Home>Discussions>TV>Ask This Old House>Hidden foundation wall causes anxiety
3 posts / 0 new
Last post
Hidden foundation wall causes anxiety

We are heading toward the close of the purchase of a 47 year old 3 story house. It's a bank owned foreclosure and an "as-is" sale so we've done a ton of inspections but I'm hoping to get some additional feedback or opinions.

The crawl-space is very large and high so one can see the foundation walls quite clearly with a flashlight. All the concrete foundation walls are easily accessible except the left wall which is roughly covered up with ply wood. (picture below) Obviously we can't have any idea of the condition of this covered wall and since we don't own it yet, we don't have the right to take the wood down to see behind it. I'm concerned because it is a very very large house. Our agent says, since it's a bank-owned property that the bank will not even be troubled to let us see behind the wood and that's "just how it is with bank-owned foreclosures." I'm hearing "it's no big deal" a lot too. Call me crazy but foundation mysteries in big old houses are deal-breakers for me. This is our first house and we are in earthquake country.

Does anyone have any experience with getting permissions like this on a foreclosed house from the owning bank?
I've been doing a lot of reading on this but we are very ignorant on things like this & aren't sure if we are being neurotic about not being able to see the foundation wall or not. Our inspection report reflects only on "what is visible."

I would really be so grateful for some feedback.


A. Spruce
Re: Hidden foundation wall causes anxiety

It would appear from the image provided that the foundation is fully visible and is stepped to account for the slope of the ground. Everything above the gray "steps" appears to be wood framing. Unless dirt is against the exterior wood/siding, there shouldn't be too much to worry about if there are no visible signs of problems with that wall. Take a reference measurement, say from the floor joists to the foundation steps and to the dirt, then go outside and try to locate the floor joists and transfer your measurements. If you can determine what room is above this area it will also help you to determine the status of the ground level against the house.

I personally don't see anything of concern in your picture.

Re: Hidden foundation wall causes anxiety

I would tend to agree with Spruce. As long as that area is above the grade line, their isn't necessarily a problem.
The plywood sheathing on the inside will strengthen the wall some. I wonder what the bracing is for. It looks newer. Maybe for seismic reasons. The plywood could also be hiding termites behind it.
If you like the house & the bank allows, get an engineer to inspect the structure. He can also report on what if any seismic reinforcement is recommended. A small price to pay for peace of mind.

Sponsored Stories

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.