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Old 04-13-14, 04:02 PM   #1
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House with drainage issues?

Looked at another house today:

Robinson Twp - NWA Real Estate - 20 Fawnvue Drive, Robinson Twp - NWA, PA, 15136

The house itself is attractive. The interior is pretty much immaculate and will need next to nothing. It is very close to my current home and in a very nice neighborhood.

The problem is the hillside behind the house. It offers a lot of privacy but it is a source of drainage issues.

There was water running down the hillside while we were there even though it has not be raining in about a week, There is a drain the runs diagonally across the hillside that appears to shunt most of the water into a catch basin. There is a retaining wall running the length of the hillside with French drain on both sides of the wall.

Any drainage experts out there? Should I walk away? There just aren't that many place for sale here in my price range.





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Old 04-13-14, 04:09 PM   #2
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How old is the house? Is there a cellar?
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Old 04-13-14, 04:22 PM   #3
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31 yo...any movement of the foundation? Block or poured walls? Drainage tiles, sub pump present and in working order? Seems at least home inspection worthy.
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Old 04-13-14, 04:23 PM   #4
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Built in 1983. There is a basement and it is finished. There are no signs of water damage. We talked to the owner and he really seemed to be on top of things.

There was hay in the lawn in the backyard. Not sure what that means.
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Old 04-13-14, 04:24 PM   #5
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31 yo...any movement of the foundation? Block or poured walls? Drainage tiles, sub pump present and in working order? Seems at least home inspection worthy.
Home inspection for sure. I need to have one to get a loan anyway.
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Old 04-13-14, 04:25 PM   #6
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There was hay in the lawn in the backyard. Not sure what that means.
It can reduce erosion.
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Old 04-13-14, 04:33 PM   #7
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Or it could mean new grass seeds...

A finished basement means it must stay pretty dry. When I lived in NC my cellar acted as a catch basin. There was a drain in the middle of the floor that always took whatever amount of water (and it was sometimes a lot) Mother Nature threw at it, but I could never 'finish' it.
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Old 04-13-14, 05:02 PM   #8
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I'd recommend you get the input of a local geotechnical engineer in regard to the seeping water issue. Also see if there exists in city records the original plans and studies in regard to drainage and slope stability behind the house. Lastly, go knock on your potential neighbors doors to find out of they have had any water/drainage issues.
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Old 04-13-14, 06:10 PM   #9
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1) Does the basement smell musty? Are they masking smells in the basement with a de-humidifier?

2) How long has the current owner lived in the house? Is he/she willing to acknowledge in the contract that there were no drainage issues on the property?

3) Obviously get a professional Inspector to look at the grading. However, as a starting point you should be able to determine if the drainage looks reasonable. A steep hill in the backyard does not mean you'll have water problems. If the water is properly graded to either side of the property then it's likely fine. I can't really picture what you mean by the catch basin???
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Old 04-13-14, 06:25 PM   #10
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...... There was hay in the lawn in the backyard. Not sure what that means.
Me ether. Hay is a mixture of feed grasses grown, cut, and air-dried to later be feed to grazing animals. I can't think of many reasons to spread hay on a lawn. However... it is common to spread "straw" (The stalk of the wheat plant. Used as barn bedding after the wheat has been removed) when seeding new grass seed. The cover of straw prevents erosion and lightly shades new seed as well as conceal seeds from birds.

I would guess that the area in question is unable to grow grass due to being both wet and shady.
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Old 04-13-14, 06:29 PM   #11
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1) Does the basement smell musty? Are they masking smells in the basement with a de-humidifier?

2) How long has the current owner lived in the house? Is he/she willing to acknowledge in the contract that there were no drainage issues on the property?

3) Obviously get a professional Inspector to look at the grading. However, as a starting point you should be able to determine if the drainage looks reasonable. A steep hill in the backyard does not mean you'll have water problems. If the water is properly graded to either side of the property then it's likely fine. I can't really picture what you mean by the catch basin???
The basement does not smell musty at all. In fact it was the cleanest smelling home I visited today. It is a split level so the "basement" is slightly above ground.

A catch basin is a tank with a grate where eater can collected to be drained away.

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Old 04-13-14, 06:36 PM   #12
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Me ether. Hay is a mixture of feed grasses grown, cut, and air-dried to later be feed to grazing animals. I can't think of many reasons to spread hay on a lawn. However... it is common to spread "straw" (The stalk of the wheat plant. Used as barn bedding after the wheat has been removed) when seeding new grass seed. The cover of straw prevents erosion and lightly shades new seed as well as conceal seeds from birds.

I would guess that the area in question is unable to grow grass due to being both wet and shady.
Hay / straw whatever. I my not exactly a city dweller but not a farmer either.
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Old 04-13-14, 06:39 PM   #13
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I would guess that the area in question is unable to grow grass due to being both wet and shady.
It would be fine with me if I but a bed of those landscaping stones in there. The back yard is tiny but still less grass to cut for me!
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Old 04-13-14, 06:44 PM   #14
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Hay / straw whatever. I my not exactly a city dweller but not a farmer either.
My guess......
1. Straw would imply a professional or knowledgeable person is attempting to grow grass to cover the area.
2. Hay would imply someone who doesn't know what he/she is doing is throwing cover on the mud to conceal the area.

