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So here's the low down:

Bought a home about four months ago. Inspection made no mention of any cracks anywhere, and honestly didn't even mention a single thing about the foundation (probably a big red flag). After moving in I noticed a lengthy horizontal crack about 20 feet long, hairline, about five feet up from the slab. There area also a few horizontal cracks. Minor bowing, which I know to be hydrostatic pressure from the outside. Two contractors have recommended steel I-beams and a sump pump. One recommended entrenching the front of the house and backfilling with gravel. The other said the bowing is not bad enough for that. It is a block foundation.

On top of this, I've noticed a lot of cracks that were poorly patched with tape and mud. These cracks are now reappearing. They appear in the corner of several windows in one corner of the home. One that comes up from the floor on the second floor and goes to the corner of the window. The other starts on the same side of the window and goes up towards the ceiling. I should mention there is an almost identical crack on the outside of the window in the brick.

Also, all around the outside of the home, which is cinder block, I'm getting horizontal cracks, all hairline. I am showing two stairstep cracks in the foundation, one about 3/16" wide from one corner of a block window, another stairstep crack starts at the other corner of that window but is not wide.

I'm really trying to determine the extent of the damage. The fact that the cracks are reappearing through the crappy patch jobs tell me that the problem is ongoing, that it may have been settling at one time but the issue continues. Also, the fact that the cracks have been patched tells me the owner knew about the issues and disclosed "no" for any known foundational issues. I know people will say to get a structural engineer, which I plan to, just trying to get some more input before. I'd also like to add that the previous owner is a realtor and probably knows how to hide certain issues. Thanks!

  • are you really looking for guesses? .... ask the inspector to explain why they did not include the cracks in the inspection report .... it is also possible that you do not have any structural issues – jsotola Dec 30 '18 at 1:14
  • In my jurisdiction the seller MUST report known issues like this, even if they sell the house "as is". The previous owner/seller (real estate agent, why am I not surprised...) either knew or should have known about these issues and could be held liable for remediation costs. – Jimmy Fix-it Dec 30 '18 at 7:10
  • No guesses, just ideas from people with similar experience or observations. In the disclosure, they stated specifically no to the foundation and in comments put "Nothing since we have owned the house." – Chris Kramer Dec 30 '18 at 14:30
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Sounds like you've already identified numerous existing structural issues. Your issue is, you currently (presumingly) have no evidence of when the repairs were made, and when the issues started again, or, if as you may be suggesting, they ever stopped to begin with.

As far as the Home Inspection goes, it depends on the company you went with, but I believe generally there really is no liability that they own. They are supposed to be an experienced guide to help you know what you dont know; their quality is personal, training only goes so far. Now... this said, sure there can be liability, and there are cases where the inspector has been fined etc (I beleive it is rare)- but it doesn't solve your issues. This is definitely dependent on the contract you entered into with them, how reputable they were, etc.

As for the Seller, regardless of their line of work, you've identified that you believe strongly they are covering and lying (or accidentally forgot.... which is possible) of these issues. You'll own burden of proof.

You should collect what evidence you have, circumstantial or otherwise, and discuss it with an attorney. The burden of proof can be hard to achieve, but perhaps not impossible. Either way, you are between a rock and a hard place and should investigate all of your options and decide where you want to put your energy. Perhaps fixing it is your route. Good luck.

  • Well, these are things that I believe to be structural issues. Hence why I came here to see if anyone had any experience or observed similar things that I am seeing here. I have entertained the idea of approaching the seller, telling them that I plan on pursuing the legal route and offering them the opportunity to come clean and pay for repairs before I went the legal route. – Chris Kramer Dec 30 '18 at 12:32
  • You're going to have to put a plethora of photo's up. – noybman Dec 30 '18 at 17:39
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I have rarely found cinder block basements to be dry in the winter in fact I expect them to leak. If during the inspection things looked good and dry the report may not have mentioned any hairline cracks because all masonry just as concrete is the same those that have cracks and those that will. If the home did not have a sump the problem may be getting worse and was not a problem in the past. I state this because 1 of the contractors said it wasent bad enough for reinforcement. For me to try and dry up the basement digging out adding drains and back filling With rock is the best way to go while it is open a yellow jacket coat or other water proofing membrain can possibly dry things out but even doing this I still have seen leaks in block walls below grade. With all the issues you have mentioned I would expect some mention of the condition to be in the report but I have also seen home owners not knowing construction try and take things to court and loose. My best advice is to have professional evaluations more than 1 and 3 is better done with quotes and talk with a Attorney. The quotes in many cases are free but additional evaluations may cost. It is possible that if you post photos of the wall showing the bow and cracks folks here might say what I have about block foundations or we might oh that should have been mentioned. Also update your question with the year the home was built.

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