We hear the story over and over again. Young couple moves into a new (used) home, excited and eager to begin a new life. Within a year the home begins to show signs of foundation or floor movement, with drywall cracks with doors and windows starting to malfunction. Soon their joy fades to concern and then to dismay as they start to worry what will happen going forward. Many times the home was purchased from a flipper…. someone who buys a fixer upper and fixes it up to sell.
Often the new owner has their savings into the purchase and is a little house poor. Certainly not in a position to spend a large or even a small sum on foundation repairs. Home inspectors do a fine job noticing issues that need to be repaired. They do not have the training to do floor elevations surveys that could point them to recent repairs. Often they notice small signs that could stand out as a red flag. Often they direct the realtor to contact us. The problem being that the inspection time period is usually all used up by then.
Our consultants and engineering team members are usually booked out at least 2 or 3 weeks…. Far too long to save the transaction. We recently put a team and process together to directly address this problem. We now have a dedicated consultant and EA tech solely for these transactions. Our consultant is from the real estate industry, giving him the background and skills needed to help in this type of transaction.
Agents need to either have a clause that extends the inspection window time upon discovery of issues that need to be investigated or call us at the beginning of the inspection period instead of waiting for the issue to be identified.
It is the latter that I would like to discuss. If each real estate transaction had a “level B” foundation investigation many of these issues could be dealt with in a more productive way. But there is another reason why this would be so valuable. The elevations for each time period could be used as a snapshot in time to gage how the foundation and floors how moved between the intervening time periods. Its called a subtractive manometer. You take the beginning numbers and subtract them from the current numbers and then the values are plotted the topography software.
One the left, is the original read. The middle is the readings at a later date. The right is the subtractive manometer. At first glance, it there does not seem to be much difference between the original and later read. However with the added difference displayed in the subtractive topo, we can easily see how it has moved over time. The middle areas are either going down or the corners are going up. Something that would not have been possible to detect looking at the 2nd manometer alone.
We can see that it is immensely valuable to have the earlier data to be able to have much more accurate and useful information. If every transaction recorded this data, to be used later, to be able to develop a subtractive topo map, the value would be stupendous!