Foundation Crack, Tree Damage, Commercial Space


Dear David,
We’re thinking about selling our back split. My husband noticed a crack in the foundation by the basement window. Should we be concerned? – CRACKED

DEAR CRACKED: It sounds like a typical “step crack”, which is somewhat common in this style of home. Foundation cracks are quite common in general, as concrete tends to crack as it dries. In my experience, it’s rare to find a home that doesn’t have a foundation crack somewhere, even if the home is new.

The first thing to do is establish whether or not the crack is “active” (leaking), which is easier to do if your basement is unfinished. If the crack has leaked at some point, there will be “efflorescence” on the inside of the concrete wall, which shows up as a white powdery residue around the crack itself. Efflorescence indicates that water has moved through the foundation wall and carried mineral residue to the surface.

Whether the crack is active currently or has been previously, my suggestion is the same: get in front of the issue before it affects the sale of your home. There are a number of reputable local companies who can fill a foundation crack from the inside and provide up to a lifetime guarantee that it won’t leak again (I would be happy to recommend someone to you). When you have the repair done, ensure that your guarantee is transferable to a new owner and provide the associated paperwork with the sale.

Dear David,
A branch from my neighbour’s tree broke off and went through the roof of my garage. Who is responsible to pay for the damage? – FALLEN

DEAR FALLEN: Generally speaking, the damage should be covered under your homeowner’s insurance, no matter whose tree the offending branch came from. According to real estate Lawyer Mark Weisleder, Canadian court precedent suggests that responsibility lies with a homeowner to protect themselves from damage, or suffer the consequences. Depending on the amount of your deductible, you’ll need to decide whether filing a claim makes sense for you.

Dear David,
We’re looking at renting a commercial space. The landlord is suggesting either a 3-year or 5-year lease. Which should we consider? – READY TO SIGN

DEAR READY: There are advantages to both. The 3-year option means less commitment, while a 5-year lease locks in your rate, so you know for certain what you’ll pay in rent during the lease period.

Depending on the stability of your business (and whether the space you are considering is likely to suit you for the next 5 to 10 years), you’ll want to ensure that your lease provides two or three renewal options. Generally, your rate for the coming term will be negotiated and set at the time of renewal, typically about 3 to 6 months before the lease expires. With a renewal option in place, you can renew your lease and stay longer if you wish, as long as you are not in default. Alternately, you can choose not to renew and vacate the space.