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Should I Re-Square a Settled House?

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Brian in Ohio is dealing with a settling house. Tell us what’s going on.

    BRIAN: Ah, well, I have a real nice, 1930s, brick Colonial. And in a number of areas, you can see that the house has settled so that the doors aren’t square in the door frames. And the tile on one wall in the bathroom is about an inch below where the tile line on the other wall is. And there’s some cracks in the outside of the brick structure.

    And I just wondered if it – if there’s a way to fix this to sort of square up the house. Because, among other things, if I redo the bathroom, I’m afraid that if the house is moving or twisting, so to speak, and I put new, beautiful tile on the floor or the wall, that it’ll crack that next.

    TOM: Brian, did you have a home inspection done when you bought the house?

    BRIAN: Well, I’m in the real estate business, so I kind of knew what I was getting into from the standpoint of the structure. So I did not have a home inspection done, no.

    TOM: Hmm. Yeah. Or not.

    OK, well, as a former professional home inspector, my first advice would be to determine if the home is still actively moving. And that’s the type of observation that takes a bit of a trained eye. You want to see if there’s anything that tells you that those cracks or active or not. It may very well be that in a 1930s house, this is just normal settlement that’s happened over time.

    In terms of re-squaring the house, really bad idea; you never want to put a house back where you think it belongs. Because it took many, many, many, many years to get into that sort of skewed, settled state. If you try to lift up different pieces, you’ll end up cracking more walls, breaking wires, breaking pipes and that sort of thing.

    So, what you would do, if you redid the bathroom, is basically just live with that. Chalk it up to another real estate word, “charm,” and just live with it, OK?

    BRIAN: Thanks. Great. Great insight, OK.

    TOM: Alright? There you go. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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