Can't decide whats best...

ladyvixen84August 25, 2011

So, the seller is paying for the new roof, foundation repair and whatever damages that occur with jacking up the house. BUT hubby and I were talking to my dad and one of his foundation repair friends, and they told us about prefabricated basements. IT IS an the process of getting more information and possible quote. But hubby and I would be paying for it...I couldn't ask the seller to pay for it as it's purely a personal choice on whether to have a basement or not.

So, my question is. Can I leave the foundation as is IF we decide to go ahead and do a prefab basement? We are looking at a time frame of a few years to get one, possibly 3-4 years, give or take a year or two. We are even considering doing a partial basement partial crawl space. But I just need to know if it would be okay to leave the foundation like it is now until then?

My dad mentioned that it would make no sense to raise the foundation and spend this elderly mans money if we decide to put in a basement. It would save him roughly 9k if we leave the foundation alone.

So what do you all think? Have old man spend the money on the foundation and do the basement, or leave it as is and save him money and do the basement? We are getting a basement for sure in the future.

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My dad mentioned that it would make no sense to raise the foundation and spend this elderly mans money

What a decent guy!

A pref-fab basement--essentially factory-made concrete vertical slabs put in place with a crane--are more expensive then digging in place and underpinning and will cause extreme disruption if used on a existing home. To begin with, you'll have to move out.

I must have missed what you mean by raising a foundation. Levelling the top by jacking up the home above?

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 12:56PM
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Creating a basement is a really expensive job. Don't plan on doing this in an existing home unless it's something you do before you move in and you have lots of money to burn. If you want a house with a basement, buy a house with a basement. Don't try to retrofit one. The only type of real estate that makes sense to spend that kind of money on is in a urban environment where the land costs are exorbitant and most of the cost of the home.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 5:04PM
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Yes worthy, jacking up the home to level out the slope. The engineer said it isn't bad at all, it looks worse than what it actually is.

I got an estimate from someone to come in and put a regular non prefab basement in. 20k which isn't bad at all. We would obviously finish it ourselves with drywall.

If hubby can get his buddy who has the excavation equipment, then maybe we can dig it out, and not pay as much. The 20k is for everything, including raising the home, detaching the breezeway and garage and reattaching them.

I'm not worried about making a profit off the house, as we will live there, pay it off and IF we moved it would be passed along to one of our 6 kids.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 5:41PM
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Lady, I definitely would NOT make the seller pay for this option...and just how bad is the slope to the floors? If it is truly rotted joists/sills or crumbling block, then I'd say fix it...if it's only an inch or so, and not structural, I'd live with it as character of an old house--we buy them for that rather than live in perfect featureless boxes. :)

I assume your estimates for either basement include replumbing the house and electrical connections? If you are raising the level of the whole main house, it will impact both plumbing and sewage and electrical services.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 10:09PM
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I "almost" agree with Columbusguy, I don't have an issue with having the fella pay for foundation repair, myself... But the "whatever damages occur by jacking up the house"?? Not only does that sound really-really vague (& the offer itself seemed like a red-flag, to me... He's offering to pay for EVERYTHING? Roof, foundation, etc... AND damage caused by jacking?), but that also seems foolish on his part - & possibly a promise he can't keep?
Is it all in my head - or can't jacking an old house cause more damage than some cracked drywall or plaster? I was under the impression that even professionals can't guarantee what jacking will do, or not do, to a house.
Also - some issues don't show up right away, right? (Brickeyee, where are you??). :-). Are you supposed to (or willing to) go visit this senior citizen in his assisted-living room & ask him for a check, later? "Hey, nice to see you, too.. Yes, we are enjoying the house... That jello looks great - lime is my favorite... So, remember how we got the house jacked & you were gonna pay for all damage it caused? Funny story...". Yikes!

Keep in mind that - although you were cautioned against adding a basement, & I agree with that - if you feel determined to go that route... Sorry - it probably won't happen, lol. A big part of buying an old house is having big ideas & making big plans! (I know this to be true, for myself & many others here). Another big part is... the "part" where you don't "get-to-it"! It's in the plan, soon... "Soon" turns into "someday", every time you're caught up to where you could consider it, something "pops up". The stove goes out, you want the floors refinished, you decide to redo a bathroom/kitchen/bedroom (I know, you said you don't need a "nice" kitchen - but you eventually WILL want a nicer one, with a nice big counter to knead your bread upon - it happens to most of us!), one of the 6 kids accidentally breaks a window or 2 - so you & hubby start talking about replacing all of them with vinyl - (DON'T do it, btw), you finally decide you need central air because the window units have been too expensive to run & aren't cutting it, anyway - & you decide to just "do it" (been there - the pics I've posted of my house have AC units in the windows... Ancient central air unit had died. 5 years later, you wonder - "why are we doing this?").

