Home Foundations in San Mateo County

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Credit: Image by Ricardo Gomez Angel Source
There are several of different types of housing foundations throughout the Bay Area, San Mateo county. Did you that you must identify and disclose the known risks, when selling a home in California?

Although, you are not required to fix any of these “risks” before you sell your home; you must identify and disclose them. Obviously, making the improvements could increase your home‘s value. In all cases when dealing with real estate matters, it is important to seek the advice and guidance of a licensed Realtor. The laws and regulations of disclosures are always changing.

Disclosures are extremely vital in a real estate transaction whenever selling and buying a property. One key disclosure is to identify the home’s foundation and risk factor. This is disclosed formally using the Residential Earthquake Risk Disclosure Statement form. Acknowledge and receipt of the Homeowner’s Guide to Earthquake Safety booklet is also required to be given to the buyer. It is a requirement by state law, and this it is all noted in the booklet in detail. Click here for the pdf version of the booklet.

Background and History
Now, if we look at San Mateo foundation types specifically, it really comes down to “when” the property was built and what existing building codes and building trends existed at that time. As you can imagine, things changed after the big earthquake that rocked San Fransisco 1906. There is a lot of history that year as it is also the year Coldwell Banker was founded a few months after; we can talk about this in future blog segments, but I did want to mention this and take advantage of the opportunity by talking more about earthquake and earthquake insurance since we just had a 5.1 this past October that was centered in San Jose.

Foundation Types
Regardless of the types, the solid foundation should be bolted. Bolts with nuts and square washers spaced should be every 4 to 6 feet.
Foundations are generally broken down into two categories. Shallow and Deep foundations. In residential we commonly see shallow foundation applications, and or a combination of individual footing or isolated footing, combined footing, strip foundation, raft or mat foundations.
Deep foundations are usually applied to commercial applications, i.e. pile foundation, drilled shafts or caissons.
When buying a home, it is highly recommended to review the disclosures to understand these facts and to understand and consider any remedies. The famous real estate phrase “buyer beware,” or in Latin, “caveat emptor” is most prevalent during the inspection stage of the transaction. In San Mateo, we would commonly see Reinforced Concrete Perimeter, Slab, and Stem Wall Foundations, which are solid and bolted.
The foundations to watch out for are the ones that will crumble in a strong or moderate earthquake. These are generally non-solid or non-permanent foundations, like cmu, masonry, or stone, as these types can fail and even slide off its foundation in a big earthquake, and risk damaging the structure, walls and floors, and potentially rupturing utility connections, which could lead to fire, water damage, and injuries.

Avoid Financing Issues
Again, the foundation type and the risks level must be disclosed in a series of nine-part questions. This information is also important especially when financing a property as a lender may deny your loan depending on the answers. Unless it is on wheels, then this is a mobile home not real property.
“The definition of real property is a residence that is permanently affixed to the land. Therefore, to be able to obtain a conventional mortgage, the residence must be real property and therefore be permanently affixed to the land.“
— Carol Sasano, VP of Mortgage Lending at Guarantee Rate Affinity.
When financing a home, as you may already know, you are required to carry home insurance, basically fire and liability coverage. Sometimes flood insurance depending on its location, but you are not required to have earthquake insurance in most cases, but this can be added by most carriers to your existing policy, many may do not know.

A great resource is CEA, California Earthquake Authority. This is the best choice of earthquake policies for California homeowners and renters. They can select from 5%-25% deductibles. They are one of the world’s largest providers of residential earthquake insurance, their rates based on science, not profit. They have more than $19 billion in claim paying ability, and more than 1 million policyholders. An earthquake policy can be bought through your existing home insurance policy in most cases.

If there is one take away, please consider earthquake insurance. I highly recommend it, especially if you live near a fault line. This can be determined by ordering a Natural Hazardous Disclosure Statement.

At least find out how much the additional coverage would cost, it might surprise you and be worth your consideration. Oh, and no need to shop it around,  as the premium is fixed and the same no matter the carrier, so please consider insuring your home today. Information is power.


Want to Retrofit?
Lastly, I wanted to let you know about the Earthquake Brace + Bolt (EBB) Program.
The Earthquake Brace + Bolt (EBB) program helps homeowners strengthen their homes against earthquakes by offering a grant of up to $3,000 toward a seismic retrofit for qualifying older houses. There is also a grant specifically for income-eligible homeowners.
Registration is OPEN NOW until November 29th. Register for a grant today!
In closing, please note, as a Realtor, we can only identify what we see and note during our agent visual inspection. One is not required to remove siding, drywall or plaster to determine your home’s foundation type or if has anchor bolts or reinforcements. The risk level must be disclosed by the seller and the buyer has the luxury of further inspecting to reach their satisfactory level.  Sometimes we cannot be sure by visual alone, and that’s when we recommend the use of a professional by consulting a licensed engineer or architect.
I hope this helps understand foundation types and what to look out for in your journey of home buying and selling.
Realtor, CalDRE#01410052
Coldwell Banker Realtor

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