It’s Foundational


This post has been coming for a long time, and on this topic I want to be really clear. 1) foundation problems are common in Foster City and 2) those foundation problems are not a reason to avoid purchasing a home in Foster City. For several years, many many homes have had issues with their foundations in this area. I met an engineer once who told me that he had fixed 60 foundations in Foster City over the years. I’m not an engineer, but as I understand it the majority of issues come from exposed rebar that’s rusted over time, has expanded and then cracks or breaks up the concrete around it. I’ve also heard that the high sodium content in the Foster City landfill impacts this rusting problem a bunch. The photo above is a typical example. The pieces on the right have fallen away from the rest of the foundation and the rusted rebar is obvious. The weakened condition of a foundation with this type of problem theoretically has an adverse effect on it’s seismic stability.

Several contractors or engineers have made a good business out of resolving these issues. The fix on the foundation pictured above is slightly under $24,000. If you’re looking at a hillside property in San Mateo, Belmont or San Carlos you could easily find drainage issues that can have similar expense and that certainly doesn’t prevent people from buying homes in those locations. Foundation problems in Foster City are correctable and shouldn’t frighten anyone out of buying here.

It is wise, however, for a buyer to be diligent in inspecting the home they are purchasing…and that means hiring an engineer or qualified foundation contractor (one who has experience with this type of issue in Foster City is best) to inspect this area. Most property inspections will note rusted rebar if found but not go any further in explaining a solution for it. Be proactive, if there’s even a hint of a problem on a report get further inspection.


  1. What about townhouses? I assume the foundation for townhouses are the same as single family houses but one can’t inspect the foundation for townhouses. How would you know when trouble might be brewing?

  2. Jim Minkey says:

    That’s a REALLY good question Nancy! Most of the townhouses around here are built on slabs, not raised foundations like we’re seeing here. I have occasionally seen slab problems (settlement and cracking)but I really have no frst hand experience with the resolution of those problems. Maybe the only way to really tell is by pulling up carpet and inspecting the concrete slab below…that’s sure a big job and not too many sellers are going to be happy with that idea

  3. Jim, what if the property inspector can’t get a good look at the foundation because there is no crawl-space!

    Several FC houses are built on slabs, with family rooms directly ‘on top’ the the slabs, and with elevated kitchen, living, dining rooms. There is no crawl-space, no way to inspect the area between the slab and the elevated rooms.

  4. Jim Minkey says:

    There is a way, actually. You would have to take up the carpet or the flooring and get to the slab. Kind of a pain though, huh?

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