Is their a service or someone that can test a lot or house for risk or presence of a sinkhole prior to purchasing a property? If so how accurate is it?
This is a good, and common, question. The problem is sinkhole investigations are very expensive for the average homeowner. They also are very time consuming, with the usual investigation taking several months from beginning to end.
A typical sinkhole investigation will run approximately $7,500, give or take a thousand dollars.
This would be a colossal investment for a purchaser who hasn’t even closed on the property yet. I would also imagine that if a purchaser requested the seller perform this investigation they would refuse due to the time and costs associated. Some new builders in Florida may run some preliminary tests but this is very rare, again due to the time and costs, and most builders would rather not know if there are sinkhole conditions at a site to limit their own liability and culpability.
The Cracks Tell All
The State of Florida also does not enforce any concrete rules requiring builders to test for sinkhole activity prior to new construction. The best indicators to look for as a purchaser are visible cracks to the home. Take a good look and if none are visible, the concern should be low. You may also want to check the property appraiser’s website to see if any neighboring homes have had confirmed sinkhole claims although this may be a tedious project. Finally, always get a home inspection before purchasing, no matter what. If you have any additional concerns with some cracks or settlement related issues, hire a structural engineer to take a look at the home along with the inspector you hire. Have a burning question you’d like to ask about sinkholes? Let us know.