In this video I talk about how that wonderful house on the hill can be your worst nightmare. That house that overlooks a nice wooded valley and has a wonderful walk out basement can bring you a lot of problems in the future. To illustrate, I discuss a little bit of the geology concerned when you buy such a house, and how it can work against you.

This is the most common type of foundation failure I encounter. The problem is that the soil on the upslope of a hill is often very firm, sometimes it’s weathered rock. The downslope is often soft – it’s soil that has washed down the hill, and often fill the builder dumps there as they scrape the top of the hill to level it.

The foundation on the downslope settles, which is bad. Making it worse, the foundation on the upslope doesn’t settle. That leads to the house literally pulling apart, making large cracks. In the two worst cases I’ve seen, one house pulled in half, and in the other house the plumbing actually ruptured. The repair of such damage and stabilizing the house can be expensive.

So, should you buy a house that sets on the edge of a hill? Sure. However, before you purchase, spend some money on a home inspection (which I always recommend anyway), and possibly hiring an engineer to examine the structure. That way you can go into the purchase with your eyes open.