In Escrow, Potential Foundation Issues?

6 Replies

I am purchasing a home built in 1915 in Northern California, it is ideal location wise, size wise, looks wise, recently redone hvac, plumbing, electrical, etc. The only issue I can see is that 4 out of 5 similarly aged homes in that area (1907-1915) have told me they have some sort of foundation issues (floors are not level, lots of slanting). I found this out by knocking on the door and asking. It is too late to get a structural engineer to survey the place unfortunately because my contingency ends on Tuesday and all requests are backed up. My home inspection report pulled nothing wrong with the foundation, he went underneath the house to look as well.



There is an additional room that was built after this house's original construction and the hallway to the room is slanted. Not 100% sure that is because of foundation issues. Some of the wooden foundation structures look solid and I attached photographs. Should I be concerned about potential foundational issues and back out? I wanted to keep this house for 20 years before selling.

Thanks for the help!!

@Monish Anand

If you have concerns then you should extend DD so you can investigate them. If you need a Strctural engineer to look this make that happen before you release contingencies. You could also get a foundation person to take a look and quote repairs if you can’t get Strctural. Never skimp on DD!

Originally posted by @Lee Ripma :

@Monish Anand

If you have concerns then you should extend DD so you can investigate them. If you need a Strctural engineer to look this make that happen before you release contingencies. You could also get a foundation person to take a look and quote repairs if you can’t get Strctural. Never skimp on DD!

Thanks for replying - my real estate agent is saying that would hold up escrow and that the seller would not repair any foundation issues anyways. The structural engineer could take a month she suggested, and since the seller put in 75K in repairs they wouldn't want to do anymore. I think the cost could be between $6K and $15K to add piers to fix it, which is what the other neighbors are doing.

 

@Monish Anand - if the worst-case scenario works for you then go ahead and accept this. If it doesn't then you need to investigate or walk away. This is what your DD period is for. Everyone wants you to close so you need to advocate for your investigations if that is what you need. 

Monish, I'm a structural engineer, but not located in California. If you're past your DD or can't negotiate, plan on adding piers to the house at some point in the future. I think most foundation repair companies warranty their products, so it should be a one time purchase, but yes budget $6k-$20k for this depending on access issues getting to the foundation. Not knowing how your home is constructed or if your foundation is concrete or CMU (cinder-blocks) you'll likely have two issues with foundation settlement, 1. Cracking of the foundation wall which will allow water to infiltrate and cause more problems ($$) and 2. Interior finishes will start moving (cracking) and/or doors will start sticking and floors will become uneven (more annoying than dangerous). Usually these things take time so if you're maintaining your property you'll see evidence of settlement happening over time. Hope this helps.

Brian, Lipma, Thanks for your response. Here is what ended up happening - 

I got in contact with an engineer who could write me a letter and make it out that day. Cost $450 which is typical for a foundation inspection. He went in the crawlspace, looked at everything. Said everything looked good and settled, and shouldn't have any issues. The only potential concern was my second bedroom was an illegal add-on and wasn't constructed to code, and the foundation for that was basically cinderblocks (Classic!). Still, everything had settled and it looked good.

Glad I could make the purchase in peace!