A wood floor spooked my buyer ... and the home inspector!

Real Estate Agent with Edina Realty

Wood FlloorWood Floor

There is no concrete slab; the wooden floor was built directly on the top of sand ground.  The foundation is wood also.

The home was built in 2000 and apparently codes have changed since then.  There has been discussion with regard to wood foundations as well.  I'm wondering if you have any thoughts or experience with this.

Comments (32)

Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Darla, the reason I went back to that time period is because back then when I was in the Syracuse NY area I built several homes with wood foundations.  One of the approved methods of doing the basement floors was with the same materials as the foundation.  These foundation grade materials are a way different version of pressure treated lumber (at least they are supposed to be) than your garden variety readily available ground contact pressure treated lumber that you can get most anywhere.  I never used that approach.  The unevenness you describe bothers me but could be accounted for by inadequate joist depth and the foundation pushing on it all around would make the diaphragm warp----just guessing here---could have been built that way as well.  Pictures would be awesome.  These foundations systems are great----especially in an area like Minnisota where the ground freezes so deep (wood foundations are more flexible).  That said there are lots of ways to build them wrong----just like any foundation.

Dec 04, 2008 11:41 PM
Darla Jensen
Edina Realty - Crosslake, MN

Lenn - Come one, come all - let's go for a ride in the floor :)

Dec 04, 2008 11:42 PM
Darla Jensen
Edina Realty - Crosslake, MN

Charles - I will be very curious on your thoughts once I add the pictures.  Thanks for your information.  I'll add the pictures later this morning.

Dec 04, 2008 11:44 PM
Sandy McAlpine
Search Lake Norman Homes For Sale - Lake Norman NC

That's really strange sounding! I have never seen or heard of that, however, in our state, we can sell houses that don't meet code, but the buyer usually asks the seller to upgrade it.

Dec 04, 2008 11:56 PM
Steve Hoffacker
Steve Hoffacker LLC - West Palm Beach, FL
Certified Aging In Place Specialist-Instructor


This home is not up to code. I don't recall this ever being allowed. It sounds like this is an uninhabitable home becuase it was built incorrectly. I don't think it can be sold, nor should it be. :)


Dec 04, 2008 11:57 PM
Mary Strang
Viroqua, WI

I have come across a few wood foundations in this area too. They really scare me and I make sure the buyer understand that it has a wood foundation so I am not hearing about that later.If the basement is finished, you might not even know it. I created a form, called the History of the Property, which also covers foundation types, the sellers fill it out and buyers acknowledges receipt of this to protect me from non disclosure issues.

Dec 05, 2008 12:02 AM
Bruce & Mary Smith
Savannah Lakes Homes - McCormick, SC
REALTORS, Savannah Lakes Village McCormick SC

I can't believe it lasted this long.  What about HGTV?  Surely there is a show in this somewhere!

Dec 05, 2008 12:12 AM
Heather the Realtor Orlando, Lake Mary
LemonTree Realty - Orlando, FL
First Time Home Buyers, Bank Owned Homes

What, what kind of codes did you guys have. That's insane. I mean at the very least a cover over the sand. I think someone had an in with the building inspector and they let it slide. That's terrible. Glad the inspector found that.

Dec 05, 2008 12:25 AM
Chad Baird
Re/Max Spirit - Dayton, OH

Cant really help, but since I am here I will comment.  Sounds like they have built a Sand Castle???? 

Sorry, thats all I have.   

Dec 05, 2008 01:28 AM
Kathy Toth
Ann Arbor Market Center Keller Williams - Ann Arbor, MI
Ann Arbor Real Estate Experts - Kathy Toth Team

Although it was perfectly acceptable when the house was built, can you still sell it that way now that codes have changed? I would think the buyer prospects who are interested in this house would want to have the subflooring upgraded. Wood on sand.... whew!


Dec 05, 2008 01:54 AM
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Darla, I know how hard it can be to show pictures of uneveness in floors but those look "fairly" flat to me.  One thing I will say is that A slab would have done the job better and would likely have been cheaper than the wood floor.  That said decay "should not" be an issue if the correct materials were used.  Unless a particular jurisdiction goes to the trouble of amending the IRC----wood foundations are approved by code.  I can give you many of advantages of wood foundations over concrete foundations and even more over concrete blocks.  The wood floor system might be a problem but wiith the proper engineering I see no reason that in itself would be a problem.  The overall tone of most of the comments so far is that wood foundations are "preposterous."  That is just lack of education about the system in my opinion.

Dec 05, 2008 01:56 AM
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Darla, I did a little research and apparently the State of Minnisota is OK with Wood Foundations as spelled out in the 2006 IRC.

Dec 05, 2008 02:42 AM
Darla Jensen
Edina Realty - Crosslake, MN

Charles - The uneven floors are covered by carpet (and the creakiness).   Wood foundation is okay in Minnesota, it's the wood floors without air gap that will not pass code.  Thanks for your input on the post.

Dec 05, 2008 07:20 AM
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

HA!  If you're a termite, DINNER IS SERVED.


Dec 05, 2008 08:55 AM
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Darla, I can imagine a host of issues with an installation like that.  Looks like its time to rip it out and pour some concrete:)

Dec 05, 2008 09:30 AM

Lenn - Hopefully we don't have hungry termites in the neighborhood.

Dec 05, 2008 11:26 AM

Charles - I was afraid you were going to say that.  Thank you for your professional opinion.

Dec 05, 2008 11:27 AM
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Darla, the American Wood Preservative Association would sure be interested in anyone that had a documented case of termites infesting foundation grade pressure treated wood:)  Inadequate support would concern me way more.

Dec 05, 2008 12:01 PM
Darla Jensen
Edina Realty - Crosslake, MN

Charles - I understand and appreciate that comment.  We don't have termites in Minnesota, anyway.  The support issue is huge.  Thank you :)

Dec 05, 2008 12:29 PM
Darla Jensen
Edina Realty - Crosslake, MN

Charles - I'll correct my earlier statement in that we do not have termites in Northern Minnesota, it's mostly sand up here.  I'm not sure of other parts of the state.

Dec 05, 2008 12:31 PM