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Hi Everyone,

We are searching for our first family home in Mountain View. Inventory is extremely low and it is very hard to get your offer accepted with contingencies. Our offer has been accepted for a house. We wrote an offer that was con-contingent, 21 days close, picking seller's closing costs. We always believed that we had written a really high offer (14% higher than list) but we also feel that it is necessary in this market and the way prices are going up we are better off if we get a house as soon as we can.

Another reason we believe that it was an higher offer is that house needs floors, kitchen, bathroom, dual pane windows, LARGE fruit tree removal (we want plane playarea for kids). But anyway, we were still happy until we saw a crack in slab foundation right at the bathroom door. The strange thing is that carpet had been cut open from that area before house was put on the market. We never sat down to have a peek what is inside until yesterday (15 days into contract, 7 more to go). The crack does not look very wide but it is not hairline crack either. It runs through the ground to the outer wall. We suspect that as carpet had been cut open from that place, then someone at some point suspected something and opened the carpet to check (may be a potential buyer?). That specific door does not close on jamb properly, and there is a crack in the top side of the door which looked minor before. We suspect that owner/seller agent were aware of the foundation crack but failed to mention it in disclosure. I mention this because that it may help us get our 3% deposit back if we break the deal. We have no claim because we wrote a non-contingen offer but if we could prove that seller intentionally shied away from disclosing structural fault then do we have a claim?

We are first time home buyers with no experience of construction or remodeling. So, this looks like deal breaker to us. We don't want to deal with structural construction. In past we passed on houses which needed a wall removal. This looks huge to us in comparison to a wall removal etc. Please advise, do you think it is a deal breaker or should we close the deal? We are not looking forward to be back in market again anytime soon. Should we negotiate a price decrease to accommodate repair and future reselling problems because of structural fault?

We are meeting structural engineer tomorrow to his opinion.

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Thanks for your input. We are going ahead with the house. Now expect a lot of questions related to remodeling We have p... (more)

meriyaki (Apr. 25, 2013 @ 2:41p) |

SUCKISSTAPLES (Apr. 25, 2013 @ 3:04p) |

meriyaki (Apr. 26, 2013 @ 1:34p) |


As far as I can understand, you havenít closed the deal yet. In such a situation, you can cancel the deal due to the issue of crack in slab foundation. You can look out for some other property to go ahead with.

Why would you write a non-contingent offer without a home inspection?

Good idea to get the structural engineer there. Most likely it is ok.

dmlavigne1 said:   Why would you write a non-contingent offer without a home inspection?
We are searching for our first family home in Mountain View.
Yup. You are basically buying the land, not the structure.

meriyaki said:   

We are first time home buyers with no experience of construction or remodeling.


A good reason to have a home inspection done as soon as an offer is accepted.

The structural engineer will be able to tell you the seriousness. Without knowing that information no one can give advice on if you should stay or go.

dmlavigne1 said:   Why would you write a non-contingent offer without a home inspection?

A home inspection is usually a waste of money. Inspectors only check accessable areas which you can do yourself just fine. It's the hidden stuff behind walls or in ceilings that will cost you. When they do do find a potential problem, they alway say to consult a professional for advice. Well, isn't THAT what you hire an inspector for?

atikovi said:   dmlavigne1 said:   Why would you write a non-contingent offer without a home inspection?

A home inspection is usually a waste of money. Inspectors only check accessable areas which you can do yourself just fine. It's the hidden stuff behind walls or in ceilings that will cost you. When they do do find a potential problem, they alway say to consult a professional for advice. Well, isn't THAT what you hire an inspector for?
Not everyone is a handyman. Besides, it's not just whether something is in working order, but if it meets current code.

atikovi said:   dmlavigne1 said:   Why would you write a non-contingent offer without a home inspection?