Before you know it, 10 years have gone by! (Lol - any of your kids gonna be close to university by then? Ka-ching!).
Not trying to chase you away from this house - people tried that with us, & it was a waste of time. I'm just saying - go ahead & make big plans for what you'd like the house to be, let the seller pay for foundation work for now - & MAYBE let him off the hook for damages caused by the "jacking" that you're lucky enough to have him offer to pay for, in the first place. That should be enough, along with the roofing & all else. :-)

That said... You don't have access to this sellers bank accounts & financial statements. He may very well be honest with you - or he may be telling you a sad story, & heading to a Jamaican "retirement" condo, with a girlfriend younger than you are! (Waiting till you drive away, then tossing the walking cane into the back of the car next to his golf clubs? Do I watch too many crime-drama's, or what?). ;-)

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 12:42AM
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A basement - not prefab, which sounds impractical, but one poured on side - added by lifting the house and pouring concrete under it is being done quite often around my neighbourhood, where land/house prices are indeed exorbitant, and is what I was wondering about when you first posted on the repair forum. Most people seem to move out while it's done; I think I've noticed that windows may be removed? I'm hoping to learn more about it, but other people who pop in here on the forum have actually done it.

So the question to me would be timing. WHEN would you have this done? If the house will hold up on its existing foundation until then, you can wait.


    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 2:33AM
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it sounds to me that it is time for you to talk
to someone who can give you a scope of the improvemtents
you plan to make and later.
and to give you ideas on what is and is not worthwhile.
your posts are all over the place..I know you are excited..but getting some orginization to the plan of
what you can and can't do would be a good idea.
I get pretty all over the place with my posts too..
not dissing you for that..but this is a big project
some objectivity would be a good thing.
do you know anyone in the trades..existing home renovations would be best?
maybe you could hire someone to do a walk thru with you & your husband and talk over the immediate and future plans.
if you don't know anyone try your local lumber company
here we have lists of tradespeople that have successfully
worked in this area for years.
or if there is a carpenter's union you could call and talk to them. retired carpenters know a lot of stuff..even if they can't physically do the work they could give you good insight.

I don't know anything about basements...but do wish you luck with your project.
Glad that this forum is a better fit for you than the others. People who love old homes see past the warts
and share the dream. Hope yours turns out to be all that you want. IMO it is a worthwhile investment of time love and money to save these old homes.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 7:12AM
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The mortgage company & their appraiser may have something to say if you change your mind & the Seller isn't required to make necessary repairs to the foundation. Mortgage companies have become increasingly picky & if the foundation repairs are specified in the contract - & I'm assuming they are - the deletion of that may bring red flags.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 10:23AM
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i've been watching your threads and wish you the best on your house purchase.

but, and maybe i'm the only one, but i think this idea of putting a new foundation in is absolutely crazy and a waste of money. what problem are you even trying to solve? a marble rolling to the corner?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 11:49AM
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I think it's nuts to consider putting in a 20K pre-fab basement in house you're paying less than 60K for. Jacking a house always disarranges things, sometimes in expensive, unforeseen ways. Where I am people who agree to this must sign waivers absolving the house-lifters from any damage claims.

If a cellar is that important for you, then go look for a house with one. Even in Iowa, they must be common (storm cellar, etc.)

I've read your posts and you seem to be caught up in a rip tide of reno-mania.

If you buy this house, then live in it, and fix it up within the parameters of what it is. Don't try to make it into something it isn't and probably never was, and may be should never become.

It's perfectly fine to start with a modest house and modestly upgrade it. But when/if your needs, tastes and means begin to exceed that level, then sell it and move on up a notch.

Your description of this seller, what he paid, your bid and his almost unbelievable willingness to make very expensive repairs, closing cost contributions, etc. that will further reduce his net proceeds (urgently needed for his move to assisted living) has me wondering if he should needs the protection of a financial conservator. I am happy you are getting a good deal, but the reason this house is priced the way it is, is because it has issues that will need attention and resources. I don't get why you assume (and apparently the seller agrees!) that you expect the reduced price plus the major, pricey things taken care of.

Old houses always have things that are out of whack. It's the nature, sometimes the bane, ofttimes the charm, of the genre. If you expect perfect, then buy a new, replica farmhouse modular. You'll be happier, I think.

I do wish you the best, if this is the house of your dreams, but I fear your eagerness for it and your lack of experience are setting you up for unhappiness.

