1800 Market Place #140, Irving, TX

405 Plantation Dr. Coppell, TX


Out and About — Engineers and Realtors

I just sold a home in Carrollton and you might be interested in some unique challenges that came to light.

Three years ago the sellers I’m representing had extensive foundation work done. Over 20 piers were installed and they also replaced a lot of the plumbing under the foundation. After a bit of time and $14,000 later, they thought surely all was well.

Now it was time for them to sell and they prepared the home before listing, aiming to get top dollar. We got an offer quickly but it fell apart. The buyers wanted to low ball the price and wanted the seller to do more repairs; this terminated and we got another offer. The next prospective buyers were much more reasonable and they requested that we have the foundation inspected. Though the foundation may have seemed unlevel in some places, we were feeling pretty good about all the work and the $14,000 that was spent three years before. It was all done according to a structural engineer’s specifications.

Well, the new report from the new structural engineer showed that every pier that the old foundation company had installed needed to be adjusted; and, now more piers were needed as well. Wait. Are we really adjusting all the installed piers and also adding more to go with? My sellers had done everything the previous foundation company had told them to do.

I made a point to meet this newest engineer at the home because I needed to ask him that very question. Um … why? Turns out, he couldn’t explain it other than to say: the house moved. (Did you feel something???) You spend $14000 to correct a foundation … and the only answer you get to a new problem is: it moved.

Years ago I represented a buyer in Irving. My buyer had a structural engineer inspect a potential home and the engineer did his measurements and then told us that it was close to being within normal range of the state requirements, but he also thought this home needed 13 piers along the right side. I asked him, since it was so close and we were in a drought, “what if we water that side of the home? would it move to the normal range?” He said, “in theory that would happen but what if we have another drought?” I said, “If we had a drought, I would water again.” 🙂   Well, the engineer stuck with his report that the home needed 13 new piers on the right.

At this, the Sellers of this homewere not content; they decided to get their own Engineer and their own report. Their Structural Engineer’s report found that the right side of the home was fine! Instead, what was needed was 5 piers around the garage. Indeed, this was on the exact opposite side of the house.

Two Engineers, two reports, two totally different results.Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 8.50.06 PM

This is yet another instance in which I realized that nothing is black and white in real estate. There’s home inspections, appraisals, engineers, electricians, plumbers, and more. And it can be a mixed bag. There are guidelines professionals follow––should follow––but there is so much grey area, as so many of these reports come down to opinion. This’s how Structural Engineers look at the same house and come up with wildly differeing reports.

This is how you can spend $14,000 to fix a problem and then get told: it moved.

I once met an old Structural Engineer at one of my listings in Irving. He was a great guy, had been working in the area for over 30 years and was near retiring. I asked him a ton of questions and he surprised me by saying, “the majority of the foundation work done is not needed.” He maintained that most of the problems can be fixed with proper watering and drainage.

Proper watering and drainage! This has got to be an answer that foundation companies don’t want us to believe, right? They want piers––more piers, more money. It reminds me of a guy that worked for a foundation company, and this worker told me over and over, “There are only two kinds of homes: those with foundation work and those that need foundation work.” I gotta say, I think I disagree!

Back to the Carrollton home:

My seller had to have the foundation company out to adjust every pier (this was free) and to install more piers at a cost of $8000 more. It wasn’t something he wanted to do, but the seller had to do it in order to move forward and get the sale done.

The lesson: 1) Get a realtor to walk with you! 🙂  2) Be careful and cautious when it comes to foundation work. Get multiple opinions and you may find reasonable questions to an engineer’s report. And that may be ok! Can the problem be fixed with water and drainage? Maybe, maybe not. The first report you get won’t be infallible. Oh, and don’t take “Because it moved” as a solidly tried and true answer.

Oh, and I tell you these stories because I think that having a realtor to be on your side when it comes to these questions, these inevitable hiccups …  I’m hoping it really helps. In fact, I’m counting on it! Thank you for counting on us!

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