Foundation: Structural Engineer (Seller's) vs Home Inspector (Buyer's). Who to believe?

Asked by Richard F, Thu Aug 1, 2013

My home inspector says the foundation is in need of major repair. The seller provided a Structural Engineer's report stating the foundation is fine 5 days prior to my inspection. As a buyer, who is the right one to believe??


Scott Johnson, Agent, Richardson, TX
Sun Aug 24, 2014
The inspector is a generalist that looks for signs of problems. When inspectors find these signs they suggest you get a specialist to check out the problem. While it is good to have an opinion from a structural engineer that the seller has had evaluate the property, you should have a structural engineer that represents you evaluate the property.

If you want to save some money, you can get a reputable foundation repair company to evaluate the property for free. They use the same tools to evaluate the property that the structural engineer will use. If you are concerned about the foundation when the foundation company is done, spending the $300 - $400 that it will cost you for a structural engineer to evaluate the property may be well worth it.

If you have any other questions, feel free to contact me at any of the links below,

Scott Johnson
FireBoss Realty
469-269-0911 - Property Search Site - Blog - FREE Mobile App
3 votes
That is not correct advise. A structural engineer does more than use a tool. The structural engineer knows how the foundation system is designed. He can look at the loads transferred and determine if the issue is due to loads transferred or is it a design issue or a drainage issue,...etc. Installing piers all over the place is not a solution. People think putting piles solves the issue. Think again.
Flag Sun May 7, 2017
IS it normal for the Realtor to make this appointment or can the buyer make an appointment on his/her own? If I can make the appointment myself I could save myself a week of waiting by making the appointment myself. (Trying to get this done before the Christmas. I believe the realtor is sitting on the appraisal)
Flag Wed Dec 2, 2015
That's a good way to explain an inspector. If the inspector found structural problems, then you're going to need to get a professional engineer out to look at the house. Whatever problems he finds are what you'll need to repair to pass your inspection. It shouldn't put you way behind schedule as long as you act now. |
Flag Thu Feb 5, 2015
Annette Law…, Agent, Palm Harbor, FL
Thu Aug 1, 2013
There's more to this story.
The seller 'happened' to have a engineers report dated five days before yours.
Sounds like seller has had previous experience with "Inspectors Gone Goofy' who ad-lib regarding those things they do not know. The inspector should have:
1. Noted their observables
2. Suggested several causes
3. Recommended consulting a specialist.
Inspectors who inject opinion are dangerous and should not be allowed into anyones home.
This is very similar to an inpector declaring "There's mold in the chimney pan!" What a day that was. This inspector did not know where the chimney pan was, but the mold folks did produce a report that revealed another "Inpector Gone GOOFY!"
Who to believe? I think you know.
What was the observable?
What did the engineer reveal as the cause?
2 votes
I didn't have a chance to get the whole story in all of the question area. The seller gave the report to my Agent on the morning of the inspection and before our inspector even looked at the house. Apparently the seller had the same thought that it might need foundation work. I hired a company to come out and give a quote on if it needs repairs and how much it would be if needed.

The foundation repair company agreed with the Structural Engineer. It does not need foundation repair.
Flag Thu Aug 1, 2013
Liz Bobeck, Agent, Jacksonville, FL
Thu Aug 1, 2013
I would believe the licensed professional who represents my interests. A license costs money to keep, maintain, and insure, and no one who spends all that wants to lose it. Find someone who can come out and quote you on the repairs, who too is licensed, just make sure that the people you listen to are the ones who are being paid by you for their information.

Best of luck to you,
2 votes
David Hauck, Agent, Southlake, TX
Thu Aug 1, 2013
In this case, the only way to be sure and have the peace of mind you should have when buying a home is to get your own Structural Engineer to inspect the home.

Proud to Serve You,
David C. Hauck
Realtor® / Retired Navy
2 votes
Adrianna35x, Home Buyer, Frisco, TX
Fri Oct 28, 2016
I just learned that inspectors "assume". My house is very old, almost 60 years.. The walls are mostly cement, and the basement has never been insulated, and therefore, gathers moisture quite easily.
Typically, I run a DE-humidifier but it died a bit ago, and I haven't replaced it. On top of that, we did have a leak from an upstairs bathroom pipe for sometime, and it created a bit of harmless mold due to moisture.
The mold was cleaned thoroughly.

