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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    Default Foundation repairs - risks

    I'm hoping to get a bit of advice on a home I'm looking at purchasing. My wife and I found a beautiful place in a perfect location at a reasonable price, but it looks like the foundation will need to be replaced. The house was built in 1920 and according to a report done by a structural engineer, the foundations have "reached the end of their useful life". The walls aren't leaking, but the concrete has crumbled away in a few spots due to moisture permeating through.

    I know that as a general rule, houses with foundation issues are to be avoided since you have no idea how much it will cost to have it all fixed. That said, what would the risks be if I get quotes from various companies to do an entire foundation replacement and have that amount removed from the purchase price? Given that we'll be replacing the entire foundation, I'm having trouble thinking up of any hidden costs that could be added to the quote we receive. I'm sure I'm missing something though. Does anyone have any experience or advice with this kind of situation?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    7,078

    Default Re: Foundation repairs - risks

    1 - When you contact said foundation contractors for bids, make sure that they know you DO NOT own the house, and that you will be paying them for their time and efforts. It's bad enough to lose a bid honestly, it's infuriating when the job was never there to begin with.

    2 - It is unlikely you'll get the owners to agree to replace the foundation for you (subtract cost from asking price ), but it is certainly an negotiation tool, if you can get 1/2 to 3/4 of the cost deducted, consider yourself lucky.

    3 - As far as hidden surprises, there's always hidden surprises with a project of this magnitude. By the vary nature of "hidden" and "surprises", there is no accounting for them before jumping in feet first, except for adding at least 25% to the budget. If you are prepared financially for these surprises, then when they don't occur, the surprise is a good one (more money in your wallet ), as opposed to a bad one (unforeseen circumstances and the inability to pay for them ).
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Fayette County, Ohio
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    5,803

    Default Re: Foundation repairs - risks

    Consider this, the house will most likely need to be jacked up for the replacement. At the same time it will be leveled. If the house is out of level, the leveling can cause damage to plaster walls. It may also require plumbing and electrical changes.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Boston
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    1,004

    Default Re: Foundation repairs - risks

    to piggy back on the previous responses.

    1. electrical to be moved and reconnected. if it isn't up to code it will have to be at the reconnection.

    2. plumbing to be moved and reconnected. you might need a new sewer line out to the street.

    3. gas and water company to disconnect and reconnect their lines and maybe replace them out to the street

    4. if you have oil heat the soil will have to be tested, especially if you have a supply pipe running under the basement floor. if there ever was oil dripping you could have yourself a clean-up bill of a few thousand dollars or tens of thousands of dollars.

    5. if the house is that old are the sills and carrying beams even strong enough to support the house.

    6. since so many things will be disconnected anything that's not up to code will have to be made so. just something as simple as hardwired smoke detectors throughout the house and that bill could run as high as several thousand dollars.

    7. as jack stated, raising and lowering a house in or out of level can cause many or major problems throughout the house.

    8. as spruce stated....i'll bet $10,000 that there will be some surprises that any of us have mentioned or can't even think of yet.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    NH
    Posts
    136

    Default Re: Foundation repairs - risks

    Quote Originally Posted by ddsg View Post
    I'm hoping to get a bit of advice on a home I'm looking at purchasing. My wife and I found a beautiful place in a perfect location at a reasonable price, but it looks like the foundation will need to be replaced. The house was built in 1920 and according to a report done by a structural engineer, the foundations have "reached the end of their useful life". The walls aren't leaking, but the concrete has crumbled away in a few spots due to moisture permeating through.

    I know that as a general rule, houses with foundation issues are to be avoided since you have no idea how much it will cost to have it all fixed. That said, what would the risks be if I get quotes from various companies to do an entire foundation replacement and have that amount removed from the purchase price? Given that we'll be replacing the entire foundation, I'm having trouble thinking up of any hidden costs that could be added to the quote we receive. I'm sure I'm missing something though. Does anyone have any experience or advice with this kind of situation?

    Thanks!
    Hi, This house sounds like a handyman special so if you are not a handyman I would think twice. Thanks

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    6,598

    Default Re: Foundation repairs - risks

    ddsg, So there you have it: warnings from all directions. If the bone is too big to chew on, walk.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Foundation repairs - risks

    Thank you all for the information. We definitely have a lot to process and to think about. We'll definitely look at each one of those things and also bring it up with the foundations expert if we decide that we're still interested.

    One of our concerns is that, since all the houses in the area were built in the 1910s/1920s, we'll have similar issues with all the other places we find. The engineer's report says that the concrete used at the time is only good for 100 years or so, and we're coming up on that now.

    Given that, this could be an opportunity as I know that the house has been on the market for a while now (offers did not come in for a good deal of time since the sellers had priced it much too high - the foundation issues were discovered recently) and the sellers want to offload as they're paying two mortgages until it sells.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
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    6,598

    Default Re: Foundation repairs - risks

    With the new information you provided:

    1. You have your mind set on this particular home.

    2. The seller has 2 mortgages - that means he's is "motivated" to some degree. Nobody likes making 2 payments every month.

    3. Make him an offer and ask him to participate in a new foundation. Explain to him that with this condition out of the way, you are a qualified and a sure buyer. Maybe you will convince him that sitting on house that won't sell will drain his bank account, and sometimes it's better to allow some repair and unload the house fast.

    4. Offer him a quick escrow: 30-45 days, he would love that.

    5. In the meantime, see if you can get a couple of estimates, but be frank with the contractors and disclose to them that you are only a potential buyer.
    Last edited by dj1; 03-07-2014 at 05:49 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    SoCal
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    Default Re: Foundation repairs - risks

    And one more thing: Get yourself a good representation.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    31

    Default Re: Foundation repairs - risks

    I know someone who had to have their house temporarily supported and their whole foundation replaced. It cost over 30,000 dollars.

    There are a few possible scenarios here. The prior owners knew this would need to be done and already feel that the house was priced accordingly, in which case you will have a hard time getting anymore money.

    They knew this was needed, and built some negotiating room into their asking price so they could be ready to give you the price drop you'll be looking for as soon as your home inspector found the problem.

    They did not know this would need to happen, in which case there may be SOME negotiating room for it. How much will depend on how badly they want to sell and whether it will still allow them to walk away from the deal without having to put more money on the table than they can afford. People who still have a mortgage tend to have less flexibility than people who have already paid the house off. The former will have to put money on the table to walk away once the price sinks below a certain level, and the latter will not.

    In addition to all the complications MLB mentioned you can expect that you will have to do drywall work and paint throughout the house as it will move and crack in various places while the work is being done. So there will be a lot of repairs and expense involved above and beyond just removing old foundation material and putting in a new one. Some of it you will not know until you get started and it could be in the thousands.
    Last edited by eman; 03-08-2014 at 01:46 PM.

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