Tag Archives: Bad Business

Under Pressure: Our Personal “Doomsday Clock”

That slightly dramatic picture is part of DC Comic’s “Doomsday Clock” event that rebooted the DC universe for the 1 millionth time and incorporated The Watchmen reality into the main DC reality (sort of).

The melodrama is because today is the day we have our second meeting with our attorney and his home inspector at our recent purchased house. It’s no exaggeration to say that how this meeting goes is going to shape the direction of our lives for years. We’re less than a week away from a first mortgage payment on a house that isn’t (IMO) even safe to move into. In the mean time, our overpriced, it was supposed to be short term lease is up and we have to either pay even more to stay OR move out. To where though?

It’s been two months of constant searching for a clear path out, with every explored option only leading to further trouble and obstacles. For example, we got the test results back yesterday, and the flooring is definitely asbestos. The ceiling tile and attic insulation are cellulose though.

We’re rapidly running out of cash here, and there’s certainly NO way we can afford the $100,000 plus price tag on the costs to restore this house to where it should be. That does not include ANY upgrades either, by the way.

The stress is eating us both alive. At my personal worst, I had stage 2 hypertension and was slowly getting that under control. That’s gone. My spouse has a heart murmur and type 2 diabetes. We’re at the point of sleeping 12 hours a day from the stress.

Side note here; I frequently use superhero imagery and metaphors because I find in 80 years of existence, they’ve explored it all, no matter how over the top. A case and point is from the original “Secret Wars” back in the 1980s. The villains managed to drop an entire mountain range on the hero team, described as 150 Billion tons. Hulk held it up and saved the team. THAT is the level of pressure we’re feeling right now.

For anybody wondering about the exchange between Hulk and Iron Man, The Hulk had Banner’s mind at that point (like the last Avengers movie) and Rhodey was acting as Iron Man at the time.

There’s extreme stress over no direction out of this mess, there’s self-recrimination over not catching some of the issues ourselves, there’s tremendous anger at the people we hired to look after our interests and were legally and morally bound to do so. Yes, even frustration that the lawyer has been completely non-committal thus far.

The Options:

Working blind, we’ve come up with a few options or scenarios thus far:

If the lawyer is reasonably sure he can come through and win a case, we ride out whatever he has planned, SOMEHOW. Understandably nothing is ever a guarantee in legal circles. There’s a HUGE wildcard here also, since we don’t know if he can do anything about the mortgage payments while this is all being resolved.

If he says no case because the problems are something we personally should have noticed, then we’re stuck either trying to negotiate with the mortgage company to escape the house or get it repaired, OR we have to destroy ourselves financially and bankrupt out of the house.

In an ideal world, this would be so clearly bad that the lawyer would just be able to make a phone call, send evidence to the mortgage company and we could walk away. The mortgage company’s army of lawyers could then sue the hell out of everyone else involved in the transaction. As long as we recover our losses, I’m perfectly fine with that outcome.

I guess in a truly ideal world, massive punitive damages would be included also. I can dream, right? LOL.

Whichever way this goes, the wildcard of short term housing is still in full play. Long term also if we’re forced to bankrupt out of this mess.

Yeah… NO Pressure…

Guess I’ll have a little better idea in about 3 1/2 hours from now… Maybe…

Either way, today is our deadline. We HAVE to make some hard decisions one way or another. Doomsday clock is ticking, heh.

The House War Goes On…

So yeah… Not much posting the last week. Things are still pretty overwhelming here. Every time we think we’ve hit rock bottom, something else turns up wrong with the house we never should have bought.

It’s like a BAD reboot of the movie “The Money Pit”, except it’s so over the top nobody would find the story believable.

So let’s see… It started after closing when we FINALLY got the seller out, and were able to do the final walk through that we SHOULD have been allowed to do before closing.

The electrical was left ungrounded despite a contractual obligation to bring it up to code:

And once there were no longer boxes and crap blocking them, we discovered holes in the cinderblock walls:

We found windows that were installed without being properly sealed, the worst hidden by ivy:

We can’t even find a contractor that will look at the windows either. If it’s not a $15,000 full replacement job, they can’t be bothered. We did get an electrician to come out and look at the outlets and grounding issue however. When they did, this happened:

That’s Vermiculite ‘insulation’ pouring out of the wall through the electrical outlet’s box. More on that later. Right now, the biggest electrical company in Chattanooga, that even handles major industrial work, doesn’t want to touch this house.