However, the inspector just assumed that there MUST be severe foundation issues. Buyer backed out

I am fuming. There never has been any foundation issues. NO cracks, no wobbly walls, no water seeping in.

He cost me a buyer, and now I have to go get what I already know, and pay for a professional to come in and put it in writing. I should be able to sue for cost of sale of house!!
1 vote
No, you should not be able to "sue for cost of sale of house." You let your home degenerate. The dead dehumidifier aside, the "leak from the upstairs bathroom pipe" that went on for "sometime" tells us you let it fall into disrepair. Mold is a big problem due to the spores which can spread through your heat system or AC system and lie dormant for years. 60 years old is not old for a house that has been taken care of.
Flag Mon Jul 9, 2018
From a buyers standpoint I'm glad the inspector pointed out this issue in the house I was ready to buy. The seller had cracks hidden in a basement where all lighting had been removed. The appraiser overlooked it but the inspector caught it.
Flag Tue May 16, 2017
Donde Womack, Agent, Leonard, TX
Tue Feb 18, 2014
If you are in Texas, look up the Structural Engineer's record on the Texas Board of Professional Engineers. If he has a good record and no sanctions, then trust your Engineer. A Home Inspector is not a Structural Engineer. I have found that there are a lot of good Home Inspectors, but an Inspector is no substitute for someone who is actually licensed in a particular field, such as a licensed plumber, licensed electrician or an Engineer. Inspectors have a certain liability so they have to be extra cautious. Often times they will be overly cautious about items that they are unable to fully evaluate that would require a trade license, such as foundation. There are times where there is very clearly visible evidence of foundation trouble, such as cracks that are wide enough to put a penny in side-ways, slanted floors, doors out of square, etc. The Inspector is obligated to point those things out and should. However, if there are little hair-line cracks in patio slabs, or even sheetrock, only a Structural Engineer can tell you if those things are something that is minor settling or if repair is needed. FHA has a set guideline on what is acceptable settlement and what is considered trouble. I always recommend going with a good, reputable Engineer for a true foundation evaluation, but make sure it's the Engineer that YOU hire and not a report from one that was provided to you by someone else.
1 vote
Bruce Lynn, Agent, Coppell, TX
Thu Aug 1, 2013
Get your own structural engineer to look at it.

I've seen this plenty of times.

The inspectors don't want you coming back to them later and tend to over evaluate in my opinion on roof, foundations, HVAC. When you call the experts they are less concerned in many cases.

What do you see with your own eyes? What does your realtor say? Can you get a foundation company to take a look for FREE. What do they say?
1 vote
Patrick Jack…, Agent, McKinney, TX
Thu Aug 1, 2013
Call your own foundation company. An inspector is only qualified to point out the need for a qualified foundation specialist to look at the property. Most foundation companies will assess a property free. Their estimators are usually not engineers, but any work they perform is reviewed by a licensed engineer. The estimators are the ones who examine properties daily, so they know what to look for.

You would think that foundation companies would be looking to add to their own bottom line. However, it has been my experience that the good companies will tell you when you don't need work and when you do. My quotes from different companies typically come in with basically the same recommendations.

I recommend: GL Hunt, Structured Foundation, and Arch Foundation. They will be busy now, so you may need to extend your Option to allow time to get reports.

Patrick Jackson
Realtor,ABR, GRI
1 vote
Tony Grech, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Michigan
Thu Aug 1, 2013
Yes I would agree. If your inspector recommended you get the foundation further inspected by a specialist then you should do this to protect yourself. The cost of an inspection is peanuts compared to the cost of major structural repair down the road.

At the end of the day, you'd hope that the seller was acting in good faith and not just trying to pull a fast one. But I would just have your realtor reach out to the sellers and tell them thanks for the gesture but you would feel more comfortable having your own foundation expert check it out and proceed from there.

