Cracks in basement block walls

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Hello everyone, My wife and I bought our first house. A bit of a long story but suffice it to say that we had very little time to make our decision and were burnt out when we finally did. We got the boot from our seven year rental house because the landlords wanted to move back in. We used up 40 of our sixty days on a house that didn't pass inspection (and the sellers rejected the inspection). When we were finally released from the first house we had about a week to choose a place (we could afford), make the offer, negotiate, close, and move. We knew we should rent and try to slow things down but couldn't find anything that would take our four cats. So, during the final walk through we noticed a couple of cracks in the block foundation. Our realtor told us we could simply fill the cracks with a specially formulated epoxy (and gun) and told me where to buy it. After the closing, we went straight to the place she told up to go and they looked at me kind of sad like and said, "she doesn't know what she's talking about, you can't use epoxy for block walls. I felt the dark clouds forming over my head at that moment. The epoxy supplier gave us a name of a contractor and he came to the house. He told us not to move in (which was to happen the very next day), and that we got hosed. Every wall (that we can see) has several cracks in it (initially hidden by boxes shoved into closets that were built over the cracked walls). In hind site, we should have walked away from the place after the final walkthrough but we were lead to believe that the walkthrough was just a formality and that we were pretty much locked in to the purchase at that point. Okay, so the seller's disclosure form claims there are no cracks in the basement walls, that there are no leakage problems (which there are), and no material or plumbing defects that would cause leaking water (I had to completely regrout the tile shower stall to make it usable. We found the home buying process to be very dishonest and ugly. I thought I did my homework (my wife said I was obsessed with not getting screwed, which I was) but here we are. These folks made a huge profit (enough to retire on) from us and we're paycheck to paycheck people stuck with a house we would have to lie about to resell (which we won't do). So, short of spending 20-30 grand to have the foundation fixed, what can we do? We don't have (and never will have) that kind of money. Some folks have told me that many buyers don't really care about cracks in foundation walls (in a house this age, built in the early sixties), but I find this hard to believe. After all we've been through, we would like to sell the place for the price of the loan and get another rental (at least for a while). I am an educator and spend my days trying to teach honesty and integrity and this whole experience affected me deeply. It's not a bad place (other than the problems described), it's in a good neighborhood, close to a church, and pretty quiet with very nice neighbors. But still, I want out in a year or so. Are there any consumer protection agencies for this sort of thing? There are plenty of books out there on how to screw people over but nothing for the person that gets screwed. Any advice? Should we just chisel out the cracks (steps, horizontal, and vertical) and fill them with mortar as best we can? I'm a handy guy but know next to nothing about masonry. Sorry for the long post and thanks for listening.
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What did your home inspector say about the cracks when you had your home inspection done?
At this point you need to have several people look at it and find out what is going on. Quit acting like a chicken with your head cut off. Contractors are like dogs... they can smell fear and charge accordingly.
If there is actually a problem then go back to your real estate atty you used in the deal and sue your home inspector, sellers and real estate agent.
Steve B.
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Do something more useful than obsessing: talk to an attorney who has experience in real estate. Is there a Legal Aid office in your city?
    Una
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Mac wrote:

In which case you have recourse against the seller. Go see a lawyer.
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dadiOH
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dadiOH wrote:

And also possibly the agent.
Could you post some pictures of the cracks? Just how extensive is the cracking?
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Sorry to hear about your problems. Buying a home is always a stressful experience.
I was not sure when I got done reading your message exactly what was wrong with the basement and who made the determination.
First all basements have some cracks. You need someone INDEPENDENT to evaluate them. If you check with a service that fixes them, you are almost 100% sure they will find that it needs to be fixed. Often they don't.
Right now I would suggest two things. Verifying the need for work and if expensive work is needed, then seek legal advice.

--
Joseph Meehan

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Joseph, Thanks for the advice and more-so for the understanding. I have never been through anything this stressfull (and I've had life-threatening illnesses). As a teacher I try to instill in my students honesty and integrity. I guess I was just a wee bit out of my element. -Mac
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> As a teacher I try to