I am not a farmer ether.
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Old 04-13-14, 06:47 PM   #15
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Split Level is a total deal breaker for me imho. Can't stand going up and down stairs everytime I want to go somewhere in the house. With that hill in the back, water WILL be an issue at some time. Murphy's Law is always waiting.
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Old 04-13-14, 06:49 PM   #16
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This ones a *****. The basement might have been recently redone after extensive work to alleviate seepage. With a finished basement it's hard to tell unless the homeowner gives permission to rip out a section to let an engineer look-see.

I hate water in a house, I still have nightmares 12 years after my first house had major issues. My current, being 100 years old with a cinder block foundation, does let water in, mostly after a 4-6 inch rainfall, but it's not a finished basement and never will be, so more nuisance then anything else and I have a sump. I also grew up in a house with a spring on the hill behind - which is what this sounds like, which is why water a week after a rain, and again, with no need to use the basement and the ability to mitigate the potential for damage - sump, dehumidifier, etc... Can be dealt with. Just maybe don't ever plan to use the basement, maybe plan to remove the finished work and be prepared for mold, plus anything stored to be in sealed Rubbermaid containers.. Your call
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Old 04-13-14, 07:07 PM   #17
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I'd recommend you get the input of a local geotechnical engineer in regard to the seeping water issue. Also see if there exists in city records the original plans and studies in regard to drainage and slope stability behind the house. Lastly, go knock on your potential neighbors doors to find out of they have had any water/drainage issues.
this
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Old 04-13-14, 07:40 PM   #18
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Hay may be there to keep animals, people from tracking mud out of backyard into house. Our dogs track mud into the house in the winter when grass is dormant.
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Old 04-13-14, 07:51 PM   #19
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Split Level is a total deal breaker for me imho. Can't stand going up and down stairs everytime I want to go somewhere in the house. With that hill in the back, water WILL be an issue at some time. Murphy's Law is always waiting.
Everything is upstairs except for the basement. Right now I have two full flights of stairs. One for the basement. laundry work room and one to go up to bedrooms and showers, add the trip up the long steep hill to get to my house from the parking lot and I will be in heaven. Not sure if I decide to but the office in te basement but if I do I will spend most of my time there.
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Old 04-13-14, 08:49 PM   #20
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There was hay in the lawn in the backyard. Not sure what that means.
Hay would likely mean they were feeding an animal.
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Old 04-14-14, 07:06 AM   #21
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Do you want a reason to walk away?

Split levels are a nightmare for anyone with mobility problems. If you plan to stay there until old age, be prepared.
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Old 04-14-14, 07:36 AM   #22
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We recently bought a house in a hillside like that (but reverse, so walk out basement rather than garage) and I'm not sure how I feel about it. Don't really have much in the way of drainage problems, but landscaping it is a nightmare and mowing is just as bad. Cut the sod and it erodes like a mother, and nothing wants to grow in our clay. No place for a garden, and it's not the best for our 3 year old to play. If that sort of stuff doesn't concern you, get an inspector.
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Old 04-14-14, 05:51 PM   #23
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Hay would likely mean they were feeding an animal.
You just couldn't resist piling on could you? What did your comment add to the conversation other than letting others know how smart you think you are?
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Old 04-14-14, 06:00 PM   #24
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Do you want a reason to walk away?

Split levels are a nightmare for anyone with mobility problems. If you plan to stay there until old age, be prepared.
The split level doesn't concern me. I have lots of years before I get there baring an accident. My parents are in their 90s and they have 3 levels. My mom has arthritis and she still does the laundry in the basement and climbs the stairs to the 2nd floor to put them away.

Yes I would love a ranch but there just aren't many options out there in the area I want to live at the price I want to pay.

Though I do see your point about dealing with mobility problems. It would be expensive to deal with considering a stair lift would be difficult to intall or so it seems.

I might be walking because of price anyway. He wants $174.5K and I simply don't want to go that high. I don't want to go beyond $165K.
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Old 04-14-14, 06:10 PM   #25
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No place for a garden, and it's not the best for our 3 year old to play. If that sort of stuff doesn't concern you, get an inspector.
Yeah same issue with this place. I tiny back yard. No kids and no pets. I like the small back yard because less for me to cut. It will already be a culture shock since I live in a townhouse for the last 30 years where everything is done outside for me. What does concern me about the small back yard and the water is my future ability to sell the place. Going to be my justification for giving a low initial bid.


But I just have to get of here. I have a pea brain next door that sits in front drinking all day. He invites his lazy azz friends and some of the neighbors over and they stand around and drink complete with foul language. Not that I am a prude, I can swear with the best of them but I don't do it loudly out in public especially when there are kids around. That kind of behavior is not good for property values.
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