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If you’re looking at rehabilitating an entire building, or renovating a home for flipping, one of the things you’re likely to do is allocate a budget for all the “visible” features that are going to make commercial tenants or potential residents want to take advantage of the space. Usually this means obvious things, like making sure the walls are repaired and painted, or the kitchen has been remodeled.

But there’s one very important part of a building’s condition that the success of a rehabilitation or renovation may entirely rest on, both metaphorically and literally, and that is the foundation. And it’s important you don’t ignore this element of a structure’s overall health.

Structural Integrity

The foundation is the base on which a building is expected to sit and provide stability. Even when a building’s history indicates that the work on a foundation was top quality, you should never take this for granted. Decades of weather and changes in the climate and soil composition can shift a foundation and unevenly distribute weight of the entire building. This can lead to uneven floors and, eventually, a building literally tearing itself apart as it moves in two directions.

This is why it’s important to ensure that you get a proper, professional inspection on the state of a foundation before you commit to flipping a home or rehabilitating a building. A stable foundation is a critical—and expensive—component of a building. And when it comes to selling a home, some buyers know enough about foundations that they may even require a conditional inspection of this area before they agree to buy a home.

On the other hand, if you want to invest in a commercial building and eventually let in tenants for workspaces, then ignoring the foundation at the earliest stages simply means that you’ll incur greater costs down the road when the building’s problems interfere with your and your tenant’s business activities.

The foundation is an easy aspect of a building’s condition to forget about. But doing so can prove to be a very expensive piece of negligence. Don’t get caught off guard by this expense, know where—and how—you stand with the foundation of a property you’re interested in.