A home inspection is usually a waste of money. Inspectors only check accessable areas which you can do yourself just fine. It's the hidden stuff behind walls or in ceilings that will cost you. When they do do find a potential problem, they alway say to consult a professional for advice. Well, isn't THAT what you hire an inspector for?


A good home inspection is money well spent, in my humble opinion. My inspector saved me from a disaster that I never would've found on my own.

To the poster:
I would consult your Realtor. They would be able to tell you what your recourse is with the earnest money.

My non-professional understanding is that the seller only needs to disclose what they are aware of, and what you ask them about. If the home is vacant, it is possible the sellers do not know anything is amiss.

Do you have a disclosure statement that says "They are not aware of any foundation issues"?

atikovi said:   dmlavigne1 said:   Why would you write a non-contingent offer without a home inspection?

A home inspection is usually a waste of money. Inspectors only check accessable areas which you can do yourself just fine...
For a first-time home buyer, a home inspection is most certainly NOT a waste of money. Most people know very little about what to look for in a home, how to make sure everything is operating correctly, what kind of useful life might be remaining on major systems and appliances, etc. Even if the offer is non-contingent, having a good home inspector come in to show the buyer how to operate major systems, where the main water shut-off is, how to read and operate breakers in the electrical panel, how to cut off outside hose bibs in the winter, etc., can be money well spent. Most first-time home buyers have no idea.

As for the OP - get an expert to look at the foundation. These kinds of issues are usually NOT deal breakers.

A home inspector will be quick to point out a leaky faucet or bad wall switch, all nickel and dime repairs, but he can't see behind walls to tell you if the wiring is aluminum or won't bother to climb into a hot attic to check for a leaking roof. (He may use binoculars to "check" the shingles and guestimate the lifespan.) For those that are clueless, a home inspection may be of value but in most cases, bringing along a friend or relative who knows a little DIY may be better.

atikovi said:   A home inspector will be quick to point out a leaky faucet or bad wall switch, all nickel and dime repairs, but he can't see behind walls to tell you if the wiring is aluminum or won't bother to climb into a hot attic to check for a leaking roof. (He may use binoculars to "check" the shingles and guestimate the lifespan.) For those that are clueless, a home inspection may be of value but in most cases, bringing along a friend or relative who knows a little DIY may be better.My inspector goes into the attic with a bunny suit and goes up on the roof. Not worth it to FW these things.

We just bought a house last November and we had a home inspection, but our inspector missed a few things he should have found (add-on room with incorrectly spaced floor joists, signs of water leakage in basement) and a few things that it would have been hard for anyone to find (cracks in concrete slab under carpet). The structural engineer we brought it later, also is a home inspector and he was the one who pointed out a few things that the original inspector should have caught. So if you can find out the background of the inspector, because it can make a huge difference

Inspector #1 - Reputable company and a certified home inspector.
Inspector #2 - Certified home inspector, Certified Professional Engineer in Structural and Civil Engineering

seller provided us with inspection report. Our realtor said that your home inspection would not bring any new information. That is why we wrote a non-contignent offer. Report mentioned that door does not close properly. But they don't mention crack in the slab, although it is visible if you sit down and peek under the worn out carpet. You can not see it standing up because its carpet there.

I am meeting structural engineer and realtor at property in half an hour. Our realtor is emphasizing that all houses with slab in that area have crack because of the soil. She also mentioned that seller may be upset that we pulled away the carpet to have a look. It is not true we did not displace even a inch of carpet just had a peek. Crack is right there where the cut open carpets ends meet. Is that a concern?

You're already headed down the right road. Post back and let us know what the structural engineer says.

I'm guessing this is an older home? Main things I look for in foundation cracks is vertical differential, if there is vertical differential then you probably have some sort of soil or settling issue. Horizontal cracks usually aren't an issue unless they are huge, even then you can saw cut them and fill them with epoxy as a repair. The door jamb sounds suspect, but it depends on how bad you're talking about.

meriyaki said:    Our realtor is emphasizing that all houses with slab in that area have crack because of the soil. She also mentioned that seller may be upset that we pulled away the carpet to have a look. It is not true we did not displace even a inch of carpet just had a peek. Crack is right there where the cut open carpets ends meet. Is that a concern?


