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#116462 - 11/17/05 02:37 PM and things were going so smoothly
pmbuko Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 04/02/03
Posts: 16268
Loc: Leesburg, Virginia
So it looks like the townhome I was all ready to buy has some issues with the basement. The basement was finished without permits, and the home inspector suspects the wiring is not up to code. That's a big red flag. We've asked the sellers to have a licensed electrician inspect it. If he or she finds that it is indeed not built to code, then we'll most likely walk away from this one.

Our second and third choice homes don't have basements, but there are other things going for them. We shall see, we shall see.
_________________________
"I wish I had documented more…" said nobody on their death bed, ever.

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#116463 - 11/17/05 02:54 PM Re: and things were going so smoothly
tomtuttle Offline
axiomite

Registered: 06/20/03
Posts: 8280
Loc: Tacoma
So sorry to hear that, Peter.

But remember, time and money can fix most problems. Perhaps you can mitigate the electrical issues within the context of your existing agreement. Find out not only about the existing systems, but how much it would cost to have them remedied to your satisfaction. Perhaps the sellers will work with you on the financial aspects; you will certainly not be the only prospective buyers to make the discovery.

I have learned the hard way that there are certain things you cannot fix about your home - location, footprint and lot size come readily to mind. There is no substitute for "big", and those extra square feet in the basement are going to be very valuable as your family grows up.
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bibere usque ad hilaritatem

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#116464 - 11/17/05 02:55 PM Re: and things were going so smoothly
Tharkun Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 01/05/05
Posts: 1039
Loc: Tracy, California
Ask the owners to have a licensed electricain to update the wiring. Since using a house inspector is becoming a standard practice, the owners will most likely have this issue on every potential sale.
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ROCK 'N' HAXIOM Theater

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#116465 - 11/17/05 02:57 PM Re: and things were going so smoothly
BruceH Offline
devotee

Registered: 07/12/05
Posts: 353
Loc: Western Canada (just)
Oh! Oh! Oh!

Man, MY pet peeve. DIY homeowners who can't spend the time to figure out how to properly install mechanical and electrical services. Always a pain to redo.

Sorry to hear about that one. We went through a similar situation with our home, but we did buy it and I am still in the middle of correcting things (more closer to the end than in the middle).

This is why I get jealous seeing other people's home theater progress .

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#116466 - 11/17/05 02:59 PM Re: and things were going so smoothly
pmbuko Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 04/02/03
Posts: 16268
Loc: Leesburg, Virginia
Since they have wood paneling in the basement, I suppose it shouldn't be a big issue. It's easier to take down and put back up than sheetrock, for sure. The seller's are meeting with their agent at 5pm eastern time. I don't see why they could refuse to have an electrician look at it.

Also, I like the idea of either having them repair it before closing (Nov 30th), or setting aside some money in escrow that we could use to have it done after closing. It wouldn't disturb us too much to have the basement being worked on while we lived in the home.

Good ideas guys, I'll pass them along.
_________________________
"I wish I had documented more…" said nobody on their death bed, ever.

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#116467 - 11/17/05 11:20 PM Re: and things were going so smoothly
real80sman Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 05/16/02
Posts: 1122
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Peter, lots of good advise. Out of all the mechanical systems in the house that could be "bad", the electrical is probably the most inexpensive to fix. If everything else checks out, I'd stick with it.

For me, the big red flag would be cracks in the foundation and water leaks. That is a far more difficult and expensive fix. Some questions for thought: What type of soil is there? Clay, sand, or rock? What is the grading like? Does it flow away from the house? Have they had water in the basement in the past?

Sorry, water and I are not friends. At our last place we had clay soil and the entire back yard sloped towards the house. With the spring thaw and nowhere for the water to go, my backyard stayed wet and completely unusable until July. My sump pump ran constantly and I actually burned out 3 of them in 10 years. Luckily I had an awesome foundation - not even a hint of a leak. It could have been a disaster.

Shawn

_________________________
Shawn

Epic 80/600 + M3's + Custom Finish Algonquin V3's

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#116468 - 11/18/05 05:26 PM Re: and things were going so smoothly
pmbuko Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 04/02/03
Posts: 16268
Loc: Leesburg, Virginia
So the deal's off. The sellers released us from the contract. I'm fine with it, actually. On to house #2!
_________________________
"I wish I had documented more…" said nobody on their death bed, ever.

