Wall bowing and foundation repair.

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Old 04-27-08, 09:07 PM
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Wall bowing and foundation repair.

I'm a first time home buyer so I have little experience. If this sounds like a whine or whimper, please excuse it.

I'm pursuing a house that was built in 54. The basement is largely finished with wood paneling and a suspended ceiling. The basement was a big consideration because it's 11 course and would easily accommodate my home gym, power rack and overhead pressing. The house is also very budget orientated and is in a pretty decent neighborhood, so those were also big considerations as it will leave me with end-of-month money to throw into remodeling. The house is in good condition, though it needs updating in all rooms and the garage needs to be demolished and rebuilt sometime in the next seven years.

The inspector couldn't check the entire basement due to the paneling, but what he did find:

The west wall, about 1/3 out from the corner is bowed 1 1/4" (qualifies as a major structural defect) and the north wall, about 1/4 out from the NW corner is bowed 3/4" and has a good sized horizontal crack. He couldn't trace the crack all the way due to paneling along the wall.

Some seepage indicators in the NW and SW corners.

The inspector thinks the bowing occurred in the first 20 yrs of the house's existence because there is patching and paint work on the west wall that appears rather old and the wall doesn't seem to have moved since. There appears to be a gully of sorts between this house the the one to the west, and some bricks placed along the west wall outside.

The sellers, who are POA for their mother's house, have offered to set up an escrow account in the amount of 1 1/2 time the repair estimate to fix the basement, after the sale.

I've arranged for a structural engineer and basement repair contractor to come in a give an analysis and estimate, but I'll need to take down panels in order to get a complete inspection. I don't mind losing the finishing. I want a clean, dry basement for my home gym.

The repair work is likely to come in the form of reinforcement beams, grading beams, outside grading, patching inside, etc. But, the walls may not be moving anymore so reinforcing them seems a bit pointless. My biggest concern is that in 10 yrs or so, after I've DIY'd all over the house and made it beautiful again, I don't want the bowing in the walls to cause a difficulty in selling the house.Most basement contractors warrant their work for 10 yrs at most. Some have lifetime, but that means a foundation rebuild.

I've also been told that no matter what is done, the basement will always give me trouble because it's already failing.

Should I be concerned that no matter what is done, this house is doomed due to its foundation?
 
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Old 04-28-08, 03:19 AM
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Hello Robert,

It sounds like you have assembled an expert team to advise you...I'm not sure what further advice I may offer

You may want to get a second opinion and definitely get multiple bids on the repairs, but I certainly don't think the house is "doomed".

Congratulations!

Connie
 
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Old 04-28-08, 08:39 AM
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Unfortunately about the multiple estimates, the first company wants $150 just to come out. The reason: I'm not the owner, I'm a prospective buyer.

All of them want $$$ because I don't own.
 

Last edited by robert_s; 04-28-08 at 10:02 AM.
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Old 04-28-08, 10:07 AM
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Wall bowing and foundation repair.

The $150 is probably the best insurance you can get - Unfortunately, I think it is far to cheap to get a solution, so you will only get an opinion.

If there is a 1 1/4" bow in the wall, it has already failed and will never be as strong as it was when it was built.

Most wall failures are due to excessive soil pressures caused by bad backfill materials, a high water table or poor drainage around the house (gutter extension less than 10', slope. etc.) You can correct the cause, but the wall strength is a different problem.

Find out what the cause was, so you can assess the proposed repairs.

Dick
 
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Old 04-28-08, 10:12 AM
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Robert, if your seller is motivated to sell, he/she should offer to pay for those estimates.

Don't sign anything or put down any earnest money until you have something that says that house is free from defects, or that you will be compensated for defects, or that owner will make repairs and show you proof that house is now free from defects.

This is a buyer's market...even though this house may seem perfect, I promise there are plenty more that will suit you.The onus is on the owner, not you!

Connie
 
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Old 04-28-08, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by connie View Post
Robert, if your seller is motivated to sell, he/she should offer to pay for those estimates.

Don't sign anything or put down any earnest money until you have something that says that house is free from defects, or that you will be compensated for defects, or that owner will make repairs and show you proof that house is now free from defects.
The earnest money is down already. The condition report listed no known conditions, which is reasonable, since the women are POA for their mother who was moved to assisted living, so I wouldn't expect them to know of anything wrong. My agent, good young man that he is, did not give a "right to cure," which prevents me from being locked into the deal.

AFAIK, I can still walk away if this gets worse than previously known.
 
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