Best of luck!
1 vote
Keitabiabi, Home Buyer, Frisco, TX
Thu Apr 12, 2018
My basement is sinking . I am trying to schedule an appointment so an foundation engineer can tell me how to fix this problem I live in Alexandria Va and it a townhouse.
0 votes
Rla4046, Home Buyer, New York, NY
Fri Aug 25, 2017
Hi Y'all ! Who do you talk to If you bid on a house you won the bid. You close on the house they did 2 inspections on the house but there is hazardous electrical issues( The stove was making poping sounds like firecrackers when we try to cook a pizza. My has been had to hurry and cut the stove off and the breaker box off to the kitchen .And call the loan officer and the realtor the loan officer said it's as is but I told my husband this is dangerous and hazardous and our lives and the grandkids lives are at stake when they come to visit .And if this is as-is. Why they didn't keep the first stove they had in this house that had burnt out wires .Now the second stove they replaced it with has electrical issues . It's supposed to be a new stove but it's a used stove .( And the hot water heater sit next to the outlet for the washer and dryer the door from the washing machine touches the hot water heater knobs at the top )and the structural damage upstairs (The floor makes cracking noises when you walk on it.You can hear it downstairs) also(We was told it's not the pad or the rug it's the wood on the floor that make a hump under the rug). And in the kitchen (The refrigerator moves when you walk by it).who do we talk to about getting these dangerous and hazardous things address .We've been in here going on three months trying to find out who we supposed to talk to address these issues? Because this as-is is-not cosmetic issues) This is dangerous and hazardous! HELP PLZ!!! I pray this house can be made clear and free. So #thisoldhouse can be repaired to our #BeautifulHomes . BLESSINGS Renita Armour
0 votes
Alysse Musgr…, Agent, Coppell, TX
Thu Jul 20, 2017
Trust an engineer, not a home inspector or the seller.

Buying a Home? Don't Let Them Make a Monkey Out of You! Follow the link below.

Alysse Musgrave
Consumer Advocate/
Exclusive Buyer Broker

Best selling author of Buying a Home: Don't Let Them Make a Monkey Out of You!
0 votes
Snallagu, Home Buyer, Frisco, TX
Tue Jul 18, 2017
Have your own licensed engineer check it. He/she is working for you and in your interest so they will give you unbiased opinion. If you need any assistance, contact Sandeep at 972-360-7013 or visit
0 votes
Snallagu, Home Buyer, Frisco, TX
Thu Jun 22, 2017
Get your own Level A inspection. This type of basic inspection and a report from a licensed engineer is cheap and can give you an idea if there is any problems with the foundation without going into too much detail. Please give us a call at 972-360-7013 for any foundation inspection needs.
0 votes
Christopher.…, Home Buyer, Frisco, TX
Wed May 24, 2017
I would definitely go with the answer given by the Engineer.
Engineers have a lot more education on the subject verses a home inspector.
0 votes
Myersjulie31, Home Buyer, Blakeslee, PA
Wed Mar 18, 2015
It might be a good idea to listen to the inspector in this situation. They are the ones that look at homes to make sure that they are good to be sold and bought. I think that if you are still concerned, it might be a good idea to find another structural engineer to get their opinion. By doing this, it would probably make it much easier for you to make the final decision to know if the house is in good shape.
0 votes
Amy Arey, Agent, Denton, TX
Thu Aug 21, 2014
A structural engineer is the professional in "their" field. A home inspector can give you a broad view of what is going on with the home, but if anything "questionable" comes up, you'll notice they "defer to the professional in that industry" as notated on the inspection report.

The average structural engineer will run you about $350.00 for an evaluation (depending upon square footage) but perhaps you want two bids if you are questioning the extent of the damage? Better safe than sorry...

