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Old 02-01-2014, 07:30 AM
551 posts, read 753,575 times
Reputation: 393


Our inspection found the living room sloping when he walked it and went down into the crawl space and found the i beam sagging. He said the foundation had normal cracks because of its age but needed to be raised to remove the sagging by the i beam. He believed the cause was a crack caused by normal age but the Crack was in a bad spot near the I beam. The house was built in 1970. Here is no basement.

In response we had 2 estimates done for free. We have not called out a structural engineer yet.

The first guy said it would require epoxy injection and reinforcement and did not recommend raising the house since it would damage the second floor living room. He said the root cause was the i beam being built on a angle in original construction. He was at the house 20 minutes. He gave an estimate of 750 bucks with lifetime warranty. They have good reviews and have been in business 45 years. We asked the inspector what he thought of the estimate and he said he never heard of a house being built on an angle.

The second guy said the slope in the living room and the sagging were due to a fireplace being rebuilt recently he also said part of the problem was a recent drought. He was there for an hour did lots of measurements and ran the septic tank. So in addition to the epoxy like the original guy, he recommended the fireplace reinforced with 2 piers but he said he foresaw huge problems in 5 years if there is another drought in chicago. He recommended another 10 piers of reinforcement. If not, windows and doors would not shut etc. total bill 38k. They also have had good reviews.

Our realtor thinks the second estimate is overkill she thinks its reasonable to have piers by the fireplace but in her own words, there is no need to have 10 additional piers unless we are going to have 2 elephants as pets. She thinks the guy is looking to get paid. She asked did we want to walk away or get another opinion, we said we don't know yet. Does anyone know what our next steps should be? This is becoming a headache but the same token the last guy could be full of it. We have had 3 different opinions!

We can blow 500 bucks or more on a structural engineer, but will he know more than these guys?
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Old 02-01-2014, 09:03 AM
Location: Johns Creek, GA
14,618 posts, read 55,053,541 times
Reputation: 17708
There's obviously structural issues with this house- and they are quirky enough that from two different repair companies you get two "very different" repair scenarios.

Your RE agent is walking a very thin line with those types of responses. The housing debacle ain't over; keep looking. I'm sure there are plenty of other choices.
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Old 02-01-2014, 09:07 AM
Location: Simmering in DFW
6,955 posts, read 20,727,727 times
Reputation: 7229
Yes, get a structural engineer to look at it. Worth $500 for sure!
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Old 02-01-2014, 09:11 AM
3,126 posts, read 6,176,453 times
Reputation: 7085
Sounds like one guy was estimating the cost to stabilize the immediate problem while the other one estimated a permanent robust repair.

Now if you owned the house already and then discovered the problem you might well do something in between.

Personally I would not purchase this kind of problem.
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Old 02-01-2014, 09:21 AM
551 posts, read 753,575 times
Reputation: 393
What if the owners offer to fix...I know long shot
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Old 02-01-2014, 09:35 AM
Location: Johns Creek, GA
14,618 posts, read 55,053,541 times
Reputation: 17708
Originally Posted by jobseeker2013 View Post
What if the owners offer to fix...I know long shot
"This" is the bottomline-

Originally Posted by rational1 View Post
...I would not purchase this kind of problem.
Keyword being "purchase".
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Old 02-01-2014, 09:49 AM
Location: Columbia SC
11,730 posts, read 9,964,341 times
Reputation: 17232
Just walk on by, wait on the corner.
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Old 02-01-2014, 09:51 AM
20,793 posts, read 56,548,058 times
Reputation: 10622
My first thought is "what else did the owners "improve" that you don't know about yet?? If the house is worth fixing, by all means do that, but I would either knock down the offer price to reflect the repair cost, or request that the costs for the repair be put in escrow.
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Old 02-01-2014, 10:03 AM
Location: US Empire, Pac NW
5,008 posts, read 11,321,573 times
Reputation: 4125
My thoughts are this:

Your realtor is trying to sell you a house and get a commission. Plain and simple.

Your inspector doesn't need to be licensed or have certifications to operate. It's a glaring issue in the whole cottage industry of home inspection. And there are good and bad inspectors.

So I wouldn't trust either one of em for a technical opinion that a professional structural engineer or licensed, bonded and insured professional are qualified to give.

Hire a structural engineer to look at the whole house if you're really worried but love the house. I'm an engineer with a background in mechanics and let me tell you, I wouldn't even consider buying the house at this point. Droughts have happened in Chicago for decades and the vast majority of houses would not have issues with them. Sounds like either the house was built incorrectly or the old owner did a stupid mistake and didn't reinforce the area around his fireplace to "beautify" the house. I agree with the second estimate, I wouldn't raise the foundation for fear of damaging the upper floors and possibly other members in the house. You could just be going from really bad to knockdown-house scenarios.

Here's another question: would you buy a used car that you knew that it needed $2000 in repairs? I wouldn't. Be glad your inspector found it and was honest about the issue. Move on. There's plenty of nice homes in the Chicago area.
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Old 02-01-2014, 10:15 AM
28,461 posts, read 76,209,993 times
Reputation: 18535
Not enough info to really decide why the two firms are so VERY VERY VERY far apart.

I live in suburban Chicago and unlike places in Texas or other areas with soils that can destroy foundations the vast majority of our region has STABLE soils that are very forgiving even in dry conditions, in fact this past summer was EXCEPTIONALLY wet! My gut says the home in question has an improperly graded lot I would bet that the overland flooding is a far bigger threat to most homes on crawl type foundations than any drought!

I agree that $38K is an outrageously high price to quote for any kind or "repairs" to a crawlspace foundation. I have literally built new houses on a full basement and paid less than that to the excavation / foundation contractors.

I further doubt that there is any reason to think that overpriced estimates are a sign of anything being "more robust" or a longer term a fix.
There are "bad apple" contractors that get "good reviews" from people that do not know anything about how repairs are supposed to be done -- got to take these with skeptical view: I have seen more "good reviews" posted about car dealers that over charge idiots but make it easy for losers to get high interest loans with bad credit than honest car dealers that tell folks with crummy credit the bad news about what they can really afford!

I would interview several licensed Professional Engineers and tell them upfront that you have two very different estimates that are literally more than 50x apart! You want a engineer that will evaluate the true problems and suggest solutions that are both cost effective and long lasting. A qualified engineer ought to be able to look at the current framing and foundation and explain if there truly is any need to pour a forest of piers. You want to HIRE the engineer that will agree to deliver a report that has the outline of the solution for $500 or so, realize that if you need to move forward and get permits / site supervision that might mean additional payment to the engineering firm as much as 20% of the total job... I frankly would probably walk away if that was the case unless this house in well over $500k and even then I would question the resale of a place in the Chicago region w/o a basement... If repairs to the improper beam and maybe some reinforcement to the foundation of the fireplace are what is needed I suspect that could be done for well under $5000 and that probably makes this a smarter option IF a qualified engineer makes a full assessment of the whole range of problems.

Last edited by chet everett; 02-01-2014 at 10:31 AM..
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