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Old 08-21-2007, 02:01 PM   #1
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Cracks in basement cemet walls


I'm getting ready to sell my house it is 27 years old and we have been the only owners. We have not had a home inspection yet and I'm scared to death. I noticed horizonal cracks in the basement along the mortor line. I have read where this could be strucural problems??? what other signs would I see? and what can I do about this?

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Old 08-21-2007, 04:58 PM   #2
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Cracks in basement cemet walls


Horizontal cracks can indeed suggest a structural problem. In the Milwaukee area, where I live, there is a lot of clay in the soils and often this clay was used to backfill around the foundations. The clay tends to swell when exposed to moisture and the swelling pushes against the basement blocks, causing the wall to bulge inward. And, depending upon the season of the year and how moist it has been the wall tends to move, causing the cracks to open and close somewhat from season to season. If you had more time I would suggest starting by installing a few 'wall crack' monitors, to determine whether the crack is getting worse, etc.

Since your needs appear more imminent, I would suggest starting by checking the wall with a level to see how far it has been displaced. If it is close to or more than an inch, you will likely have a problem.

Some homeowners caulk up and repaint the cracks prior to trying to sell their homes. This typically leads to lawsuits. I've been told that it is the number one reason for homeowners to sell the previous owners. Advice: Don't do it! Even without the threat of a lawsuit, it obviously is not fair to the family you are selling to.

My mother recently had to have interior wall joists installed on two of her basement walls due to this problem. It cost her $4,400.

If you have this problem, you could contact a couple of credible repair firms and have them review the issue and provide you with written quotes. You could then show these quotes to the new buyer and use it to help negotiate the sale price.

Sorry that I couldn't be more optimistic in my reply...

Thom

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Old 08-21-2007, 05:10 PM   #3
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Cracks in basement cemet walls


Thanks Thom for your reply I believe these cracks have been the same all these years but I think I will take your advice and call someone. Do you think I would be better off the have this repaired or just disclose this to a buyer and consider repairs in the selling price? We were actually thinking about finishing part of our basement for a rec. room should I hold off on that until I have it inspected?
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Old 08-21-2007, 05:28 PM   #4
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Cracks in basement cemet walls


Avalon:

re: Do you think I would be better off the have this repaired or just disclose this to a buyer and consider repairs in the selling price?

I would suggest getting a reputable contractor in to inspect the situation and give you a quote (if they conclude that repairs are needed). If you plan on selling soon, I wouldn't go forward with the repairs but simply use it during negotiations. The buyer might prefer to just monitor the situation. And it might not impact your sale price much.

If you proceed with repairs, prospective buyers might still discount the house because of concerns for the basement integrity -- so you could get impacted double.

In Wisconsin there is a group called the Wisconsin Association of Foundation Repair Professionals -- see www.wafrp.com for info. Perhaps there is a similar group in Ohio, which would help ensure that you are dealing with a credible contractor.

Good luck!

Thom
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