Structural Home Issue

Buying a new home? Be on the look out for a structural home issue when house hunting.  It doesn’t necessarily take a licensed home inspector to spot items that can be warning flags.  Of course, with any house, if the price is right, then an issue might not be a concern.  Here is an additional article.

Over the weekend, I received a call from a buyer client. A house had come back on the market in Rock Creek – their first choice neighborhood – and it had a lot of features they wanted.  Three car garage, walkout basement, open layout.  Unfortunately, as we were viewing the house we noticed it also had several structural home issues.

heat duct pulling away from house is a structural home issue
It is really uncommon to see duct work pulling away from the house like this. This is an indication of a serious structural home issue.

Let me add a personal thought. What I love about real estate? Helping people. What I hate? Warning clients about house issues they may not see in their excitement.   For instance, last year there were the clients that fell in love with a home the first day we went to look at houses. Only problem? There was a traffic light in the back corner of the backyard.  It was so loud outside, we had to walk back indoors to talk about the traffic light. That seemed like a red flag – intersections rarely become more quiet over time.

So, yesterday, seeing this wonderful Rock Creek house and then noticing all sorts of red flags regarding structural home issues was a real disappointment.  Here is what I noticed and pointed out to my clients:

  • The basement floor was heaving. This is a structural home issue because it can affect over levels of the house (which turned out to be the case).
  • Worse – though unfinished, the floor of the basement was tiled, suggesting the owners might have been trying to disguise the issue.
  • The windows on the main and second levels would not properly latch.  This structural home issue is an indication that every window is out of plumb.  This is a serious red flag.
  • We noticed cracks in the ceiling while the rest of the house had fresh paint. The fresh paint was actually a concern – a possible indication the owner was trying to cover up past cracking.
  • We started looking actively at the house and removed a heat vent. Bingo.  The air duct piping had torn away from the house structure. This is a serious and rare structural home issue.

It added up to a difficult conversation. While yes – the house had new carpet, fresh paint and the kitchen my buyers want (granite & stainless steel), there were a lot of red flags both inside and outside the house indicating there could be serious home structural issues.   Though disappointing, it is less expensive to wait for the right house at top dollar than spend a lot of money on a structural engineer especially when the seller is not disclosing the issue up front (as was the case yesterday).

Like I say, I love my job when it is helping people.  And yesterday, I feel like I really helped my clients avoid a money pit with a serious structural home issue!

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