Home Improvement--General/buying a house


Hi Glen,
You are the guy I have been looking for. We are currently looking at purchasing a house in the Oakland, Ca area. It was built in 1949, has shake shingles, and a wood exterior. Is the wood exterior a problem due to termites and how long do shake shingles generally last? Would a stucco house be a better choice and does stucco keep the house cooler in summer like one made of brick? Three problems concern me about the house....it has cracks, an asbestos floor in one room and the garage door is not flush at the bottom when closed. The cracks are my greatest concern. which are worse... horizontal or vertical ones and what does each one signify? How can we tell if there are true structural problems? Is the asbestos floor a health hazard and if so, could we remove it ourselves? We were told we would need a permit to remove it. How does one then dispose of it? Is the garage door a sign of structural problems? We REALLY don't know whether to pursue this house or move on and would TRULY appreciate any pointers you might share. Thank you for your time and kindness.


Cindy- Ok so.....I would need some pics to be able to further guide you. that being said let me take a stab at it. In Oakland, CA a stucco house would be the better choice. Shakes last 25-50 yrs., but the heat and sun down there may shorten the life span. It is true that a stucco/brick house keeps the ambient temp cooler inside.
All concrete cracks-period. Some are worse than others and most are due to settling after the house was built; and in your area-earthquakes. To briefly explain which cracks are worse I would say horizontal ones should be addressed first. Again I would need pics to better understand what may be going on structurally.
Is there still room to negotiate on price or conditions? I would try and get the sellers to remove the asbestos. If no joy is there than removing it yourself is an option. The permit and abatement for this is expensive so you are better to do the work yourself. Asbestos is at its most dangerous when it is air born as fine dust. If they are simple tiles they are fairly easy to remove and can be disposed of in the trash where their final destination is a landfill. Be sure to bag them up in small lots and where a respirator, gloves and protective clothing.
My gut felling is to move on and keep looking. Unless you get it for a low price and can sell it at a decent profit after a while.
Please feel free to contact me for any reason. You can also involve me for consultation on other houses you consider purchasing. My phone rings off the hook with these type of questions. As long as it is one or two conversations than I do not have to charge you. Most of my people feel having an expert opinion on all things "House" has saved them a great deal of money or anguish or both.

Home Improvement--General

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Glen W


I can answer almost any question about residential construction / renovation


I have worked as a General Contractor for 25 yrs. in 10 states.

BA in Architecture

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