The ground beneath some of Boston’s priciest homes is literally rotting away

Antiquated building techniques are coming back to haunt Bostonians

TRD New York TRD WEEKEND EDITION /
Mar.March 07, 2020 09:00 AM
The ground beneath some Boston homes is crumbling away (Credit: iStock)

The ground beneath some Boston homes is crumbling away (Credit: iStock)

An antiquated technique that generations of Bostonians used to add thousands of buildable acres to their city is coming back to haunt their city’s current residents.

The ground beneath some homes is literally rotting away and it isn’t cheap to fix, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Around 5,000 acres of Boston is built atop soil and gravel landfill that was once Massachusetts Bay. That land isn’t solid enough to build foundations on, so up until the 1920s, builders drove massive wood pilings down to solid ground and built foundations on top of them.

Pilings can remain viable for centuries when submerged in groundwater, but when exposed to air they can rapidly rot away beneath foundations. Public works projects and construction over the years has caused groundwater levels to drop in some parts of the city, exposing pilings.

There are roughly 6,000 buildings constructed on top of such pilings, including many in the city’s most expensive and sought-after neighborhoods. Remediation — replacing exposed wood with steel — alone can cost upwards of $200,000, not accounting for any further repair work to an actual building.

Many sellers don’t want to know if their homes have damaged pilings and because the housing market is so hot in the city, some buyers are willing to roll the dice and skip the expensive and time-consuming testing needed to investigate potential issues.

“Few people investigate it—they don’t want to know,” Compass agent Doug Miller told the Journal. When working with buyers, “if I see settling, it’s definitely a question that I ask, but I’ve never had anyone answer with anything other than ‘I don’t know.’” [WSJ] — Dennis Lynch


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
421 Broome Street (Google Maps)

Soho penthouse buy sets record despite price chop

Soho penthouse buy sets record despite price chop
209 Dean Street and 315 Adelphi Street (Google Maps)

Sprawling Brooklyn townhouses drive week’s priciest deals

Sprawling Brooklyn townhouses drive week’s priciest deals
Nelson Rockefeller and 812 Fifth Avenue Photos via Getty; StreetEasy; Google Maps)

Fifth Ave co-op owned by Rockefeller family hits market

Fifth Ave co-op owned by Rockefeller family hits market
(iStock)

Cities dying? Suburbs booming? Data don’t show it

Cities dying? Suburbs booming? Data don’t show it
126 Hancock Street and 85 North 3rd Street (Google Maps, Corcoran)

Bed-Stuy townhouse tops Brooklyn luxury contracts

Bed-Stuy townhouse tops Brooklyn luxury contracts
Bristol Myers Squibb CEO Giovanni Caforio and a rendering of Cambridge Crossing

Pharma giant inks massive lease at sprawling Boston mixed-use campus

Pharma giant inks massive lease at sprawling Boston mixed-use campus
A view of Billionaire's Row (Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

Blow to luxury market from Covid worse than impact of 9/11

Blow to luxury market from Covid worse than impact of 9/11
Adam Neumann and Rebekah Paltrow Neumann with 69 Girdle Ridge Road in Katonah (Neumanns by by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for Time; Realtor)

Adam Neumann parts with Westchester home

Adam Neumann parts with Westchester home
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...