As a teacher it great that you try to instill honesty in the students,
However you need to get tehm ready for the real world. There is much cheating and dishonesty out there.
I don't recall the name of the movie or exectally what was said. It was Roger Dangerfield going back to college after he was a business man. A question was asked by the professor about how something was done . After an answer or two, Roger stood up and said that was all wrong, you had to bribe the people and basically do a lot of other dishonest things.
The selling agent and if you had a buying agent for the house, neither one gets paid if they don't sell the house. Many times the inspector is one recommended by them. He gets paid either way, but if he does not give a good report, he will not get called very often.
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I believe it was called Back to School, very funny movie. And point taken. I didn't use the inspector my buying agent wanted me to use because I read that could be a bad idea.
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S you ripped out closets on every wall, why, to find cracks you did not know were there, only a troll does that. Epoxy is used by pros, mortar mix is also used, the cracks may have occured within the first year, you dont know. Document it, fix it and move on maybe it will be fine.
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I agree with Joseph. It's totally unclear if there is any foundation problem that needs fixing. Almost every house has some foundation cracks, which is perfectly normal. The question is how big are the cracks, how long they run and are they stable or getting worse? In many older houses, you'll find small cracks that have been there for decades and aren't getting any worse.
You should have had a home inspection before you bought the house. In most cases, the inspection winds up free and actually nets you money, because it uncovers enough defects that you can negotiate off of the purchase price. Now you should get a competent inspector in to check out the whole house. Based on what the report says, you can decide what next steps to take. If there are enough material defects that were not reflected in the disclosure statement, you could take the seller to court. Small claims may be appropriate, as it doesn't cost you anything, so if the potential recovery is modest, that would probably be the best route.
As far as selling the house and going back to renting, that I don't understand. The market is in the tank right now. You have a house that sounds like it's OK except for a couple of potential problems which you don't know the extent of and would have to disclose to buyers anyway.
In the future, don't listen to the real estate agent, who is working for the seller, about much of anything. Certainly not about foundation questions. And make sure you have an inspection done BEFORE buying.
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I apologize for the vagueness of my post. We did use a home inspector. The report stated "above average settling". I called him and asked him point blank and he said that the house had probably settled as much as it was going to and that it wasn't an "oh no!" situation. When I asked him if he would buy this house he said he could loose his liceance for answering that question. Some of the cracks are pretty large, a 1/4" or more and run horizontaly the length of one wall, another verticaly (right through the block) from top to bottom, several step cracks with varying widths (one I can see daylight through at the window well), and there is a "T" crack where the wall has pushed in about a 1/4". This one was hidden by a tall freezer so the inspector did not see it and "our" real estate agent told me to use the epoxy. Many of the cracks have been poorly patched, (patches falling out) and filled with [filler rod?] so they did have knowledge of them. The basement bath flooded after about an inch of rain. The walls are finished so I'm not sure what's behind them. I asked the sellers (through our agents) if the basement stayed dry since we needed it for office space. The answer was that they had some trouble years ago but that it was fixed. The market in our area is actually pretty good. We have several booming industries which keep thiings going. Some houses have been sitting but they are over priced. I didn't care for the house when we bought it but it was the only one we could afford in a safe neighborhood. Now I just want to fix it and get out. I don't trust home inspectors, is there anybody else I could bring in that wouldn't have an agenda? Lastly, do disclosure forms mean anything? Thanks for all the replies.
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OK, I dealt with a foundation problem due to frost heaving due to an inadequate footer. I know it's scary, but don't panic. Firstly, get an engineer in to look at the foundation. A couple of things you've just said do sound concerning - the long wide horizontal crack, the crack through the block, and the repairs falling out. Which might signal a lot of hydrostatic pressure and that there's still movement.
But the good news is - you're in a disclosure state it sounds like - you can pursue this through a lawyer. And the house isn't going to fall down tomorrow. It's still a house for the living in while you decide what to do, cracks or no cracks.
You're in, the deal's done; you'll need to either disclose and lose on the sale if you move, or you fix the problem. Don't make any decisions about this until you have explored the avenues and know the facts. After all, once you address the problem, it's addressed, and the attributes that the house has that you bought it for - its location, etc., will still be there. So I don't think it makes sense to just sell out quickly.
Banty
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Banty, Thanks for advice. Will an engineer overstate the matter? When the contactor looked at it he told us "not to move in". Scared the heck out of me. I'll call around this week and check prices. Until then, I have a friend's husband coming out to take a look. He runs a remodeling business. I realize he's not an expert but he is someone I can trust. It's important to me that everyone here knows that I didn't jump into this purchase with my eyes closed. I spent long hours doing research, looked at about sixty homes (fifteen or so I toured), tons of time researching financing, etc. I was naive enough, however, to think that if I paid someone $300 they would tell me the truth and not sugarcoat the facts. Our inspector said he was known as a "deal breaker", which is why we hired him. During the post-inspection walk through, however, he didn't have that much to say. I told my real estate agent not to come but she showed up anyway. This seemed to make him uncomfortable. He also seemed tired. As far as selling not making sense...I'm jaded I guess. My wife doesn't like the house and I feel like I'm getting burned and just want to pull my hand out of the fire. Emotional, I know. that's why I'm waiting until summer. I'll see how I feel about it then. But for right now I need a goal, something to look forward to. Although I suffer from chronic pain, I've never been over-emotional.....well until now, lol. Thanks for all the help everyone.
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You keep saying "my" agent. Did you sign a contract with this agent to represent you? Or did this agent get a commission on the sale of the house? This agent certainly did not act in your interest, so it is important that you know who the agent was obligated to serve, you or the seller.
How did this agent know when the inspection was going to occur? Who paid the inspector? Did you call the inspector afterward, privately?     Una
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On Sun, 27 Jan 2008 20:43:05 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@att.net (Una) wrote:

Did this agent *double-end* this closing? Representing seller and buyer. In NV this has to be documented in the closing papers.

Oren --
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wrote:

No, we hired our own agent. She was recomended by a friend but was paid by the seller.
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Was there a Contract between you and your agent?
Oren --
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No, no contract.
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I'm sorry to hear that.
This *buyer's agent* - in essence did not work for you, but for the listing Realtor. She reeled in the buyer and got her commission/fee. She is not most likely licensed.. and I suspect your urgency to get into this house from a rental contributed to this.
Always have your own state licensed agent or attorney and a contract.
Oren --
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