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mowens's avatar

This house I am looking to buy has a crack on the ceiling. Thoughts?

Asked by mowens (8264 points ) February 26th, 2011

Everything in the house is outdated, but very well kept. the problem is that there is a crack going the width of the room. There does not appear to be any water damage. Is this a deal breaker?

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8 Answers

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Have an inspector look at it (and everything else) and they can tell you if it’s a deal breaker.

mowens's avatar

It also has this wood paneling everywhere. Is that easily replace/removed?

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@mowens Yes. I mean, it’s kinda a pain, but you can do it yourself.

WasCy's avatar

You’re looking at stuff that is very superficial. Ceilings and paneling are cosmetic items only. Of more importance as a future homeowner:

What kind of electrical service does it have? 100 Amp or 200 Amp? An older house is likely to have 100 Amp service (and fuses) instead of a more capacious 200 Amp box with circuit breakers.

Heating and hot water system? Age, type, condition and capacity.

What is the plumbing like? You’ll want ¾” copper water pipe inside, but you might only have ½”. The smaller diameter means that you won’t be able to shower and run the dishwasher concurrently unless you like cold showers, and a flushing toilet can mean a scalding shower.

How old is the roofing and what condition is that in?

What is the basement like? Dry? Any signs of water lines on the walls, mold, rust, etc? What is the foundation material and how good is that? Any bulges or cracks in foundation walls?

What is the house siding like? Vinyl, aluminum, wood & paint? Attic insulation material and thickness? What kind of windows does the place have? How is the exterior wood trim, any dry rot?

You really need an inspector who knows what he’s looking for and can evaluate conditions and sometimes even give you a ballpark estimate of costs to repair or replace.

The things that you’ve mentioned would be among the very last things I looked at as a prospective buyer, and they would be “interesting” but not crucial.

PS: I never even thought about termites, insects and other pests and vermin. The yard. The neighborhood. The garage and driveway. You need someone with a checklist of what to look for and experience in looking at those things.

BarnacleBill's avatar

The ceiling crack is most likely from settling. If it has wood paneling everywhere, then very likely the house has cracked plaster walls underneath from the house settling. The first questions are, how old is the house, how level are the floors on the first floor? Were any load bearing walls removed during remodeling? What does the basement floor look like? Is it level and uncracked? Is the main beam for the house steel or wood? If it’s wood, how many support pillars are there, and how do the ends of the beam sit on top of the support pillars?

If everything checks out on the house, and you decide to purchase, you should ask for cash back at closing of approximately $20,000. That is what it will take to rewire, remove the wood paneling and re-drywall the house.

woodcutter's avatar

Usually if a ceiling has cracking, the walls were doing it way earlier, hence all that cheesy paneling. If the foundation has been moving it will continue to move. Those cracks can be repaired quite easily but anyone who does that work is bound to say they will crack again sooner or later. Some houses are really bad about this and it is likely that other homes near there are bad as well. The earth moves when it wants because it can. I wouldn’t recommend having floor tile set there ever.

alamo's avatar

What you describe might be many things. Settling foundation, under ground spring, drainage issues outside, improper footings, improper foundation, termites, wood rot,moisture issues, or just not enough allowance for house movement in the design. An inspector might be able to tell you the cause but a structural engineer would be better. He/she can look at the house from structural stability standpoint and find the cause. A crack, even one expensive to fix, is not always a deal breaker. Find the cause and negotiate at closing if you want the house.

mowens's avatar

@WasCy Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. Life has been CRAZY.

You’re looking at stuff that is very superficial. Ceilings and paneling are cosmetic items only. Of more importance as a future homeowner:

It is 200 Amp with Circuit breakers.

Hot water tank, not sure of the size.

Good plumbing question. I am an electical engineer, all that plumbing shit confuses me. I will take a friend with me who knows more.

How old is the roofing and what condition is that in?
Roofing is 5 years old, and looks good.

What is the basement like? Dry? Any signs of water lines on the walls, mold, rust, etc? What is the foundation material and how good is that? Any bulges or cracks in foundation walls?

The basement appears to be in great conditon. The only problem I found was a small spot that looked to have water there some time before. It was about the size of a notebook. The basement is rather large, I think it is due to the lack of a de-humidifier. Which is fine, I plan on redoing the entire basement anyway. There is no water damage on the walls. As far as buldging, I do not know, I was not looking for that. I will look at my next run through.

Brick and stucco. I did notice a small crack in the stucco, but it looked to be filled. There was no dry rot on any of the wood trim.

I didn’t see an attic. Is it possible there wasnt one?

I do plan on having an inspector look at it, I just wanted to make sure it wasnt a lost cause first. :)

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