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Water Pressure - If What's Below Moves, What's Above Usually Follows!

It should be an old adage - water pressure - if what's below moves, what's above usually follows!

That's why when something utilizes something else as a foundation, the foundation should be strong!  Hence the word ... foundation.

This is a 40 year old house, with a 15 year old addition.  The addition is a large family room.  It has a brick foundation, with a continuous-wall crawl space underneath.

The basement door of the original house used to exit to a stairwell.

They decided to enlarge that space with a retaining wall that extends to the foundation wall of the newer addition, and help frame the door way to get to the crawl space underneath that family room.

On one end the corner deck post rests on top of the retaining wall.   That is a big no no.  Retaining walls cannot also support a deck.

On the other end the retaining wall ties into the foundation wall of the family room addition.

Two different downspouts drain water into the area under the deck.  Of course this puts pressure onto the retaining wall.  It has not taken long for that retaining wall to respond to the water pressure.

It has bulged inward badly, cracking as it bulges.  That is called "masonry bow and sweep."

That is a problem in itself.  The bowing here is dramatic.

At the other end we have another problem.

Where the retaining wall ties into the foundation wall under the addition the moving retaining wall is pulling the foundation wall apart.

The crack there is 5 bricks wide and moving upward in a step fashion.

Being larger at the bottom than the top would indicate the movement of that foundation wall - toward the door.

You can even see the bowing in the frame of the doorway to the crawl space.

There is creaking in the hardwood flooring of the family room right at that point as well.  Everything ties together!

One thing leads to another.

Eventually the SYSTEM  falls apart.

Pressure will cause movement over time.  What started with water draining into a framed area it cannot escape ends in utter disaster.

By the way, there is no door to that crawl space.  It is always open for business.  Really?  No door?

What business do I mean?

The local mammalia!

The homeowners even have a trap in there to hopefully curb the Mammals R' Us!  comings and goings!

Good luck with that!

That crawl space is a regular condo development.

My recommendation:  additions have to be thought through carefully, particularly when they rise up off the ground.  The word SYSTEM  up there is intentional.  A house is a SYSTEM  of many things all working together.  Their work can be harmonious or not, depending on how well thought out each component part is, and how well it plays with the rest of the stem.  In this case this problem was virtually planned in advance.  Houses cannot stand too much water pressure over time.  Water, and water pressure, is the number one consideration outside when planning the footing/foundation situation.  Too much pressure and time will ALWAYS work against a house.  Eventually something will give.

 

 

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 34 commentsJay Markanich • March 19 2014 02:32AM

Comments

All - yes, the deck was a disaster too.  It has moved and fallen apart as the retaining wall supporting it has moved and fallen apart.  That is a different topic altogether!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Good morning, Jay...homeowners certainly do create many issues for themselves because they tried to save a buck and did the work without pulling a permit ....and trying to do the work themselves....

Posted by Barbara Todaro, "Franklin MA Homes" (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) over 4 years ago

This was a disaster all around Barbara.  My client asked me if this would be expensive to fix.

Ummmm...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Yes, that does seem costly to fix.  In fact, it may need to be rebuilt and would have been less expensive if it was just done from scatch.  Oh well.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 4 years ago

Redesigned, rebuilt and the downspout water redirected Debbie.  Biggie big for a buyer to inherit right off the bat.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Unless the price was absolutely awesome, most buyers probably would not want to inherit a problem like that.   Inspections are critical when buying a new home!!

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (Grand Lux Realty, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com) over 4 years ago

If I were the buyer the price would need to be reduced substantially or I would not walk but run from the purchase.

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) over 4 years ago

The price was under market Kat, but not THAT attractive.  As you can imagine, this was not the only thing.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

This buyer did not have the kind of money this alone would take James, not to mention the rest of the "finds" in this house.

We have a problem in this area with people who have bought homes and "fixed" them up to standards that are not typical of this country.  And now they are trying to sell them, in droves.  Good luck.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Good morning Jay,

Had one here near the river that made this one look like a minor job. Had to jack house and redo footers and walls.

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) over 4 years ago

Hi Jay,

What a mess, I have not seen a crawl space so bad since I was in Michigan inspecting homes. Simply terrible.

Have a good day in Bristow.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 4 years ago

When a defect includes the word "foundation", it's time to move on.  Unless it's a well financed cash buyer, I don't see any buyer ready to take this house. 

What would the appraiser require?

This one looks like "COMDEMMED" is the only solution?

What is "Under Market" when it can't appraise??

