• filter:

Buying home with Foundation issues...

  • Text Only
  • Search this Topic »
Voting History
rated:
1st time home buyer with wife looking at an older house (80+ years) with a foundational issue and would appreciate insights from more experienced owners/buyers...

Foundation is a older large-block foundation. We're looking in N. KY which apparently has a high clay content in the soil leading to strong expansion/contraction movement. The home we're looking at has some foundation weakness in the front facing wall that has lead to a slight inward bulging over time. No clear sign that it's recent. Seller has engaged a local structural engineer who provided full report and proposal of a series of I-beams along the wall to support the house weight and the wall.

We're slightly uncomfortable that there's an issue even though the seller has already engaged the engineer and contractor for the 'solution' to be completed on the house in several weeks.

Engineer's report only discusses the wall with weakness and proposed solution and contractor stated they feel this should resolve the problem.

Our concern is that we just dont know if we can fully trust the situation.

Has anyone else come into a similar situation or been in a house with some foundational support repair and seen if it's reliable, or the opposite?

Appreciate all thoughts and experience!

Member Summary
Most Recent Posts
The Dallas-Fort Worth area also has heavy clay soils.  They are called black gumbo because of their color and how heavy ... (more)

wilesmt (Jul. 05, 2017 @ 11:16p) |

I think any of us would've, regardless of our thoughts on the matter.

OP, I assume you didn't ask him about the 4' level?... (more)

Glitch99 (Jul. 06, 2017 @ 5:48a) |

I didn't ask him about it - he used it quite a bit though - basically choosing a spot on the wall and measuring progress... (more)

DigiornosHunter (Jul. 06, 2017 @ 6:58a) |

Staff Summary
Thanks for visiting FatWallet.com. Join for free to remove this ad.

rated:
DigiornosHunter said:   1st time home buyer with wife looking at an older house (80+ years) with a foundational issue and would appreciate insights from more experienced owners/buyers...

Foundation is a older large-block foundation. We're looking in N. KY which apparently has a high clay content in the soil leading to strong expansion/contraction movement. The home we're looking at has some foundation weakness in the front facing wall that has lead to a slight inward bulging over time. No clear sign that it's recent. Seller has engaged a local structural engineer who provided full report and proposal of a series of I-beams along the wall to support the house weight and the wall.

We're slightly uncomfortable that there's an issue even though the seller has already engaged the engineer and contractor for the 'solution' to be completed on the house in several weeks.

Engineer's report only discusses the wall with weakness and proposed solution and contractor stated they feel this should resolve the problem.

Our concern is that we just dont know if we can fully trust the situation.

Has anyone else come into a similar situation or been in a house with some foundational support repair and seen if it's reliable, or the opposite?

Appreciate all thoughts and experience!

 
you're saying that you trust a bunch of random people on the internet more than real licensed structural engineers?

rated:
treasurebeacon said:   
DigiornosHunter said:   1st time home buyer with wife looking at an older house (80+ years) with a foundational issue and would appreciate insights from more experienced owners/buyers...

Foundation is a older large-block foundation. We're looking in N. KY which apparently has a high clay content in the soil leading to strong expansion/contraction movement. The home we're looking at has some foundation weakness in the front facing wall that has lead to a slight inward bulging over time. No clear sign that it's recent. Seller has engaged a local structural engineer who provided full report and proposal of a series of I-beams along the wall to support the house weight and the wall.

We're slightly uncomfortable that there's an issue even though the seller has already engaged the engineer and contractor for the 'solution' to be completed on the house in several weeks.

Engineer's report only discusses the wall with weakness and proposed solution and contractor stated they feel this should resolve the problem.

Our concern is that we just dont know if we can fully trust the situation.

Has anyone else come into a similar situation or been in a house with some foundational support repair and seen if it's reliable, or the opposite?

Appreciate all thoughts and experience!

 
you're saying that you trust a bunch of random people on the internet more than real licensed structural engineers?

  lol! No - I'd appreciate the context of hearing from anyone else who's been in a similar position.

 

rated:
If you are looking at 80+ old homes, I think you can be almost certain to find foundation issues.

This one comes with a detailed report on the issue and an actual repair. I'd say that is better than not having any idea.

Before the work is done, I've have good home inspector come in and look for problems that were a result of the foundation shifting and maybe that can help you decide how urgent of an issue it is. (And the risk/benefit of an older/cheaper home vs. new/expensive.)

rated:
DigiornosHunter said:   1st time home buyer with wife looking at an older house (80+ years) with a foundational issue and would appreciate insights from more experienced owners/buyers...

