old retaining wall

Hi
I am thinking about buying a home, but wanted some feedback on what I think the home inspector may think is a big concern.
The home is on the corner lot of an uphill road and sits quite high above the sidewalk on the sloped side, and the yard is also at least 1 foot higher than the sidewalk on the level street side. There is an old retaining wall (it may be the age of the home - 100 years) running along the perimeter of the sidewalk enclosing the corner of the plot. The wall looks to be in pretty bad shape -- cracks, water stains, generally very OLD looking.
How big of a deal is the shape of this wall? Would touch-ups probably be sufficient, or might there come a time when the entire wall needs to be replaced? Do you think this will be a major issue in a home inspection?
Thanks!
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Can't say for sure not seeing it, but I doubt that a 1' wall will create a major issue. You also neglected to way what the wall is made from. Ugly timbers or lovely stone? What you don't know, is when the "damage" happened. If the wall is 100 years old and moved and cracked 90 years ago, and has been stable since, it will probably last another 100 years.
It can be replace numerous ways today. Dig it out and pour a solid concrete wall, put a facing on the concrete, build from block and brick, block and stucco, or use the landscaping blocks and it becomes a DIY project. Or do nothing if it does not bother you and does not move any more.
I would not let it become a deal breaker. If it was a 15' wall and in danger of imminent collapse, I'd be more concerned.
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Thanks for the feedback Edwin.
Just to follow up, the wall is 1' on the level side of the street -- but on the sloped side it might taper out to about 5'!
I looks to be concrete or a concrete/stone combo, and I just saw a picture of it about 3 years ago and you can see that major touch-ups had been done around that time because they allmost white back then. It looked like there were a lot of major cracks, and the corner was almost completed touched up.
Any further thoughts?
-Pat
Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

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been there done that wall repair gig:(
No doubt its old and someday may need replaced.
since your a buyer get a few estimates on replacing it, and try getting something off on the cost of the home. the owner knows it has troubles.
big $$$ are available with a bit of negoiating:)
Say 3 contractors estimate 6 grand for replacement, start by asking for that much offL)
no luck go to 50% or l;ower if need be,
you have nothing to lose and can save lots of money:)
The dirty secret is ALL RETAINING WALLS FAAIL EVENTUALLY!
easiet thing to do iis tear out wall taper hill a little and plant groundcover. requires no futher work I have done that at 2 homes it works great no hill doesnt slide!
anyhow for now use wall as bargaining point!
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The dirty secret is ALL RETAINING WALLS FAAIL EVENTUALLY!
ALL RETAINING WALLS " DONE INCORRECTLY" FAIL EVENTUALLY I am a mason and my brother is a Concrete contractor and we have replaced many walls that were incorrectly built with ones that will be there till they are torn down.
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:
SNIP The dirty secret is ALL RETAINING WALLS FAIL EVENTUALLY! SNIP
Why do some people posting to this group keep posting this silly notion?
I've seen retaing walls show distress with a year of construction.....I've seen 50 & 80 year old walls as stable as the day they were built
do you not trust in engineered structures?
The statement
ALL RETAINING WALLS FAIL EVENTUALLY makes as much sense as ALL BRIDGES FAIL EVENTUALLY!
are talking about within ithe walls design life or are we considering geologic time?
cheers Bob
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:
SNIP The dirty secret is ALL RETAINING WALLS FAIL EVENTUALLY! SNIP
Why do some people posting to this group keep posting this silly notion?
I've seen retaing walls show distress with a year of construction.....I've seen 50 & 80 year old walls as stable as the day they were built
do you not trust in engineered structures?
The statement
ALL RETAINING WALLS FAIL EVENTUALLY makes as much sense as ALL BRIDGES FAIL EVENTUALLY!
are talking about within ithe wall's design life or are we considering geologic time?
cheers Bob
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If there are cracks, but the wall is reasonably straight, it should still not be a deal breaker, IMO. If it is being pushed far out from plumb, it will need attention sooner. It may have to be removed, deeper better footings put in, then rebuilt. That would be costly and is a consideration for the overall value (price) of the house. Probably be best to get someone to take a look at it if that is the case.
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as a buyer GET A HOME INSPECTION! IT WILL SAVE YOU MONEY!
it will help cut the sales price since on a older home no doubt theres lots of troubles. Its better you aware of major defects.
yes it will be a big issue on a home inspection
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Maybe, maybe not. A good home inspection will point out problems and potential problems. That does not mean the owner will reduce the price. The buy still has the option of just passing on to another house. There are plenty of complaints that inspectors missed serious problems too, and there is little or no recourse. Sometimes you are better off having Uncle Bob go through the house with you.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

I would use uncle bob AND a inspector.
home inspector is buyers best friend and owners worst nightmare.
at least buyer has more knowledge of what trouble the home may have, then its up to them wether to negoiate price.
TODAY owner is more likely to lower price.
Lets say home inspector finds a problem , if buyer backs out SELLER MUST BY LAW DISCLOSE THIS AND ANY OTHER TROUBLES THE HOME INSPECTOR FOUND!
If they dont they can be easily sued.......
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I had better luck if inspector and realtor do not know each other. i.e. hire an inspector from a nearby city. Also, inspectors that are a member of ASHI have been more complete in inspecting the whole house.
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

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Its not real clear what it is you are asking. How big a deal is the shape of this wal? Well how big a deal is it to you? If the wall is not leaning it should more than likely be fine. I have seen retaining wall as old as you mention that have been leaning for decades and will probably never go anywhere. Ofcourse if you are going to disturb the ground anywhere around this wall in the future Im sure it will become a problem. As far as being "old" looking so are the Pyramids and the Roman Colosseum but these structures havent moved in thousands of years. As a mason i can tell you, I would call a local Mason (an older guy) out to have him inspect the wall and offer any suggestions. If it is indeed that old and made of stone it may just need re pointed which is a process where old loose mortor (cement) is removed and new is put in. Keep this in mind...if it is stone the cost to reproduce that wall today using the same materials would probably be in the same ballpark as your last car. I would try to keep it or save it even at great exspense.
pat wrote:

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Yes, but after 2000 years, the Coliseum is in bad shape. They really should have put aluminum siding on it.
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Nice one I like that......
Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

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