Inspections Completed. Deliberations Begin.

Both the sewer and structural inspections are now complete and I have three more days to decide if I want to go ahead and buy the place.

Sewer Inspection

The sewer inspection was an A+ and Hydro Physics even gave me a DVD of the footage from the inside the sewer. It’s pretty interesting. They snake a tiny camera from inside the house all the way to the sewer main in the street. Checking a sewer may seem like an unimportant thing to do, but if there are tree roots down there slowly ruining the line to the sewer main, I’d rather know about it ahead of time.

Structural Inspection

The structural inspection was obviously quite a bit more important. Initially, I had planned to get two separate inspectors in there but Dave Pioli of Criterium Pioli Engineers did such a thorough job that I didn’t need another set of eyes after all.

According to the structural inspection, the general build quality of the house was very good and there were no major issues with its condition. There were, however, signs that the house had been added onto, and probably without a permit. Pioli noticed that the exposed beams over the covered patio didn’t even butt up to each other indicating that part of the patio covering was added on later, and not with a ton of attention to detail. He also found a stabilizer bar across the ceiling of the garage that looked like it wasn’t part of the original construction. Since the seller is an engineer and he refuses to sign the Seller’s Disclosure Statement, it raises a few alarm bells in my head that perhaps he did some of this himself and he knows a bit too much.

Most importantly, however, his opinion was that the house — although structurally sound — was not a good candidate to have a story built onto it. Apparently, when you add a story on, vertical load isn’t usually a big issue; it’s horizontal shear that you have to account for. Horizontal shear occurs when forces like wind or earthquakes push laterally against the house. Apparently, on a house like this, I’d have to build what’s called a “moment frame” just to handle the load.

Final Analysis

After digesting the results of the structural inspection, I’ve come to the conclusion that if I buy this house, I’m going to have to knock it down to get everything I want out of it (particularly a view from a second story). This is a bit disconcerting to me since it’s a pretty nice mid-century modern house that a lot of people would love as-is, but it’s just a fact, unfortunately.

Since this would be a new construction project of two years and not a remodel of a few months, the qualifications of it being a “perfect property” are even tougher to achieve in my mind. I’m not willing to put two years of my life into something that isn’t going to be exactly what I want when I’m done with it. Given that it’s a little far north and the view is more of an A- than an A+, I would put the chances of me going through with the purchase at this point at about 30%.

Much to think about over the next couple of days…

Costs accrued during this stage:

Structural inspection$425.00
Sewer inspection$185.00

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