What I'm Seeing Now

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Window Well, Wishing Well

I saw it from outside - a window well being pushed dramatically inward toward the house.

The house is over 40 years of age.  This movement appears to have been happening for some time and has been repaired many times over the years.

There is cracking even since the most recent attempt at filling the opening gaps.  Filling those gaps is NO FIX of course.

Looking from inside the house, at both corners of the well, you have to imagine this as a flat wall.  Pressure from outside is pushing it toward the basement window.

Together they give an idea as to just how much movement.

The fix?  Probably removing about 2/3s of the wall and rebuilding it.  From this angle it is hard to see just how much movement there has been.

When asked by the clients how long before there is a total collapse, of course I could not.  I said that they could wish it would stop moving, but that won't help.  This is probably pretty regular movement and should be repaired before there is a collapse into the basement window.

My recommendation:  sometimes houses are sold when the seller knows fully well of certain deficiencies.  Either the seller hasn't the energy to deal with it, or hasn't the money.  And, hopefully, someone will buy it with the idea that they can fix it instead.  In this case the buyer was frightened off, and not just by this problem!

 

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 27 commentsJay Markanich • February 14 2013 02:51AM

Comments

Perhaps I'm missing something.  Are the photos with the obvious "crack" showing the outside of the well with the yard on the far side of that cracked wall??  Or, is the photo showing the foundation wall of the basement????

One thing for sure, the cause of the movement should be determined.  If I had a buyer interested in that house, I'd get an engineering report on that cracked wall.  

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 7 years ago

That would scare me off, too.  I wonder what else scared off the buyer?

Posted by Ron Marshall, Birdhouse Builder Extraordinaire (Marshall Enterprises) over 7 years ago

Good Morning, Jay. As Mike Holmes would say, "Gut it, Danno!" The things folks do to take the easy way out...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 7 years ago

Wrote a contract last week just got the sellers disclosure and in the area where it mentions termite infestation they indicated NO but wrote (HALL) beside it.  Talk about red flags!!! 

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) over 7 years ago

The photo is from the basement of the inside of the retaining wall around the basement window, being pushed toward the house from the outside Lenn.  Yes, an engineering report is essential.  But this, and other things, were too much for this couple.

Ron - electrical issues and lots of moisture inside the basement walls.

Michael - they are selling this house knowing that it has lots of issues.  The sellers don't want to take care of them and are hoping for the best, or don't have the money.

James - that would be a definite red flag.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Interesting.  Too bad.  A Home Inspection Report listing the repair of that defect doesn't seem like so much to me. 

If it were a basement wall, perhaps, but not the well wall. 

Too bad.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 7 years ago

People often want to dispose of the albatross before calamity strikes but who wants to by their albatross?

 

Posted by Sara Homan, Realtor, Homes, Farms & 55+ (Coldwell Banker Ellison Realty 352-209-4044) over 7 years ago

Well, before an engineer's report all they knew was that the wall would probably have to be rebuilt, and at unknown expense.  As you know, Lenn, the unknown is usually a bigger monster than reality.

Sara - I agree.  It's like the note on the ice maker that says it conveys as is.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Good morning Jay,

Late last year I sold a home to a family that rehabs; the home in particular ended up replacing three walls and footers. I also resold it after they were finished and they did a great job. I wish the sellers luck in selling.

Make yourself a great Valentines Day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) over 7 years ago

Hi Jay,

I have seen these window wells in this kind of shape before. Even the best poured wells get cracks and have a small amount of movement. But never use bricks on a window well. Not a good idea.

With that said, We were discussing lest night about the disclaimer letter from the sellers.....

All they have to say is "To the best of my knowledge"..... then they aare off the hook for any problems the home may have.

Have a great day in Bristow my friend. Don't Forget It's Valentines day.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 7 years ago

Very interesting Jay learned something  new again form you, a window well.  Thank you.

Posted by Chuck Mixon, Cutler Bay Specialist, GRI, CDPE, BPOR (The Keyes Company) over 7 years ago

Amazing that the house has ever sold with that problem. Even if it hasn't I can't imagine letting a load bearing wallslowly fall apart.

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) over 7 years ago

I have signs of this in my area as some homes are built on the side of a hill. There is minor ground movement and the cracks that show took decades to make themselves known. Logic will tell you that eventually the mother of all cracks will show herself eventually.....good post

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 7 years ago

Very interesting, Jay. What else scared off your buyers? (Not that this issue isn't enough in and of itself.)

Posted by Randy Bocook, Selling Coastal Georgia (Keller Williams Coastal Area Partners) over 7 years ago

Jay -- this wall looks to be over 5' tall (assuming bricks are 3").  How would one exit through that window and well, and get away from the building?

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) over 7 years ago

Raymond - selling can be tough when there is an endemic problem to overcome.  And will do regarding V Day!

Clint - there is no disclaimer in Virginia.  All houses come as is with caveat emptor.  Home inspectors are necessary!

You're welcome Chuck!  This one is a big problem!

Than - it's an old house and this guy has been in it a long time.

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

All structures will move eventually, as least some Richie.  This is not a huge structure, but certainly has moved!

Randy - some electrical issues and moisture in the basement wall, behind paneling.

Steven - good thinking.  This would not pass today's code as a fire escape.  A ladder would be necessary.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

That much movement is never a good thing. Glad your client had you there to explain the problems. Have a wonderful Valentine's Day mi amigo.

Posted by Suesan Jenifer Therriault, "Inspecting every purchase as if it were my own". (JTHIS-Professional Home Inspection Team) over 7 years ago

You mean it's not an Art Deco design?  How disappointing.

Posted by Rafi Footerman, Home Inspector, Mold Inspector, Radon and More! (Mid Jersey Inspections) over 7 years ago
I always remember George Carlin's definition of gravity; "The earth sucks!".
Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) over 7 years ago

Thanks Jay. I often read your posts becasue I keep learning something new!

Posted by Charlie Dresen, Steamboat Springs, CO e-Pro (Steamboat Sotheby's International Realty) over 7 years ago

We don't have basements in California but that sounds like an expensive fix. I wouldn't blame the buyers for backing out. That's why always important for buyers to do their due diligence and get a home inspection!

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) over 7 years ago

Sue - that's why they hire us!  No sé si es que celebran El Día del Corazón en Ecuador, no recuerdo.  ¡Probablement porque hay dinero para ganar!  La plata empuja várias celebraciones.

Rafi - it only lacks a dripping pocket watch!

Funny Robert!  That made me laugh!

Charlie - well, stuff moves!  Particularly masonry.

It probably would be Pamela.  If not done right it will simply reoccur.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Your pictures for me really make the point. The amount of movement is obviously huge. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 7 years ago

You have to try to imagine them together to get the effect, Jim.  But 3D is hard to express 2D.

You are really making the blog rounds this morning!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Jay,

   I can envision a couple of different, relatively inexpensive ways (engineer-approved) to fix this situation, depending on the code requirements for the footprint of the opening as well as the height.  Reinforced Shotcrete is the first one that comes to mind and would probably be the most attractive (if done properly)...

 

Posted by John J. Woods, Going where no man has gone before - wouldn't you? (Big Dog Press, LLC) over 7 years ago

Thanks, John, I can think of some too.  But as you know home inspectors do not include that kind of information in their reports!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

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