Foundation is a older large-block foundation. We're looking in N. KY which apparently has a high clay content in the soil leading to strong expansion/contraction movement. The home we're looking at has some foundation weakness in the front facing wall that has lead to a slight inward bulging over time. No clear sign that it's recent. Seller has engaged a local structural engineer who provided full report and proposal of a series of I-beams along the wall to support the house weight and the wall.

We're slightly uncomfortable that there's an issue even though the seller has already engaged the engineer and contractor for the 'solution' to be completed on the house in several weeks.

Engineer's report only discusses the wall with weakness and proposed solution and contractor stated they feel this should resolve the problem.

Our concern is that we just dont know if we can fully trust the situation.

Has anyone else come into a similar situation or been in a house with some foundational support repair and seen if it's reliable, or the opposite?

Appreciate all thoughts and experience!

  Any reason why you dont walk away?

rated:
DigiornosHunter said:   Has anyone else come into a similar situation or been in a house with some foundational support repair and seen if it's reliable, or the opposite?

 

Yes.  I walked.  Too much at risk.  

rated:
fwuser12 said:   
  Any reason why you dont walk away?

  I would assume he likes the house?

rated:
atikovi said:   
fwuser12 said:   
  Any reason why you dont walk away?

  I would assume he likes the house?

  I might like a car, but if the carfax turns up a significant accident I go find a different car I like...

rated:
wilked said:   
atikovi said:   
fwuser12 said:   
  Any reason why you dont walk away?

  I would assume he likes the house?

  I might like a car, but if the carfax turns up a significant accident I go find a different car I like...

  If the repair is good and the price is right I have no problem with that.

rated:
I purchased a house with similar foundation issues. We hired a structural engineer and he recommended three different approaches to repair the problem. The steel beams that you mentioned. A method called rod and grout - This is where they smash holes in the concrete block, put rebar in and fill the block with a cement grout. He recommended doing this every 4 feet. Finally carbon fiber strips. These are very thin strips of carbon fiber that are epoxied to the wall. This was also done every 3 - 4 feet. We opted for the rod and grout repair as the contractor we were using recommended it as his favorite choice. That was 15 years ago and the basement walls are solid. What ever you have done be sure to address the underlying cause. Otherwise it's just a band aid. In our case it was a high clay content causing hydro-static pressure coupled with improper grading that had water running toward the house. We fixed the grading. Can't do much about the clay.

rated:
Thanks for thoughts...

...Obviously we very much like the house aside from this issue. It has a lot of unique items that are pretty appealing vs what we've seen in the mkt (think big addition of double car garage & extra large living room in an area where most houses are lucky to have a single car drive/garage). The price is definitely soft due to some other issues they've already agreed to remedy along with the work to resolve this one.

Hammer - the house had had the 'rod & block' fix done, but apparently regular maintenance is needed to tighten the rods every so many years, which wasn't ever done - so it was wasted really.

rated:
How long has it been on the market?

rated:
After LOCATION, foundation is the most important part of the house. I would not take any risk on this house unless you were fully compensated for it in the pricing.

rated:
Insist on either the repairs, or a healthy discount for your trouble. I learned this the hard way.. All things being equal I would just find another house.

rated:
Broker here. It's like buying a salvage car. Supposedly all fixed, but now you need to disclose to the next buyer which might scare them off and you won't get market value when you sell. I'm assuming you don't walk because you feel you're getting some kind of discount. I also almost bought a house with foundation issues, but I walked instead of dealing with the hassles of getting it fixed although I guess in your situation, it's getting fixed. And for the record, many 80+ year old houses don't have foundation issues, at least not in my area.

rated:
With very poor clay based soil, regular foundations can be damaged in a few years.  If the damage has taken a full 80 years to develop, it may be mild.

rated:
Foundation and Roofs are the two most expensive repairs... Repairs for this sort of thing can start at $10k.
If you're a first time buyer, my advice is to walk away. If you don't, make sure the work the seller does is inspected by a 3rd party and guaranteed.

rated:
DigiornosHunter said:   Thanks for thoughts...

...Obviously we very much like the house aside from this issue. It has a lot of unique items that are pretty appealing vs what we've seen in the mkt (think big addition of double car garage & extra large living room in an area where most houses are lucky to have a single car drive/garage). The price is definitely soft due to some other issues they've already agreed to remedy along with the work to resolve this one.

