In contract on home with settlement and drainage concerns

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bbrock
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In contract on home with settlement and drainage concerns

Post by bbrock » Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:53 pm

Hi,
Wife and I are in contract on a home. The situation is that the original buyer walked do to "personal reasons." We don't buy it. Regardless, we are reviewing the home inspection report, I have met and walked the home with the home inspector, and have had my contractor out there, but I still have my concerns. Additionally, the pest inspection was completed and a structural engineer was out check the foundation. The home was built in 1965 if I recall correctly.

The situation is that the home has some settlement concerns. In the left corner of the master bedroom there is some minor sloping of the floor, and also in the left side of the kitchen. The engineer said that the settlement is within acceptable limits. I spoke with him and asked about the risk of ongoing settlement if water if not drained well around the property and he stated that is could affect future settling. Sure, the current owner actively directs water from the downspouts away from the property, but it just seems like this is a band-aid fix. There is a concrete deck/patio in the back that was built right up flush to the vents around 3 of the homes vents, and the grading of the concrete is not sloped the best away from the home. The fact is that rain runoff would appear like it could get under the home. It can't be coincidental that the settling has occurred in the two corners of the home were these aforementioned vents are located. Additionally, the termite report showed there is dry-rot outside area around the left corner of the master bedroom (the stucco will be busted out, wood members replaced), and the home must be fumigated for termites due to finding dry-wood termites.

These findings, especially the potential for more settlement issues and the potentially poor drainage w/ some of the homes vents flush with the concrete deck, have gotten my wife and me very concerned if this is the home to move forward on. People are saying it is okay, but they are not the ones who will be living there and paying for problems to be corrected. Would you walk away on this property?
bbrock

harrychan
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Re: In contract on home with settlement and drainage concern

Post by harrychan » Wed Aug 28, 2013 7:22 pm

Go with your gut. Foundation issues are serious. Dry rot not so much.
This is not legal or certified financial advice but you know that already.

curmudgeon
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Re: In contract on home with settlement and drainage concern

Post by curmudgeon » Wed Aug 28, 2013 7:38 pm

Much of CA has expansive clay soils, and settlement is definitely a potential. Original builders were often sloppy about handling runoff from the roofs, just dumping it by the foundations. Most people have figured out over time that it is better to manage the runoff by keeping it away from the house (preferably dumping it into a drainage system, not just extending the downspouts).

This house seems to have survived for 50 years, it will probably last quite a while longer. Often times your choices around CA are: 1) older houses with assorted problems and dated appearance, 2) flips of those older houses which have updated looks but often sloppy workmanship and "papered over" other issues, 3) new construction with a long commute or tiny lots at high prices. Personally, I'd put more weight on location, lot, schools, etc.

It's obvious you are concerned about the issues, but most older houses will have a variety of things like this (either known or unknown). You have to compare not against the "perfect house", but against what your other options are on the market.

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Watty
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Re: In contract on home with settlement and drainage concern

Post by Watty » Wed Aug 28, 2013 8:30 pm

Would you walk away on this property?

In addition to buying it or not, a third option would be to ask for a reduced price based on what you know now.

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ClevrChico
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Re: In contract on home with settlement and drainage concern

Post by ClevrChico » Wed Aug 28, 2013 8:36 pm

Concrete leveling service could be used to slope the patio away from the house. I was quoted $500 for my patio.

bbrock
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Re: In contract on home with settlement and drainage concern

Post by bbrock » Wed Aug 28, 2013 9:06 pm

While we like this property, we just are questioning what's not seen. It seems like the only true fix would be to have a proper grade and drainage system installed on this property. The lot is 6157 sq. ft. I am not sure how much it could be to re-grade a concrete deck/patio, or have it ripped up, a drainage system installed, and a new deck poured. On top of these concerns is the fact that the house has to be fumigated for dry-wood termites before we move in. This is distressing because our boys are less than 5 mo. old, and even though its reported to be safe for all to enter the home after the specified waiting period, I seriously question the safety with two kids maturing neuro systems.
bbrock

SteveB3005
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Re: In contract on home with settlement and drainage concern

Post by SteveB3005 » Wed Aug 28, 2013 9:11 pm

After fifty years the settling is about done, you know what you have in this regard and this home doesn't seem bad. Are there a lot of repaired wall cracks, misaligned interior doors, or hard to open windows?