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 4 years ago
Yikes! Who did the addition? Was it the homeowner? I can't believe it was work with a permit.
Posted by Dana Hollish Hill, Lead Associate Broker (Hollish Hill Group, Keller William Capital Properties) over 4 years ago

Reminds me of the movie Shawshank Redemption. Red says "Time and pressure, and Andy Dufrain had plenty of time." This one only took 15 years. They're lucky they got that much. 

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) over 4 years ago

Jay, you don't need a structural engineer to see there is a problem here. They will need one to correct the problem though.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 4 years ago

Good morning Jay. The title is terrific and really describes the story. Well done.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) over 4 years ago

I am always interested in different types of construction that we don't see in Oklahoma and also how differently states allow an inspector to make recommendations. In Oklahoma despite this being obvious, our inspectiin law requires a state licensed structural inspector to certify the findings. 

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) over 4 years ago

Jay, that "system" is in need of a major overhaul! Yikes. One problem leads to another leads to another...

Posted by Tom White, Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN (Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752 or www.FranklinHomesRealty.com) over 4 years ago

You have clearly demonstrated the value of your services...thank you

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 4 years ago

Too bad they tried to half-arse it. It will end up costing them more in the long run!

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) over 4 years ago

Jay, You have expansive soils in your area, correct? Look like someone has some work to do.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

I assume the buyer skipped buying this house?

 

Posted by Sylvia Jonathan, Broker Associate, SFR (Coldwell Banker Platinum Properties) over 4 years ago

Find the problem but spell out the several ways to address it after explaining what forces of nature combined to cause it makes it attack the problem. Not wasted emotion on why did you have to find this problem that could mess up the sale. Agent should know and disclose if they list the place with eyes wide open, paying close attention and taking very good notes. Thanks for the shop glass on This Old House CSI

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) over 4 years ago

Good post-thanks

Posted by Drick Ward, "RealtorDrick" - Experienced Representation (NEPTUNE REALTY) over 4 years ago

Hello Jay - Nice work and great post.  As inspectors we see this kind of thing all the time.  Thanks again.

Posted by Andy Chaudoir, Your Home Inspection Connection in Central Texas (Professional Inspection Services - Georgetown, Texas) over 4 years ago

Sounds bad, looks bad. Thanks for the education -- it seems water is a home's enemy. 

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) over 4 years ago

Wow that is one scary situation.  I would move on to the next one if I saw something like that.

Posted by Jeff Jensen (The Federal Savings Bank/Lending in 50 states) over 4 years ago

Good evening, Jay. My suggestion is to find a good door knob and build a new house around it.

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 4 years ago

Water is water Raymond!  And houses don't make very effective boats.

The crawl space is one thing Clint (I didn't go in there for fear of getting sprayed by skunks or chewed up by very territorial raccoons!), but it won't be a crawl space for long if this wall collapses!

Will foundation issues make for a lower appraisal Lenn?  I would think so, but don't know.

Don't know Dana!  This homeowner has been in the house only five years.

Scott - that is the perfect line for this one!  Your time is up!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

This is a big deal Mike.  A really big deal.  And I wouldn't walk on the deck above!  Trashed.

Thanks Sheila.  Titles are hard to do.  They have to get SEO and traffic to the blog!

Not here Joe, unless one is called to evaluate a problem.  Then the stamp is necessary.

That is always the case Tom.  The hip bone is connected to the thigh bone.

Thanks as always Richie.  In this case it was most obvious.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

So much homeowner work can be described this way Than.  But surely a contractor did this work!

We do Don.  Very clay in content.  When really dry it actually separates from the foundation and then when wetted swells dramatically.

Good assumption Sylvia!  No way could they afford to inherit this obvious expense.

Andrew - I am always impressed by what people live with without thinking it might be a problem.  And listing agents that list houses without looking them over.

And thanks for stopping by again Drick.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

We do Andy.  Unfortunately.  But this is a big one and the time before this collapses is unknown.

It is Pamela.  Houses don't make good boats.

Jeff - I am surprised sometimes that people put contracts on houses seeing this kind of thing.

That might work here Michael!  How about a really cool crystal one, like in my grandmother's house?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

So... no one inspected this house before the present owners purchased it? It sure sounds that way.

Posted by Marte Cliff, your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) over 4 years ago

I think that's right Marte.  The seller and buyers are foreign.  My buyers have a smart agent who insisted on me as an inspector.  The seller's agent 5 years ago said home inspectors weren't necessary.  His seller is paying for that advice now.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

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