Hammer - the house had had the 'rod & block' fix done, but apparently regular maintenance is needed to tighten the rods every so many years, which wasn't ever done - so it was wasted really.

  OP, you are putting over 100k for a house that has foundation issues.
Don't do it, or be prepared to level the whole house and start over.

Who knows about this 'local engineer' go hire one yourselves for $1000 and get his opinion.

This is probably the most expensive thing you are going to buy ever.  Don't buy it because it's pretty.

rated:
forbin4040 said:   DigiornosHunter said:   Thanks for thoughts...

...Obviously we very much like the house aside from this issue. It has a lot of unique items that are pretty appealing vs what we've seen in the mkt (think big addition of double car garage & extra large living room in an area where most houses are lucky to have a single car drive/garage). The price is definitely soft due to some other issues they've already agreed to remedy along with the work to resolve this one.

Hammer - the house had had the 'rod & block' fix done, but apparently regular maintenance is needed to tighten the rods every so many years, which wasn't ever done - so it was wasted really.

  OP, you are putting over 100k for a house that has foundation issues.
Don't do it, or be prepared to level the whole house and start over.

Who knows about this 'local engineer' go hire one yourselves for $1000 and get his opinion.

This is probably the most expensive thing you are going to buy ever.  Don't buy it because it's pretty.


Fwfers are so cute. 10k repair or 100k so expensive. People around here buy a 100 year old earthquake shack for 1.5 million.

rated:
ThomasPaine said:   Foundation and Roofs are the two most expensive repairs... Repairs for this sort of thing can start at $10k.

$10k gets you a tearoff and new roof if the existing is shot and you can sleep at night

rated:
Being an owner of a 100+ year old house which we have lived in now for 22 years I'd like to chime in.

And to note - I totally understand the OP's concern and caution especially being a first time buyer.

I would request all the paperwork from the engineer and contractor. You can ask for a guarentee which would be nice but wouldn't hold my breath. Talk with the two of them and ask if they have done this type of thing before, and if it is in fact common in the area. I wouldn't be afraid to buy the house.

Now with that said, with an 80+ year old house, be prepared for la lot more things to go wrong. Even with a home inspection service, you are still going to have issues moving forward. Electrical and plumbing is likley old. While it may pass inspection you still will be making upgrades and/or repairs to both in the future. Just realize this going in and you will be fine.

rated:
Hello again,

Appreciate everyone's opinions here. To add a few things...

Seller has committed to over $20k in work between a new roof and the foundation work and a few other things on a $270k~ home. In my opinion, without the foundation issue, the house would probably sell for 280-300k in our area. Much smaller sq footage with no garage, non updated etc have gone for that pretty quickly.

Seller is a realtor herself and only advertised quietly to her network of realtor agents in the vicinity - so the house has never been on the market officially. The pessimist would say it's because she's trying to sell easiest possible, the optimist would say she's just looking to sell quicker without the official process (as she just closed on her own house). House has only been 'available' less than 30 days.

We've lived in another old 3 story a few years ago as a rental and saw most everything fall apart, so I think our eyes more than most are open to the potential of what can happen and why we've been looking over everything so carefully.

rated:
prosperity said:   Being an owner of a 100+ year old house which we have lived in now for 22 years I'd like to chime in.

And to note - I totally understand the OP's concern and caution especially being a first time buyer.

I would request all the paperwork from the engineer and contractor. You can ask for a guarentee which would be nice but wouldn't hold my breath. Talk with the two of them and ask if they have done this type of thing before, and if it is in fact common in the area. I wouldn't be afraid to buy the house.

Now with that said, with an 80+ year old house, be prepared for la lot more things to go wrong. Even with a home inspection service, you are still going to have issues moving forward. Electrical and plumbing is likley old. While it may pass inspection you still will be making upgrades and/or repairs to both in the future. Just realize this going in and you will be fine.

  Thanks for your feedback! We have looked closely to see that at least plumbing is pretty good and sewer lines are clean.

rated:
I might retain my own engineer to confirm the analysis. That would make me feel better. Obviously need to get permission from current owner for engineer to access house.

rated:
An 80+ y/o home with foundation issues is much different than a 5, 10, or 20 y/o home with foundation issues.  But still, do your due dilligence before committing a large amount of money to any home.  Hiring an independent engineer to inspect is a good use of money, if it helps you to make the right decision.

rated:
funfunny said:   Fwfers are so cute. 10k repair or 100k so expensive. People around here buy a 100 year old earthquake shack for 1.5 million.
 