(Full disclosure: I live in a farmhouse so intact, and primitive, that it has no central heat - in northern NY state, and is only partially electrified. It is our first old house -except for the ones my DH and I grew up in. I think my parents, and certainly some of our friends, thought we were nuts because they assumed we were looking at huge rennovation/upgrade projects, entirely beyond our known skill sets. They were correct about our skills. We had to learn, and learn, and are still learning. But we are happy here because we are content with what it is and resigned, or even preferring, what it is not. If we had instead been focused (as you seem to me to be) on upgrading, even to just basic design, construction and comfort/convenience standards we would have surely been overwhelmed, bickering, nearly bankrupt and thoroughly miserable. Fortunately we took a less pressured approach that left us room to develop an understanding and a taste for old farmhouse living. So when I caution you about not over-improving a house, it's from a deep, personal, BTDT, perspective. One of the benefits of these forums is that it can connect new old house owners to a wider range of people than they might encounter locally. And it offers some of the benefits of hindsight, without having to earn those chops entirely on your own.)


    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 2:26PM
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9K worth of foundation repairs is beyond just a little issue with the foundation. It's not all the way to completely replacing the foundation, but it's significant. Exactly what did the report state was the issue and what was the proposed remedy? The remedy can often cause more issues than the problem it fixes.

And I'm with whoever suggested that the seller isn't entirely competent here and perhaps should have a financial guardian. At the price this house has, it should be virtually "as is", take it or leave it. Roof leaks, foundation issues, etc., should be disclosed, and possibly minimally addressed--- not wholesale repaired. Especially funded by the seller. It's a financially unsound move on his part to be funding these repairs without increasing the cost of the house by the same amount. Now, if he is increasing the cost of the home by the 15K that he's spending here, that would be one thing, but 15K of repairs on a 60K home without adjusting the price, well, that's financial incompetence. Even if it's seeming to benefit you, I'd watch out. If he has any family at all, it could come back to bite you hard. You could be accused of taking advantage of n old man's mental incompetence and end up in the middle of a nasty family court battle.

The normal purchase situation would be to acknowledge that the home had these issues, so it's sold as is. That is how most older homes are sold. Then if the purchasers want those problems addressed immediately, the repairs are done on their own nickel before occupancy. The only normal situation where such extensive repairs are undertaken by the seller is where the buyers have little capital and so the seller funds the repairs and rolls it into the mortgage. That can run into an issue when the mortgage holder does the value assessment for the loan. If the loan amount is for more than assessed, then the loan applicant will need to come up with the difference in cash in order for the purchase to proceed. It's Catch-22. If you have enough funds for down payment, you don't have enough funds for repair. If you fund the repair, then you don't have enough funds for down payment. There are new mortgages that fund renovation costs into the loan, but they do require more documentation and hassle. And it doesn't sound as though that's the type of loan approval that you have.

These are additional red flags on this home purchase situation that I hope you stop and address before it's too late.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 3:30PM
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If he has any family at all, it could come back to bite you hard.

Excellent point! I manage an equity mortgage portfolio. For anyone past 70 borrowing on a mortgage, we require some statement of competence. Yes, it's ridiculous in most situations, but it is to protect my investors. The OP should make sure her lawyer is aware of this.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2011 at 3:42PM
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Yeah, I too get the sense this deal getting kinda messy...
A better and more businesslike way to go about this - would be to negotiate a reduced price based on what the repairs cost (documented w/ bids in writing) and then the poor old guy can make an informed decision and then get on with his life, and you can too.

Usually thats what's advised in most home purchase situations FWIW - so you can hire who you want and better control the quality of work.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 1:45AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Spending 25% of a home's selling price just to please a potential inexperienced buyer of an old home is definitely a "something's not right here" flag. There have been no comments about a real estate agent or lawyer being involved to assist with this sale. Who is this gentleman's representative that is looking out for his interests? The buyer may not be meaning to take advantage here, but due to both parties inexperience, that's exactly what appears to be happening. For both parties sake, someone will need to make sure the paperwork is correctly done and there is a clear title,etc. Where is the professional in this sale?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 7:09PM
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I know the feedback you are getting is not what you want.
but you asked, and many are giving you good advice.

we all know what it is like to fall in love with an
old home. the history, the looks of the details
we have been there and done that.

don't take the advice/experience of the posters in
a negative way. we all have different ways of viewing things.

hope you will come back and give us your thoughts
as we have given you ours.
no one wants to see you buy a house that will
take over your life.
you need to see if the love, labor and time is
what makes this your home. and your children's home.

can't imagine having 6 children! and that a judgemental
statement...I have 2 dogs I can barely keep up with!

best of luck.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 10:44AM
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