If the seller gives you grief about moving a piece of carpet that's already cut in order to see a crack in the foundation, Laugh at them loudly, honk their nose, and walk out of the room.

Reminds me of the bidding concept of Winner's curse I studied in advanced economics

atikovi said:   A home inspection is usually a waste of money. Inspectors only check accessable areas which you can do yourself just fine. It's the hidden stuff behind walls or in ceilings that will cost you. When they do do find a potential problem, they alway say to consult a professional for advice. Well, isn't THAT what you hire an inspector for?atikovi said:   A home inspector will be quick to point out a leaky faucet or bad wall switch, all nickel and dime repairs, but he can't see behind walls to tell you if the wiring is aluminum or won't bother to climb into a hot attic to check for a leaking roof. (He may use binoculars to "check" the shingles and guestimate the lifespan.) For those that are clueless, a home inspection may be of value but in most cases, bringing along a friend or relative who knows a little DIY may be better.You must have had a lousy home inspector experience to continue to post such poor advice.

You never saw the inside of the house until 15 days into the contract? Really?

A crack by itself doesn't mean anything good or bad. My Indiana home has cracks all over the block foundation (built 1920'ish) and I had a structural engineer come out and he told me that it was normal/fine.

Don't get too stressed out about it...probably fine.

I don't know how radon is in that area, but a crack can let it in very easily. If it is a potential problem, at a minimum I would get a radon detector and test it.

dcwilbur said:   You must have had a lousy home inspector experience to continue to post such poor advice.

Only had one inspection 15 years ago for $350 that took 2 hours. Guy spent half the time turning on faucets, flushing toilets, checking under sinks and turning on and off wall outlets. Jeez, I can do that for nothing. Any other items he had concerns about he wrote down to contact a qualified plumber, electrician, roofer, carpenter, etc. for further evaluation. Jeez, ain't I'm paying HIM for his knowledge and expertise? A few months later the hot water heater and furnace boiler quit. Luckily a home warranty covered most of it. I'd say you'd be better buying, or have the seller include a one year warranty on the house. It will be of more use than the inspection.

dmlavigne1 said:   Why would you write a non-contingent offer without a home inspection?

Cuz it's the Bay Area.

It depends on the age of the house. If it's under 4 years old I would be concerned. If its older than twenty years I wouldn't worry. You want to get a feeling of how fast the crack is widening. Next, water leakage would be my concern. Is the house on a hill, flat or is it in a valley? If you think ground water can be pushed up through the crack then I would pull out of the deal. Cracks can be patched but I would doubt that this is the only one. As others have mentioned it's rare to have a house 40 year + without cracks in the foundation.

atikovi said:   dcwilbur said:   You must have had a lousy home inspector experience to continue to post such poor advice.

Only had one inspection 15 years ago for $350 that took 2 hours. Guy spent half the time turning on faucets, flushing toilets, checking under sinks and turning on and off wall outlets. Jeez, I can do that for nothing. Any other items he had concerns about he wrote down to contact a qualified plumber, electrician, roofer, carpenter, etc. for further evaluation. Jeez, ain't I'm paying HIM for his knowledge and expertise? A few months later the hot water heater and furnace boiler quit. Luckily a home warranty covered most of it. I'd say you'd be better buying, or have the seller include a one year warranty on the house. It will be of more use than the inspection.


Mine found aluminum wiring and an unsafe breaker box, leaks in the roof, and settling of the foundation. Sorry yours was substandard.

atikovi said:   dcwilbur said:   You must have had a lousy home inspector experience to continue to post such poor advice.

