Praise Jesus for Home Inspectors.
The evening before we were meant to close on our new home, our fabulous Home Inspector (whom we almost didn't hire at all because our Realtor said, "You could pay the money for the inspection, but it would just be for your 'peace of mind'....") was gracious enough to tell us that the foundation of the house looked really screwy and we needed to get it checked out by a licensed Structural Engineer.
BackTrack: We had already had the home appraised and nothing was said about any structural funkiness. The Insurance Company said nothing about it, either. We had already been assured by the seller and the real estate agent that the home was "in great shape for its age- See? There are no cracks in the walls at all!"
Omitted Information: "By the way, we just re-textured all the walls so you wouldn't even be able to see any cracks if there were any here to begin with..."
So we get a Structural Engineer guy out (Chris has done some work for him), and he graciously does a very thorough inspection of the house we were supposed to purchase in less than 24 hours. He tells Chris that the home isn't terribly damaged on the inside because it is basically BEING HELD UP BY THE ROOTS OF THE TREES AROUND IT. Three large trees next to the house had somehow managed to keep it from shifting too dramatically over the years. (The foundation underneath it, however, had moved to China.)
Because of this, the floor-joists are no longer touching the actual floors, and the South-West corner of the home is about to slip off of the foundation. The engineer put his foot on the wall underneath the bedroom window and pushed, and the whole wall moved. He said he wouldn't even attempt that fancy foot trick on the corner of the house because it would probably CAVE-IN. Total Cost to fix: starting around $15,000.
Needless to say, we called the real estate agent to tell him the Bad (good) News, and he told us he had no idea that the foundation had moved to China.
It sounds like they are still willing to negotiate something, but Chris and I aren't even going to consider buying the house unless the foundation is COMPLETELY repaired at no cost to us.
I've always wanted to live in a tree-house, but this isn't exactly what I'd had in mind.