First old home-asbestos,water seep & foundation issues

ebony8June 4, 2010

Hello old home owners! I just entered escrow on what will be my first home this week, a sweet 2/1 cottage in Eugene, OR that I believe was built around 1920-1930's. I really love the place but, even before completing my inspections (the owners had their own done back in Feb as they prepared for the sale) some seemingly serious issues are cropping up in regards to the condition of the home.

When I first viewed the house we found a puddle in the basement. It wasn't deep, less than an inch, but it was covering a good 25% of the floor. It didn't bother me at first, there's no mildew smell and it was not deep enough to obstruct my ability to get to and from the washer & dryer down there. But as I've gone on to do some reading about this I'm concerned that the water presence might be foretelling of a more serious issue than simply wet slippers in the future. Then again, Eugene is a wet and rainy place, so it is possible this is just fairly typical of the area. (FYI: there is an active sump pump.)

The owner's inspection also revealed what has been described as "bulging" in a section of bricks in the foundation. There also appears to have been one wall repaired or replaced, including the foundation, but I have not seen any record of this repair or had any other info about this repair mentioned by the sellers.

Finally, the owners inspection revealed some missing flashing over the small dome roof which covers the front doorway. Rather than adding the flashing the owners opted to weatherize it with some sort of finishing as they say that the shingles contain asbestos, which they obviously didn't want to disturb. I'd never heard of asbestos in shingles, and it got me wondering what I might be in for in the future if I ever painted or had repairs or improvements that required cutting into or removing the shingling.

I really do love this house and would like to move forward with the purchase, however I am wondering if these things combined are suggesting I might be in for more heartache and expense in the future than I can handle. Does anyone have any thoughts on or experience with any of these issues? I'm trying to get a general sense of just how costly these things could be over time and just how little or much I aught to worry about them, and finally how this info should affect my ongoing negotiations on the home.

Thanks for your thoughts!

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First off, take the owners inspection report and toss it in the garbage. Not that it is useless, but it will be biased and more than likely missing the really scary stuff that may be wrong.

Find your own inspector that has experience in older homes, make sure they can talk to you on YOUR level, this is most important. If the guy/gal starts getting frustrated with you because you are asking so many questions dump them and find someone else.

The water could be from anything. Worse case a leak in the roof that is traveling down inside exterior walls, across the underside of a couple of floors, down an interior wall and finding a spot to drip in the basement. Best case the current owner spilled the de-humidifier when taking it out to empty. Let your inspector know where the puddle was (if it is gone when they come) and they should be able to trace it back if it is a bad thing.

Foundation trouble would scare me away from just about any home, not all though. Some really horrible looking foundation issues can be cheaply and easily fixed, some minor looking foundation issues can cost more than the home will ever be worth to fix. On this I'd have your inspector check it out, then bring in a foundation company for an estimate of repair. Reduce your offer dollar for dollar on the cost of this repair unless the home is well below market anyway.

Yes, shingles (just like about everything else) used to contain asbestos. I haven't looked, but I doubt shingles are very high on the friability list. More than likely asbestos was used to aid in the binding of the asphalt material. If that is the case then you would have to burn them or grind them up to get the asbestos airborne. HOWEVER, even if this is the case, first check if your city/state is hyper paranoid about asbestos, if they are then you will have to have them taken care of like they were made of powder.

Research, research, research when it comes to asbestos. If it isn't friable, it isn't dangerous. Unless of course you do stuff to change it to make it friable.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 6:13PM
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