Question about settling
So, we bought our dream house, and I am quite in love with it.
Prior to purchasing it, we had a home inspection. I thought he did not really do that great of a job, but whatever. Most of the mechanicals were not checked because it had been "winterized" (very poorly I might add...we have replaced most of the plumbing because it was not done right and we had tons of cracked water lines), but whatever, it wasn't that big of a deal I guess.
We KNOW we have to replace the porch, we had that looked at before we even bought it. Well, not replace, but repair, by a professional. They didn't clean the gutters and there is rot at the bottom of two pillars. It has to be jacked up, new footings poured, and set back down on them. We were quoted $3500, but I expect it will be more and am okay with that.
Otherwise, no issues, except he noted there are some small plaster cracks here and there, things that are just slightly "off" here and there, though nothing major, and that it shows "minor settlement typical for a house of this age". It's 140 years old.
I immediately called him wanting to know what this meant, were further problems likely, etc. He got extremely defensive with me, and said, "if you want something perfect, why don't you build a brand new house?" I was baffled and confused. I didn't say it had to be perfect, I just wanted to know if it was a big deal. I mean, I paid him $500 to go and look at it, I just kind of wondered. A little bit later, the realtor called me, and said he called her. I'm thinking, why would he do this? Evidently because I was "hard to deal with", something I've never been accused of before in my entire life. But, it's whatever, I guess. He has told her there is nothing wrong with the house, and is worried I'm trying to want to sue him. What?!?!? I just wanted to know how to fix this....if it's a big deal. I stop even attempting to deal with him. We love the house, and decide to go ahead with it.
The cracks are very small, don't appear to affect anything, and there are a total of probably 6 cracks in the plaster in various places throughout the 3200 square foot house, between just a hairline crack to the worst one being maybe 1/8" wide. They are on walls, but none on ceilings that I can see. They are all easy enough to patch, because of the size. But, I decided I would have a foundation specialist come in and look at it, to see if we put some of those jacks in the basement if it would prevent it ever happening again.
He came and looked at the house, and used a laser level thing by running it along a mortar line (it's brick) to see if it was even. They are close, but there is a variation around the entire perimeter of the house of approximately 1 1/4". To the naked eye, this is not visible. Like I said, I'd have never noticed it if not for the few little cracks. I spoke with a structural engineer about these before buying it, and he said, well they are not new, and that's what you really have to worry about is new damage...this is a very large and heavy building with brick walls from basement to attic....it likely settled a little when newly built, and that was that. Make sure you divert rainwater away from it, I think it will be just fine. It probably won't settle any more in your lifetime.
The foundation guy (who obviously wants to sell us repair work) said it is not fine. It has settled anywhere from 3/4-1 1/4", and if we patch the plaster or resheetrock, it may crack again. The only way to permanently secure the foundation is to drive helical steel piers 50 feet down into bedrock, which will take 3 days and cost $20,000 or more. Because of the age of my house, they cannot guarantee it unless I have them spray this concrete all over the basement walls to secure the piers into it (because it's possible the bricks could not take the strain and might crack or something). This will cost an additional $29,000.
I cannot afford such a hit until we sell our other house, which we own both houses free and clear. However, $50,000 is more than I had planned for pretty much everything. They said they will finance us, can do it immediately, and will give us a 5% discount if we do it immediately. They said they can try to just do the piers but if they get in there and the bricks are not good enough, they will have to do the other. I said, seriously?!? It's that bad? I mean, I would have never known if the people who had it before had fixed these cracks.....probably a one day (or one afternoon, even) job, not including painting. And he said, yes, but that would only have disguised the underlying problem....which is that my house is askew, albeit only very slightly.
Would you spend $50,000 to do foundation work that you don't even know is causing a problem? I mean, it's not like I have basement walls caving in or anything. The worst of it is these little cracks, doors that aren't perfect, etc. These are mainly on the second floor...the main floor has been remodeled somewhat in approximately 1996, so there is sheetrock in these areas that is less than 20 years old, therefore, no cracks in it. It's not even all the doors, just some of them, you have to push kind of hard.
I guess they jack the whole entire house up and put these things fifty feet in the ground. Unfortunately, if there were no problems before, this could start some....and it definitely will crack all my plaster and sheetrock.
I am very tempted to just leave it alone, but I guess that guy is going to be calling me back, and idk what to even say. He said, you better do this before you worry about that porch or doing landscaping, because then you will just have to redo all of that when you have problems and we have to come in. Plus, if there is an actual problem it will cost more. But....it's possible (IMO) that this is jumping the gun.