We’ve all heard it before. The horror stories that seem to come straight out of a Stephen King novel. I bought a house, and the next day the basement flooded! I bought a house and turns out the foundation is compromised! I bought a house, and the previous owners covered up an issue!
How can home buyers keep themselves safe? Home inspectors OFTEN miss even the most obvious signs of Basement Waterproofing and Foundation Failure issues.
“But Austin, how could they miss it? Aren’t they certified and trained to spot these issues?”
Think again. A Home Inspector prospect needs to pass a state exam to get his license, and that’s about it. Many of them come from different backgrounds, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, etc. This is usually their retirement gig. So, if they were an electrician, how would they know about Foundation failure Issues? Short answer is they don’t, and it often gets missed.
Worse yet, Home Inspectors are NOT liable for the damages and issues they miss! They can, sometimes, be coerced to refunding the Home Inspection cost, but that tends to be pebbles compared to the costs of Foundation Repair.
So, how do we combat this? What can home buyers do to prevent getting taken advantage of and spoiling the biggest investment they will ever make?
Here are some tips and tricks to spotting these Foundation Issues before they become YOUR issues:
- Hire a Foundation Repair and/or Basement Waterproofing Company to come out and inspect your home. Many of these repair companies offer an inspection on a house you do not own. They usually do charge a fee (~$200), as the buyer does not own the home and cannot make a decision. This fee SHOULD come off the price of the work. Meaning, if you do buy the home and get the work done, that fee counts towards your payment.
- BEWARE buying in the winter. With less precipitation in the winter, Basement Waterproofing issues can easily be hidden.
- Another few red flags are:
- Freshly painted basement, walls and floors (what are they covering up?).
- Newly finished basement, (again, what are they hiding?)
- Owners not allowing you to inspect the basement during a rainstorm
- BIG RED FLAG. Do not buy the house if they do not allow you to come in and inspect during a rainstorm.
The ugly truth of it is, you almost NEVER can hold the sellers responsible for selling you a lemon. Crazy right?! Realtors will tell you, up and down, you MUST disclose these issues or you will be sued. Then, you buy the house and they tell you there’s nothing you can do.
The fact of the matter is, you cannot sue because there is an issue. You can only sue, and win, if you can PROVE that they knew about the issue and did nothing about it and did not disclose it. This is incredibly hard to prove, unfortunately. How do you prove someone’s intent and memory?
There are a couple of things you can do if you find yourself in possession of a home you just bought that has a Foundation failure Issue or Seepage Issue:
- Call your local Basement Waterproofing and Foundation Repair companies. Ask them for any estimates on the home. (Pro-tip, tell them you want to get the work done and they’ll send it to you right away.)
- Take LOTS of pictures and video!!! Your opinion and memory counts very little in court.
- IMMEDIATELY contact your realtor and attorney. The longer it waits, the less chance you have of a favorable outcome.
It is a rough world out there. Too many people are much too comfortable screwing home buyer’s over. We need to protect ourselves. Educate ourselves. And be prepared for the worst, while hoping for the best.