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Question DetailsAsked on 5/27/2016

Had inspection done on a home im buying bad news the ground is shiffting not the foundation need a specialist

Need a service or land specialist to check the soil for ground movement or to check if the house is cracking in half or geologist for water or structural damage under the house

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1 Answer


What you need is a Geotechnical Engineer - though note that on a pre-buy inspection he will only be able to tell you if there are obvious signs of slope stability or bad ground conditions - the borehoe sampling investigations would generally not be allowed by a Seller and would be too expensive (typically a thousand $ or frequently several times that much) for a pre-buy inspection.

That is NOT an AL category - so you have to google for Soils or Foundation engineers in your area, then cross-check on Al to see if they possibly have a profile or reviews - but not likely.

If the home inspector is the one who flagged this potential issue, he may be able to recommend an engineer - as might your realtor. The other thought - if he saw something he thought was indication of trouble, that might be enough to cause you to walk away without spending the probably $400-600 for a geotechnical engineer to do an on-site inspection and a letter report indicating the conditions, which would also indicate what sort of repairs are likely to be needed (but probably not a cost estimate for that amount of fee).

Generally, while a specific structural issue in a home might be accepted by the buyer (with a firm repair bid for it in hand from a contractor), with soil failure/slope stability issues it is the rare person who wants to accept the potential risks of what the repair cost might be in buying the house because until you get well into the repair you commonly do not have a good handle on total likely cost, and generally the owners will not fork out the money for a full geotechnical investigation much less the repair if you put it in as a purchase contingency, so full-blown foundation or house-bearing soil/slope failures tend to be walk-aways. Another problem you get into is if the engineer says yes, there appears to be cause for concern, the next step of borings or test trenching to detearmine the cause and extent take long enough to schedule and perform and get soil testing done that you would generally have to extend the inspection and contingency counteroffer period a month or so to get it done, which generally also means not only a fair amount of $ but also extending the closing date - not something either party is usually amenable to doing.

The end result, with substantial soils issues, is either the buyer walks away based on the home inspector noticing something awry, they accept the risk and buy the house (possibly knocking some significant amount - commonly $10,000 or even substantially more - I have seen millions knocked off on pricy homes) in a counteroffer to hopefully cover it after the sale closes, or the owner ends up getting the testing and repairs done after he has enough buyers walkk away after finding out about it. Or he waits and hopes some home inspector and buyer will miss teh issue and not request to see any recent inspection reports, if that is not required by law in their state.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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