can save you a lot of time on repairs. Professionals know what to look for in an inspection. A professional can identify more complicated aspects of your home like damage to the roof truss system.
Most truss systems in the roof are held together with 2×4’s and metal fasteners. Damage or cracking to trusses can comprise your roof, leading to a far more expensive repair if left alone.
Professionals can also make repairs that help safeguard homes to future flooding and damage. Flood-resistant building materials in the flooring, walls, and ceilings make a home more secure in the event of storms.
How Much Does It Cost?
Repairing structural damage can cost upwards of $10,000 or cost as little as several hundred dollars. Most homeowners can expect to spend between $1,763 and $5,880, according to data collected by HomeAdvisor.
The cost of structural repairs is hard to estimate without a thorough inspection, but you shouldn’t wait to make repairs. Structural damage gets worse the longer it’s ignored. The cost of repairs is nothing compared to how much structural damage devalues your home’s market price.
Get help finding a professional who can restore your home now.
The LSU Ag Center. (2005) Determining Structural Damage and Preparing for Repairs After a Storm. Retrieved from: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/topics/family_home/home/design_construction/getting%20started/recovery_assistance/determining-structural-damage
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (2013) Is there a way to check a building for structural damage without knocking down walls? Retrieved from: https://engineering.mit.edu/ask/there-way-check-building-structural-damage-without-knocking-down-walls
Home Guides. (2016) How to Know If There is Structural Damage to a Home. Retrieved from: http://homeguides.sfgate.com/there-structural-damage-home-46177.html
Home Advisor. (2016) How Much Does it Cost to Repair a Foundation? Retrieved from: http://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/foundations/repair-a-foundation/