  OP is "looking in N. KY". I will bet my last dollar what you are describing is not happening in OP's neighborhood. All RE is local. Troll elsewhere.

rated:
snnistle said:   An 80+ y/o home with foundation issues is much different than a 5, 10, or 20 y/o home with foundation issues.  But still, do your due dilligence before committing a large amount of money to any home.  Hiring an independent engineer to inspect is a good use of money, if it helps you to make the right decision.
  Unless OP is underselling the "slight inward bulge", I'd write this off as "it's 80 years old, of course it's not perfect.". Especially since it's being actively addressed, one purchased he'll never think about it again.

rated:
henry33 said:   Broker here. It's like buying a salvage car. Supposedly all fixed, but now you need to disclose to the next buyer which might scare them off and you won't get market value when you sell. I'm assuming you don't walk because you feel you're getting some kind of discount. I also almost bought a house with foundation issues, but I walked instead of dealing with the hassles of getting it fixed although I guess in your situation, it's getting fixed. And for the record, many 80+ year old houses don't have foundation issues, at least not in my area.
  If repaired, what's to disclose?  If you fix a dripping faucet or snake out a clogged pipe, do you disclose that to future buyers too?  Of course, a series of I beams will be rather obvious and might prompt questions, but the bigger problem will be buyers thinking they can leverage a better deal because of that "issue", not that it is a real issue affecting the house.

rated:
Glitch99 said:   
henry33 said:   Broker here. It's like buying a salvage car. Supposedly all fixed, but now you need to disclose to the next buyer which might scare them off and you won't get market value when you sell. I'm assuming you don't walk because you feel you're getting some kind of discount. I also almost bought a house with foundation issues, but I walked instead of dealing with the hassles of getting it fixed although I guess in your situation, it's getting fixed. And for the record, many 80+ year old houses don't have foundation issues, at least not in my area.
  If repaired, what's to disclose?  If you fix a dripping faucet or snake out a clogged pipe, do you disclose that to future buyers too?  Of course, a series of I beams will be rather obvious and might prompt questions, but the bigger problem will be buyers thinking they can leverage a better deal because of that "issue", not that it is a real issue affecting the house.

  Part of disclosures include things like "Are you aware of any work done on the house or any issues with the house...are you aware of any leaks... are you aware of any structural problems..." It would be in the disclosures in the future for the home, even if fully repaired.

rated:
funfunny said:   
forbin4040 said:   
DigiornosHunter said:   DigiornosHunter;19906014 said:

This is probably the most expensive thing you are going to buy ever.  Don't buy it because it's pretty.


Fwfers are so cute. 10k repair or 100k so expensive. People around here buy a 100 year old earthquake shack for 1.5 million.

News flash!  Not everyone is looking to buy in the Silicon Valley.

rated:
DigiornosHunter said:   
Glitch99 said:   
henry33 said:   Broker here. It's like buying a salvage car. Supposedly all fixed, but now you need to disclose to the next buyer which might scare them off and you won't get market value when you sell. I'm assuming you don't walk because you feel you're getting some kind of discount. I also almost bought a house with foundation issues, but I walked instead of dealing with the hassles of getting it fixed although I guess in your situation, it's getting fixed. And for the record, many 80+ year old houses don't have foundation issues, at least not in my area.
  If repaired, what's to disclose?  If you fix a dripping faucet or snake out a clogged pipe, do you disclose that to future buyers too?  Of course, a series of I beams will be rather obvious and might prompt questions, but the bigger problem will be buyers thinking they can leverage a better deal because of that "issue", not that it is a real issue affecting the house.

  Part of disclosures include things like "Are you aware of any work done on the house or any issues with the house...are you aware of any leaks... are you aware of any structural problems..." It would be in the disclosures in the future for the home, even if fully repaired.

  
Depends on who you ask.  To me, a problem that has been fixed is no longer a problem.  No need to disclose. 

rated:
Depends on the disclosure's wording.

rated:
Get your own structural engineer to inspect before and after. $400 well spent.

rated:
As a licensed building contractor with 20+ years in the business, my advice is to run, don't walk, away from that house. No I beams or any other support beam is going to fix a bulging foundation wall. What would the new I-beams be supported by?? Invevitably, they would have to be supported by the foundation walls. In the end, the foundation walls and the footings they sit on are what supports the home.

The proper fix is to support the house temporarily on piers, dig out the old wall, demolish it and then install a new wall out of concrete/ concrete block or stone. This will cost you probably $40K or more if it can even be done.

