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Old 10-02-2009, 02:02 PM   #1
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Bowing brick wall - to buy or not to buy?


This isnít a DIY question, but I thought someone on here might be able to shed some light on this situation.

We are looking to buy a house, and recently found a house that we love, but it has a brick wall on the main floor that is bowing in and has a small diagonal crack in itóabout a foot long. The bowing wall is also causing the wood floor in the living room to bow. The house was built in 1908. The house is currently for sale ďas isĒ at a fairly low price for the city and location. The sellers are planning to take the house off the market within the next few weeks to fix the wall and then will put it back on the market at a higher price. For several reasons, we do not want to purchase the house ďas isĒ and be responsible for these repairs. We are willing to pay a higher price for the house once the repairs are done, so that we can see what the final outcome will beóand have an inspector look at it before we buy. But my question is this: If the sellers repair the bowing wall, the floor, and (if necessary?) the foundation, do you think that this will this still be a chronic problem with the house? Should we just walk away from this house?

We anticipate living in the house for about five years, if that makes any difference. Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer.

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Old 10-02-2009, 02:33 PM   #2
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Bowing brick wall - to buy or not to buy?


If the work is done properly it shouldn't be a problem. The trouble with foundation problems and underpinning is that sometimes movement can start again years later.

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Old 10-02-2009, 02:33 PM   #3
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Bowing brick wall - to buy or not to buy?


You have an interesting situation. It would be impossible, and probably reckless, for anyone to offer an opinion as to your situation over the Internet. Analysis of a bowing wall should be done by a professional, maybe starting with your home inspector, who should be able to offer a starting opinion as to the cause. If the structural condition is beyond the capability of your home inspector to analyze, you can always hire a structural engineer to look at the house. The on site inspection is key, there is no way you can describe the house well enough in a chat room condition to generate an informed opinion as to cause and origin of the bowing.

Additionally, you are wondering if the fix will be permanent. That would depend on the quality of the fix, which is purely speculative at this point. Since you will not be controlling the contractor who makes the repair, it is going to be difficult to determine how good a job they do.
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Old 10-02-2009, 02:45 PM   #4
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Bowing brick wall - to buy or not to buy?


Thanks for the feedback so far. Daniel, thanks, yes, I should have clarified that I am just looking for some general feedback, other peoplesí experiences with this, etc. Of course, I realize itís difficult to get general feedback that applies specifically to this situation and it is, indeed, all speculative. I just need to get a sense of what we could be getting into with this house and how extensive of a problem this could be. You make a good point about not being able to have any control over the way the sellers fix the wall or the contractors they decide to useódefinitely something to consider.
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Old 10-02-2009, 05:55 PM   #5
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Bowing brick wall - to buy or not to buy?


1st get either me, danny, or a local pe's inspection & advice IF the owner's agree,,, i'm betting they won't,,, YOUR pe's less expensive than me 'n' dan're but we're also MUCH more fun w/o pro design AND oversight, i'd be reluctant to buy ANY house that's had repairs bought by a motivated seller,,, do you need my or dan's cell # ? ? ? maybe you're not meant to have this home for ANY period of time !




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Old 10-02-2009, 06:22 PM   #6
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Bowing brick wall - to buy or not to buy?


We have rehabbed several houses, several that no one else would touch. But, we always stayed away from ones with a lot of structural issues, for obvious reasons. Without seeing it, of course, we don't if the problems are minor or major, but I would not want to leave it to the existing owner -- whose sole focus is selling the house -- to fix the problem. You don't know how they will fix it and whether it is the "right" fix or not. If you are really serious about the house, I would spring for a structural engineer to come out and give you an assessment. Find out how much that would cost, obviously, but I doubt it would be more than $350 to $500 to at least get a sense of how bad the problem is. That way the person is working for you and you should get a straight story. From there you can get money from the owners to fix it. They will never sell it to someone else with a known structural defect. Just because they say "as is" doesn't mean you can't negotiate for money to fix things. We've done it in 3 houses.

(You also need a good realtor to negotiate this one).

I know it's a pain to go through the construction, etc., but I would feel better having control over fixing it. You then know what you've done.

If it turns out it's too much to fix the problem, consider yourself lucky that you only spent money on the structural engineer. Good luck!
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Old 10-03-2009, 09:07 PM   #7
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Bowing brick wall - to buy or not to buy?


definitely get an expert... an engineer... to look at their repair. if possible, have them look before and after (or supply pics) so they know what the problem was, and can better assess whether it was appropriately resolved.
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Old 10-04-2009, 06:17 AM   #8
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Bowing brick wall - to buy or not to buy?


over the years, we've bought several places that, to others, shouldda been burned at 1 time, they were the ' laid off ' project for some of my guys & their retirement accts shared in the profits,,, that being said, on a couple even we had a pe take a peek for feasibility/budget reasons.

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