wall in basement that is scaring off buyers

chicagoerinMarch 19, 2009

Hello wise buyers/sellers! I need your advice. I am the second owner of a ranch with a full unfinished basement that has a wall that has been coated in an epoxy type material. It is scaring off buyers-I am doing flat fee MLS/by owner. It looks wet, but when you touch it your realize it's a sealant . I questioned the original owner about the wall and she said that there was a bit of discoloration coming in through the concrete blocks that the builder assured her was normal, but she wanted them to seal it just to be sure. She is a nervous nell and had them do all kinds of extra things like that. The builder has a great rep but is huge and when I called them they said my file had been moved to storage and may or may not be able to be retrieved.

The wall is a non issue. Basement is dry as a bone, but buyers understandably are freaked by it. What should I do? Should I hang a sign explaining? Have an inspector look at it and sign something saying it's fine? ??

Thanks much!

Erin

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Happyladi

Can you paint over it with something that isn't wet looking? Maybe paint the whole basement?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 5:20PM
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chicagoerin

happyladi-it is a good idea, but the basement is 2200 sq ft of cement blocks, so sadly that is not an option. :(

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 6:28PM
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jasonmi7

I'm sorry; but why isn't that an option? We're talking less than 15 gallons of paint. And if it's scaring off buyers, the $150 invesment in paint seems pretty sound to me.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 7:10PM
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sue36

The realtor should be able to sell buyers on this by presenting it as an additional waterproofing measure taken by a detail oriented previous owner. Our basement has a similar waterproofing, but it's on the outside so not visible.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 9:19PM
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logic

Are people freaking out from just looking at it...or from what their inspector has said? I ask because it seems odd because they can easily touch the paint and see that it is gloss...and not moisture....so it seems that should end the freak out right then and there.

That said, from what I recall, sealing a concrete block foundation on the inside only is not reccommended. It is probably not reccomended for a poured foundation either..but concrete block is a bit more prone to water intrusion by its very nature in that it has many joints.

Concrete block foundation walls tend to develop cracks which permits water to collect inside of the blocks, which permits seepage of water into the interior of the basement.Sealing a wall on the inside alone traps water within the wall and actually speeds up the deterioration of the wall.

From what I understand, the key is to stop the water from coming in from the outside as well.

Is it also sealed on the outside? If so, I can't see why buyers would see this as a problem...because this is very common in so many basements.

Last but not least, any inspector who would certify that it is fine would be making a claim that he can't back-up with fact...because even if it is sealed on the outside, if it was done AFTER the inside was sealed, there still could be moisture trapped in the blocks. As he would have no way of knowing the sequence of events, his certification would be esentially not worth the paper it was written upon.

Of course, there are some inspectors out there who will certify that the walls are made of gold bullion as long as they are paid to do so...

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 1:35AM
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chicagoerin

Logic-thanks for the info. I am not sure if it is sealed on the outside as well..no one has asked that, but I will try to find out from the builder. They are freaking just from looking at it. I think it just seems strange that my huge basement looks totally perfect and then you round the corner and see this wall that looks completely wet. It is just shocking, I guess. I know I felt the same way. I am thinking that painting it gray so that it at least doesn't look like a wet wall might help and then either putting a sign explaining why it's painted or putting it on the listing sheet? I will call builder now but am pretty sure they will not have any good info for me.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 9:06AM
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chicagoerin

What do you think about me painting it with that chalkboard paint and making it a fun place for my neices to write on the wall? It would eliminate the we look and would have a real use?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 3:21PM
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phoggie

I for one would not like the chalkboard paint....if you are willing to paint it with that, why not regular paint?..
I would think it would be a cheaper fix.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 4:12PM
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chicagoerin

Hey Phoggie-I was just thinking it would less strange if it had a purpose rather than one wall out of the whole basement painted gray..would draw less attention?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 4:38PM
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jasonmi7

Why is it such a big deal to paint the basement? I think we're all waiting to hear that; because certainly a large wall in chalkboard paint is going to be more expensive than regular paint on the whole thing.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 5:31PM
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chicagoerin

Hey Jason-I am a single gal and to paint an entire 2200 square foot basement would take a couple of weekends at least. I was hoping for an easier answer. Not to mention, I am guessing concrete block soaks up a ton of paint.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 7:45PM
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terriks

Why would it be painted gray? Paint comes in lots of colors!