Only had one inspection 15 years ago for $350 that took 2 hours. Guy spent half the time turning on faucets, flushing toilets, checking under sinks and turning on and off wall outlets. Jeez, I can do that for nothing. Any other items he had concerns about he wrote down to contact a qualified plumber, electrician, roofer, carpenter, etc. for further evaluation. Jeez, ain't I'm paying HIM for his knowledge and expertise? A few months later the hot water heater and furnace boiler quit. Luckily a home warranty covered most of it. I'd say you'd be better buying, or have the seller include a one year warranty on the house. It will be of more use than the inspection.
I'm not sure I'd have quite as a pessimistic view, but I also don't completely disagree. The vast majority of the findings are trivial. Water heater and HVAC inspection are the main thing you get out of it, along with someone that is willing to go crawling under the house and in your attic looking for anything else obvious (leaks and/or pest infestation, be it rodents or bugs).

If you want more detail on the structure, hire Inspector #2 descibed above: Certified home inspector, Certified Professional Engineer in Structural and Civil Engineering.

Hint: the VAST majority of inspectors aren't structural engineers.

Edit: as someone else posted, they should also remove the panel over the circuit breakers and inspect that. Aluminum wiring, in itself, isn't bad, but it does warrant additional inspections.

Marc

As someone that currently has the basement bedroom wall drywall removed and 2 leaking cracks in the poured finished basement walkout wall being injected with epoxy (as we speak), if its not a structural issue then they can be permanently repaired. With concrete its not a matter of if, its a matter of when it will crack.

Cracks in the slab, again not do to a structural issue, will generally not leak if there is a good drainage tile system and sump pump under it.

When we purchased the home, (new)-(4 years old) there was also a door sticking issue on inspection or rather us just trying the door. It was not a structural issue and a simple fix.

As far as home inspections not showing much, there is some truth to it that they quote "miss" some bigger issues, it does give you an easy OUT with the contingency, if there is something suspicious that doesn't feel right.

Good home inspector can save you a lot of money if they do their job right. You can pass the cost of remedies for major stuff to the sellers and be sure what you're getting. They should do structural damage inspection, termite damage, check electrical and plumbing for issues. And they usually know very well how much it'd cost to remedy for whatever issues they find. In our last inspection, the sellers had to put about $8k in remedies for stuff the inspector found. I doubt we would have found a fraction of them ourselves and that wasn't our first home purchase either.

Depending on the cause of the crack it could be major money. We only had surface cracks, but it was due to ground settling underneath the entire slab (20x24 family room and minor settling under the two car garage), which also meant the main sewer pipe didn't have the proper grade.

We had settlement from a 2-3 inches under the garage, and under the family room gaps up to 18" (majority of voids were 5-8 inches)
In the end we had the concrete cut out, replaced the entire sewer line, filled that part back in with stone, and then had to get the rest of the void slab jacked to make the area solid. But this was after having the structural engineer come in and do compaction testing on the existing soil and ground.

I just got back from the inspection appointment. Engineer was brought in by our realtor, unexpectedly seller agent was already there that masked my overall experience with the engineer. I felt like engineer will only answer what i will ask. But to be honest, I don't know what questions to ask. Engineer even had moments alone with seller agent in the corner. While I was supposed to pay for the inspection. I told my concern to realtor and informed her that we will bring out another engineer for second opinion. She did not let me pay for the engineer as she thought I didn't trust him. She paid for him even though I wrote the check and insisted. I was uncomfortable that our realtor was putting words in his mouth by saying that we live in valley and it moves, so all the houses have cracks. It is difficult to find a house without crack etc. I didn't appreciate that engineer spoke less and listened more and only answered the questions I asked.

So, it goes like this. Our realtor, seller agent and engineer were in the backyard, looking at what looks like a horizontal crack in the visible slab foundation all around the circumference of the master bedroom. We had a look at it before, with our contractor who said it is not a crack but cold pour join in slab. So, today engineer said that it is a structural failure and it requires fixing. He mentioned that metal bars if corroded can be busted by expansion of concrete. Similar crack/cold joint are all around the circumference of house. When he was told about the possibility of these crack being the cold joints he said he will have to drill some holes to figure out if it is structural failure or pour joints. It will cost $500/holes.

