Unexpected Structural Foundation Repair in the New House

This week we got news that no homeowner ever wants to hear. Our new home has a bowing wall in the basement that needs an expensive, unexpected, structural foundation repair.

If you’ve been following our home’s story, you know that it has needed significantly more work than we expected! Broken AC, broken dishwasher, broken dryer, broken sprinklers, flooding basement, and so much more.

The saga continues this week when we found out about a huge issue that not only wasn’t disclosed by the sellers.

But wasn’t caught by our home inspector either.

Is That Wall Leaning?

Nathan and I were in the basement dreaming up potential plans to finish it a few weeks after we moved in. This was our first big project we were hoping to tackle so we could host family and guests.

There are two egress windows on the North basement wall (pictured below). As I was standing close to one of the windows, I noticed that the wall was leaning inward slightly.

I’m not an expert in foundations, but it was pretty obvious to me that it’s not straight.

I put it out of my mind until we had a basement company over this last week.

There was major flooding in our basement the first few days we lived here. Colorado had historic rains that month. It’s possible this basement has never flooded before, but it’s hard to know for sure.

Wanting to move forward with our basement project, we were looking for a recommendation for a sump pump and for how to waterproof everything before the Spring wet season arrives again.

Structural Foundation Repair Diagnosis and Cost

The company that came to give us waterproofing recommendations also specializes in foundation repairs.

The basement inspector immediately noticed the leaning wall when he walked into the basement, without me even mentioning it.

He measured the center of the wall leaning 2-3″ inward and said it’s in Stage 2 wall failure. The next stage is collapse.

He quoted us $17,000 for the structural repair.

Plus another $25,000 for the recommended work to waterproof the basement.

  • Two sump pumps based on the size of our basement (1200sqft)
  • Gutter system in the concrete floor
  • Window well taps for drainage
  • Vapor proctor along the walls
  • and more.

This was way more than we expected!

I’m guessing we need maybe half of what he’s recommending, although it would be nice to have it all.

Our biggest priorities are getting the basement wall repaired first. The next step would be a sump pump to move water and hydrostatic pressure away from the foundation.

So now what?

Since this is such a major, expensive repair we didn’t know about in our new home, we need to do our due diligence to see if we’re on the hook for the cost of this.

There are a few avenues we want to pursue before we consider anything else.

1. Follow Up With Home Inspector

Not only did our home inspector miss this leaning wall, but he also missed the major cracks around the egress windows that indicate wall movement.

I poured through our contract agreement to see if this person would be liable for this mistake. Unfortunately, according to our contract, we’ve missed the 30 day time frame to report this type of issue that would make him liable for covering this repair cost. However I still reached out to him and informed him about the situation. He is planning to come take a look at it next week.

Home Buying Tip:

Sometimes home inspectors have insurance for issues exactly like this. Learn from us and ask your home inspector if they have insurance before you hire them!

If we had known about this structural foundation repair issue in the purchase process we would have asked for sellers concessions to help cover the cost.

It would have made a big difference in what we offered for this home.

2. Follow Up With 2012 Wall Repair Engineering Company

This house had a structural repair done in 2012 on the East basement wall. In addition to adding counter-foot bracing in the East wall, they added a small beam in the center of the North wall attached to the floor joists above.

I’m guessing to slow down any wall movement? That brace now is pulling away from the wall and is failing.

See the picture above for a close up.

Because this company worked on both the East and North wall, I reached out to see if this repair would be under a warranty. I learned the original company was bought out. The new company still has the records of the 2012 repair thankfully.

I was told they contracted out the work, and they can’t tell from the paperwork who actually repaired it. They’re going to review our case and get back to me.

I’m guessing this will be a dead end. They told me since it’s been over ten years, there is most likely no warranty.

3. Pursuing Legal Action?

Most likely we are stuck covering the cost of this major structural foundation repair. A few people have recommended we get a real estate lawyer and pursue legal action against the previous owner, since so much was left undisclosed.

Including the fact that the house sat empty for a year and no one was present to maintain it. This explains why so many appliances were broken.

We desperately want to avoid this.

The cost of pursuing that option doesn’t make sense. If anything, we’d be willing to reach out the previous home owner personally through our realtors to inform them about this situation. Maybe they’d be gracious to help.

4. Getting Additional Repair Quotes

Issues like this typically aren’t covered by home insurance. I don’t believe this level of wall movement would have occurred because of all the heavy June rain. Even so, if it were, we did not have specific flood coverage that would cover this damage.

The last step will be getting additional repair quotes. If we end up needing to pay for this structural foundation repair ourselves, which is probably the case, we’ll need to take our time figuring out how to pay for it wisely.

The Not Fun Parts of Being A Home Owner

We still love our home. We chose it for a reason and I can see us living here for a long time. I still believe this home is a valuable investment.

Every house has its stuff. It’s just hard with that stuff shows up unannounced!

I know there are many of you who have encountered similar situations. Major unexpected, expensive repairs in your home like sewer pipes, water lines, foundation issues, roof issues, etc. I know how disheartening it can be.

If we had stayed in our Texas home, we’d be paying about this much in the next 3-5 years to repair old siding and windows anyway.

Home Value Vs. Investment

Our neighbor is a home appraiser. He reminded me that the most recent comparable sale to our home (ranch-style, unfinished basement) in our neighborhood sold for $44,000 more than we we paid for ours. Another comparable one with a finished basement sold for $100,000 more than ours a few years ago.

I truly believe we’ll see the return on our investment here in the years to come. We’re confident we can continue to update this home within our budget and turn a profit if we ever move.

We love our home and want to stay as long as we can. This feels like a home we can thrive in as a family. Making it safe for years to come is important.

This structural foundation repair is a big snag we need to figure out. We’re looking forward to being on the other side of.

I’ll keep you posted on how this situation turns out!

(Follow my Instagram account for more frequent updates!)

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