Wet Basements

Published on November 10th, 2013 | by Henri

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Repairing foundation problems that were hidden by house seller

Q.    I purchased a house about 8 years ago. After I moved in, I discovered the basement retained water, this was a question I asked the seller before I purchased the house, who said it did not get water.

I had an inspection done before purchasing, but the seller did a good job of hiding the fact. In any case, I finally saved enough money to have French drains put in.  The contractor advised me to take the drywall off the wall in the basement, in case there was any mold (putting up this wall was one of the ways the seller hid a defect in the foundation).

When I took the drywall down (it was the only wall the former owner had drywall on), I discovered a bulge and a shift in the foundation of approximately 3 inches out and approximately 6 feet long. How do I go about repairing this problem?

A.    First, you have a claim against the former owners; sellers are required by law to divulge defects, and not only did they not divulge the leakage and wall problem, they lied when you asked them! The real estate agent may also bear some responsibility but that is questionable. Finally, did the inspector miss something — such as water stains at the base of the gypsum wall (unless the wall was installed just before the sale and no leakage occurred after that).

There could also have been some other signs but, unless you have photos taken at the time of the inspection, it may not be possible to prove that there was something suspicious on the wall after eight years. The training and experience of the inspector are always very important in hiring one.

The surest way to get an experienced inspector is to look for one who is a fully certified member of ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors). To find one, visit ASHI”s Web site at: www.ashi.org and follow the prompts under “Find a Home Inspector.”

A 3-inch displacement in what I assume is a block wall is quite serious. If it is on a bearing wall, it can lead to structural collapse. This is not something for you to fix yourself. You need to have an experienced contractor (or an experienced mason) investigate the best procedure for repairs. The fact that the bulge and shift are only six feet long is a plus, and it may make the repairs easier and less costly. When you have all the answers, decide whether or not it is worth talking to an attorney.

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