If not and I liked the house, I'd ask for concessions even if these conditions were on the disclosure list, and make the necessary adjustments for drainage and slope.

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Grandpaboys
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Re: In contract on home with settlement and drainage concern

Post by Grandpaboys » Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:14 am

If it were me and my wife we would walk away quick.
Good Day | GP

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soaring
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Re: In contract on home with settlement and drainage concern

Post by soaring » Thu Aug 29, 2013 5:21 am

I would walk away.

Don't know about the location but settling could turn into a sink hole. If you are in an area of sink holes you could have a test done to determine stability. however these test are expensive but maybe get the seller to pay.

In many areas of the country it isn't if you have termites but when you will get them. So again if you are in those parts of the US just expect it. You should get seller to pay for termite treatment, IMO, if you decide to buy.

Don't let your inspection period designated in the contract lapse or if you back out you likely won't get back your deposit regardless of condition.
Desiderata

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wageoghe
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Re: In contract on home with settlement and drainage concern

Post by wageoghe » Thu Aug 29, 2013 9:24 am

SteveB3005 wrote:After fifty years the settling is about done
Settling might be done, but if expansive soils are involved, then the house will probably move with each season. During the "dry" part of the year (summer for us), the expansive soils shrink, causing the foundation to want to settle. During the "wet" part of the year (winter for us), the expansive soils expand, causing the foundation to raise back up. The net effect is that cracks open in the summer and close in the winter. Doors and windows also stick seasonally. All of this movement makes any repair work or any work that requires a stable surface (like tile) to be an iffy proposition.

From the description of the property, I would recommend to keep looking. Unless you are willing to assume some potentially expensive repairs (like regrading, possibly replacing patio, etc), I would move along.

eharri3
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Re: In contract on home with settlement and drainage concern

Post by eharri3 » Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:38 am

It is good that the downspouts are set up well. The question is, has it ALWAYS been this way? Could be that up until they started getting it ready to sell it was the usual setup with the downspout terminating in that little elbow sending water down an 18 inch splash block and into soil that slopes back towards the house. Then maybe when the guy started getting advice on what needed to be done to get it ready one of the things his inspector told him to do was extend the downspouts. Bad down spouts and gutters is a known pet peave of home inspectors because it is an inexpensive issue to fix that can cause super-expensive problems.

There is some settlement in most homes as times pass. It can be worsened by excessive moisture in the soil or even by TOO LITTLE moisture if there are periods of extended draught. Expansive soils can also be an issue. When the soil is dug out for a foundation and then backfilled the soil immediately around the house can end up softer than the soil further out. We recently bought a 107 year old home where the inspector said there was some minor settlement and sloping of the floors over the years but it was to be expected with age. The foundation was still sound and whatever shifting the house was going to do had probably been done with a long time ago. The question is HOW MUCH settlement are you seeing and why, and is it a continuing settleemnt or has it stopped. Also, is it settling evenly or unevenly. IF the structural engineer and the home inspector said it looks OK right now, this is probably true. But the is there another problem that will cause the settlement to continue to a point where it is not acceptable anymore. Is there heavy rain in the forecase in your area any time soon? I would want to get a look at the inside and outside of this house during a downpour. You want to see where the water around the outside is going and what's going on in the basement. Is there a sump pump installed down there? Do all doors and windows operate properly? Any cracking of the walls anywhere?
Last edited by eharri3 on Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Jake46
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Re: In contract on home with settlement and drainage concern

Post by Jake46 » Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:51 am

Grandpaboys wrote:If it were me and my wife we would walk away quick.
+1

stan1
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Re: In contract on home with settlement and drainage concern

Post by stan1 » Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:36 am

OP is talking about a 1965 house in California, not Florida (sink holes), Seattle (rain) or Minnesota (heavy snow/freezing temps).

What this likely means: if this is a large urban area there are no new construction houses nearby, so buying a new house that doesn't have these issues is not possible without taking on a much longer commute which could lower quality of life. That's a trade off that each family needs to make. We generally do not have sink holes in CA, although we do have landslides and liquefaction. Drainage issues are common with CA houses, but the water is usually accumulating because of misaligned sprinklers which can be adjusted. It is common for houses in California to have gutters with downspouts connected to drains that run out to the curb. We often have wood frame houses in CA with stucco exteriors; some termite damage in a 45 year old house is common. We also don't get ice/frozen soil in many areas.

