There are several different ways that the support structure of the home is built.

They include steel I-beams, steel columns (or steel screw jacks), wood support walls, laminated beams, floor joists, and block or poured concrete support posts.  All of these different systems work very well if they are properly installed.


Properly Installed Support Beams


Steel I beam, this is used as the main support beam in the basement.  These steel beams are still used today but were commonly used in older homes.


New installation of a laminated beam.


Steel supporting post.


Engineered floor joist.


Web floor joist.


Standard floor joist


While it is difficult to specify exactly what to look for, we will provide several different ideas of common problems.

Look closely to where homeowners may have cut out some 2 x 4 or 2 x 6’s in a supporting wall to add some additional space.  We recommend looking at every floor joist for cracks or home owner cutting.  These can generally be repaired fairly easily by sistering another board to them.  If several have been cracked in a row then you will need to hire a licensed contractor to make repairs.

Many times steel I-beams are installed and not properly fastened to the wall above them.  This can cause a weakness in the overall structure if the beam begins to slip out of place.

Another very common area to find problems is in the basement or crawl space under every door & sliding doors.  Most doors will leak at one time or another, and directly below them in the basement and the crawl space should be checked closely.  Look behind the insulation in the rim boxes area (we don’t recommend removing blown or Styrofoam insulation to view rim boxes) as this is a common place for moisture and termites.


Below are pictures of common structural problems:

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Bowed Floor Joist

Supporting beam has settled in the center of the beam due to being undersized.


Cracked floor joist, we recommend to have repaired by a licensed professional.


Cracked floor joist, we recommend to have repaired by a licensed professional.

Structure 2 supporting beam 2nd pic

Supporting beam is over spanded and is sagging in the middle.

Structure 2 supporting beam 2 nd pic

Cracked laminated beam, call a professional.

Twisted support beam

Wood supporting beam should be standing straight up and down, not twisted in either direction.

Floor joist with overhead leak

Water stains / damage caused from leaking sliding door above.

rotted joist

Rotted floor joist found underneath the entry door.

structure 2 supporting post

Supporting post has too much weight on it and is bending under the pressure.

Cracked Floor Joist

Cracked floor joist should be repaired.

twisted main support beam

Supporting beam that has twisted approximately. 1″ and has caused the center of the entire home to drop.

cut floor joist

Homeowner has cut floor joists which causes overall weaknesses to the floor structure.

Termite home structure

Sign of Termites (Possible FHA Concern)


Signs of termites. (Possible FHA Concern)

termite damage t floor joists

Signs of termites.

Bad support for floor joists

Car jack used to support the home in the crawl space is not proper support.

car jack in crawlspace

Car jack used to support the home in the crawl space is not proper support system.

Improperly supported support post

Main beam improperly supported by a cinder block with no concrete footing.


These next two photos are of a brand new built home, the supporting post under the basement staircase are bowed approx. 2 in. We recommend to have this repaired before moving in.  (New Home)


This photo goes with the one to the left. (New Home)


Support to the basement was added without adding a proper supporting concrete footing under the concrete blocks.  This is very common in older homes where home do most of there own work.


In older homes you will some times find homes that have had a past fire, most people would not be comfortable at inspection this so recommend to call a professional inspector or licensed builder to evaluate the structure. (Possible FHA Concern)


It is very difficult to see in this photo but this is a main supporting beam (3 2 x 10) and the one board the arrow is pointing to has warped out approx. 1 in.  We recommend to have a licensed building contractor come in and make all necessary repairs.




Cracks in your basement floor: are very common, this happens because when concrete is poured it is moist and when it dries the moisture goes away and cracks form.  Some builders will have expansion joints installed to try to control where the cracks will appear, this system works great but it is not a perfect method.  There is no 100% flawless way to control concrete cracks.


Proper insulation in basements and crawl spaces: is just as important as with the rest of the house.  Crawl spaces are one of the most overlooked and un insulated areas in the home and can become a danger area for excessive heat loss, moisture build-up and pest infestation.  There are several different ways to insulate and protect your basement and/or crawl space:

Basement Walls Inspection

There are primarily three different types of foundations that are used today in building basement and crawl space foundations: concrete poured walls, block walls and concrete slab foundations.  Occasionally you will see wood foundations and in older homes there will be stone foundations.                                      


Concrete poured walls.


Block walls.

Pre-cast Concrete Garage Floor

Pre-Cast concrete garage floor.


Stone foundation


Pre-Cast foundation wall.

Concrete Slab Foundation

Concrete slab foundation.

*Pre-Cast Concrete Garage Floors are not commonly found in homes.  This is primarily used in an industrial setting, but when used in homes they are installed over the top of a basement foundation to allow additional storage below a garage.


Every basement wall should be looked at closely for cracks and movement. 