I guess that I'm not understanding the whole thing. Can you post a picture?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 8:28PM
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jasonmi7

Well, no offense, but you're telling us that what's going on is scaring off buyers. And yes, I certainly understand how much work it might be; but isn't a couple of weekends and a couple hundred in materials worth selling the house? From what you've posted, it seems to be a show-stopper for some reason which we are obviously not getting; so it would seem some work to take care of this percieved defect might really go a long way towards getting what you want; selling the house at a decent price.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 9:28PM
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ncrealestateguy

Whatever you do... do NOT address it in the MLS, or put a sign up explaining anything... there is nothing to explain. Trying to explain nothing, is only going to cause a red flag to pop up in the buyers mind.
IMO, painting the entire basement is the thing to do. But, you are right, the paint does not go a long way, and the waterproofing paint is about $100/5 gallons.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 9:04AM
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chicagoerin

Thanks much for your suggestions. Hopefully the pics will help you visualize my situation. One is of how the wall normally looks and the other is the wet looking wall.
thanks again
http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y14/erinb007/basement1.jpg

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y14/erinb007/basement2.jpg

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 2:22PM
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jojoco

Erin,

Thanks for the picture. It really helps a lot. You're right, you have to do something. Before you paint, you need to make sure the sealant isn't going to go right through the paint. Ask someone with knowledge in that field. If it is at all possible, you should paint the whole basement. At very least, do a couple of walls so that it appears that you simply ran out of steam. As it is not a defect, I would not disclose it on the disclosure sheet. It is simply cosmetic.
Btw, I am a realtor, and it would take a lot of convincing to make a client understand that it is not wet. I would pick a neutral color, (not gray) and paint at least two walls.
Good luck.
Jo

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 3:27PM
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logic

Yikes!! It looks soaked! I can see why the buyers freak out...as even if they touch it, the visual overides the reality. kind of like eating steak that has been colored green with food coloring...no change in flavor, but the visual is a deal killer.

Also...I think the lighter color that appears to be perhaps efflorescence is just adding to the visual problem.

IMO..jojoco has given you good advice. Perhaps something like KILZ..which is acts as a sealer may be helpful in keeping the coating of whatever it is from seeping through.

Here is a link that might be useful: Efflorescence

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 5:41PM
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chicagoerin

"...as even if they touch it, the visual overides the reality. kind of like eating steak that has been colored green with food coloring...no change in flavor, but the visual is a deal killer" LOL Logic, you hit the nail on the head! I guess a picture is worth a million words (or a million posts) now you see what I'm talking about!!! :)

K, will use kilz and then paint. Thanks everyone!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 6:10PM
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terriks

Here's your picture - with Photobucket you need to cut and paste the "HTML code":

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 12:43PM
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brickeyee

"Hey Jason-I am a single gal and to paint an entire 2200 square foot basement would take a couple of weekends at least. I was hoping for an easier answer. Not to mention, I am guessing concrete block soaks up a ton of paint."

With a brush maybe.

A 9 inch wide roller on a pole will make this a not very big job at all.

You can get even wider rollers if you can handle the weight of a paint loaded roller on the length of a pole.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 5:04PM
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carol23_gw

What would happen if you went over the shiny spots with coarse sandpaper?

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 7:29PM
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chicagoerin

Well, for $40.00 including chalk board paint and kilz, I staged it to look like a kids playroom. It's rough, but I think way better than the wet looking wall. Thanks to all for your input!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 8:37PM
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jojoco

I was wrong! I love it! Can you add my name to the wall?
Great job.

Jo

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 8:57PM
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weed30

That's brilliant!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 9:20PM
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chicagoerin

Jojo-sure! Will add you to the "famous" wall! Weed-thanks for your kind comments:)

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 7:53AM
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kellyeng

I don't get it. I thought there was 2200 square foot of basement to paint. Is the actual offending area just in that one spot pictured?

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 9:56AM
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chicagoerin

Yes, the only wall that looked like that was the one I painted. Approx 10ftx10ft wall. That is why kept pushing back on painting the whole d*mn thing!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 11:35AM
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logic

erinb007, great job!! It looks wonderful!

Neccessity is the mother of invention...I am very impressed with your resourcefulness.

Best wishes for a speedy sale!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 5:23PM
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GammyT

Looks great. Now hope the former problems don't show their ugly face before you sell.

From your original photos there are moisture issues in that wall. The previous owners put that coating on only that one wall for a reason and from your photos it didn't work.

Cute paint but I would wonder why you painted ONLY that one wall for kid use.

You don't have kids do you? The meters are there and the PVC pipe (looks like it might be rough in for a toilet) coming out of the floor, is the wall a parent would keep their kids away from.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 7:35PM
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jojoco

Gammyt,
I think the op said the previous owner put the sealant on as an over exuberant protective measure to a perceived, but never realized, problem. The basement looks very dry. I agree that it might seem odd that only one wall is painted, but I think she has done a decent job in making it look deliberate.
Jo

    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 7:57PM
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chicagoerin

Hey Gammyt-Their is no moisture. I have lived here 3.5 years and the woman who built the house (someone whom I have become friends with) had no issues with moisture either. The wall just LOOKED scary. I would not have disguised something that was a true problem.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 8:34PM
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GammyT

I hope for you that you are correct. From your photo the glossy sealant didn't fully take from the top, along joint lines to that big area in the mid bottom.

You might not be getting water in the basement but my guess is that wall is wet. Have you checked the grading outside that wall?

I think to pull off the kid wall you need to box off the meters and cap the PVC coming out of the floor. If I was house hunting, the one wall with meters and a PVC pipe coming out of the floor, set up for kids would put a giant red flag in my mind.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 4:45PM
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