The devil is in the details. It's hard to know whether these are minor issues or major issues. All I'll say is that these sound like routine issues with a 10, 20, 45 or 80 year old house in CA. Also remember that the home inspector's job is to find issues, and remember that there are many things the inspector doesn't look at. You should be able to ask him if the issues are major or minor, and he should be able to tell you what would need to be done to solve the problem.

bbrock
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Re: In contract on home with settlement and drainage concern

Post by bbrock » Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:43 pm

Even if the settlement has stopped and we take care of the potentially expensive re-grading and concrete deck/patio rebuild, it doesn't change that the home has to be fumigated for termites. I pulled the prior report back in 2006 on this property and it showed that dry wood termites were found at that time and it was recommended to have the house fumigated. Now it doesn't sit well with me that the current owner deferred the fumigation until now. That is 6 years for the termites to continue spreading and munching away at the house. We only can guess about what the integrity of the wood is in the stuccoed walls. Add to that that we are bringing our two 5 month old twins into the freshly fumigated home and it makes us uneasy. I searched and there was limited research on the health effects of Vikane gas and infants. But, what was read showed that it can negatively affect neurological development. I am not sure if any effects can be mitigated by staying out of the home longer post fumigation.

All in all, it just feels like a dicey situation.
bbrock

SteveB3005
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Re: In contract on home with settlement and drainage concern

Post by SteveB3005 » Thu Aug 29, 2013 1:51 pm

I need to get better at determining what people want to hear.

bbrock
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Re: In contract on home with settlement and drainage concern

Post by bbrock » Thu Aug 29, 2013 2:09 pm

Steveb3005, not sure what u r referring to, nor do I c how your comment has any relevance. This is not a forum for irresponsible or inconsiderate comments.
bbrock

stan1
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Re: In contract on home with settlement and drainage concern

Post by stan1 » Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:31 pm

bbrock wrote:Even if the settlement has stopped and we take care of the potentially expensive re-grading and concrete deck/patio rebuild, it doesn't change that the home has to be fumigated for termites. I pulled the prior report back in 2006 on this property and it showed that dry wood termites were found at that time and it was recommended to have the house fumigated. Now it doesn't sit well with me that the current owner deferred the fumigation until now. That is 6 years for the termites to continue spreading and munching away at the house. We only can guess about what the integrity of the wood is in the stuccoed walls. Add to that that we are bringing our two 5 month old twins into the freshly fumigated home and it makes us uneasy. I searched and there was limited research on the health effects of Vikane gas and infants. But, what was read showed that it can negatively affect neurological development. I am not sure if any effects can be mitigated by staying out of the home longer post fumigation.

All in all, it just feels like a dicey situation.
If you dont' want the house, pass and keep looking. I think you will find that other houses of that age in California are in very similar (if not worse) condition. It is unclear what action you want to take with the fumigation? You could decide not to fumigate. You could fumigtate and keep the kids away from the house for some period of days, weeks, or months that makes you fell comfortable. What would you do if you already owned a house and determined that it needed to be fumigated? I doubt you would move out and sell it because it needed to be fumigated.

curmudgeon
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Re: In contract on home with settlement and drainage concern

Post by curmudgeon » Fri Aug 30, 2013 2:20 am

Many, if not most, houses in California will have had drywood termites at some point or another. They aren't nearly as destructive as subterranean termites, and many people will not bother much about them until it comes time to sell; if they treat them when first found, there's a good likelihood that either there will be a re-infestation by the time they go to sell or the inspector will find the old evidence and recommend tenting anyway. I suspect it would be rare to find a house over 20 years old here that hasn't been gassed at least once for termite treatment unless it is still owned by original owners. There are alternative treatments to tenting, but they don't tend to be as effective. If you are living in an apartment now, I suspect there is equally nasty stuff being used around it on a regular basis.

Buying a house is a big commitment, and it can be easy to get hung up on stuff like this, especially for a first-time buyer. This kind of situation is part of the reason why I see people on real-estate boards complaining about how they offered $20K more than the next (cash) bidder, but the seller chose the cash buyer over their financing+other contingency higher offer. If it is a seller's market, sellers don't want to get hung up in a deal that may never close because the buyer gets cold feet and/or wants to negotiate over every issue.

It can be hard if you are new to the area, and don't have experience with home ownership; even more so if you don't at least have family members or trusted friends with that experience. Over the internet, we really can't be good judges of which conditions may be overblown in an inspection report, and which might be truly difficult or expensive problems.

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