Real Estate

You Need A Solid Foundation…

Basement wall cracks inside.
Visible basement wall cracks inside.

When looking to buy or rent a home, there are some things that don’t require an engineering degree to figure out.

In these pictures notice the cracks in the basement wall on the inside, see the mold growing on the wall and the obvious cracks in the foundation on the outside. Take note that the tree outside is located right where the crack is on the inside. This is a good example why we should never plant large trees close to a foundation. (Click pictures for larger view.)

This home was built in the 1940’s. The original foundation is brick & mortar. At one time the foundation was resurfaced with another product over the original foundation.  Now that resurfaced product is cracking on top of the original mortar that has obviously lost it’s integrity over the years.

With so many homes to choose from, there are times when a site inspection by a buyer or renter can eliminate a home from their list based on obvious structural issues like these. Once you find a home you really like, I always recommend an inspection by a licensed professional to find any less obvious problems.

NOTE: The house in these pictures was rented by a friend of mine who prioritized rental cost over structural warning signs.  Unfortunately for her, the mold effected her so bad she had to break her lease and move out. She may have saved money on rent, but in the long run the cost of legal advice and moving twice ended up costing more.  Don’t make the same mistake she did; heed the warning signs and get an inspection.

Visual Mold
Visible mold growing on the wall.
Outside where crack is located inside.
Outside corner where crack is located inside.
Obvious foundation cracks.
Obvious foundation cracks.
History · Real Estate

House 5…

We sold the Vancouver house by the power towers on 9.30.96 for $102,000 and moved into an apartment while we searched for another home.  Our goal was to avoid feeling pressured to buy a house.  This time we wanted to take our time looking for a new home.

For the record:  The Vancouver house sold for $193,500 on 4.16.08.

We settled on a small (1124 SF) 2-3 bedroom, 1 bath, 1910 fixer in the small river town of Kalama, WA.  The home was located on a 75×100 lot.  The house had been owned by the same family for years.  We bought the house on 12.28.96 for $78,000.  The house was dated and needed a lot of cleaning; however, living in an apartment enabled us to work on the house prior to moving in.

The house had several original (vintage) characteristics inside.  The heat source consisted of an old Coleman wall heater on an interior wall with vents in the ceiling to the upstairs that allowed gravity to take the heat upstairs. Some of the modern conveniences in this house were obviously added after the house was built.  On the plus side, the house had updated electrical!  The house had no garage, but the lot “seemed” large enough to build one on in the future.

We spent one month working on the house nonstop nights and weekends before we moved in.

During the time we owned this house we installed forced air heat, totally renovated the bathroom (including dry rot repair in the flooring), replaced the roof, installed new front and back doors, replaced broken windows, reinforced the ceiling in the living room, replaced all the carpeting, installed new vinyl in the kitchen, dining and bath, painted, new cooktop, added a skylight in the kitchen, cleaned up the landscaping, built a garden shed and grew a garden.

We planned to build a garage until we found out we’d need a survey done prior to getting a permit to build one.  We didn’t want to spend that kind of money.  Rumor had it that Kalama is known for property boundary disputes (something we didn’t know when we bought the house).

Finally the place seemed like home, and then the unthinkable happened in December, 1997, my husband and I both lost our jobs at the same time!  By February, 1998 we were ready to sell and move for work.  We listed our house for sale by owner with courtesy to broker, priced it right and sold it in the first week, to the first buyer, for $92,000.  It should be noted that at that time, homes didn’t sell fast in Kalama.

Next location?  Wisconsin (my home state).

For the record: The Kalama house sold again on 3.24.05 for $130,000.