Driveway slopes down into basement garage

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PB2 says...

I would find the house appealing. Of course it depends on what you find appealing. Nice updated kitchen. I like the bathrooms of that vintage (would replace the wallpaper..)
On the finished part of the basement - is there evidence of water problems, water marks, etc?
The oil tank looks rather new.. Look for other evidences of water in the basement area.
Mostly - get an *independant* home inspector which has no connection with, and was not recommended by, the seller or agent.
And I agree that if you get a chance to visit the house in a hard rain, do so.
Banty
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Hmmm..boiler and water heater up on a block...
Banty
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on 6/18/2008 1:41 PM Banty said the following:

So's mine. That may be code. I live on top of a 400' hill with the driveway above the street and I have to drive downhill to go in any direction. That may be for plumbing leakage.
--

Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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Uh, drifting snow will fill that driveway to the top. Melting snow and freezing rain will quickly freeze up the drains, making them useless. The water damage to the garage doors and the recent concrete work should tell you all you need to know. The house is discounted for a reason. How brave (fullhearty) are you? Do you want to deal with water problems all year 'round? When it's time to sell, are you going to quarantee there won't be water problems to a prospective buyer? My advice; move on. There's lots of houses on the market. Why buy somebody else's headaches? TomC P.S. I own a house with a side load garage in the basement. My lower yard slopes away from the drive and parking area. However, I still have problems with snow melting during the day and the runoff freezing solid at night. Sometimes, several inches of ice on the parking area from the constant melting and refreezing. Vehicle tires have been frozen in and shoveling is no longer a option. Beware!
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on 6/18/2008 11:30 AM PB2 said the following:

That is a pretty nice house. Hardwood floors, granite counter top. The mechanicals look pretty new, especially the boiler and piping. How old is the house, and what are the dates on those mechanicals? Is it a young house or new stuff for the selling value? If it weren't for that driveway!!!! You could ask the owner or agent if it floods down there. They have to divulge things like that.
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Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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wrote:

PB,
You've been given excellent advice. Walk away. This is your first home purchase and if that's you in the picture, you have young children. You don't need adventure at this point in your life..
The first thing you learn in real estate investing is that you never buy a house with a fatal flaw.
You cannot park on the street, just in your garage and your driveway. There will be days, perhaps weeks, when you cannot use those.
I'm a contractor. I'd be afraid of it.
Ken
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On Jun 18, 7:35pm, snipped-for-privacy@nospam.tnx wrote:

If your Realtor recommends this house, get another realtor fast. I had one of these basement garages for my first house, and was very lucky to sell it a couple of years later before we had a really hard rain so I could honestly say we never had water in the basement. If the basement floor was 10 - 12" above the garage floor, it would be a slightly better situation, but I still would walk away now before you get too involved emotionallly.
Married to a Realtor
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wrote:

well OP could block up garage and fill in driveway. then build new flat driveway and park on it.
but house without garage is worth less.
this home is a lose lose lose idea:(
if you really like it otherwise make a super lowball offer......
like 30% less than listing price contingent on home inspection.......
so you have a out......
only buy if you can add a functional garage somehow
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com says...

Oh good grief guys - there are many houses like this in the northeastern and midwestern US, people manage every day with this, many people. This is coming off like rejecting every pre-1970's house for having low ceilings or small closets. "Walk away from that house, it would cost you $$,$$$.$$ to raise those ceilings" blah blah blah.
I agree it's a hassle. I agree that drainage issues need to be *carefully* looked at. I'd *personally* pass on the house if there were another similar option. But I ain't the poster who asked the question. It's not like it's a house half-eaten with termites or something....
Every house has advantages and drawbacks. Some people care more about this or that advantage, some people couldn't care less about this or that drawback. I remember my father, a real estate agent at the time, sternly warning me away from any house on septic. Which would be 9/10s of this county LOL. I have well and septic.
Let's keep this in perspective.
Banty
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Banty wrote: ...

... That we don't know about... :)
But, otherwise, I agree--OP has been given things to look at/question/consider. Now he'll have to decide whether the positives are are or are not enough to make up for the negatives overall...
--
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one thing for certain, this discussion will occur again the NEXT time that house is for sale......
people will ponder the same issues.
and it will be harder to sell, at even a lower price because of that driveway
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com says...

Actually, that sort of thing usually gets factored in to the price. There will be comps around with that same kind of drawback. Or similar things like only having a carport. Or a really slopy property. Or a location on a busy through street. People do buy and sell these and live happily in them if they don't care and they know they might wait a little longer to find a buyer that doens't care. Bought a little cheaper, sold a little cheaper, so what. But you know what? I haven't noticed that these houses are the only ones with for sale signs. Or the ones on a busy street - I haven't noticed they're the only ones for sale. As I drive by, I see them to go "for sale", to "sold", to a moving van pulling up... This kind of thing is not a white elephant failing foundation/huge water damage/huge pet damage kind of thing. It's just one of 'em houses with an underhouse garage and a slope toward the door.
This isnt' like some kind of standout unusual problem in the Boston area.
The OP decides if it's a big deal for him, or not. Simple as that.
Banty
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wrote:

