Whether you’re looking forward to a brand-new guest suite for your in-laws to enjoy during the holidays, a private home office, or a larger living room, a new home addition is an exciting remodeling project. While you may have considered where your home addition will be built, how it will be laid out, as well as budgeted out the cost of pouring a new foundation and expanding your home’s roof as part of the buildout, there’s one factor you may not have considered: a home addition can exacerbate already-existing issues with your current home’s foundation.
Why Can a New Home Addition Increase Foundation Problems?
If your current home is an older one, it’s spent years settling in. Many people don’t realize that a home addition doesn’t exist in a bubble. Once it’s attached to your house, what happens to a new home addition affects the current structure. Because it’s new, the addition will need time to shift and settle — even as the current house stays still.
Your new home addition will also feature an extension of your current home’s roof. Rainwater will run down that roof and soak the ground around the addition. Should a drought occur and the soil in that area dry out, it will cause that part of the addition to sink. This means the side of the addition that’s attached to the original part of your house will raise slightly. This raising might not be noticeable to the naked eye, but it will be enough to create stress on the original structure.
What Does All of This Mean?
Stress and shifting of your foundation can create any number of problems, from cracks in walls to doors that won’t close. That’s why it’s important to make sure your current foundation is sound and repair any issues before beginning a new home addition. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye out for any signs of foundation shifting once the addition is complete.
Here are a few foundation red flags:
Doors that suddenly stick. That bedroom door used to close perfectly fine, but lately you notice that you have to lift up on it and twist the knob just so to get it to stay shut. This isn’t just a sign of an older home; it’s a sign of foundation problems.
Windows that don’t open or close properly. Having to wrestle with a window can sometimes mean that the problem goes far beyond the window itself. Make note of any sticky windows because it could indicate a shifting foundation.
Cracks in walls. While wall cracks are relatively easy to fix with a little spackle and paint, they can be a smaller symptom of a much larger problem. Even if you patch a crack that’s caused by your foundation moving, it’s likely to reappear as the structure continues to shift.
Bowing in the basement. Your basement walls will also provide clues to the state of your foundation. During heavy rains, the soil surrounding your home will become saturated and push against the foundation. When the soil dries out, it pulls out and away. Over time, this back and forth movement can weaken basement walls and cause visible bowing.
Gaps in crown molding. You loved the crown molding when you first bought your home – and you still do — but you’ve noticed that parts of it have started to separate. This is another sign of a foundation that needs to be repaired, whether you’re getting ready for a new home addition or have completed one that may have started to settle.
By taking steps to ensure that your foundation is properly repaired and sturdy before building a new home addition, as well as understanding what to watch out for afterwards, you’ll help avoid any major problems in the future.