I have no where to go with this and I'm seeking help.
It will be one year that I purchased my home at the end of this month.
I had a home inspection done and there was mention of fixing 2 cracks
in the basement. I had a representative from Basement Systems come to
my house today for a quote and he said he wouldn't even touch my house.
He stated that my house was sinking and he didn't know how it passed
the home inspection. Now I'm really nervous and concerned and have no
idea what to do now. Any advice anyone can lend would be greatly
The cracks aren't causing me any major problems. We had some very
severe downpours for 4 days and I noticed water coming in which is why
I began getting estimates. To fix the problem before it got worse.
Well it just got worse!
Yes an inspection was done. He did metion the cracks due to settling
but I'm pretty sure settling is much different then sinking. I have a
friend who works for city hall and advised me that there is a whole
file on my house and letters that the seller wrote to the city
indicating this problem and seeking assistance from the city. So the
sellers knew however on all the forms that they had to mention of
problems the house had, they failed to mention any of this. I am so
Thanks for your response!!!
Well, there you go. Now all you have to do is
track down an engineering company that can design,
price, and execute a fix, locate the sellers,
and sue their ass to pay for it. No problem.
(You didn't buy the house "as is", did you?)
You need an attorney, now. You are posting from Rhode Island, and
assuming that is where the home is located you have state laws that
require discloure of any material defects.
File suit against the seller and the real estate agent for failure to
disclose, and ask for damages sufficient to either repair the house or
to recover any loss on sale, should you decide to sell it. Upon the
advice of an attorney, referral to the RI Real Estate Commission may
result in criminal charges against the agent and/or seller.
Before someone goes off the deep end and starts not only a civil
action, but criminal, don't you think it would be a good idea to get an
opinion from a structural engineer? All the OP has is an opinion from
"Basement Systems?", of unknown qualification. There are all kinds of
basement waterproofing companies that run around spewing FUD, with no
qualifications at all.
That's not the crux of the legal issue. The problem is that the seller
(and possibly the seller's agent) knew of a material defect in the
property and did not disclose it as required by law. Now that the new
owner knows of the defect they must disclose it to any potential buyers.
Diminished value because of failure to disclose is a cause in and of
If you are serioius, a civil / structural engineer or a forensic
engineer would be a help.
A sub soil investigation will be needed to determin the bearing
capacity of the soil.
I would gather sales agreement, inspection reports, drawings of the
house that you have.
Building Department inspection reports with names of designers and
contractors might be available.
Get to a lawyer ASAP. You may only have one year to go after the
inspector, in NJ it is two years for professional liability. Be
prepared to make numerous calls before you find an attorney to help
you, took me about 20 to find someone to help with a similar issue.
While you are looking for a lawyer also get a second opinion on the
'sinking house' diagnosis.
Some cracking is inevitable. I have fine cracks in the concrete floors
of my basement and garage. I don't know about the poured concrete walls
in the basement since they are covered by a stud wall, insulation, vapor
barrier, and sheetrock. The floor cracks do not allow water into the
basement or garage.
Call the building inspector. Let him/her follow it up. His/her
reputation is on the line, and he/she will put the blame on someone else.
Step one is to make sure you get local legal advice at once to assure
that you don't miss any deadline that might occur at one year. Repeat: Step
one is to make sure you get local legal advice at once to assure that you
don't miss any deadline that might occur at one year.
Step two involves discovering just how bad, not not so bad the situation
is. For that you need someone especially qualified. There may be local
regulations so be sure to check out those.
Who/what is "Basement Systems"? What expertise/license does the guy
have? Did he put anything in writing? If there is nothing in writing,
I'd think about getting them out again. Or similar contractor. What
did he state as symptomatic that your home is "sinking"? Sounds a bit
like "I'm too busy .. think I'll get rid of some customers" kind of day.
If there is a warranty on the purchase, I'd pay attention to the fine
print about giving notice. Then I'd have a glass of wine and start
looking for reputable contractors who can assess the problem and suggest
corrective measures .. licensed, in writing, etc.
You got old coal mines or sink holes in the area? Underground rivers?
Other homes "sinking"? Age of home? Type of construction? If the guy
simply walked away, with no explanation or suggestions, it would not be
the guy I'd want to start doing major construction on my house.
First, the guy from "Basement Systems" may simply be wrong. How does he KNOW
the basement/house is sinking. The building could have been in the state he
first saw it for the past 50 years. So,
1. Find out why he says what he says,
2. Get someone else to confirm the diagnosis, preferably someone with
impeccable credentials (civil engineering firm, etc.).
3. Line up a slew of notaries public for all the discovery, depositions,
etc. that are in your future.
4. Start taking, and dating, pictures.
Sort of my first thought too. How old is this house? If a house has
a serious sinking foundation problem, you typically have floors out of
level, doors that won't close and are obviously out of square, and
major cracks in walls. Do you have any of that?
A friend of mine bought a house with all of the above in upstate NY 2
years ago. It was a 100 year old house at a great price and he knew
the defects going in. It has out of square doors, and some floors
out of level, but otherwise it's structurally sound and ain't gonna
fall down anytime soon.
Thank you for your input. I have a friend who works for a Property
Lawyer and they gave the number of a very reputable company to call.
They are coming to look at the property on Monday so I will see what he
has to say. I did find a file in city hall on my property. Come to find
out that the owners of this house back in 1974 signed a letter
releasing the city from any and all water damages that occur to the
house. It is in the deed. I cannot find it in any any of my paperwork
however. Leaving all problems to the property owner. I found out that
there is a brook under my house. It was built in 1960. The seller wrote
numerous letters to the city trying to get them to help with the water
problems. There are also sink holes that he has had to fill several
times. So far I have not seen any.
Oh, so many issues and so little space.
First off, there's a brook under your house????
Second, why is this the city's problem? Did they build it?
Third, the house is 46 years old. If the cracks haven't moved in 2
score and 6 years, then you're probably okay. If they are moving now,
then you need to know why.
Fourth, did your attorney or title company tell you about that little
item in the deed? If not, you should be talking to your attorney.
That may be your recourse. The item was somewhat disclosed in the
deed, your attorney just didn't tell you about it.
Fifth, relax and take the weekend off. The house has been here for 46
years and isn't going anywhere by monday.
Sixth, if your door still open and close good, the sink still drains,
the water still runs, and the floors are level, you're in pretty good
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