First Time Home Buyer: Foundation Questions
Hello Biggerpockets community, was recommended to try this forum out for some guidance. My fiance and I are interested in a home in the Baker area. We placed an offer for 10k under asking and it was accepted same day.
Home details: The home was built in 1890. Is completely renovated and fits all the things we are looking for. 3 bd, 2 ba, 1742 sqft (including unfinished basement, aprox 1450 without). Really nicely landscaped back yard with fairly new 2 car garage. Ideal walkable location for us. Really, couldn't be a better fit.
However, once we got the inspection report back, there were a few concerns about the foundation. There was an official report from 2007 requesting improvements to the foundation and the letter explaining the repairs pretty carefully did not mention that the repairs that had been done were to code. I have attached some photos below to show the added structural supports/columns. There is a retention wall in the basement that shows signs of degredation as well as many of the supports were simply done with 2x4's. Some of the old wood work looks like there are signs of deterioration as well. All of the additional supports do not have any foundational component and are either wood sitting dirrectly on the concrete slab or using these little cinderblock stabilizers. Nothing is stabilized below the frost line. In those back areas, there is very low height for access. On the side of the house with the failing retaining wall in the basement, there is about 2 ft of clearance between our house's wall and the neighbors with extremely limited access. There are signs of water damage to the foundation as well which makes sense as there was not an affective water runnoff system.
I know it is extremely difficult without being able to see the area for yourselves, but what is a reasonable expectation of costs to replace/repair the retention wall, reinforce the foundation supports, excavate and stabilize the other supports as needed. The only access to the basement is through a tiny door in the kitchen and due to the extremely low height of these areas, I'm assuming cost of labor would be expensive. We had an engineer come in and are waiting for his official report but he explained that it would likely be a premium cost for the foundational repairs needed.
I attached photos from the inspection report as well as some that I took personally along with some of the quotes from the inspector. The engineer just came through today and re-iterated the same issues but I will not have his report until Monday. I asked him what a general quote would be and he said for sure in the 5 figures.
**HOW BIG OF A RED FLAG ARE ALL OF THESE ISSUES?** HOW MUCH WOULD REPAIRS LIKE THIS COST IN METRO DENVER AREA?**
If there is any information that would help clarify the situation/make more sense I am happy to edit and add. Thank you for your time/consideration.
"Moisture and dirt are entering the basement near the stairwell"
"Additional support columns/beams lack visible hardward securing them into place"
Engineer noted there is no structural component dug below freezing level on any of these supports which would need to be done to get the foundation supports to code
"Signs of water penetration noted on the basement walls"
Picture showing proximity of nextdoor house
"The soil slopes towards the foundation, or is flat, and must be corrected to prevent water from finding its way to the foundation" (This is the side of the house with the failing retention wall in the basement and has extremely limited access) The engineer recommended potentially just paving cement between the houses to seal it and recommended against a french drain as installing it would go below the level of the foundation already.
Runoff drains with no extensions away from house
"Noticeable bulging of faux brick covering foundation"
Welcome to BiggerPockets!
Once you receive a quote on repairs, you can walk away (if still in your inspection period based on rules in Colorado) or request concessions from the seller to repair or reduce the cost of the home.
This may not be something you want to take on and it will be okay to walk away. (The juice may not be worth the squeeze.) There will another great property out there for you.
If you let your emotions get involved (not saying you are), you may make a decision you’ll regret in the long run.
I wish you all the best.
Foundation issues are very common in our area due to expansive soils (bentonite volcanic-ash clay that expands when it gets wet and shrinks when it dries, especially bad in certain locations on the W side of Denver, parts of Golden and Superior). Most homes of that vintage in this area will show some signs of settling (and many of them have had mickey-mouse repairs done on them like this one appears to have had). Hopefully your buyer's agent referred you to a good structural engineer, now ask them for a few good contractors in order to get an idea of what you'll be looking at for repair costs, then go from there. Nobody on here can give you accurate info on pricing in this situation unfortunately, you'll need to rely on your structural engineer and repair contractors for this, then make a judgement call on your own. Good luck!
We just closed on a 1900s house with similar foundation issues. We brought a structural engineer out to give us numbers on what kind of repair risk we were taking on which cost about $400 to get him out there. A report would have been $225 but we ultimately did not need the formal report. Using his assessment we were able ascertain that the cost to even start addressing the foundation issues would be 10-20k in our case, and to fully replace the affected portion of the foundation and wall would be up to 100k. Using his estimated we were able to renegotiate the price down by $28k to account for the need for future repairs.
That said, ANY 100 year old foundation is going to have issues, and even if it looks bad it may have settled (I mean it did last a century). No idea if our situation would shed light onto yours, but if you need contact info for a structural engineer I have two names I can share, DM me if needed.
I just Had some foundation repairs done involving the foundation walls shearing off the footing. The repairs Involved bolting steel I-Beams in place about every 5', and cost around $1000 for each beam.
Your foundation and issues appear different than the ones I just repaired. Also I can't say for sure from the pictures, but it is unlikely those 2x4s are sufficient, even if temporary. I'm buying a property now which had some 2x4s placed to support sagging floors, and one of those 2x4s is so bent that im suprised it hasnt snapped, its basically C shaped lol. Don't wait until that happens to yours!
But most hardware stores sell adjustable steel columns that are easily installed. Though those are generally considered temporary repairs, but can hold far more load than the 2x4s. Those adjustable steel columns are usually less than $100 each and may be a suitable substitute until you can get an engineer approved permanent repair completed.
But no matter what you do you'll want to controll the water first.
Let me know what your engineer prescribes, I'm curious to their solutions.