So, the initial crack I was talking about, was not discussed much. He said this crack is bigger than hairline but it is not really significant to be concerned right now. He did not rule out the possibility of it growing it bigger over the years. He said the crack in the middle of room are not considered structural failure, it is only structural if it is on the perimeter of the wall that has thicker slab. I reminded him that this crack is on the threshold of the door, so it can be defined as structural. He said yes it can be.

Backyard is slopped towards the house. I reminded him to check the water valve on our way out to see if anything is leaking. Well, we forgot to check that on our way out. But I really wanted him to mention that. He wanted to answer my questions but I didn't know what question to ask. So, I am not satisfied. We are meeting another engineer tomorrow morning 'without' seller agent.

Is he going to give you a certified report? My guy was awesome, had him out twice and received a certified report each time with his PE seal.
He charged me per session and didn't have a "per hole" fee. He must have drilled around 8 holes between the two visits and didn't charge me anything extra. You should call around and see what the going rate is for your area. I paid $350 1st visit & $300 2nd visit and he was there for about 2 hrs each time. (I'm in the East Coast)

breaux124, he is going to send a report later today. Were those holes digger up for inspection purposes or for repair? If it was for inspection, what did you find out? This guy said that if there is a problem, then it will take $400/linear foot to fix it. And the process will take three weeks. So, $500/hole is only for inspection to find out if there is a problem or its just cold joint. If there is no problem then we should still fix cold joints to avoid water seeping into the joint line? I will take pictures tomorrow and post it to show it.

Please suggest, what are the scenario in which we should pass on this house? Please keep in mind that buyers are having hard time getting their offer accepted as there are a lot of buyers with all cash offers. Move in ready house is almost impossible to get for a first time home buyer who are going to finance. We don't want to cancel the deal if something is minor.

Our realtor said, if you repair it then you don't have to worry about resale? But I am concerned that if we get it repaired and sell the house after 10 years then repair warranty will be void by that time. Also, I believe just because some structural work was done in the house, some buyers will shy away from property? My realtor is insisting that my concern about resale are not valid.

Inspection report did not even mention those visible crack/cold joint? Is it a regular practice to just ignore something that look like cold joint in inspection.

Get at least 2 different engineer's opinions. Meet at the house ONLY with your realtor, not the seller or seller's agent.

Ask the engineer, "What would you do?" See if they make it out to be a big deal or not. Your realtor may be working for you, but they're often pushy and will tell you anything to get the deal to close because they want their commish.

Our situation was different from yours, we were trying to assess how the ground had settled under a slab and if it was stable enough to support slab jacking (they pump a limestone/concrete mixture under the slab to fill the voids, but it requires somewhat solid soil or else it will continue to settle) or if it would require structural piers (more $$)
So our engineer had to drill small holes (maybe 1" diameter) to use a push rod to test compaction and get soil samples. He also put a flexible camera down a few to try and determine the expansion of the void. He also cut out a block of concrete 6" around, to confirm the slab was sitting on the block foundation between the family room and garage. So these were all inspection related holes, which I didn't get any additional charges for. I guess he counted these in his time to complete the inspection report.

My understanding is, once you get an official report and the sellers know, it will be tied to the house and they are legally required to share that in the disclosure to any future buyers. Not sure how your contract is written, but I would try and get them to complete the work since they would have to share this info with any future buyers which would probably influence any offers.
Also, I would tell my realtor to let the engineer speak and that you will ask all the questions. Remember they are working for you (even though your interests aren't directly tied together)

Have you explained to your realtor in a reasonable manner that given the facts:

1. You're a first time home-buyer
2. You've heard plenty of horror stories
3. You are a weary individual to begin with
4. You have no structural background,

you want to be absolutely certain this will be a good purchase for you? If he or she is getting pushy, just try to calmly remind them that your home may be the biggest purchase of your life and you want to be as thorough as humanly possible. That should get them off your back and possibly adjust their perspective.

ptiemann said:   Good idea to get the structural engineer there. Most likely it is ok.

