Shifting House - Structural Problems?

13 Replies

I looked at a house earlier today and am not really sure how to estimate this. The owner had an inspector out and he told her the home has shifted. You could see a large crack in the living room. The crack it the living room looks like it could just be covered up. On the outside wall you can see where the brick no longer lines up and they tried filling the area. I have posted some pictures of the outside below. Is this a huge amount of money to fix? Is this something I should just stay away from?

I looked at a houwe a year or so ago. It was filled with stuff--so much that one could not really see what one wanted to see. Went back later and much had been moved out. There was a large section--about half--of the living room floor, had become "dished". The indent was a large depression that started near the middle of the living room floor and got deeper as it extended toward the outer wall and the interior living room/bedroom wall. There was NO similar indent in the neighboring room, and neither the walls themselves, not the foundation on the inside or the outside appeared affected.

On the other side of the house there was a place where water had seeped or ran under the foundation.
I called several foundation contractors. ONE talked to me. He told me that area (where the house was) had such problems. He said the builders poured the footings, then the slab inside the footings. If there was any water problem, the underlying ground would/could be washed away. He said the problem could be repaired. the least would be $3-5K, and could be over $50K. I didn't buy the house.
I am suggestion you get a lot more information, and consider looking further--walk away from foundation problems.

Could be shifting but also could be settling. I would strongly recommend a foundation expert to inspect the house. If you plan to buy it, put it subject to that inspection.

Please seek expert advice. Only take my advice for what it is...just some guy rambling on the internet.

Alright I have purchased many houses that have needed foundation repair. My own personal house needed it. The very first house I purchased needed it. So with that said it doesn't scare me one bit.

The first house I bought I had no idea about remodeling. I knew the house needed foundation work but I had no idea what that meant. So I got something like 7 bids. I finally settled on a company. Let me tell you I got bids ranging from 9 piers to 35 piers. What did this tell me? It told me that either everyone in that industry was morons or someone was trying to screw me. It turned out not only someone was trying to screw me every single person but the 9 pier bid was trying to screw me. I didn't know anything and I ended up accepting an 18 pier bid(The engineer later lowered this down to 12 piers...SEE WHAT I MEAN?). I thought maybe the 9 pier guy was wrong. I later found out he was the only honest guy. The second house I did I had a couple people come bid on it. The guy who did the first deal and the guy who bid 9 piers on the second house. I ended up using the guy who bid 9 piers on the second house and have used him ever since. It was from him that I learned that most guys bidding the job gets commissions based on how many piers the house needed. Do you think a guy who makes $100 commission per pier might add in a few extra piers? I would say hell yes.

From looking at the pictures you showed that looks very minor to me. I have gotten very good at estimating foundation repairs. Before I have my guy out I usually make my guess and I have been dead on to his estimates most times. Of course that is just me looking at that one picture. That is why I say get a good company to evaluate the situation.

Another thing you can do is get a state certified engineer to evaluate it. They will charge you like $300 but you know he doesn't have any secret agenda to profit from you. He will most likely speak the truth on what you need.

Michael, this is a very good post. I stepped away from deal on a very nice house in San Antonio once because it had foundation problem which I didn't want to deal with, but having the knowledge is the key.

Michael, do you mind saying who you use? Your 9 pier guy?

its a brick home and they will shift like that. I have a brick home and its doing the same thing but its very very minor movement.

My neighbors brick ranch has it pretty bad on both sides.

ground moves, houses shift... not that big of a deal..

now.. what u have to consider is.. what are your plans? fix and sell? or fix and keep? if ur going to keep it.. a lil crack isn't going to hurt anything.

Also. .is it on a crawlspace, slab, or basement?

I'll never buy a house on a slab.

The for all the input guys. The house is a split level. The part of the house that is in the pictures is not above the basement, so I am guessing it is just a slab under there.

I would be trying to wholesale this house so I am really just trying to get an idea of what I need to estimate for repairs. I don't want to end up getting stuck with the home if I under estimate the repair and offer to much.

As one who buys wholesale properties, I would not buy this property without an EXACT fully guaranteed repair cost,,period. Could turn into can of worms. Rich

As Michael pointed out, and Eddie agreed, I can say that foundation issues usually scare most buyers and investors away. What does that mean to you? An OPPORTUNITY! So long as you have reliable experts on your team to identify EXACTLY what the problem is, what caused the problem, if it is ongoing, and what the costs are to repair.

The problem side, the money you put into it, is tough to get back out. Somewhat like a pool. They can cost $30k and up and you certainly dont get even half that in increased home value'. That said, you must get your money back on the buy end. In other words, pay much less for the home.
Hope that helps.

It definitely needs some foundation work... also, you need to look for someone who can dig out that filler they put in there and then refill it with a matching color to the rest of the home, being here in Dallas, we deal with this all of the time and for most people, it is a huge scare and run and never look back scenario but I have open arms to homes with foundation issues. I have a great foundation repair team that, when they are done with the job, you can't even tell there was ever an issue. Call a few places and have them come out with their electronic level and go room by room and then draw you a bid which will have a plan on it where they need to put the piers... it's not as scary as it seems. My guys do piers for $200 a piece and they go down until they hit rock so I know the piers are sturdy... as far as the inside is concerned, is it pier and beam or slab foundation? If it is pier and beam, you are in luck because it is much easier to fix if there are inside issues, if it is slab, interior piers are the suck but still nothing to make you run from a project... the walls are easily fixed AFTER the foundation is fixed and sits for 7 to 10 days, depending on the soil.

Originally posted by Jon Klaus:
Michael, do you mind saying who you use? Your 9 pier guy?

I don't know exactly how this forum works but can people private message me for his number?

To the original poster: As a wholesaler you will want to get a bid on that property. You will basically need to find a company who is sorta on your team. They will gladly do these foundation estimates for you on each house. The payback is that whoever buys the house from you will hopefully end up using them for the work.

In Philly we would stucco this over, or plant a bush in front of the crack. :)

I do estimates for a waterproofing company, we also do foundation work.
Where there is one crack there is always a seond or third crack, probably around the corner a bit. Helical piers are an option, I would suggest a concentrically loaded pie ring system. I see that they are stronger.
Someone correct me, an offset helical is like holding a gallon of milk at shoulder height with you are extended out. Our piers( my experience) is placed directly under the foundation. This like holding a gallon of milk close in to the chest. We push ours to 20 feet depth or until we hit bedrock, then build up to 4500 psi.
I charge $1250 for each pier. They are warren tied for the life of the structure as well. So from 1st crack around corner every 4 to 5 feet. I would think in Il you would have a crawlspace not a slab. Have inspector go into the crawl and check it from inside too.
Just my thoughts

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