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It's possible that a basement wasn't permitted to be build on the soil. Things that drive this are: 1) near a wetland, 2) sandy soil, 3) high water table, or 4) below sea level, 5) and so on. WIth this, the house COULD be just fine. (Hang with me ...)
It's also quite possible that the original Owner didn't want a basement. In this case, it's just a personal preference. Now, ... If you WANT this particular home and want a basement, it will be very, VERY costly to have one built. Consider an addition or a storage garage/shed instead.
What you should do in EITHER case is hire an ASHI Approved Home Inspector. This is a person YOU hire who works in YOUR interests. Not the seller's interest, and not the seller's Realtor's interest. A thorough home inspection is paramont! I would also suggest you hire your OWN Real Estate Attorney. Retain one now because later on you may pay BIG bucks to retain one then. By passing all papers in front of an Attorney now may save you a LOT of grief later on. Again, it's someone working in YOUR interest. If you don't think this is 'good advice', then ask a bank or any home mortgage institution if they have lawyers review the paperwork of the homes they're going to mortgage. Believe, I know for a fact, that the paperwork for EVERY sale is passed by them before they're signed! And understand - These folks do it more times in a day then we do it in a lifetime!!!
A decent home inspector costs between $300-600, depending on where you live and how they charge. The same for an Attorney, give or take, for the same reasons and what they do for you. This is $$$ well spent because if you figure out what you'll pay over 15 or 30 years during the life of the mortgage, it's a drop in the bucket.
My best to ya and hope this helps.
Jay J -Moderator
PS: The Inspector will alert you of any 'problems' w/the home ...
PPS: God Bless America!
Thanks so much for all the good advice. I am definitely going to have it inspected and will use a lawyer.
There could be a number of different 'mechanisms' that are keeping the slab from moving.
1) Gravity. (Case Closed.) 2) Piers. They're underground concrete 'posts' that are 'tied' into the slab. The piers are set on bedrock (who knows how deep underground), and then tied into the slab. 3) Depth/Settling. If the slab is 'thick' enough, depending on how far it extends below the 'grade', that will help keep it in place.
These are the types of questions you should ask your Home Inspector. I suggest you do a walk-through BEFORE your Inspector arrives, and then accompany him during HIS inspection too. On your walk-through, you can make notes, then ask the INspector as you do the walk-through with him.
Happy house hunting! My best to ya and hope this helps.
Jay J -Moderator
PS: God Bless America!
Way out west, where I live, the slab on grade is common for new construction. The slab rest on poured concrete footing that have rebar reinforcement. All the concrete is poured at once on forms to provide a solid foundation that is considered monolithic and stable even in earthquake country. Also the slab has steel mesh embedded in it to give it increase strength to minimize cracking from live loads.