Another thought: If one foundation wall is bad and the damage is visible, there is a good chance others are bad too, and maybe you can't see the damage yet. Most foundations deteriorate from the outside in.

rated:
DigiornosHunter said:   
Seller is a realtor herself 

  hahhahahahhahahhahahah. hahhahahahhahahhahahahhaha

rated:
Few years ago I looked at a 1970s L shaped ranch, 8x16 block foundation on wet clay.
It already had steel beam reinforcements on the front wall every 8', and that 48' front wall was still failing badly. The other walls weren't as long, weren't buried as deep, and seemed OK.
Took a retired foundation contractor with me, he told me what I feared, jack up the house, excavate the bad wall, replace 500 or so blocks, and backfill it.

The part that surprised me was what he figured I should pay for that; $3000, and IIRC, that figure included excavating.

rated:
We own a ~100 year old house that's been in the family and the foundation developed issues because it's in an area with brutal winters, frost heaving, etc. as well it developed drainage issues that went unnoticed because there were years when there were just brief visits or none at all. My parents were ready to shell out $30k+ to jack the house, etc. but after researching different ways to address the situation I found a national  company with affiliates across the country that specializes in foundations using different approaches developed by engineers.

All said & done for half the price, $15k using an array of systems specifically designed for the situation including thickening one wall with Shotcrete by several feet. Warranty for 20 years.

 

rated:
LOOPHOLE said:   We own a ~100 year old house that's been in the family and the foundation developed issues because it's in an area with brutal winters, frost heaving, etc. as well it developed drainage issues that went unnoticed because there were years when there were just brief visits or none at all. My parents were ready to shell out $30k+ to jack the house, etc. but after researching different ways to address the situation I found a national  company with affiliates across the country that specializes in foundations using different approaches developed by engineers.

All said & done for half the price, $15k using an array of systems specifically designed for the situation including thickening one wall with Shotcrete by several feet. Warranty for 20 years.

 

  Curious how thick was that one wall? And how many feet of Shotcrete was added?

rated:
Jstic said:   As a licensed building contractor with 20+ years in the business, my advice is to run, don't walk, away from that house. No I beams or any other support beam is going to fix a bulging foundation wall. What would the new I-beams be supported by?? Invevitably, they would have to be supported by the foundation walls. In the end, the foundation walls and the footings they sit on are what supports the home.

The proper fix is to support the house temporarily on piers, dig out the old wall, demolish it and then install a new wall out of concrete/ concrete block or stone. This will cost you probably $40K or more if it can even be done.

Another thought: If one foundation wall is bad and the damage is visible, there is a good chance others are bad too, and maybe you can't see the damage yet. Most foundations deteriorate from the outside in.

  The work being done is not intended to remove the bulge in the wall - it is being done to relieve pressure on the wall.

Forgive me for being a little skeptical that all foundational issues require a replacement wall?

This seems to be the fix in question: https://pro.homeadvisor.com/article.show.Stabilizing-Basement-Walls-with-Steel-I-Beams.13691.html 
The regional issues described in that article are pretty much exactly what we have locally.

Skipping 84 Messages...
rated:
Glitch99 said:   
forbin4040 said:   Congrats on getting the house at a deal.
Though the 4' Level would've made me laugh out loud.

  I think any of us would've, regardless of our thoughts on the matter.

OP, I assume you didn't ask him about the 4' level?  Can you at least describe the methodology he used in determining the bulge with that level?

  I didn't ask him about it - he used it quite a bit though - basically choosing a spot on the wall and measuring progressively at different vertical intervals to find the 'peak' which represented 'flat' then working his way back from that point as a base to move the level so one end was touching that point and the other pretty much at the end of a wall - then using a laser measure to calculate the distance from level to wall.

I had a tape measure with me and wanted to make an attempt (via gravity) to find the values myself, but with the engineer and agent standing there, and the owner about to coming home any moment, unfortunately I didn't get to try it out.

  • Quick Reply:  Have something quick to contribute? Just reply below and you're done! hide Quick Reply
     
    Click here for full-featured reply.


Disclaimer: By providing links to other sites, FatWallet.com does not guarantee, approve or endorse the information or products available at these sites, nor does a link indicate any association with or endorsement by the linked site to FatWallet.com.

Thanks for visiting FatWallet.com. Join for free to remove this ad.

While FatWallet makes every effort to post correct information, offers are subject to change without notice.
Some exclusions may apply based upon merchant policies.
© 1999-2017