You might be browsing the web for gorgeous waterfront real estate here in Fort Myers, FL. You click through listing after listing, but may not know the importance of doing your due diligence - or more importantly, what kind.

If you’re asking yourself, “what inspections do I need on a waterfront home in Florida?” then prepare for an epic tale of how our buyer saved himself $100,000 by spending about $1,000 in specialized marine inspections.

The Following is Based on a True Story

Imagine having to make 3 trips to Florida from up North just to get to know the area and find a community you like. Then image finding the home of your dreams and making an offer, spending weeks negotiating, and just not getting anywhere. The seller is being unrealistic, and negotiations are stalling.

“Oh well, that’s life!” you tell yourself, right?
Onward and upward to the next house. Your spirits are high (and to be honest that last round of negotiations kind of gave you a thrill anyways). 

Then you find the seemingly perfect house. Fabulous private lot, deep water access, a great dock system with a new lift, no bridges to the Gulf of Mexico, and the house only needs minor interior renovations. You put in an offer, and negotiate back and forth for almost a week. When you were just about to call it quits on this house, everyone finally comes to an agreement.

Naturally you’re on cloud nine. You can practically smell the salt in the air from your dreary Illinois back patio. This is it! You can feel it! Your cold Illinois winters are finally going to come to an end!

Between scheduling inspections and getting insurance quotes from out of state, your patience is wearing thin but you keep a positive attitude and have the end goal in mind - you are less than 30 days away from moving into your dream home where it’s always warm and it never snows.

Meanwhile you are busy up north, and rely on your trusted real estate agent in Fort Myers, FL to facilitate all these inspections. You feel really confident about that, and are thankful to have them watching out for you.

A few days go by. You patiently wait for the general home inspector’s report. And then it comes back…


“Cracks noted at sea wall. Recommend hiring a licensed marine contractor to further evaluate.”

“Uh oh…,” you think. But how bad can it really be…? After all the seller told you he just had the seawall tended to less than 10 years ago and it’s in great condition.

Now you are a couple hundred dollars into the inspection process. That’s normal, and you are willing to do what it takes to get your slice of paradise. So you decide to follow your general home inspector’s advice and call a marine contractor to get a better idea of what’s going on with the seawall. There are so many different kinds of cracks. Vertical ones, horizontal cracks, etc. so who knows what’s really going on?!

Fast forward another week and another couple hundred bucks, and the marine contractor supplies you there report. He gives you a relatively clean bill of health. Vertical cracks are noted, but those are somewhat common with older seawalls. It’s concrete, after all. Just to stay on the safe side, your marine contractor also writes, “Recommend having licensed structural seawall engineer evaluate cracks”.

“They want HOW much for a structural seawall engineering inspection?” is your initial thought when you call to schedule the appointment and get the $750 quote. Of course you want to make sure your investment is a sound one, so you agree to have the engineer come out. You’d rather be safe than sorry, right?

Bear with me, because this is where the crescendo of the story happens.


Fast forward ANOTHER week (you are now 15 days into your inspection period) and you get the final blow and dreaded report from the structural seawall engineer.

“Seawall displays several structural cracks, and is expected to fail within 12-18 months”

Not only does your dream home’s seawall have vertical AND horizontal cracks, but it is expected to fall & sag into the canal.

Wait, WHAT?!

After calling several marine contractors and getting repair quotes, it quickly becomes apparent that a repair just isn’t going to cut it. The seawall on your dream waterfront home in Florida needs a new seawall.

Want to take a wild guess at what the seawall replacement and associated rebuild would have cost?

$25,000.00?

Nope.

$50,000.00?

Eh.

$75,000.00?

Guess again.

Try $100,000.00.

Yes, you read that right. It would cost you $100,000.00 to replace this particular sea wall in a way that makes sense.

But Wait, There’s More:

In order to replace the seawall, the double boat lift dock needs to be removed. Your stomach sinks. That whole idea about your dream waterfront home in sunny Southwest Florida? That just got massively drenched by a torrential downpour of epic proportions. Spending $100,000.00 was not part of your plan, and this is very upsetting.

Long Story Short

Do you know what would have been even more upsetting than finding out your dream home needs a new $100,000 seawall & dock replacement, though? Deciding, as the buyer, not to spend the minuscule additional money (in comparison) on a marine contractor and specialized structural seawall engineering inspection. The only reason this detrimental defect was found, was because the engineering inspector dove in the water, scraped off barnacles, and uncovered excessive cracking in the seawall underwater.
 
In summary, here is what you need to do in order to ensure your Florida waterfront home investment  is a sound one:

Step 1 - Get a general home inspection for the house
Step 2 - Get a marine contractor inspection for the dock & lift system
Step 3 - Get a structural engineering inspection for the seawall by a seawall specialist
Step 4 - Save yourself potentially 100k+ of headache and heartache by doing this due diligence BEFORE you buy a house.

Nobody likes unpleasant surprises. Ensure you are making a wise investment by choosing agents to represent you that specialize in Fort Myers waterfront real estate, and know the ins and outs of common pitfalls and mistakes. We are proud to be your resource for that local knowledge.

Call/Text us at 239-908-1310 or email us at Rebecca@FloridaHeritageTeam.com anytime with questions about anything - happy to help!