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  1. #1
    Sheree Chalfant's Avatar
    Sheree Chalfant Guest

    Default Extensive water-damaged floor joists dipping. . .

    We live in a neighborhood known for its tall oaks, mature landscaping and privacy—the homes were built from the mid-sixties through mid-eighties. A few days ago my husband and I toured a house for sale down the lane that has been on the market quite a while, but was recently drastically reduced from 179K to 129K—in one shot.

    Built in 1973, it's a full-brick, 3,300 sq ft ranch nestled in the middle of one acre. The lot gradually slopes upward about 1/3 acre to where the house sits—so it's a decent distance from the street; the house and back yard remains flat until a three-foot stone retaining wall expands the entire width of the rear property.

    Thanks to the bursted housing bubble nationwide, homes in our neighborhood have dropped in value over the past few years. Yet even so, nothing in this area has sold for less than $200,000 over the past six months—I'd say the average has been around $255,000—and all three houses were less square footage and lot size than the house I'm writing about.

    Reducing a house fifty thousand dollars—dropping it by almost 30% at one clip says: "GUESS WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME!" Or....it could be screaming, "OPPORTUNITY of a LIFETIME!."

    So we went to see it and here's the problem as explained by the 85 yr old original owner:

    YEARS ago there was a water leak under the house. Apparently a faulty A/C unit in the crawl space, saturated the floor joists of the room(s) above. What I don't follow is how an A/C unit (or whatever the apparatus was that leaked water) could cause such extensive joist damage as to be evident in the living room, entry foyer, both front bedrooms and master bedroom at the end of the hall/house. (All locations lie in line with each other on the frontside of the house except the M/B at the end and the damaged floor seems to be on the backyard side of the M/B).

    The slope of the floor is noticeable and walking over the damaged areas is weird, weird weird. (My husband straddled a floor joist a couple years ago while building a deck, so I suggested he should perhaps walk with each foot directly infront of the other—insuring if he fell through maybe this time he wouldn't pass out on impact.)

    He didn't see the humor and instead lightly bounced here and there pointing "See"....or...."Look at this. Unbelievable." In the entry foyer his bouncing seemed to cause an interior wall to move. I'm not convinced however that the wall actually swayed, but that the vibration from his bouncing jostled the pictures similar to what can happen anytime there's heavy banging in a house.

    Regardless, there's no question the house has serious issues. But....BUT, aside from having a structural engineer inspect the crawl space and floor joists, sills and walls. . .what else should we consider IF we move forward and make an offer?

    Who best can determine not only the extent of the damage, but also the estimated cost and feasibility of removing and replacing rotted joists, and laying new sub-flooring and hardwood?

    Unbelievable opportunity? Or Asinine Contemplation?

    Thanks everyone.

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Extensive water-damaged floor joists dipping. . .

    You'll also want to get a very good termite/pest person in there to go over every joist. The last house I inspected with problem floors like that had severe active termite and powder post beetle infestation.
    But yes, get a structural engineer in there before making any offer.

    Welmoed Sisson
    Inspections by Bob, LLC, Boyds, MD
    "Given sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine."

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Extensive water-damaged floor joists dipping. . .

    Sheree,

    I wouldn't get a structural person in there until you get a home inspection.
    The home inpector is the best person to refer you to other experts, if necessary. A structural expert will cost you a lot of money which may not be necessary.

    In addition to your observation of the floor frame, Homes that age can have other issues that a buyer would need to deal with or understand how they impact your decision.

    You should first get a home inspection done. The inspector will provide you with a better understanding of all issues. After which you can then determine if other inspections are necessary or if the cost of repairs will make the final price of the home too expensive for the neighborhood.

    Good luck!

    Ken Amelin
    Cape Cod's Best Inspection Services
    www.midcapehomeinspection.com

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Extensive water-damaged floor joists dipping. . .

    I would start with the basics first, before worrying about how much it may cost.

    Get it inspected by a local inspector, and also get a WDO or WDI (pest/termite) inspection. That should give you the information needed about who to call in next.

    My advice...ignore everything the seller/owner has told you, and proceed as if you know nothing.


  5. #5
    Sheree Chalfant's Avatar
    Sheree Chalfant Guest

    Default Re: Extensive water-damaged floor joists dipping. . .