-Amy S. Arey, Realtor
Halo Group Realty, LLC
0 votes
Tammi Montgo…, Agent, Frisco, TX
Thu Mar 27, 2014
The home inspector is not a structural engineer. The inspector should defer to an engineer who is the licensed professional. Although inspectors are licensed, the scope of their inspection is to find major defects with a home and if found, suggest review and/or repair by a specialists. I view an inspector as a generalist who refers the specialists.
0 votes
Michael Brow…, Agent, Allen, TX
Sat Mar 15, 2014
Use an inspector to inspect, if they suspect foundation issues, consult a renowned structural engineer.
0 votes
Ali Qureshi, Agent, Pleasanton, CA
Mon Feb 17, 2014
Even if you have a slight doubt, I will highly recommend you to get qualified inspections done on the foundation before closing escrow. You don't want to regret after you close escrow.
0 votes
Donde Womack, Agent, Leonard, TX
Wed Jan 8, 2014
Not only should you hire your own Engineer, but you should check any Engineer for credibility against the State's Board of Registered Engineers. I just had a Buyer who was provided an Engineer's report from the Seller. We discovered that the Engineer who provided the report has since has his license suspended for 2 years for providing a fraudulent report.
0 votes
Michael Brow…, Agent, Allen, TX
Sun Dec 22, 2013
Always hire your own home inspector and your own structural engineer. I am not hinting that you should not trust reports provided by a third party, but I recommend this just to have piece of mind.
0 votes
John Weaver, Agent, Plano, TX
Mon Sep 16, 2013
No doubt that you should definitely hire your own engineer. You have to protect yourself as a buyer, and it is important to choose a vendor that you can trust.
0 votes
Michael Brow…, Agent, Allen, TX
Mon Aug 5, 2013
I advise that as a buyer, always hire your own structural engineer to inspect the foundation if a concern is noted; I highly advise against using the seller's inspectors, etc.
0 votes
Terry Farnsw…, Agent, Lisle, IL
Thu Aug 1, 2013
Agreed with below. Home inspectors basically know a "little bit of everything" but are typically not true "experts" in any one area. If anything of concern is uncovered during the home inspection - you should definitely get an qualified expert in that specialty to give you a 2nd opinion.

This is especially true with anything related to arguably the "most important" component of your home - the foundation.

I also certainly wouldn't trust or take anything the seller gave me into consideration concerning the condition of the foundation. They are trying to sell you the property.

The bottom line - hire your own professional to determine the presence of any foundation issues. It's a small price to pay to uncover potentially a very very expensive correction.
0 votes
Susie Kay, Agent, Dallas, TX
Thu Aug 1, 2013
Home Inspector is typically a generalist and your first level of defense in terms of inspection. When he finds issues on a home, in this case foundation, you may want to hire your own foundation company to give you a more complete analysis. Your agent should give you advice on this matter.

Susie Kay
United Real Estate
0 votes
Maria Gilda…, Agent, Manchester, CT
Thu Aug 1, 2013
Home Inspectors are generalists. They normally recommend to their clients to seek the opinion of the specialist in the area of his/her expertise if they see obvious or latent defects.

In your case, a structural engineer.

Talk to your realtor about this and ask for recommendation. Getting your own structural engineer to assess the condition of the foundation would be your best option.

Best of Luck.
0 votes
Lynn Crosby, Agent, Dallas, TN
Thu Aug 1, 2013
Best always have your own team representing you . I locate my own structural engineer to inspect the home. Your Realtor should be assisting you

Lynn911 Dallas Realtor & Consultant
Multimillion Dollar Sales Producer
972-699-9111 100's of Dallas homes listed for sale or lease

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0 votes
Melissa Hail…, Agent, Plano, TX
Thu Aug 1, 2013
A home inspector is general by nature. They know a little bit about a lot of things. The Structural Engineer is a specialist - and his specialty is foundations. He would have more in-depth knowledge of the actual foundation.

If you are unsure about the validity of the engineers report, you may want to research the engineer to see if he is with a reputable company that stands behind their work. You may also consider hiring a structural engineer that you choose to look at the home.

I would recommend that you talk with your agent about your options. Good luck!

Melissa Hailey - North Texas Top Team, Realtors
Coldwell Banker Jane Henry Realtors
0 votes
Mike Gonzalez, Agent, The Colony, TX
Thu Aug 1, 2013
Structural engineer would be more qualified to evaluate the foundation than a general home inspector.
0 votes

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