Home Buying in 02169>Question Details

Michele Atki…, Home Buyer in Boston, MA

Too many red flags or a sign of well maintained house?

Asked by Michele Atkinson, Boston, MA Fri Mar 22, 2013

I'm looking at a house in the Boston area that I really like but have some reservations.
First is the presence of a sump pump. I know it's an insurance policy against water but a previous pump had failed and caused flooding in the basement so there is obviously enough water present to need the pump.
Second, a cross beam was installed to repair sagging to the first floor. No structural damage was found though. Can I consider the cross beam and columns to have corrected the problem is it is no longer an issue?
Lastly, the house was listed as such 'Exterior Walls: Asbestos Shingles'. I know shingles in good shape can be left alone (I still need to find out what kind of condition they are in and exactly where they are). How long are they expected to last? Is this a headache waiting to happen down the line?
I know the most likely answer is going to be 'it depends' but are these red flags or a good sign?

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Obtain the services of a "Home Inspector"
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 22, 2013
Hi Michelle,
All of these issues are common in older homes. What you want to consider is: Are the future maintainence concerns worth it to you in order to live in this particular home/neighborhood. Your buyer's agent can help you to determine if these issues have been factored into the asking price. You will definately want to make sure that you consider them when you decide how much to offer. Also you will want to have a home inspection. You will definately want to ask the inspector specific questions such has how long should I expect the shingles to last.? The inspector will also be able to tell you if you need an asbestos expert. Has the seller had an engineer look at the support columns? If so ask to view that report. This could be a great house for the right price. A buyer's agent will help you get the answers to your questions and will negotiate on your behalf. The best part is that the buyer's agent gets paid out of the commission paid by the seller and at no cost to the buyer.
Feel free to call me if I can help you with anything.
Kim DeGust
Coughlin & Company Real Estate
122 Washington Street
Weymouth, MA
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 22, 2013
If most homes you are looking at have sump pumps, it is not such a red flag. There are battery back-up systems for sump pumps and there are companies who specialize in waterproofing basements. Get a free estimate on this cost and try to negotiate all or part of this cost.

Impossible to comment on the crossbeam.

Asbestos siding is common in many areas. We are told it is a great insulator and a very strong product. Some people cover the siding with tyvec and vinyl and just leave it there forever.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun May 18, 2014
It sounds like you had an inspection?
Based on what you are telling me there were issues at some point but the owner put solutions in place (sump pump to deal with water and beam for the sagging floors). If both of those issues appear to be working per a professional inspectors opinion then it seems you are good to go. In general wet basements and settlement causing sagging floors is common so as long as each problem was fixed and in working order it seems fine.

The inspector will also take a look at the condition of the asbestos tiles then you can make a decision on how to handle (encapsulating or removing).

Just make sure the value of the home is adjusted for the condition and get yourself a buyer broker. Hope that helps!

Massachusetts Premier Buyer Broker
617 848 5407 x701
Web Reference: http://territory.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 24, 2013
It your choice, get and inspection by a competent one. Lot of home constructed around here were intended to be temporary but construction code have allowed this properties to still exist. Take your peak, don't like sump pumps, asbestos shingles then remove those from your criteria.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 22, 2013
I agree with the previous posts, utilize the services of a qualified professional home inspector. You should also look into if the structural work was done under the guidance of a structural engineer or just some handyman "jacking up" the house. If done improperly it could transfer load to other areas that could overstress these areas. You'll also want to find out why the house was sagging in the first place. Is it old construction and an excessively heavy weight like a piano placed in an area without the needed support, was the house just under-engineered, was it due to water or insect or fire damage? Did the house just settle that way over the years? If so why? Was there or is there still a condition that exists where more settling could occur, has the source of the structural issues been properly addressed by licenced/permitted work? You mention a sump pump, was that professionally installed or just a hole in the cellar floor & pump just put in there? There are some "french drain" systems that are guaranteed for the life of the house except for the electrical component being the pump which can fail. Could the water in and around the foundation be the cause of the structural sagging? As far as asbestos shingles yes they're common here in New England but haven't been used in the past couple decades due to better materials are now available. Chances are they're older and a home inspector can give you advice on how to handle them and what precautions to observe with them. Asbestos can only be identified by microscope in a lab but they might be of the type that's typically known to contain asbestos. Couldn't hurt to have an asbestos contractor take a look and give you an estimate on the condition and cost of work you might be looking at. So in summary work with your buyers agent, home inspector, structural engineer, asbestos and any other contractor so you can have the best idea of the condition of the property.

Good luck, let us know how you make out,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 22, 2013
As I am sure most agent's will agree these are all questions better answered by a licensed professional. I would suggest the opinion of those folks who handle these issues for a living for an informative and helpful answer.

Here is a useful link on your shingle matter: http://www.mass.gov/dep/air/asbguid.htm

If it is the opinion of the licensed professional that these aforementioned items may be an issue and costly it may be time to revisit the current offer price if you are in contract with the seller.Obviously this will depend on a few factors but none of which I am sure your current Realtor can not handle.

If you are not in contract, I would not necessarily allow this to deter you from the idea of purchasing. You can place an offer based on the contingency of a satisfactory home inspection which allow you time to address these concerns.

If you would like to pass along the property address I can most certainly provide a more detailed opinion on the property.

William Blydenburgh
Realty Direct
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 22, 2013
What is the build year of the house?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 22, 2013
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