Cracks in basement block walls

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Mac wrote:

This is a major problem and requires blocking and boxing to repair. Also get a FOUNDATION REPAIR company to look at the house. This is beyond the scope of a standard home inspection service. Also, the foundation repair estimate better be free or look elsewhere.
This one was hidden by a tall freezer so the

Take lots of pictures!

After the next rain take some pictures as evidence. It is obviously not fixed.

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"Blocking and boxing"?
Banty
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Banty wrote:

That is what they call the reinforcement of foundation walls.
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But in which way? There are several ways. A google search showed a way to retro-fit piers, but most likely that does not apply to the OP. I found nothing searching on "blocking and boxing" (or the reverse) and foundation in Google.
Banty (just curious about this stuff)
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In pennsylvania a neighbor didnt disclose her main sewer line was bad. the new owner had a back up, she was a bookeeper for a plumber, he cameraed the line, all bad. they asked around neighbors reported the plumber was there a lot.
end of story gal sued old owner and won for whole new sewer line, replaced wall, line was under wall and new driveway, line crossed driveway.
reportedly about 15 thousand...........including attorney fees.
old owner pid thru the nose
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We didn't rip out the closets. They were built over the block wall with the wall as the rear of the closet. When we looked at the house, the closets were jammed full of boxes. The home inspectors in our area do not move boxes and look behind things.
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Mac wrote:

didn't already know, and missed several things. But his report was still worth it in the price negotiation with the seller. I SWAG'd some numbers to repair everything in his report, and provided the report and my estimate to the realtor, as my starting point OFF the asking price. I'll spent $350 to save $12.5 k any day.
As to the cracked walls- get a long straightedge, some plastic, and some tape. Use the straightedge to see if the walls are bowed in, vertically or horizontally. Use the plastic and the tape to tape some square-foot sections over the cracks for a day or two, to see if any water is coming in. If the walls are flat, and the cracks stay dry, don't lose any sleep- you can repair them at your leisure. As others have said, if the walls are bowed, time for a lawyer.
aem sends...
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Will do. I'll let you know how it turns out. We're supposed to get quite a bit of rain in the next day or two, and this will be on top of melting snow.
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Settlement cracks may be normal. If in basement and walls bulging inward, then you have a problem. You should have had a professional home inspection before buying but now might be a good time for you to get one.
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Mac wrote:

thoughts. It sounds like you've been had. To make you whole you will probably need to litigate. Take a set of good photos that illustrate the problem(s). Make the measurements suggested elsewhere to determine if the walls are moving, and are now non-planar. Find an attorney with a good track record in this area, not one that a friend of a friend suggests. Do your homework and interview several. You are hiring them as a consultant...approach it that way.
A first order search could be done by using Martindale-Hubble (www.martindale.com) Talk with the attorney, ask him to suggest an engineer. The reason for this is that the attorney will know which engineer will provide the evaluation and opinion that is most likely to aid you. This may not be the same engineer you will use later to design a remedy, but the best engineer, complete with plastic pocket protector may not be the one your attorney wants testifying.
If you can find an attorney who will take this (perhaps on contingency) then have at the seller. After you know what resources you have to fix the problem talk with a good engineer and perhaps a hydro-geologist if water is an issue. Remember though that little can be accomplished to hold back water from the inside of the foundation. Diversion of the water from the outside is the most effective approach. French drains, perimeter drains at the level of the footings, etc. are most effective.
I'm an engineer who has worked with numerous attorneys as an expert witness...we've never lost a case. (I don't do it any more. I'm retired.) However, I feel quite confident when I say that as with any profession, 90% of the engineers and attorneys are not in the top 10%. Choose carefully.
Boden
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Boden, Feel like coming out of retirement? Seriously, thanks for the advice. I hope I'm better at choosing an attorney than I am at real estate agents and inspectors. I'm concerned though, if I go with an experienced attorney that has been in the area for a while...he may know the seller. The seller was a businessman in this area for almost forty years. If I go with a young hot shot, he/she may lack experience. Should I look for someone with a limited area of expertise (including real estate) or one with a broader scope? I will do my homework and take the measurements. Again, any advice would be appreciated. -Mac
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Mac wrote:

where the court for your county is. Look for an attorney in that city. Some individual practitioners are very good, but the larger firms tend to have resources that may be useful. The hourly cost is not as important as the total cost. I find that the more experienced folks often cost less at the end of the day. Negotiate. Contingency, fixed price, not to exceed, etc. Attorneys are in business too.
Boden
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Before I get all lawyered up, I'd find out the total extent of the problems, which no one knows at this point. If you have only $5K in repairs, then small claims is likely going to be the best option. It's very unlikely an attorney is going to take this kind of case on contingency, unless the potential recovery is large. Between attorney's fees and expert witness fees, you have to make a rational decision of what this could cost, vs what you MIGHT win. And then there is the issue of collecting. Getting a judgement and collecting are two different things.
I'd ask around for references for lawyers from people you know.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net says...

He can consult once with a lawyer about property matters in order to know what the law is and requirements are w.r.t. disclosure. He doesn't have to "lawyer up" to gain benefit from legal advice.
Banty
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Yes, many lawyers offer a free consultation. But you need to have some common sense going into this. He doesn't even know the extent of the problems. I'd concentrate on that before worrying about choosing a lawyer. If he's out $2K, it's a whole different picture than being out $50K. It's better he know which it is before he wastes time with a lawyer based on hypotheticals.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net says...

Yep, I'd agree on that. Engineering analysis first, then legal stuff. The legal stuff starting with a consultation.
It's a process to be taken one step at a time.
Banty
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

two rolled on coats of an epoxy paint (always have pinholes etc with on coat) would seal the surfaces just fine (and look good). Of course that will not do anything about why the cracks formed or stop future cracking. Cost for the epoxy would be about $1 to $1.50 (for 2 coats). you could just epoxy and fiberglass cloth the cracks one by one.....
paul oman progressive epoxy
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On Jan 28, 8:41 am, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

This wasn't a skyscraper, it was an 860 sf house. Expert testimony cost less than $700, and the attorney's fees were less than $3K. In the end, they settled and dismissed the case. I believe that their attorney's fees were part of the settlement. I don't know where you live, but in civil cases where I am, in WI, the loser often has to pay the winner's attorney's fees.
JK
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Settling out of court is a bit different than going to trial. You said it spent 18 months in court, which I took to mean it was resolved in court with an actual verdict.
Those fees are pretty modest. It's not a skyscraper, but expert testimony for court action doesn't come cheap. $700 sounds about right for a simple written report. But if it had not been settled, the expert has to spend hours to get deposed, hours to attend court for a morning to testify, including things like travel time, it would be a lot higher. And the legal fees for an actual trial are going to be a lot higher as well.
Keep in mind the award of legal fees in a case like this, even in states where it happens, is a very double edged sword. If you LOSE, you pay their costs, which, depending on who you're fighting, like a big insurance company for example, could be huge. Which is one reason many states don't have this policy.
So, spending $3700 more to try recover $15K, doesn't necessarily sound like a great idea to me. I guess if you really believe you have a slam dunk case, it could make sense. Personally, depending on the limit for small claims, I think I'd go there and receive maybe a max of $5k if you win, without the expenses if you lose.
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