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Discovering Solid Foundations: A Homebuyer’s Ultimate Guide to 1980s Homes


1980s HomeAs you embark on purchasing a 1980s home, it is crucial to consider various factors that can significantly impact your investment. One important aspect to assess is the property’s foundation, which supports the entire structure. In this blog post, we will explore the unique characteristics of 1980s homes, focusing on their foundations. By understanding what to look for when buying a home from this era, you can make an informed decision that ensures the stability and longevity of your investment.

1980s homes’ architectural type often falls between the modern and traditional eras, lacking a distinctive retro style commonly seen in mid-century and ’70s houses. Despite this, these homes have charm and characteristics that attract many prospective buyers. Understanding the foundation types and potential issues associated with homes from the 1980s will aid your home-buying journey.

Most houses in the 1980s were built with a concrete slab-on-grade foundation. This type of foundation includes a thickened edge that serves as a stabilizing element. However, it is important to note that the site’s terrain may dictate variations in the foundation design. For instance, sloping sites often necessitate a combination of a concrete block stem wall on the steeper sections of the ground. At the same time, the flatter areas typically utilized the slab-on-grade foundation.

1980s homeOver three decades or more, a sloping site can experience soil erosion, leading to various signs of foundation distress. It is crucial to watch for indicators such as stair-step and diagonal cracks, particularly on the downhill side of slopes. These cracks suggest settlement and erosion, and in some cases, the base of the foundation may become exposed. Additionally, expansive clay in the soil beneath the home can contribute to foundation issues over time.

Differentiating between normal settlement cracks and more severe structural problems is an essential skill for any homebuyer. It is common for older homes to exhibit minor cracks resulting from settlement and the natural expansion and contraction of the structure due to seasonal temperature changes. Such cracks, smaller than approximately 1/8″ in width, are generally not a cause for concern. However, cracks that exceed this width or display differential displacement (where one side is higher than the other) may indicate significant movement and should be carefully evaluated.

When considering the purchase of a 1980s home, paying attention to its foundation is crucial for ensuring a solid investment. Understanding the characteristics and potential issues associated with these homes will empower you to make an informed decision. Remember, signs of structural problems should not immediately deter you from a prospective house. Please consult a professional foundation repair specialist who can thoroughly evaluate defects, provide insights into their severity, and provide expert advice when a repair is warranted. By following these guidelines, you can confidently navigate the process of purchasing a home built in the 1980s and make a well-informed decision that aligns with your goals.

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