OP said " That specific door does not close on jamb properly, and there is a crack in the top side of the door which looked minor before"

Sinkhole ?

I would walk. I don't even think a loan company would give you a loan with a severe structural problem. Comments ?

atikovi said:   dcwilbur said:   You must have had a lousy home inspector experience to continue to post such poor advice.

Only had one inspection 15 years ago for $350 that took 2 hours. Guy spent half the time turning on faucets, flushing toilets, checking under sinks and turning on and off wall outlets. Jeez, I can do that for nothing. Any other items he had concerns about he wrote down to contact a qualified plumber, electrician, roofer, carpenter, etc. for further evaluation. Jeez, ain't I'm paying HIM for his knowledge and expertise? A few months later the hot water heater and furnace boiler quit. Luckily a home warranty covered most of it. I'd say you'd be better buying, or have the seller include a one year warranty on the house. It will be of more use than the inspection.


First the sidewalk thread nonsense, then this nonsense about a home inspection being a waste of money? It sounds like you take one solitary bad experience in your life and extrapolate it as gospel to all other similar situations. This really gives you a lot of backwards ideas, man.

"That specific door does not close on jamb properly, and there is a crack in the top side of the door which looked minor before."

If it were me, the first thing I would think is foundation problem with a door that doesn't close properly, crack above said door and crack on the floor.

meriyaki said:   I just got back from the inspection appointment. Engineer was brought in by our realtor, unexpectedly seller agent was already there that masked my overall experience with the engineer. I felt like engineer will only answer what i will ask. But to be honest, I don't know what questions to ask. Engineer even had moments alone with seller agent in the corner. While I was supposed to pay for the inspection. I told my concern to realtor and informed her that we will bring out another engineer for second opinion. She did not let me pay for the engineer as she thought I didn't trust him. She paid for him even though I wrote the check and insisted. I was uncomfortable that our realtor was putting words in his mouth by saying that we live in valley and it moves, so all the houses have cracks. It is difficult to find a house without crack etc. I didn't appreciate that engineer spoke less and listened more and only answered the questions I asked.

So, it goes like this. Our realtor, seller agent and engineer were in the backyard, looking at what looks like a horizontal crack in the visible slab foundation all around the circumference of the master bedroom. We had a look at it before, with our contractor who said it is not a crack but cold pour join in slab. So, today engineer said that it is a structural failure and it requires fixing. He mentioned that metal bars if corroded can be busted by expansion of concrete. Similar crack/cold joint are all around the circumference of house. When he was told about the possibility of these crack being the cold joints he said he will have to drill some holes to figure out if it is structural failure or pour joints. It will cost $500/holes.

So, the initial crack I was talking about, was not discussed much. He said this crack is bigger than hairline but it is not really significant to be concerned right now. He did not rule out the possibility of it growing it bigger over the years. He said the crack in the middle of room are not considered structural failure, it is only structural if it is on the perimeter of the wall that has thicker slab. I reminded him that this crack is on the threshold of the door, so it can be defined as structural. He said yes it can be.

Backyard is slopped towards the house. I reminded him to check the water valve on our way out to see if anything is leaking. Well, we forgot to check that on our way out. But I really wanted him to mention that. He wanted to answer my questions but I didn't know what question to ask. So, I am not satisfied. We are meeting another engineer tomorrow morning 'without' seller agent.


Get your own engineer, spend time directly with him or her and don't involve the realtors, they hate a deal worth commissions of tens of thousands of dollars blowing up, their interests are not aligned with yours.

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