Most Common Foundation Problems in Commercial Buildings

Written by: Commercial Real Estate Inspectors, LLC

Many Building Issues Emanate From Foundation Problems

A commercial building is a significant real estate investment, so keeping it in good repair is essential. Unfortunately, one of the areas that often gets overlooked is the foundation. After all, it's easy to think of the foundation as an area that sits there, unaffected by its environment. However, ignoring your foundation's structural health can cause a myriad of problems that can quickly become expensive.

At Commercial Real Estate Inspectors, LLC, we thoroughly inspect commercial building foundations and problems that can develop when unstable. Our inspection staff has more than 60 years of combined experience, allowing us to find foundation problems and recommend remedies to keep your building sound. Contact our experts at (614) 532-4576 to schedule your inspection.

Telltale Problems are Common

Many issues can factor into foundation problems. Where the building is constructed, local soil and weather conditions, the quality of materials used, and more can affect foundation integrity. Sometimes, even when contractors rigorously follow all construction specifications, foundation problems can occur due to soil settling and earthquakes. Older buildings are particularly prone to problems simply because of age.

Problems in Building Walls Can Indicate Foundation Issues

Fortunately, your building will tell you something is amiss with the foundation long before major issues appear. Cracks on exterior and interior walls are common. Exterior cracks are one of the first signs, especially "stair step" ones that don't always need immediate attention but should be carefully monitored.

Interior drywall cracks and cracks around window frames can also indicate a shifting foundation, even though they may have other causes. Pay particular attention to vertical cracks, as these are significant signs that your foundation is settling. Horizontal cracks are usually caused by localized support failure and are often the result of plumbing failures.

Windows and Doors That Stick

Another first sign of foundation problems is difficulty in opening windows or doors or doors that appear to be uneven in their frames. These problems are also warning signs that you may have early foundation problems. An professional inspector can determine whether these problems are due to the foundation or another type of problem.

Foundation Sinking or Settling

You may have a settlement issue if one side of your building seems lower. Foundation movement can even occur in the middle of your building, requiring lifting along with the installation of interior or exterior foundation piers. Foundation movement can impact your structure in different ways, depending on the quality of construction and the type of foundation you have. Buildings with basements will also react differently, but the soil volume on which the foundation is built will ultimately affect stability.

Foundation Upheavals

The opposite of sinking occurs when your foundation moves in an upward direction, generally affecting the perimeter of a concrete slab. This movement can affect the building interior, including hallways, doors and other areas. Moisture is the leading cause of upheaval, while plumbing problems from under-slab leaks can also contribute. Soil that becomes wet and heavy from excessive rains can also cause this problem.

Exterior Fascia Gaps

If you see noticeable gaps on the frieze and fascia, the material that connects the roof to the exterior walls, these gaps could indicate that your building is settling or reacting to humidity. Other, more severe foundation problems may also be imminent. Multi-story buildings such as condominiums and apartment buildings are especially prone to this problem.

Issues With Flooring

Cracked tiles and warped or buckling floors indicate something has changed since installation. Bowing, dipping, or any other leveling problem suggests something is amiss. Flooring sits directly atop the foundation, so unless the issues result from installation or inferior products, it's likely to result from the foundation.

Thorough Inspections Can Pinpoint Problems

Aging buildings can develop many problems. Scheduling regular inspections can help pinpoint the problem and save you thousands of dollars in potential repair costs. Contact the inspection experts at Commercial Real Estate Inspectors, LLC at (614) 532-4576 to schedule your inspection appointment.

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