I am not a handyman. I received a home inspection report that has a
defect which reads:
In the crawl space, under the front porch, I observed a structurally
unsupported stud wall vertical support structure for several floor
joist ends. The stud wall's 2x6 wood bottom plate rests soley upon the
vapor barrier, with no observable concrete footer support -
recommended further evaluation by a structural professional.
Is this a big problem? Can someone with knowledge on this matter
explain what is going on in layman's terms and what the potential
Sounds like he is saying that the porch floor is supported by a short stud
wall that is resting solely on dirt (with a vapor barrier over it) without
the recommended (required) concrete foundation. I would think this might
lead to the porch settling at some time in the future. That being said, my
house, front third and back third, being old porches that were converted to
year round living space are supported by piles of brick, block or wood that
the builder had on hand when the porches were built. These sit right on the
ground, without even a vapor barrier. The house is 89 years old... my
family has owned it for the last 55 of those years and there has never been
any settling. No cracked walls, ceilings, etc. But then we sit high on a
hill over the river with no water drainage problems and only about 6 inches
of soil before sand and gravel starts. I figure it'll outlast me and the
kids can sell the riverfront lot for more than I paid for the house, when
Thanks for the information Tom. Unfortunately, I don't have the
fortune of living in this house much longer. I am relocating due to
job, so my house is pending sale. This is one of the items the
inspector advised the buyer should be fixed before moving forward with
That being said, I am trying to be as proactive as possible about
fixing it. I've been reading my home warranty which provides 10-year
structural, as I think is relatively common. There is one clause that
bothers me about the items excluded, and it might or might not be a
big deal. Specifically it says:
Basement and other interior floating, ground supported concrete slabs.
I don't have a basement, but I am speculating whether or not this is
and "other interior floating, ground supported concrete slab" issue.
Also, on the "included" section of the structural warranty, it
mentions "Floor systems." I am hoping this problem falls within the
definition of that.
The warrantor requires a $250 inspection fee, and only provides a
mailing address. There is an emergency phone number, but it mentions
only contacting it in case of eminent injury. I am thinking of calling
it anyway. I am fairly concerned about this problem... I haven't had
to deal with a home warranty company before, and I don't know, in
general, what the experience is like (are the expedient, dodgy, etc).
Any experiences or furher ideas about the original problem would again
be greatly appreciated.
"other interior floating, ground supported concrete slab" If you don't
have a basement then I assume you may have the house on a "cement slab" in
which case the interior floors may "float" rather be resting on the exterior
foundation wall. But if your porch is supported by a stud wall then perhaps
you have a crawl space under the main part of the house, also, but that
would have an exterior cement foundation or pilings to support the walls of
Twenty years ago when for a short time, I was a Realtor, we pushed the home
warranty mostly because it kept the buyers from coming back on the Realtor
if something went wrong after the sale and the seller was no where around.
I would suspect that a close reading of the contract would reveal that the
home warranty company has given itself so many "outs" that it would be
difficult to collect on much of anything. If it were I, I would negotiate a
reduction in price on the home in return for the buyer accepting it "as is".
You probably have seen outside decks where the posts supporting the deck go
down to concrete piers. The piers look like this...
This is the way it should be done. You don't want the wood directly touching
the ground because termites would then have a path to the wood and then to
your house. Also moisture in the ground can rot the wood.
Perhaps the porch was sloping at one point and someone "fixed" it with a bit
of additional support. However the support has wood directly in contact with
the ground. If there is enough room under there for someone to sit up or be
on their knees, it probably would be easy to jack up the joists with a
couple of car jacks, install concrete piers, then add the wood supports. I'm
doing this to my bathroom and the materials will not cost more than $50 and
it will take maybe a few hours of work**.
But if there is not much room to get under there and work (like in the above
picture where you could only lay down after that deck was finished), then it
would be pain. This was the case with my bathroom floor. And here is the
"**"... I first had to dig out the crawl space so I could get in there to
do the work! Then had to move some plumbing to make room for a new support
beam. This has taken months and would have cost a homeowner thousands of
dollars in labor.
"John Wheeler" wrote in message
From my experience:
With a home under selling contract, there just isn't enough time to
schedule a contractor, build a footer, and for the concrete to cure
before closing. Both real estate agents know this. What the agents both
want is for you do get a quote for building footers, and then make a cash
settlement at closing giving back to the buyer the cost of the footers.
