Having a basement is a fact of life in colder climates. If you’re buying a country home or cottage in a rural area, there’s always a good chance that the home will have a basement or at least a lower level that’s partly underground. These lower floors can be ideal for rec rooms, additional storage or even in-law suites, and can be a desirable for many buyers. However, it’s vital that a home with a basement undergoes a home inspection before you commit to the purchase to reduce the likelihood of an unpleasant basement leak in the future.
Leaky basement issues are often top of mind for homebuyers who might be looking to jump into the market as the weather starts to warm up for the year.
There are many protections offered to buyers who may encounter this issue when looking to buy a home, however it’s still a good idea to be aware that basements have potential to leak if water is not directed away from the home properly or the surface drainage of the property is poor.
Most Agreement of Purchase and Sale documents can have repair clauses, which indicate that a buyer’s offer is contingent on the buyer being satisfied with the results of a home inspection. If the home inspection ends up finding evidence of a basement that is leaky or will leak in the future like foundation cracks or signs of water damage, the buyer generally has a couple options available to them.
These include requiring the seller to fix the problem before closing, or agreeing to take on the cost themselves and lowering their offer by the potential cost of the repair.
Real estate lawyer Mark Weisleder wrote a column on this situation a few years ago, recommending that if a basement is in need of waterproofing work that the seller obtains an estimate for the cost and offers the buyer a credit for the same amount, and offers a reminder that a repair clause can be added to the Agreement of Purchase and Sale that says money will be held back until it’s determined that the repairs have been completed.
The seller of the home is also responsible for any leaks that happen before closing, should the buyer take one last tour of the home before closing and find a puddle in the basement.