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  1. #1
    Wenjuan Bi's Avatar
    Wenjuan Bi Guest

    Default Should I buy a house with horizontal crack in basement

    Hi, all,

    I have just had an inspector check one house I have made an offer. There are some minor problems but a major problem he found is a long horizontal crack on the rear wall of the basement. He suspected it was caused by external water pressure. The seller claimed the crack has been there when he moved in in 2006. And his inspector said the crack might be caused by improper backfill in the process of construction. The house was built in 1987.

    Our inspector also noticed that the drainage system has been destroyed by a tree in the front yard. But the owner has installed a new drainage system so the drainage system should have big issue now.

    The house is probably one mile from a river. There are several trees in the back yard. A cherry blossom tree is quite close to the real wall of the house, just up the wall with crack. The soil there is also a little damp.

    I have attached the pictures here. I was wondering whether the problem could be very serious. Is it reasonable to have the seller to hire a structure engineer to check the wall? (We have spent 400 on inspection and do not want to waste another 300 if we finally have to walk away.) If the engineer judges that it is not a big issue, will the crack greatly influence the resale value of the house? If I seal and repaint the area, can the problems be solved and the crack be hidden?

    I appreciate any advice from you!

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Memphis TN.
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    4,311

    Default Re: Should I buy a house with horizontal crack in basement

    Quote Originally Posted by Wenjuan Bi View Post
    Hi, all,

    I have just had an inspector check one house I have made an offer. There are some minor problems but a major problem he found is a long horizontal crack on the rear wall of the basement. He suspected it was caused by external water pressure. The seller claimed the crack has been there when he moved in in 2006. And his inspector said the crack might be caused by improper backfill in the process of construction. The house was built in 1987.

    Our inspector also noticed that the drainage system has been destroyed by a tree in the front yard. But the owner has installed a new drainage system so the drainage system should have big issue now.

    The house is probably one mile from a river. There are several trees in the back yard. A cherry blossom tree is quite close to the real wall of the house, just up the wall with crack. The soil there is also a little damp.

    I have attached the pictures here. I was wondering whether the problem could be very serious. Is it reasonable to have the seller to hire a structure engineer to check the wall? (We have spent 400 on inspection and do not want to waste another 300 if we finally have to walk away.) If the engineer judges that it is not a big issue, will the crack greatly influence the resale value of the house? If I seal and repaint the area, can the problems be solved and the crack be hidden?

    I appreciate any advice from you!
    You could patch and paint to hide the crack but the bulge will not go away.

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  3. #3
    Darrel Hood's Avatar
    Darrel Hood Guest

    Default Re: Should I buy a house with horizontal crack in basement

    Your inspector correctly identified the condition, and based on what is visible, identified the probable cause. From that point, it is your role to investigate and determine the appropriate action. Your investigation has put you into the position of choosing whether to believe the seller's answer or not. It's your decision. That decision drives the decision about hiring an engineer or walking away.

    However, if once you hire the engineer you are going to be reluctant to walk away because of money already spent . . . your best choice is walk away now.

    Also, keep in mind that the engineer can only see what the inspector saw, and identify a probable cause. If you are a person who will always have a nagging feel because of the uncertainty, this may not be the right purchase for you.


  4. #4
    Darrel Hood's Avatar
    Darrel Hood Guest

    Default Re: Should I buy a house with horizontal crack in basement

    Second thoughts:
    1. If the seller's analysis is correct, no owner has painted the crack in 25 years?
    2. The original closing on the home occurred with this questionable, possibly structural, visible defect. New home buyers in my area are pickier than that.
    3. During new construction in Ohio, would there not have been a painter touch up step prior to the original closing?
    4. If the crack was touched up prior to the original closing, there has been post construction movement to re-open the crack. It may have been long ago, but it occurred.

    In my opinion, the seller's scenario is not the most probable scenario. It is probably what the seller was told.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Orlando, FL
    Posts
    1,339

    Default Re: Should I buy a house with horizontal crack in basement

    FWIW: I doubt you'd get an engineer to evaluate your foundation for only $300. Either get all the data necessary to decide, or pull out now if you have doubts. Once you sign, it's your problem.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    2,797

    Default Re: Should I buy a house with horizontal crack in basement

    One advantage of having an SE evaluate that foundation wall is that they would be able to design a repair, based on which you can then determine repair cost for negotiation with the seller.

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  7. #7
    Wenjuan Bi's Avatar
    Wenjuan Bi Guest

    Default Re: Should I buy a house with horizontal crack in basement

    Hi, Darrel, thanks for your meticulous analysis! It makes more sense. Since I have had nagging feeling for two days so I might better walk away right now. And I appreciate all the kind responses. I am an unknowledgeable first-time home buyer. Your advices here really help!


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Caledon, Ontario
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    5,005

    Default Re: Should I buy a house with horizontal crack in basement

    .. and sometimes, a disappointment is a blessing


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