A house with "broken bones" is the money pit you must run from. If a house has major structural, geological, or severe foundation or environmental problems, you don't want it. These will cost you. Even if you get the house cheap, the problems never go away and are sometimes impossible to fix no matter how much money you throw at them. Whatever the market, you will have to sell it for less - just like the guy who sold it to you.
Of course any problem can be fixed. It's just a question of what it takes to fix it. Besides the expense, you'll need full permits and approval for every stage of renovation by the city inspectors. And major structural flaws can cover up underlying and costly issues.
Here are my Red Flag Reasons NOT to Buy A House:
- Structural Problems That Are Beyond Repair Economically
- Foundations that are not built on slab or concrete footings
- Major shifting due to poor foundation work
- Unsolvable drainage issues and flooding of the basement
- A bad floor plan that can only be solved by a room addition
- Bedrooms on the second floor and no room to add a bath
- Major truss damage to the roof, causing a severely sagging roof line
- Major fire damage
Geological Problems That You Cannot Overcome
- Severe earthquake damage
- Unstable hillside near the house
- Slipping or shifting due to soil erosion or flooding
- A house built on soil compaction (substandard by today's codes)
Environmental Problems To Run From!
- Asbestos ducting
- An old, out-dated septic system
- Faulty septic or a long sewer line to the street
- High levels of radon
- Illegal room additions that appear to be not to code, especially bathrooms
Often, it is not sufficient to just repair these problems. With significant repairs, you will have to bring the entire house up to current codes, which on older homes could cost in the tens of thousands of dollars. This is a Pandora's Box you do not want to open, because you will never see that money back.
Michael Corbett is Trulia's real estate and lifestyle expert. He is also the host of EXTRA's Mansions and Millionaires on NBC. In addition to his regular segments on ABC's The View and Fox News, he is a national best selling author with three critically acclaimed real estate books:Find It, Fix It, FLIP IT!; Ready, Set, SOLD! and Before You BUY! His years of experience in buying, renovating, and selling homes have made him a sought-after nationally recognized real estate expert.