Given the trouble with the outlets, we peeled back the wood paneling in the den and found TERMITES! In an all brick house mind you.

I got up into the attic and found that the home inspector lied his arse off about the condition of the roof. The rafter beams aren’t even flush against the crown beam of the roof:

Note the weathered look of the plywood decking on the right side vs the newer look on the left side also. Oh and those boards aren’t painted with any kind of wood stain. Nobody knows what it is yet, but the folks that have looked at it don’t think it’s black mold. You can also see wiring left hanging loose randomly, oh and the elephant in the picture; the crown support that’s supposed to be vertical is crooked as hell.

The roof itself has rotting decking, and a few rafters that need to be replaced as well, and it’s sagging in multiple spots:

The section around the chimney has actually gotten worse just in the month we’ve had the house. Why? The foundation is falling in everywhere. I already sort of covered that in my “Follow the Evidence” posts. This post is already getting REALLY graphic intense too. Suffice to to say that checking the house with a laser level didn’t find a level room in the house. Some walls were not only unlevel, they are leaning also.

We’re looking at $50,000 to $60,000 or higher to fix the foundations and walls. That will involve tearing up all the floors to add supports to the interior walls. So we’ll need to install new flooring afterwards too.

So another $10,000 to $20,000 for flooring on top of the $60,000 for the foundation and $15,000 for the walls. We haven’t even touched the improvements done without permits also… Things like the gas water heater plugged into an overhead light fixture’s socket:

THAT is why you want all work to have the legally required permits.

What doesn’t have a permit? All the windows except 1 were replaced (and left unsealed and without trim), a new side door was put in (without properly reinforcing the door way, leading to the accelerated roof collapsing), the new instant hot water heater, electrical rewiring of the kitchen, a completely renovated bathroom, a new electrical breaker box (sitting right on top of an outlet), new electrical and plumbing for the relocated clothes washer and dryer. Probably a few other things I’m forgetting right now as well.

So, then comes the kicker, part 1… Weeks later, we finally get our radon test results back…

We’re sitting at 3.13x the EPA maximum sort of safe limit for radon gas. Per other sites, that means we have a 1 in 30 chance of getting lung or some other cancer.

We also have an asbestos inspector come out and gather samples for testing. Long story short there, the flooring tile that I showed in my previous post is 90% likely to be asbestos.

Note how level the floor is also.

That vermiculite ‘insulation’ that I mentioned up towards the top of this post? Turns out that almost certainly contains asbestos as well. The primary (ie almost exclusive) mine location for it in the US up until… 1990 I think I read, had the vermiculite contaminated with asbestos.

The ceiling tiles and bottom most layer of attic insulation MIGHT also be asbestos. The technician that gathered the samples was a bit more optimistic about them.

Combine all of that with a dozen other issues I mentioned, like ant and roach infestations, and the utilities for the two neighbors behind us cut through our yard, and kind of close to the house (undisclosed easements), which in turn prevents us from doing anything like adding a garage without having to relocate the neighbors’ underground utilities, and the house is a freaking mess. We’re looking at a good $100,000 to $150,000 to make the house right, on a house valued at $250,000 (and is really only worth the land it’s sitting on).

It could even be more depending up how much asbestos abatement is needed.

A New Blogging Topic:

All of that leads me to a decision here… I’m going to start a new blog topic or series here on avoiding getting burned the way we did. I’ve learned FAR more than I wanted to about home inspections, building codes, etc… and it’s time to pass that on.

The sad reality is that you often can’t trust your realtor or home inspector to look out for you. Your realtor is all too often focused only on closing the sale and moving on to their other clients, especially if you’re under $400,000 in home value. Too many home inspectors are more interested in keeping their referral business from the buyer’s and seller’s agents to be thorough also. They won’t risk blowing up a deal to save your butt. The standard contract from the international inspector’s association includes a hold harmless clause in their contracts too, no matter how bad a job they did.

So yes, lots of new info coming your way soon.

Skyrim 10th Anniversary Edition

Yes, that’s correct. Bethesda and their masters at Microsoft are putting out yet another version of Skyrim. Just in time for the game’s 10th Anniversary, it will be released next month. Probably on the 11th, just like the original was.

Why It’s NOT A Good Thing:

The new edition will include improvements that will allow the game to take advantage of higher settings and performance available to newer machines. THAT part is good.

