Home inspectors love playing with tools, and finding ways to understand what is happening with the foundation is one of our major concerns. Foundations are particularly difficult because so little is visible. Mainly we look at indicators, but a few inspectors like to use a Compu-level, which can be an aide, but does not provide the best information. A study from an engineering firm in Houston gave me an idea though, which I tested out yesterday at two inspections.
First, you have to understand no one method will provide a complete picture. What I did is only a means to discover one sign that a foundation may have a problem. The engineers, who examined many foundations from new homes, discovered that on average a foundation will be out of level by a half inch over a span of twenty feet. With this fact in mind, I decided to take that finding as a guide. If the foundation was more than a half inch out of level, there would be a better possibility that an issue with the foundation.
Using my laser measure, I found the twenty foot mark away from a wall in a section of the home I was concerned about. I set up my laser level, ensuring that it was levelled. I set it up on the mark. After turning it on to focus a dot on the wall, I took my laser measure to find the exact distance (x1) down to the floor. I then go to take the measurement (x2) from the light source down to the floor. The difference between x2 and x1 is the measurement I need to compare to the half inch. If x2-x1 is greater than a half inch, I have one more sign that there may be a foundation problem. If this measurement is less than a half inch, I cannot use this as an indicator; I will have to rely on other factors.
It takes about ten minutes to set up and find my measurements. This can be one more tool for an inspector to find a sign with the foundation. After only having done this twice, I do not have enough data yet to see how effective this method may be, but I thought it would be good to share the idea.