Should we even consider buying this house?

baylorbearAugust 4, 2011

We are looking for a new house and I found one on-line that appears to meet our requirements. We called the realtor and she said that she wanted to tell us about the property first, and then we could decide if we still wanted to see it.

She said that the builder built this house for a family, and then after they bought it, they started noticing premature soil movement. They were getting ready to relocate, and the builder bought it back from them. The builder brought in a company to adjust and fill in the soil in the yard and under the house. They also put french drains in the yard. The builder let the house sit for over a year to make sure that it was not having more problems with the soil. They had a structural engineer come in and they have reports showing that there was no damage to the foundation or the house.

The other thing that she said was that the cabinets were built on-site, and apparently the wood had some bugs in it (basically some kind of termite) and they had to remove all the cabinets and put in new cabinets.

They are selling the house as-is, and it would not have any warranty. Usually with this builder, you have a two year warranty that covers everything, and then a ten year warranty that covers structural defects. The house is already five years old.

Does this sound like a house that we should still consider? If we did decide to move forward with it, we would hire our own inspector to do a thorough inspection. Part of me feels like we should not even consider it, but the other part feels like they have fixed the problems, so maybe we should think about it.

What do you think? Thanks in advance for any advice/opinions!!

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Where is it located--that is, city, country etc. What kind of permits did the builder get. Check with the local city/county building department. With soil problems, did they get a structural certificate etc. Flooding zone?? fire zone. Most inspectors are not trained to handle these problems. What other problems could/have happened in the 5 years. That is a long time to let a house sit empty.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2011 at 3:00PM
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Thanks, Marie-ndcal!

The house is in a suburb of Houston, Texas. It's not in a flood zone, but we would still buy flood insurance. I think that it's been empty for the last year/year and a half. The original owners bought it in 2006 and lived in it for a few years.

It sounds like we have some research to do! I was also thinking that it would be smart to bring in a structural engineer as well as the inspector.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2011 at 3:15PM
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How would the owners know about soil movement...cracks in floors and walls(interior and exterior0? Doors not closing? It must have been pretty bad. There probably was a lawsuit.

Is it a real good deal? Is the property on a slope or does water come toward the home?

You need to view the home inside and outside just to see if if you even want to consider it.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2011 at 3:47PM
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"Premature soil movement" can mean a lot of things. I do not understand how you can stabilize soil UNDER a house that has already been built. I have no idea how serious the problem really was, or how difficult it would be to fix, but admitting you had to stabilize soil UNDER a house tells me there was a BIG problem.

I also have my doubts the builder voluntarily repurchased the house from the buyer - there may have been a lawsuit (or the threat of one) involved. And this is just my paranoid, suspicious nature - but any big housing developer has certain connections where he could easily find someone to "sign off" claiming everything was ok. If something bad develops - how easy would it be to hold them accountable for that piece of paper claiming everything was ok?

Then the termite thing is another problem, but that seems less of an issue to me. Thats something that can be easily treated, and lets hope they thoroughly inspected the house to make sure the termites were only concentrated within the cabinets.

I really don't mean to be a fear monger, but I would definitely stay away. With as many houses are on the market, it would be easier to find another house that does not have these issues.

Good luck

    Bookmark   August 4, 2011 at 4:45PM
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Thanks for the responses!

I don't think that we are going to consider it. When I told DH what the realtor said, he immediately said NO WAY!

We want the next house that we buy or build to be our forever home, and it doesn't sound like this is the house for us. It's a beautiful house, but like PP said, there are many houses on the market!

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2011 at 5:14PM
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FYI for future inspector can only tell you what he can see. If the termites progressed into the walls, you will only see any damage if the walls are removed. An inspector can't see under the house. So..although there may be no visible evidence of soil movement right now, that does not mean it won't happen again as the area is probably prone to this situation.

Inspectors can't predict the future either. That is why having a thorough inspection on a house like this is not worth the time or there are already a huge possibility of numerous hidden defects that can't be seen by any inspector. That's all you need to know to make a wise decision..which you have already made.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2011 at 6:09PM
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