Home inspections and the subsequent negotiations and repairs have always been one of my least favorite parts of the real estate transaction. Many points are defined by the contract or specific standards: either the stove burner works or it doesn't; either the cooling falls between a certain range or it doesn't; the contract defines cosmetic so that stain on the rug isn't a seller responsibility, etc. Seawalls generally are a "gray" area, and not only because they're concrete. In our listings, we always suggest that the sellers state that the seawall, dock and marine equipment (boat lift, davits, etc) are in "as is" condition - the buyer may have them inspected, and decide if he wants to buy the house or not, but the seller is not going to repair them or give a credit for repairs. Often when we represent the buyer, the seller has not specified that these are "as is".
The contract generally states that the seawall must be structurally sound, that it must do what it was designed to do. Herein lies the problem! Over the years, concrete often deteriorates; sections of concrete fall from the bottom or sides of the seawall cap, exposing steel that is rusty and allowing water penetration. Is that structural? Is that how it was designed? Let's look at an even tougher question. To be structurally sound, and designed well, 40% of the seawall panel should be under the ground below the water. As years go by, water and currents change, as does the bottom land under the water. As the ground shifts and recedes, less than 40% of the wall is under the ground. Sometimes this causes horizontal cracks in the seawall panels (then requiring serious repair work); sometimes it causes the seawall to tilt which not only can be measured by the inspector but can often be seen by the tilt of the seawall cap.
So - the inspector, a civil engineer with decades of experience on seawalls, states the problem and what is needed to correct it. Obviously the buyer wants it corrected. The seller says there's no problem, it's "typical" of a seawall that age, which is what his inspector says. Being "typical" for its age doesn't mean there's no problem - it probably means that all the seawalls are going to need reinforcing or new seawalls - just as 30 year old concrete tile roofs are probably all going to need replacing. But the nonleaking old roof doesn't tilt, and doesn't have horizontal cracks.
I wonder if we can resurrect Solomon, and have him make the judgment call.Sharon Simms, Real Estate Agent selling homes in St. Petersburg, Florida, the Gulf Beaches and the Tampa Bay area.