Hillside homes

Hillside homes

Prospective buyers of hill side homes are frequently concerned about possible problems. Erosion problems should be a concerns of hillside property owners. Though the installation of retaining walls to lessen erosion is expensive, it is often necessary to help avoid and or control soil erosion issues. Home inspectors know to watch for signs of settlement such as cracked siding, cracked foundations or slabs that appear to be over or near the fill and cut juncture. However, these cracks may not be visible to the inspector if finishes were recently installed or if fresh paint exits. Experienced home inspectors know to look for fresh paint and newer finishes can be signs a home owner is hiding something and that further evaluation is necessary.

Experts recommend that you look closely during your final walk-through for any evidence of settling or movement. Cracking over the doors and windows can be an indication of lateral movement. Any sign of structural movement must be addressed immediately. Waiting to see what happens or monitoring the condition is not at all a good idea as the problems frequently become worse over time. Another enemy of the hillside property owner is the uncontrolled water. The rain runoff from roofing and surfaces must be collected and directed to the paved street and drained properly.

Proper size gutters and downspouts must be used to keep water away from the foundation walls. Gutters need to be cleaned at least twice a year. Overflowing gutters is a leading cause of soil erosion, water infiltration and foundation damages. If you do not have roof gutters, they should be installed before the next rainy season. You must construct and maintain yard drains. Yard rains should be checked and verified each year to see that water is flowing to the street. If there is a retaining wall already on the property, it should be taken care and checked for leaning and weep holes. You should always employ a licensed contractor on all hillside construction and avoid those contractors who do not want to obtain building permits. A qualified inspection by the Municipal Building Department and a professional engineer can save you money and possibly your property. Home inspections, being a visual inspection cannot ascertain the stability of the site. Invariably, the most important thing one should keep in mind, is to be concerned with the location of slopes on the site and how close the building is located to these slopes. The higher the slope and the closer the building is to the slope, the greater are the chances for  problems to occur.

The property should be checked from time to time for visible cracks within the building and surrounding grounds. Better if a geologist could be requested to investigate the surface conditions of the lot and to discuss areas of potential problems. On those properties where long driveways or private streets are used for vehicular access to the building areas, a careful examination of the road pavement for cracks or recent repairs must be made.

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