Foundation Elevation Survey
With a Foundation Elevation Survey a home inspector uses a computerized, state-of-the-art level that can document the relative elevations of your home. This is enhanced documentation of the condition of the home at the time of the inspection. The Foundation Elevation Survey can be used in the future as a baseline or comparison to determine if the home has moved. We use a Smart Leveler to take our foundation measurements. This foundation elevation survey tool provides accurate and detailed measurements on a floor plan image. This is similar to a ZipLevel or Stanley® CompuLevel. We feel that the American Made Smart Leveler is a better tool that produces a better report.
What should I know about Foundation Measurements?
It’s important to note that homes often have deviations that are difficult to detect without the specialized tools that a home inspector uses to take foundation measurements. Floors may be unlevel from the day the concrete is placed if the forms were not level at the time they were built. Homes also settle over time and as long as the home stays together the foundation is performing it’s job, even if the foundation elevation survey and foundation measurements look like it’s not. A foundation’s job is to support the structure of the home. Foundation measurements can show differences you didn’t realize were there all along.
A home inspector can also perform relative foudnation measurements of the home to the garage, pool, patio, or other features to help you understand drainage or plan for improvements. If you are interested in these more advanced services please contact the office to discuss them further.
Foundation Elevation Survey and Floods
Houston floods. This is a well known fact. I encourage clients to look at FEMA Flood Information Resource Maps (FIRMs). The City of Houston also has a very good public GIS system that shows FIRM data and LIDAR elevation data gathered at various points. The City dataset usually has the street elevation on it. As a home inspector it’s way outside my area of expertise to provide a flood elevation certificate. I can however measure the difference in elevation between the street and the finish floor of the home being inspected. This foundation measurement taken as part of the foundation elevation survey can help you as a client understand the relative difference between the street and your finish floor.
How Should I Use a Foundation Elevation Survey?
I encourage clients to use this information for documentation purposes and not to rely on it or interpret it without assistance from a licensed, qualified structural engineer. Nor should any data produced from this be construed as a land survey of any kind. Should you wish to have an elevation survey I recommend engaging a Texas Registered Professional Land Surveyor who can provide more comprehensive reports.