I just got off the phone with one of my clients, in the West End.
After we exchanged Christmas wishes and I verified she wanted a calendar she told me about the sinking feeling she experienced.
The home she bought over four and a half years ago, began to show signs of settling about a year and a half ago. She had foundation experts come in and finally settled on one to do the repairs.
Before I go on, I’ve been told by several foundation repair professionals a home inspector and an engineer that the clay bed that many homes in Edmonton sit on top of, is drying up. Now if we lived in Ottawa, which is located on top of the Canadian shield you likely wouldn’t have to be concerned about settling issues. But in Edmonton, due to a lower than ideal amount of rainfall for the past many years the clay is drying and in some extreme cases like this one causing the foundation walls to settle.
The repair work was started and before long she found herself living a nightmare. It turns out the contracted company was not doing the work correctly, in fact they were making matters worse.
She ended up firing the first company and hiring another to correct the mistakes made and complete the job and is currently pursuing the matter in court.
She learned a lot from this experience and joked that she could work as a consultant for foundation repairs with the amount of information she learned in all of this.
Joking aside I wanted to share this with you and go over a couple of key points that could have saved her from a lot of stress.
Firstly, if you have a foundation settling problem make sure you consult the correct professionals. She thought that would be the foundation expert, makes sense, but per one of the foundation crack repair people I know, foundation repairs involving structural issues should be done under the direction of a structural engineer. It is the engineer that will determine what is wrong and how best to correct it. The engineer then oversees the work checking it at different stages and when all the work is done puts his/her seal of approval on it.
Had she consulted with an engineer, even if she did hire the same company, errors and ommissions in their work would have been caught sooner.
An engineer report on a property one of my buyers was looking at purchasing with a horizontal crack in the foundation ended up costing about $300, money well spent.
Secondly, if the engineer can’t recommend someone to do the work, you can ask me. I maintain a list of trades in my “Resource Centre” on my website. If one negative report comes in, they get removed. Also, they have either done work successfully for other clients or have been vetted by myself.
Thirdly, we all heard this before, but get at least three names of people they have done work for recently and ensure these people were happy with similar work performed. Part of this would be checking for any outstanding claims with the Better Business Bureau.
Lastly, if something doesn’t look or feel right get a second opinion. Foundation repairs can be costly so any time spent minimizing the possibilty for error is time well spent.
I’m seeing more foundation problems every year, if you see cracks vertical, horizontal or diagonal, signs of settling, water in the basement or musty smells you may have a problem that if addressed quickly could save you a lot of money in the long run. Also, per home inspectors my clients have used, maintain the grade around the house so that is slopes away from the house. Water against foundation walls can eventually cause problems as it freezes – expands, thaws – contracts.
I’m a REALTOR® not an engineer, home inspector or contractor and am not qualified to comment on issues outside my field of expertise, this information in no way represents an official treatise on the subject and qualified professionals should be consulted. I assume no responsibility for actions taken using the above information. Your comments are welcome.
The following is the monthly press release from the Realtor’s Association of Edmonton in its entirety. If you have any questions on this or would like further detailed statistics, information or analysis, contact me at www.kevingrenier.com
Housing prices soften as sales bump up
Edmonton, December 2, 2010: The average price of a single family detached property in the Edmonton area continued to soften in November. According to the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton, at $362,657, the average* SFD price was half a percent lower in November than it was in October. Compared to a year ago the price was down significantly by 2.5%. November condo prices also took one of the biggest drops this year with the average price down 2% to $229,603 month-over-month and just under 3% year-over-year. Average duplex/rowhouse prices of $318,605 went up over the previous month (6%) and previous year (10.6%).
Despite the softening of prices in specific categories, overall the market remained stable with the all-residential average price of $319,479 (up 0.65%) from October and up a third of a percent from last year. There were 1,220 residential sales on the Edmonton Multiple Listing Service® in November as compared to 1,177 in October. Listings were down from 2,267 in October to 1,860 in November. This resulted in a drop in the available inventory from 7,689 to 6,982 residential units; still considered high for this market.
“Softening prices, a dip in interest rates, increasing sales nationally and excess local inventory all contributed to a month-over-month sales bump,” said Larry Westergard, president of the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton. “Housing affordability in Edmonton is lower than the national average and economic growth in Alberta is expected to exceed other parts of the country.”
The sales-to-listing ratio in Edmonton and area was 66% and the average days-on-market was down from 60 to 59 days. Taken together the two figures indicate that sellers must exercise patience as they wait for a buyer. They should be encouraged to learn that there was over $400 million worth of real estate sold through the local MLS® System in November.
“It seems that Edmonton is out of phase with the rest of the country and is lagging slightly in comparison to other major markets,” said Westergard. “All the indicators suggest that an increase in real estate sales is right around the corner. Your REALTOR® will continue to monitor the local market and provide appropriate advice for each specific property.”
Highlights of MLS® System activity
|November 2010 activity||Record for
|% change from
|Total MLS® System sales this month||1,239||-29.00%|
|Value of total MLS® System sales – month||$400 million||-30.50%|
|Value of total MLS® System sales – year||$5.82 billion||-5.52%|
|Residential¹ sales this month||1,220||-1.45%|
|Residential average price||$319,479||0.31%|
|SFD² average selling price – month||$362,657||-2.49%|
|SFD median³ selling price||$350,000||-1.10%|
|Condo average selling price||$229,603||-2.99%|
¹. Residential includes SFD, condos and duplex/row houses.
². Single Family Dwelling
³. The middle figure in a list of all sales prices
* Average prices indicate market trends only. They do not reflect actual prices, which may vary.