Should You Buy a House with Foundation Repairs?
Purchasing a home could be the biggest financial investment you'll make, so you want to make sure you do it right. While you are shopping around for the best option, you are likely to run across some tempting real estate with potential problems that make you reconsider. One possibility is a home that has recently undergone foundation repair. Although you may love the house, you may be a bit wary of putting in an offer on a place with this type of history. Consider it carefully when deciding whether to purchase this type of home.
Sometimes a Good Thing
Foundation or other structural repairs to a home should not make you shy away from buying a home---sometimes. It can actually be a good thing to know that a home has undergone foundation repair as long as you know it was done right. If everything else about the house is appealing to you and the price is right, then all you must do is check out the quality of the work done to put your mind at ease. Find out who completed the repairs and check on the contractor to make sure it is a reputable company. Make sure the repairs have a transferable warranty so that if there are any immediate future problems you will not be stuck with the repair bill. Often these types of repairs, when done correctly, can mean the home is stronger than it was when it was originally built.
Get an Inspection
You should never buy a house with suspected foundation problems or that has had its foundation recently repaired without having a qualified neutral party complete a thorough inspection. The inspection should include collection of information on site conditions, building movement, cracks, shifts and any potential for future danger or costly damage. If an inspector completes this survey and sees no major problems with the house then you can significantly decrease your concerns over potential foundation problems following the purchase. You will likely have to pay for this inspection unless you have an offer contingent upon the successful inspection. But it is better to hire an inspector yourself so that you can trust the results.
If the house you wish to buy has obvious cracks in the walls, floors or ceiling, this can be a red flag. No matter how old the house is, cracks are not a natural part of an aging home. According to the Inspectapedia website, if there are cracks in the structure, something abnormal has caused it and it could be the foundation. If the seller admits that the house has undergone structural repairs to fix the problem, then there should be no new cracks and evidence of the repairs. The only cracks that may not be worthy of concern are hairline cracks in basement walls. Still, it's best to ask about any blemishes of this nature.
Sellers Who Agree to Repair
The seller may be eager to strike a deal with you, agreeing to pay for needed repairs prior to closing. This can be acceptable as long as you take an active role in the repair process. You should not buy a house if you are willing to let the seller handle the repairs on his own. Assume a faulty foundation needs a dozen piers according to one contractor, but another says six piers will do the job for half the price. If left up to the seller, he may opt to save the money, costing you in the long run.