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#116469 - 11/18/05 05:52 PM Re: and things were going so smoothly
Rock_Head Offline
aficionado

Registered: 10/10/04
Posts: 870
Loc: Delta, BC, Canada
It wasn't meant to be.
Keep on looking, you'll know when you find the right home.
Good luck

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#116470 - 11/18/05 06:20 PM Re: and things were going so smoothly
pmbuko Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 04/02/03
Posts: 16268
Loc: Leesburg, Virginia
Another note:

Today is my last day of work in California. And we're heading out early to hit a local pub for happy hour.
_________________________
"I wish I had documented more…" said nobody on their death bed, ever.

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#116471 - 11/18/05 08:57 PM Re: and things were going so smoothly
pmbuko Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 04/02/03
Posts: 16268
Loc: Leesburg, Virginia
Yum! Lagunitas Maximus (excellent IPA!) and Anderson Valley Porter (ehhh, just OK). Buzzing nicely now.
_________________________
"I wish I had documented more…" said nobody on their death bed, ever.

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#116472 - 11/21/05 10:04 AM Re: and things were going so smoothly
BruceH Offline
devotee

Registered: 07/12/05
Posts: 353
Loc: Western Canada (just)
Perhaps it is for the best. I think basements are overrated anyways.

Basements were originally intended as a storage space and a space to keep utilities such as the electrical fusebox and boiler or furnace. Long ago when boilers burned coal, that was where the coal was stored.

Basements were typically dark, damp, musty cramped spaces often with access only via a hatch door. As the years progressed, the basements got bigger, concrete floors (formerly dirt) were added and other appliances made their way down there such as washing machines and on and on.

When you think about it, there is a lot that goes into properly constructing a basement for the purpose of using it as a living space.

Depending on your location (anywhere with ground frost) ideally you would need, in the worst case, piles to stop the house from heaving with the soils. Here in Winnipeg we get frost in the ground from about 48" to as deep as 72" depending on how much -40 degree weather and snow we get. We also have different types of clay soils that absorb different amounts of water so we get uneven heaving. This also leads to matters of concrete repair over the years depending on the amount of heaving one may experience. Crack repair, leaks, etc.

Then there is the matter of drainage. Ideally you would have an exterior weeping tile and an interior weeping tile system draining into a large sump pit (maintenance). There is a lot of detail that goes into building proper drainage systems and a lot of contractors do not do it properly. Concrete is much like a very solid sponge due to its porous nature. Installing carpet over concrete may not be a simple matter since if it is not properly installed, one could be setting themselves up for mold growth in the future (or simply damage to hardwoods). For example, if a basement floor was not chemically sealed but a vapour barrier was put down, there is the issue of finishinng details. Capreting usually requires tack strips that have to be nailed or screwed into the concrete floor. Once the vapour barrier is penetrated, if the penetration has not been sealed by acoustic or polyurethane caulking, there is a path for moisture to creep into the basement (albeit at a very slow rate).

Then there is the issue of Radon gas. This is a carcinogen and long term exposure has been shown to cause lung cancer. The remedy for this is proper basement sealing with products such as Xypex. If the exterior walls are properly waterprrofed then you need only worry about the basement floor. Since it is too costly to seal existing basements, they can make use of a ventilation system such as the Humidex (an exhaust fan that is intended for removing excess humidity from homes with the theory that the most humidity build up is concentrated in the basements). Since Radon gas is a heavy gas that seeps through the ground, through the pores of the concrete and settles in the basement, it can also be exhausted by means of this type of fan.

On a more simple matter, when building a new home there is the cost of excavation of a basement for new construction as well as properly preparing the foundation prior to pouring the concrete floor.

I guess in some areas you can not go up or make a home wider so down is the only place to go. The one nice thing about concrete basements is that, if at least two walls are used behind the insulated drywall of a home theater room(not to mention the concrete floor), they are two less walls that require special construction techniques to reduce sound transmission.

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