“As is” is a term that should raise your eyebrows and open your eyes. I just saw an “as is” house that lacked a single permanent support column. Yes, I am saying that every upright in the basement was a temporary measure.
Crooked houses are commonplace here in the Commonwealth. If the incline bothers you in a place you are viewing, you should move on. If you can get used to it, then the place may be for you. Next thing is to determine if the house is still settling. That involves looking for diagonal cracks in the plaster. Look in corners and in closets.
This is how basement supports should be: Houses should be held up by a Lally column, which is concrete filled steel post. That post should be on a concrete footing, that goes down four feet into the ground. Some builders use brick or concrete columns. That works, unless it deteriorates in damp basements.
No-nos that I see all the time include
- Screw jacks: They are hollow posts that are adjusted to the height of a horizontal post. They are designed for temporary use, but get left in basements all over the Commonwealth.
- Posts that have no footings. Basement slabs are often less than an inch thick. Putting a post on that won’t do the job of holding the house’s weight.
- Wooden posts. There are some very old ones out there. They look like trees. Wood expands and contracts when basements get damp. It also burns.
It is a lot of labor to dig in a basement to make all those footings, so installing Lally Columns correctly starts to get pricey if you need to add more than one or two. That is why people put screw jacks in. They are a cheap part-way measure to slow down a settling house. If you buy a house that is still settling after 60 or 80 or 100 years, you need to be a good custodian of your property and purchase good support for the house.