Author Topic: Deciding whether to proceed with house purchase after inspection - advice please  (Read 1413 times)

Sibley

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Had the inspection yesterday, and my brain is trying to recover! There's a mountain of small stuff in the inspection and some bigger stuff. I'd like some of your experience with the bigger stuff. Note: sorry about the terminology, I don't know these words.

House: 409 N Elmer St, Griffith, IN (for pictures, etc)

Issue #1: The basement. The big beam that goes down the center of the basement and the first floor sits on it (wood version of Ibeam)? It's a little too small for the house (2 2x10s), and doesn't have enough support poles. So it's sagging. Also, the pieces of wood that go perpendicular to the big beam and the floor sits on - some of those have had some damage, etc and were about 95% correctly sistered to a new board. I THINK that if I add 1-2 more 2x10s to the big beam & properly attach together, add support poles, and adjust the sistering so it's right (need some more, and bolting rather than nails), that would help with the sagging and more importantly, stabilize for the future. Your thoughts? Any ball parks on price?

Issue #2: The siding is actually ok, except that it was installed wrong. You're supposed to overlap pieces by a few inches, and they did an inch or less. There are some gaps, missing pieces at the very top, etc. Can this be fixed? Or does it need to be re-sided?

I'm just trying to determine if I want to proceed with the purchase of the house. The rest of it is small stuff or clearly defined and I know what needs to be done. These are out of my experience.

justchecking

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How old is the house?  The answer to this is very important to the structural problems.  Also, how bad is the sagging and can you live with it the way it is or are you hoping to correct it?

Abe

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Sagging is pretty common for houses that aren't as well built as they should be. Some is to be expected in older wood-frame houses. Whether that will lead to structural instability is another question that you may want to get examined by an engineer. Is the damage to the joists (the small boards supported by the beam) water or termite-related? If so, that'd be a deal-breaker for me. You are looking at several thousand dollars to fix this problem properly.

ChpBstrd

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Unless the house has sagged several inches, these sound like minor issues. But that might be because I've fixed these kinds of things before.

For the center beam, I'd build piers of concrete blocks and wood blocks at the lowest points of the sagging, and put the fattest hydraulic semi truck bottle jack I could rent or buy secondhand on each pier (on wood, not a concrete block). Jack the old center beam boards up until your laser level shows the FLOOR joists within a half inch or so of level, both with each other and longways. The center beam may remain warped and gaps may form between it and the floor joists. That's OK, and we have a plan for it. The whole house will creak and groan horribly while you do this, debris will fall on your head, you will think of dying in a building collapse, and it will be quite terrifying. But have some courage - you're fine. Get the floor joists level and then permanently attach new 2x10s to each side of the old 2x10s (e.g. nail gun, and/or impact drill and lag screws). The new, straight 2x10s will support any floor joists that are now gapping from the warped old 2x10s! Finally, remove the jack and its base.

Last step, buy a bunch of new 2x6s or 2x8s (whatever your floor joists are) and nailgun them to the sides of the old, damaged floor joists, ensuring that the ends rest on the foundation sill and the center beam. Some creativity will be necessary around plumbing, nails, and wires, and you'll need to knock out and replace the cross-bracing (just use segments of the new lumber for cross braces).

If you want even more stiffness and don't mind losing head space, nail a 2x4 flat against the bottom of the floor joists and/or a 2x8 against the bottom of the center beam. As the joists attempt to bow, they pull tension on these flat boards.

The siding issue is a matter of replacing rotted or missing boards as needed, but that's the story of more-carefully installed wood siding too. You'll have to special order the pattern. This might also present the perfect opportunity to blow cellulose into the walls or rerun electrical wires, as desired, while the wall cavity can be reached into. In other words, a very small mostly cosmetic issue that is also an opportunity.

Personally, I'd use the sagging thing as a hard core negotiation tactic to drive the price way down - at least 8-10k, and be done with the DIY fix in 2-3 weeks of evenings plus $1k materials and rentals. These are easy issues that just look hard. I had to lie on my belly with 10 inches of room last time I did an in situ floor support job!

Note that you might have to fix wall cracks and sand down doors after the job, and that the leveling job will be easier before you move all your heavy stuff in.

Sibley

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The original house was built in 1890. There was an addition at some point (date unknown), and a massive remodel in the late 90's or early 2000s. The remodel resulted in a new foundation (good shape), and the undersized center beam.

Sagging is at the worst about 2 inches. I don't mind some sag, but this is a bit extreme. The fix would ideally reverse some of the sag, but it's not going to be level and that's ok.

The siding is actually vinyl. Wood I know how to handle (thanks dad!).

After talking to the real estate agent, we're going to ask that the owner fix the center beam & joists issues. Also going to ask for a credit for the siding, amount TBD still. Probably $5-10k. There's a pretty good chance that this deal will fall through, which will suck but I'll survive.

I know people on this board love to DIY, but if you can't do it right, please hire someone who can. Some corners should not be cut.

frugal_c

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Hard to know without actually seeing it.  From what you have described it would be fixable, assuming the basement is open and accessible.  I would just want to make sure there has not been any damage as a result of this.  You are planning to fix the main beam but you don't want any additional problems.  I would check that the doors all close properly on the upper level and that the floor isn't sloping, well not too much anyways.