One way we recommend viewing every basement wall is by standing in the corners and looking straight down the wall for movement from each of the corners.  Movement can include bowing or bulging, tilting or sliding of the wall.  Most cracks found in basement walls are not of any structural concern, but they may be a concern for leaking.  If water stains or signs of water are found we recommmend having the crack repaired by a water proof damping company.  If you have found the basement walls are not straight when viewing we recommend having a professional review to make sure you have no major structural concerns.  Whether a basement is finished or unfinished, it has been estimated that 90 to 95 percent of basements will experience some kind of water penetration problem.


Here are common problems with basement walls:

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structure wall crack

Crack block basement wall foundation. This wall should be checked by a professional Home Inspector. (Possible FHA Concern)


These small step cracks in older homes generally have no structural concerns.  But if you have any concerns you should call a professional Home Inspector.


Block basement wall with bowing foundation.  Have this check by a professional foundation specialist. (Possible FHA Concern)

Basement Block Wall Step Crack

Step crack in basement foundation wall. Once again these cracks are generally not a structural concern but you if you have any concerns we recommend you call a professional Home Inspector. (Possible FHA Concern)


This crack has been repaired by doing what is called epoxy injection.  This is where a professional company injects epoxy into a foundation crack and stops the basement foundation from leaking.


Basement wall that has been repaired because of past leaks.


Below are some pictures of basement foundation walls that have either cracked or bowed and been repaired:

Foundation Bowing Repair

Bowing concrete walls have been repaired with steal I-beams.


Block wall foundation has been secured with steel plate wall anchor. See diagram to the right how this operates.

Wall Anchor Diagram

Diagram of a concrete wall anchor.


The basement foundation has signs of serious movement, we recommend to hire a licensed contactor to make all necessary repairs.


The basement foundation has signs of serious movement, we recommend to hire a licensed contactor to make all necessary repairs.



You should always look at basement stairs to make sure they are structurally sound, have no severe movement and the treads are secured.  Every set of basement stairs that have over 3 steps should have railings installed for safety.  Make sure all railings are secured to the wall with very little movement. 

Basement and Crawlspace Insulation Inspection

Spray foam walls

In our opinion, spray foaming the walls and ceiling is the best way to insulate your crawl space for energy efficiency.


Foam insulation on a crawl space/basement foundation walls.

Crawlspace with reflective insulation

Crawl space with reflective insulation.

Fiberglass Insulation

Fiberglass Insulation on the walls of a crawl space.

Fiberglass Wall Insulation

Fiberglass wall insulation with paper moisture barrier.


Spray foam insulation in the rim box, insulating the rim box is very important, it is considered a large area for heat loss.

 Problems With Under Insulated Areas

No insulation

No Insulation in the rim box, we recommend that the rim boxes are insulated around the entire basement or crawl space.

Rim Box Water Stains

Evidence of a water stain found behind the insulation in the rim box in the basement, the leak is either coming from above or is coming from the exterior of the home.  It is very important to look behind the insulation in every basement rim box.


Whenever you have walls that are insulated make sure you check behind them to see if there is water leaks or possible mold.


Basement Windows Inspection

If you have old basement windows, we recommend replacing them with glass block windows for better energy efficiency and safety.

glass block window

Typical glass block window.

glass block window with venting

Glass block window with venting.


Basement Window Leaks:

glass block windows

Glass block windows leaking.

Old basement window

Old basement windows should be re- placed for safety and energy efficiency.


Leaking water from a basement basement window.


Basement Water Stains and Current Leaks

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Basement has current  water leaking. Depending on when you look at your new home it can be very difficult for yourself or a professional inspector to always determine if the basement will leak or not. (Possible FHA Concern)

Basement Water Damage

Basement water damage.


Basement water damage stains

Basement water damage/stains.

basement water stain

Water entering the home where the concrete ends and the house framing begins.

Structure water damage stains

Basement water stains.


Structure water damage

Basement water stains.


It is always very important to look into a crawl space even if the homeowner has it blocked off, we recommend to ask them to remove what is blocking the entry so you can properly view inside. (Possible FHA Concern)


This crawl space also has evidence of a water leak.  We also recommend that all dirt crawl spaces be covered with plastic to help hold down moisture.


Basement De-Watering System Inspection:

de watering 2 - Copy

Gray area around the wall represents a de-watering system that was installed.


Metal baseboard drain represents another type of de-watering system.


The basement floor concrete was cut and a de-watering system installed then re-filled with concrete.


This is another type of a de-watering system that we have found while doing inspections.

Always look at the base of the supporting post, base of the staircase, base of the furnance if it is old, or any work benches or storage units that have been installed.  These items have normally been in the home for a long time and tell you a lot of what is happening with water in a home.