However, PCGamer.com is also reporting that the upgraded code will break all existing mods for the game, and that the plan is to make the basic version of ‘Anniversary Edition’ a forced upgrade of ‘Special Edition’. Ergo, players won’t have any say in the matter for keeping their previous version and the literal TONS of free content for the game produced by other players.

The ‘upgrade’ from MS Visual Studio 2015 to the 2019 version will change the ‘under the hood’ code that free content producers use as “hooks” to connect their content to the actual game. There are roughly 40,500 free mods to plug into the game at Skyrim SE Nexus alone. None of which will work moving forward.

The ability to easily “mod” their games has been a trademark and selling point for Bethesda games for almost 2 decades. They publish a free editor to allow players to create content. For the last few years however, they’ve gotten greedy and were no longer content to make money off of their own work. Now they want to make money off of others’ work as well.

The “Creation Club”:

The Creation Club is Bethesda and Microsoft’s attempt to monetize the work of others AND to increasingly move towards monopolizing distribution of all player created content.

It allows those folks the ability to charge for their work, BUT with Bethesda taking a sizable chunk of any money earned under the guise of quality assurance and providing a virtual store front for the mods. In the mean time, Bethesda releases new updates to their games that break mods which don’t come from their hosting site. That was almost weekly when I last played Skyrim SE (almost a year ago). That in turn left the mod developers scrambling to make patches.

It’s quite the extortion racket that Bethesda has going there. Maybe they were a good acquisition for Micro$oft after all.

Speaking of extortion and bad business… The “full” edition of Anniversary Edition (beyond the forced game engine upgrades) will cost $40 and consist almost entirely of paid mods from their “Creation Club”

TES VI… Some Year, MAYBE…

Let’s not also forget this is yet another stalling tactic for Bethesda to avoid doing any development of Elder Scrolls 6, despite years of fan outcry for the project. That should came as little surprise though when Bethesda’s president went on record as saying they’re “not a two button vending machine and will make what we want”.

And people call Trump a narcissist. How a company stays in business when they’re so deliberately blind to their market is completely beyond me…

Scrivener Update / Rant

What seems like centuries ago, I did a post with some brief impressions of the Scrivener writing software.

Part of my reasons for the earlier review being fairly positive was that buyers were promised a free upgrade to version 3.0. That version has been out for Apple products for some time. It has a MUCH cleaner, more professional looking user interface. Some new features, and 64 bit architecture also, which means performance should be much faster since it call use ALL of a newer PC’s resources.

Well, as it turns out… Literature and Latte has apparently been promising said upgrade for nearly three years now. They’ve failed to meet multiple promised release dates, and have had almost nothing to say on the project. Well, beyond that converting source code from Apple to Windows is HARD! anyway. 😥🙄

The irony here is that I was looking for an alternative to M$ Office because I felt I was being ripped off by Microsoft for never being able to reinstall a copy if I have a drive go bad or upgraded. NOW, it looks like L&L has been playing a game of misrepresentation and false advertising of it’s own to boost sales.

Strangely enough, to me anyway, this has divided the user base quite a bit. Some are perfectly happy with more clunky version 1.9 and say that L&L doesn’t owe anybody anything. I’d argue they owe what they advertised and promised to their paying customers.

If you went into a restaurant, and ordered a nice meal, but only got the main course… Your sides and drink were ignored no matter how much you asked when they were coming… Would you STILL pay for the full meal just because the steak was adequate? Would you pay full price for a car without tires and rims just because you like the rest of it, even though you were promised it come with wheels?

In my opinion, this is yet another example of how capitalism has gone off the rails. Fifty years ago, business was done on a handshake, and your word was your bond. NOW, it’s “Screw it, and the contract, I don’t feel like it”.

Whatever happened to ethics and integrity? Oh yeah…

Cynical, and a tiny bit melodramatic? Perhaps, but nothing is made worth a damned anymore, and businesses pull things like L&L did all the time also.

End of rant though.

Bottom line, AT BEST I can only be neutral on recommending Scrivener anymore. It has a learning curve as bad as MS Office, and is only better organized if you don’t understand how MS Office interconnects nowadays. The price is better however. If you’re using a PC, you just have to be OK with being lied to and getting less than you paid for.

Personally, I’m starting to look into the alternatives to Scrivener, like The Novel Factory. We work too hard for what little we have here to be cheated by companies.