My driveway slopes down into the house. During a heavy rain look to see where the water goes. Mine drains off to the side and into a drain box, then a pipe carries it down the hill to the backyard. I have never had any water damage. It all depends, check out the house during a rain storm!
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PB2 wrote: ...
I'd agree w/ most of the other posters--the slope towards the house isn't the real problem; the real problem is it is a tank.
I owned a house in TN w/ a much steeper drive into the garage, but it was on a hillside and so there was room for a dip in the drive before the entrance in the door and the water was thereby diverted/prevented from entering the garage around the house and on down the hill.
Even w/ the little snow we got there, it was still a pita on the occasion of freezing weather.
W/ the arrangement here, unless it's such an economic deal you can easily afford to spend sizable $$ on repair in case it does flood and still come out well ahead, I'd opt for something w/o the problems instead.
If I went ahead, I'd plan on at least a $25K "kitty" as the rainy-day fund. If that thought elicits "ouch" and you don't have that kind of assets in some form which you can get to w/o pain somewhere else, I'd say you can't afford the deal no matter how good it looks on the initial purchase price.
And, simply as an aesthetic note, while the rest of the house is attractive the yawning cavern facing the street is an ugly eyesore.
$0.02, imo, ymmv, etc., etc., etc., ...
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dpb wrote: ...
I stick by the idea of needing to have the rainy-day fund just in case but having looked at more of the pictures (w/ dialup it's slow so normally don't look at much)...
The other comments about apparent repair to the garage door framing is probably right on target although it's not closeup enough to tell for sure. It's not out of the remote realm of possibility what is visible is a telegraphing finger joint but it needs serious examination of the condition.
That looks to me like a real water stains on the legs of the bench and around the walls in the garage--again, not very close but worthy of a serious look to see just what evidence is there.
OTOH, the walls around the furnace don't show water marks--is that because maybe they were just repainted, perhaps? If it has been wet it will be apparent if really look closely even though it looks ok just standing there.
On the subject of disclosure, you have to be sure to first read whatever is the MA law on disclosures and the form so you know what they really do have to say (assuming they're being up front of course and not hiding or at least not being more than the barest of bones about problems).
Then, one needs to make some probing questions about experience -- knowing when there were specific major storms in the area and finding out how they rode through those events in particular can be a useful tool.
Again, the independent inspector on _your_ payroll is vital but even if it looks "livable with" I still think you'll want to have resources earmarked because if you're in the house for any length of time odds are good you'll get some water damage.
hth...
--
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I looked at that framing with the same thought in mind, but also came to the conclusion that it needed a look in person.

Seconded - look very closely at walls, baseboards, and furniture for signs of moisture at the bottoms and especially for water stains or water level marks.

Yeah, suspect anything too pretty and new if there are other problem signs.

Then again, they may give one a song and a dance, not exactly saying there *isn't* a problem. Disclosure is easier to get around than one may think.

Absolutely ditto on the independent inspector. And this thread should arm the original poster with just the right questions to ask and items to direct his attention to and ask about.
Any house can up and surprise one, though. And inspectors can't look behind walls, and something looking "suspiciously new" may be the actual defnitive repair recently undertaken.
I still think it depends on the particulars - why they like the house so much, how much any given problem may impact them (might have and in-home business, for example, and be able to be snowbound once in a while), etc. etc.
Banty
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Banty wrote: ...

...
The thing is, one has to ask specific questions and get definitive answers on record--not sworn testimony but make sure they're answered w/ the buyer's agent present, include major attestments in offer letter conditions, etc. Then, if there is a material misrepresentation there is at least a reasonable recourse mechanism.
If the seller is utterly dishonest, of course, they'll say anything to close the sale and worry about the consequences later...
--
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Present, but not on paper?

Well, that's the thing. There's frankly a lot of nodding and winking in real estate transactions. People go to some lengths as homeowners "not to open a can of worms" and even pass up work and repairs so as not to excavate, etc., and find real issues to have to disclose. Better not to know, so folks arrange not to know.
Chasing a court case is an expense, hassle and stress, chasing someone to get a judgement paid is again an expense, hassle and stress. Even if it all goes relatively well.
So, I'd advise using a good independant home inspector, good solid jugement, a little perspective and flexibility as no house is perfect, and not putting stock in disclosure laws.
Banty
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Banty wrote: ...

...
Which is what I said rephrased...
I once offered a contract on a house w/ the requirement the seller share underwriting cost of an insurance contract on some fairly major excavation/foundation repair work.
That pursuit of claims is more difficult than no problems is unequivocally true--that making at least some reasonable effort to have a position should the need arise is only prudent.
The "wink-wink" stuff need only go on if you let it.
Undisclosed hidden issues are potentially a problem--septic systems are notorious for such. However, the problems in this case are pretty much right out there to be observed--what one has to do is to at least make an effort to determine what actual experience has been.
--
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Looking at the garage door on the left new wood has been spliced in twice, at 1 ft and 3 ft and I still see rot. But the left and center have new concrete, I would guess it was hit from sliding down an icy driveway many times and there may be rot hidden there as well. The only way you could use it in winter is with a 4wd and even then not safely if there is ice. So if you dont like 4wd, the extra expense, salt, sand, a good snowblower, forget it.
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