I'm currently in the process of buying my first home, and I found a property on the market that was priced significantly less than most homes in the area. The seller's justification for this was a bowing foundation wall. Other than this issue, I really like the house and it fits a lot of needs.

I took a look at the wall, and from my research, it seems pretty bad. There is a large horizontal crack running from the center to the right side of the wall, which seems to indicate an excess of lateral pressure, likely from rainfall. I put a beam up against the wall vertically to measure how much the wall has bowed, and it's a little over 5" (meaning from the base of the wall to the peak of the bulge).

My general research tells me that, in terms of bowing (the wall is bowing, not leaning), under 1" is not a huge concern, 2" something should be done immediately, and anything past 4" likely means the wall will need major repairs, most of which involve excavating soil on the other side of the wall (which would be very difficult in this case due to the house being on a hill).

How bad is this, and what, if anything, can I do myself to fix it? Common solutions I've seen are carbon fiber strips, steel beams, a steel anchor, or rebuilding the wall entirely, although I'm not sure which would be recommended here. Thanks all!

foundation wall side with beamfoundation wall front

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    i saw one like that years ago; I eliminated it from the potential house list. May 23, 2020 at 15:02
  • I would get a good surveyor to inspect the house and especially that wall. Perhaps the ground outside has changed use - parking, got wet ...
    – Solar Mike
    May 23, 2020 at 15:18
  • You need a structural engineer to tell you exactly what is required so you can get have an informed estimate. It may be as simple as solar mike says or it may be that the whole house will need to jacked up and new foundation installed. We can not tell you that from here. I would tell the home owner you will not even consider purchasing with out a proper inspection.
    – Alaska Man
    May 23, 2020 at 18:17

1 Answer 1


You have 1 advantage that the wall is only ~5’ below grade. Can it be repaired DIY yes, but this would be quite involved.

I would suggest digging out outside the wall for 2 reasons:

it would allow backfilling with gravel so it could drain and the hydraulic forces would not push it in again.

The second reason a temp wall set inside to support the home will allow rebuilding.

I would suggest removal of the brick a new footing being poured and a cinder block wall reinforced with rebar being installed once the wall is built, back fill the blocks with concrete. Then seal the outside of the blocks and backfill with gravel.

When I want good drainage I use river rock, not crushed quarry, because crushed packs tighter and doesn’t drain as well.

I would warn this is about as bad as I have ever seen and it really needs to be done prior to collapse. I would be looking for other issues like roof leaks, doors not closing or cut to fit so the door is not square , window problems etc.

You may have all of the above, if I liked the house I would tackle it but I grew up in houses under construction repair and continue today.

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