    Thanks everyone for your suggestions which are certainly appreciated. I should have clarified that my husband and I are experienced with real estate transactions and would only make an offer on this property with a contingency contract based upon certain inspections taking place to our satisfaction—like Home, termite, mold/lead/radon/asbestos, etc—and only after these results and findings were acceptable to us would we commit to a bottom-line dollar amount.

    I mentioned a Structural Engineer simply because we're leery of solely relying on a "regular" home inspection, no matter how thorough, when it comes to the possibility of domino-effect damage having already spread from the rotted floor joists to load-bearing walls and further. . .into this or onto that. Oy vey! A nightmare it could be. . .

    Lastly I agree we should proceed as if the Owner never-ever uttered a peep as to what occurred under the house to cause such damage. However, in the same breath, it's human nature to scream out, "What on Earth happened here?" while simultaneously grabbing for a chair back or piece of sturdy furniture after the living room floor unexpectedly dips.

    I guess my hope with this post was to gather information about the floor joist rot more so than which inspections to get. We're not accustomed to floors dropping out from under us.

    Thanks again to those of you who took time to read my original post, this one....and then to comment.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Extensive water-damaged floor joists dipping. . .

    If you're referring to 202 Labans Ln.

    Your facts and the listing statistics are not correct, this property has a history, and isn't a deal at $129K (the listed price since October 2011). You're grossly overvaluing the neighborhood, and the residence is older than the first year it was fully assessed post construction.

    Forest Hill Subdivision building some lots early and mid 50s. Restrictions & Covenants. Earliest homes had septic, City Sewer wasn't in place, then elective connections. Thats your starting point.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 05-09-2012 at 07:01 PM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Extensive water-damaged floor joists dipping. . .

    HG, where did you get the house info???? I didn't see an address in the first post.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Extensive water-damaged floor joists dipping. . .

    Let me offer you a perspective from someone who has been there, done that.

    Run.

    I bought a house that was back on the market with a $40k price drop. I still overpaid - and I bought at only $15k over the value of the land. You have no idea how much systemic structural defects can cascade and affect the entire structure. I've had to rebuild nearly everything in my house (granted it's quite a bit older than the house you're looking at) from the foundation up to the roof. I have electrical and contracting experience - and a plumber in the family - and I'm just coming out even having only paid for the materials. If the damage really is that extensive I'd suggest looking solely at the land value and thinking about what kind of home you would want to build on that property, because if it's anything like mine, that's what you'll be doing.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Extensive water-damaged floor joists dipping. . .

    Watson, I've seen you post addresses a couple times now. In my opinion (little though it's worth to you), I think it's an invasion of privacy, and unnecessary for getting your point across. People don't always want their thoughts about specific real estate transactions made public.

    Do not think of knocking out another person's brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.
    - James Burgh, 1754.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Extensive water-damaged floor joists dipping. . .

    Conditional statement (logic), 'IF" ->"THEN"; Exemplar, public.

    applied Nuance -> OP, OT; evidently successfully OYH.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 05-14-2012 at 07:26 AM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Extensive water-damaged floor joists dipping. . .

    Bring in a good contractor to bid a complete job. Add 40% to bid. Then add for agrevation. Anything can be repaired; its just a matter of cost. If the deal sems to good to be true, it may be a money pit.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Extensive water-damaged floor joists dipping. . .

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    Conditional statement (logic), 'IF" ->"THEN"; Exemplar, public.

    applied Nuance -> OP, OT; evidently successfully OYH.
    Wow, you're right, you succeeded - whatever logic you used here is over my head. You must be awfully smart if you can make a simple "if...then" statement so abstruse and grammatically bizarre as to be incomprehensible...but then, you excel at deliberately making simple statements incomprehensible. "Applied Nuance," how impressive.

    Do not think of knocking out another person's brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.
    - James Burgh, 1754.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Extensive water-damaged floor joists dipping. . .

    Here's my guess:
    H.G. looked up her name, which is quite unique, discovered the town she lived in, and looked at real estate in that town within the price range and with the history suggested by the original post.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Extensive water-damaged floor joists dipping. . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Corn Walker View Post
    Here's my guess:
    H.G. looked up her name, which is quite unique, discovered the town she lived in, and looked at real estate in that town within the price range and with the history suggested by the original post.
    Nope. He's got a little green buddy with a big head that flies him around the globe spying on us all.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Extensive water-damaged floor joists dipping. . .

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Nope. He's got a little green buddy with a big head that flies him around the globe spying on us all.

    Do they use "Black Helicopters" ?
    I know Ross no longer sees them anymore.


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