Duplex with slanted floors and foundation problems

6 Replies

Hi all,

I am looking for an investment property and found one I initially really liked. The inspection revealed sloping floors, cracks in the foundation (about 10), and roof repairs needed. The building also needs tuckpointing throughout. The inspector thought it would need to be piered and that would cost between 10-20k. The building is priced about 20k below what I expected it to be. I’m scared to proceed due to the slanted floors and foundation problems. The place is a top-bottom 1 bed/1 bath duplex that is for sale by owner in a good area which is currently cash flowing about 300-400/month. The building is 100 years old. Some of my greatest concerns are that it seems the seller hasn’t been forthright with us in discussions. He claimed the foundation is sound and they poured a new concrete floor, but our inspector didn’t believe pouring a concrete basement was enough, he also claimed to have put a new roof on but it was just patched. 

Would you run or try to negotiate on this one?

The seller being ignorant/ stupid is not the same thing as them lying to you, whether or not you proceed depends on your comfort level and how good a price you think you got.

Foundation issues are one of those issues that it’s worth considering your expertise with REI.

If a roof needs to be replaced, you call any one of the 50 local roofers and get it replaced within a week for $xxx

Foundations often require more work to find the right kind of foundation expert (one will solve it for $40K, another for $8K and one who will screw everything up for $14K). Plus you might need an engineer and permits, fixing other related issues with cracked walls, crooked doors, etc etc.

It’s not something I’d want to dive into unless you have some experience with dealing with contractors, and have some financial padding in case things are even worse than you think they are.

It’s not a reason to run away screaming... but definitely consider if there’s an ‘easier’ investment out there.

wiring, plumbing, roof, structure integrity. 100 year old home. I walk away as quick as my legs will support.


Foundation, permits, warranty(typ 10 years). Licensed structure engineer report.

Plumbing, dryrot (siding), termite. wall and attic Insulation.  

35-50 year old home roof material warranty, gutter 10 year labor warranty

Electrical panel inspection, 100 amp circuit breaker.....

100 years any tree in front. You are exposed to broken sewer pipe....

adding to what Mike said, Generally if you like a property/location/numbers otherwise, come back to see it with a few foundation companies in tow and have them give you estimates.  based on their input refine your offer.

I had one the other day, great house otherwise that had the foundation fixed (and seller gave me report).  the report showed there was a sewage leak, not yet fixed that was estimated at another 3K-5K to fix.  when I factored 5K more into the discount my offer was rejected.   Point is ask for any prior estimates (even if not fixed), as well.

now on this one, I wouldn't touch a 100 year old building, unless I'm buying it at [lot - demo] price and the lot was good :)

I see a lot of homes that age around here.  After all, Pymouth (America's Home Town, dontch'a know) was settled in 1620.

One of the things I look for when working with buyers is cedar lally columns.  Those tend to shrink slightly over many decades, causing the floors to slope.

Often they've been replaced by temporary lally columns - the metal adjustable ones. These are generally not up to code and will fail FHA/VA/USDA appraisals, and possibly others.

The reason is that the permanent steel lally columns are filled with cement.  During a house fire, the permanent columns will survive longer, where the temporary columns will buckle with the heat.

I always advise buyers to take the cost of replacement into account when I see these.