As you already expect, this might involve removal of the porch, make
(pour) the footers, and rebuild the porch. Expensive.
As others have said, forget any home warranty, as you just don't have the
time between now and closing to fight backers of the home warranty.
Talk to your agent. That person is supposed to be working for you, (but
in most places I have lived, they work for the person with the money, ie
the buyer.) Find out what the buyer really wants; removal of the porch
and replaced with just concrete steps, cash settlement at closing,
postpone settlement until repairs are done (and re-inspection at buyer's
cost,) or cancel contract.
What ever you do, don't let your agent baffle you with 'Code-Words.' The
problems of real estate deals going bad, and ending up in court, has the
agents resorting to a bunch of code words that have many meanings. And,
the meaning they are using has no relationship with the meaning you, as a
real estate layperson, is going have for those same words.
Don't forget, it isn't the home inspector's report that really counts,
IMHO, it is local building code. If the porch is in violation of
building code, you are just screwed. You, as seller, must have the house
in compliance with building code at time of sale (with adjustments for
grandfather clause(s) in building code.) I don't know your local
building code, but I am guessing you don't want to show the home
inspector's report to your local building inspector's office for their
official stance on the porch footing being code compliant or not.
Again, just from my own bitter experience.
The stud wall's 2x6 wood bottom plate rests soley upon the
Don't you just love home inspectors? Someone paid this guy
to recommend that you pay someone else for their opinion.
Just see if you can remove the wall all together. If it was
just put in the center of the porch to keep it from being
springy, you may be able to remove it.
First thing I'd do is get down there and look at what the guy is talking
It sounds like somebody else posted an add-on structural support to
stiffen a porch floor, but it's not possible to know that for sure from
what was written there w/o seeing it.
If, indeed, that's all the problem is it shouldn't take much to replace
it w/ a shorter wall supported on a short pier--even blocking could
possibly satisfy the inspector--you'd need to ask.
As for the home warranty, the clause you guote isn't applicable as there
is no slab in question.
The question is whether the structural problem noted is original or
added later and therefore its correction could possibly be covered.
I'd pursue them vigorously to attempt to get a resolution on it if the
potential buyer is adamant about getting it repaired rather than getting
As others also noted, often these items are negotiated w/ an allowance
for future repair costs. This one shouldn't be a real deal breaker
unless the buyer is looking for a way out.
I greatly appreciate the feedback. This woudn't be something anyone
added later, as I purchased the home new and have only had it for
I contacted a structural engineer, and he is coming out tomorrow to
take a look. I read him the inspection report, and he said over the
phone that often times what happens is that the builder uses stud
walls as reinforcements while building the porch, and that it wouldn't
be any big deal. I am hoping that is the case.
I'd say you are on the right track. If the engineer tells you that
it's improper construction and needs a footer, then I would
immediately contact the warranty company. As you stated earlier,
structural defects are covered for 10 years and if they did not place
a foundation of any type where it is required, that certainly should
be covered. Make sure you have good pictures of the area in question.
As someone else pointed out, you probably aren't going to get a
resolution from the warranty company before the closing. This is how
I would handle it. If the engineer confirms there is a problem,
contact the buyer and tell them you want to work with them to solve
it. Suggest that you pick 3 contractors that are acceptable to both
of you and get quotes to fix it. Then, based on the quotes, see if
you can get the buyer to take a discount to cover it. If they won't
agree to that, then I'd probably proceed to have it fixed myself, if
it can be done quick enough within the terms of the sales contract.
Keep good records and then if you're lucky, you'll recover from the
warranty company. I'd also read the warranty terms about any
conditions relating to who has to do the work, procedures for claims,
Because that is what my Real Estate agent told me. In the community I
sold the home, the standard home selling contract contained a fine print
clause about building code violations. Has something to do with buyer's
FHA home load, IIRC. I think the sale contract was some FHA standard
form. VA back loans may have an even stronger worded clause.
Lawyer and banker stuff.
Around here, NJ, the house only has to meet certain parts of the
current code regarding safety in order to get a CO and be sold.
For example, if there are steps leading to the porch that have no
banister, that needs to added. If you don't have smoke detectors,
they need to be added. If there are leaking drain pipes, they need
to be fixed. But there is no requirement that the whole house be
compliant with the current code.
I'd be pretty darn sure that's all the legal requirement would be for
the other poster's case as well. Something added by a lender or even
FHA/VA loan requirements aren't required; there are alternate forms of