Foundation problem during inspection - input needed. PICTURES!!!

eldemilaOctober 6, 2009

The home we have a contract to purchase on was inspected last week and it was found to have a foundation failure per inpsector.

We haven't heard what, if any, of the items the owners will repair on our list, but they all came on the inspectors report, and we aren't asking them to fix the minor things (like clean out gutters) I'm trying to find some type of information on exactly how this should be fixed and what the cost may be. If they get it fixed, I want to make sure it's done right, so I need to know something.

Here's the notes and pictures of the report.

There is a large crack on the right side of the foundation, the stepped crack is at least 1/4 inch wide and the brick is

displaced at least 1/4 of an inch, recommend review by a structural engineer to determine cause and if any repairs are

suggested besides sealing.


Comments: Inspected, Repair or Replace

On the right side of the home, the wood beam is not in contact with the column/pier, this may cause or have caused

some settlement in this area since it is next ot he large crack in the foundation, have repaired by contractor

Thanks for any help!

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How old is the house? When did the crack appear? What are the soil conditions in the area? Are the original design documents available?

It is most likely due to localized settlement and the footing wasn't reinforced sufficient to bridge it or it is at a corner or change in footing level, etc. I would have my own engineer look at it.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2009 at 10:49AM
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i agree, have your own engineer(not just inspector) look at it and tell you whether it is an easy fix or major repairs. all homes settle, anyone who says different is a flat out lie. BUT if teh foundation is done properly you only need minor repairs if any once they do. in this case it appears that that support point was either not done properly or had more settling than expected and thus the crack. if it is done settling, you may just need to seal the crack and shim the support beam. or you may need to dig out the area and jack things back up as well as put a new foundation in, that is why you need a pro to tell you what is needed.

if you let the owners determine what repairs they will make to it, you will end up with some caulk in teh crack and a piece of cardboard for a shim.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2009 at 2:26PM
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Thanks for the reply.

The house was built in 1985, so really not that old.

I'm not positive about soil conditions where the house is, but I believe there's lots of clay, so that could be a possibility here. No idea about original designs being available. Maybe the county has them??

If the owners try to rig it cheaply, my inspector will let me know because I plan on having it re-inspected and if it's not to the standards, no deal. I'm waiting to see what they say about it, and whether it's going to be fixed and exactly how they are going to fix it.

Hoping someone else that's had this issue can tell me what they had done and approx cost.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2009 at 4:09PM
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We had this problem with the home my wife grew up in. Foundation settling. It was built in 1950; and started moving around 1965. After years of slowly moving - when her Mom was dead, and her Dad was living with us - we had the foundation repaired. Structural Engineer stated needed 14 pin pilings. City stated 17 / SE said: Only needs 14; but City wants 17

Increases the cost of project, and so money City gets.

Cost was around $11K We live in Seattle.

But - you really don't get to say how the House is repaired - when you don't own it. My wife is a Real Estate Agent.

The current owners get to decide how to have this repaired. They might not even care about it - since the crack was visible, and due diligence on a potential buyer allows the potential buyer to see that a crack exists.

So if the crack has existed for quite some time, and is not moving - the current owners might not care at all about the crack. Since the foundation might not actually have a problem. The Beam which is not 'resting'on the pier can easily be correctly fixed in about 2 minutes. A 20 cent piece of shim...

If the foundation is not stable, because of ground errosion or whatever - then it is something which needs to be fixed and will cost some dollars.

But all this is - is a price negotiating point. The sellars do not have to have it fixed, and they don't have to reduce the price. They are perfectly free to wait for someone else to come and make another offer. Your free to walk away.

So it is a negotiating point.

You should pay for a structural engineer to take a look at the house. And possibly a Geo Tech engineer. Also - you should talk to the current homeowners. Because if the crack is stable and has not been growing, and has existed for some time - then no structual problem actually exists.

Take a look at the disclosure form. Did they mention a foundation problem? Have your realitor talk with them. Course all of this will be found out somewhat based on their response to the inspection report.

So communication between your two parties is essential. If it is agreed that an actual problem exists - then you should have an engineer look at it; determine a repair; then you have to take some bids to cost it out; and then you get to see if they are willing to reduce the price sufficiently to repair.

Course I am just realizing - that no Bank will fund a Mortgage loan on a house with a verified structural problem. So then the current homeowners will have to have it fixed. Then you don't get to negotiate on the price anymore - since the problem won't exist... AND you don't get to say what ttype of repair or how the repair is done - since it must be permitted - and they would only be required to have a proper repair done. IE - a permitted repair; signed off by the City or County. And there are several different ways that these types of things can be repaired.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2009 at 12:50AM
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Deb, don't buy the house until a structural engineer looks at it like your home inspector suggested.

That brick pushed out 1/4", that large crack in the crawl space, beam not resting on the pier. They are BIG signs of potential major (expensive) structure issues.

Clay soil isn't to be blamed. Clay soil only compacts on itself. If anything it would put pressure on the foundation and push it in, in your case the wall is going out.

You also said "If the owners try to rig it cheaply, my inspector will let me know because I plan on having it re-inspected"

Your inspector already told you this was beyond his knowledge and you should hire a structural engineer before buying the house. What do you expect him to say if you don't follow his advice?

Another thought, in your crawl space photo. Between your arrow and the bottom the photo is cement with a big crack in it and obviously chipped away... Between the cement and the wall is a trench that looks wet and muddy. Why?
Also, it makes no sense why block was used on top of brick. It is suppose to be the other way around.
No matter how much I loved it or who said what, I would walk away from this house.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2009 at 8:00PM
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Clay is usually a very good soil for footing support but some kinds of clay can expand and shrink. It is more likely that the ground under the foundation has simply settled due to poor original compaction or underground water movement or organic material decomposing. Footings are supposed to be designed to resist localized settlement but are often not reinforced.

Only an on site professional can provide useful answers.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2009 at 9:54AM
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I assume the contract has an inspection report contingency. You have two choices:

1. Walk away from the deal, assuming the contract allows you. It probably does. This is a serious structural issue.

2. Get a structural engineer to tell you how much work is required, how much it will cost, and then negotiate from there. The purpose of inspection reports is to deal with precisely this kind of situation. The seller should have disclosed this before you went into contract, whether or not you're in a state that requires a disclosure form. Rest assured that they knew about this structural issue.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2009 at 12:25PM
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Deb, what did you do with this house?

    Bookmark   October 21, 2009 at 5:09PM
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