Tag Archives: Breach of Contract

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.

My Month From Hell…

As I’ve hinted at a few times, things have been going… rough with the new house. I’m finally ready to begin to tell the story here.

So, where to start?  We looked at several other houses even after putting in the offer on the cinder block place.  Suffice it to say that nothing under $350k here is problem free.  We ended up following through on the block house after all. In case you’re wondering, the law here gives you a limited window to back out of a Real Estate purchase on top of the normal contingency windows (inspection, loan approval, etc…) before closing.

I’m still not sure if that was a mistake.  It’s been a running battle with the seller and his agent ever since.  First it was getting concessions on repairs needed, which needless to say is normal.  Then we couldn’t get them out after closing paperwork was signed.  It took a $500 a day occupancy fee to get them to clear out.  And clear out they did at that point, like greased lightning.  After that was where the real fun began.


Of the three repairs we asked for 1 was technically done, 1 was done half-assed and will need to be redone, and the third was not done at all, BUT it did have a work order falsified by a local contractor to say it was done.


Technically done was the side door to the house.  The framing at its base was unfinished, and it was allowing water in under the door and along the slab.  Did I mention it rains so much here that it makes the tropics look like New Mexico?  He put in a sill plate to seal off the door entrance, but didn’t concrete over the area he’d carved out of the slab to install the door.  End result; there’s a ditch under the carpet in front of the door.


Half-Assed done was the roof.  It’s 8 years old and not in bad shape, but the major swings in seasonal temperatures here have created “nail pops“, where the nails back out of the roof a bit.  That in turn can push up shingles partially and cause them to curl.  All we asked for was that they drive back down the nails and throw some sealant under the loose singles.  Easy job, even if a little time consuming.  Well, they did maybe 2/3 of it and used low grade silicone sealant to (sort of) tack down the shingles.  End result; it needs to be done all over again to keep the roof intact. 


NOT Done was the house electrical system.  It was built in 1959, right at the start of “modern” (ie the last version of) two wire systems that are now retired in favor of 3 wire, fully grounded systems.  So, no knob and tube or aluminum wiring at least, BUT nothing is grounded, which is horrible for modern electronics of any sort.  The seller had already upgraded the circuit breaker box to current standards and had installed 3 prong outlets in the entire house.  No ground though; he just hooked the two wire wiring to the three wire outlets and tried to pass them off as properly updated per NEC code.  Our home inspector caught that they weren’t, so we said that we wanted those outlets properly grounded as a condition of sale.  He agreed, then apparently had a contractor friend forge a work order saying that the work had been done.  “Trust but Verify” as Reagan said.  After we FINALLY got them out of the house, I went through with an outlet tester and found the only areas properly grounded were the kitchen and bathroom where he’d ran new wiring to for previous remodeling work.


Same general idea with the other two jobs, once checked up on.  Partially my fault for allowing closing to go through before they were out of there.  I’m going to plead detrimental reliance however, since our own realtor assured us this guy was a well established contractor with a sterling reputation, and a virtual pillar of the community (huge town of 3600 there, lol)

Side Note: Trying to translate from Legalese to English, detrimental reliance in this case means the victim followed the bad advice of an expert professional on a given matter. Such as an electrician telling you it’s OK to stick a fork in an electrical outlet, with wet hands no less. A few other circumstances apply but it’s essentially malpractice for professionals other than doctors and lawyers.


Then when we got a chance to thoroughly look the place over, the exterior windows (all but two of them were unsealed on the outside.  One of them even had ivy growing into the gap.  Personally, I can’t believe I missed all of that either.  I saw new windows, and new looking bricks with clean, well formed mortar though.  I didn’t think I had to worry about if he’d finished the job and fully sealed the exterior of the windows:

He also left two holes in the exterior walls where the old, in-kitchen hook up for the washer and dryer used to be:

Fortunately, I have many talents:

It’s actually amazing what one can do with a YouTube video or two and simply RTFM 😉

Yes, that’s patched with actual concrete for a proper, similar materials patch.  Same with the smaller nearby hole that I patched.  There are other, smaller holes that I still need to patch though.  These two holes were hidden behind furniture and boxes to deliberately conceal them.


OH, I forgot to mention that the sellers failed to inform us of a roach infestation as well.  When they finally got out, and we went to look at the place, the house reeked of cheap carpet shampoo and roach spray.  There were dead roaches all over the carpet also.  Unfortunately, this area only requires disclosure of wood destroying pests.  Ergo there’s not much we can do on that specific one.  Despite apparently cleaning the carpets, they also managed to leave the house filthy.  Even the aforementioned carpets don’t feel anywhere near clean.


What really set me off regarding the entire situation is that when the violations of the closing contract came to light, EVERYONE involved with the transaction (including our own agent) just threw up their hands and said “oh well”.  They got their money, so they don’t care.  Take advantage of my good nature and risk my possible wrath.  Rub it in my face that you did so, and guaranteed it’s going to get ugly.  So, I’ve spent the last two weeks going through real estate laws and building codes online at night after working on the house all day.  What have I found, you ask?


Well, first the renovated bathroom, all the exterior windows, the new side door, the new electrical panel (circuit breaker box), and hell maybe even the new-ish A/C system were all done without the required building permits.  The holes in the wall, the unfinished windows, the improperly wired / switched out electrical outlets (along with several other things) are all building code violations.  Digging into some of the outlets to check the wiring turned up things like this:

That’s the hired electrician sitting there, staring in disbelief

Yes, that’s gravel pouring out of the outlet.  I wasn’t sure what to make of that at first, but a little research turned up that cinder block walls sometimes use “aggregate” (pebble) material as insulation in the hollow center portion of the block.  This jabroni doesn’t even know how to keep the crap out of the ‘gang box’ for the electrical outlets though.  I found jury-rigged, mismatched and spliced together wire in other outlet boxes and wood chips from the wood paneling in others.  The electrician that looked over the house recommended a whole house rewire.  The previous owner also left uncapped gas lines where he had his grill tied into the house gas system, where there was a gas powered space heater that he removed and where the dryer was. 


Sooooo… long story short, we went from something that could have been settled easily with a “My bad, we ran out of time.  Take care of it and send me the bill”, to escalating this up to the point where I’m out for blood.  We’re going to sue the previous owner for breach of contract, fraud and misrepresentation.  I’m also going to do everything I can to get his contracting license, and that of his electrician friend, pulled for the building code violations and fraudulent work order as well.  Oh yes, and go after his realtor for the same reasons as well as acting in bad faith.  Somebody’s losing their real estate license or is at least going to end up with one hell of a fine to the state department of real estate and Realtor’s Association.

SICK Cat Too…


And if all that wasn’t enough…  One of our two cats got really sick and turns out to have a massive internal cyst in her abdomen area which will require surgery.  The HIGHLY reputable vet hospital (extreme sarcasm noted, I hope) only took $1500 dollars to make the diagnosis of a cyst.  We haven’t even gotten to treatment yet. 

 
So yeah…  It’s been a hell of a month. And there’s no resolution in sight for ANY of it yet…

A friend recently posted in her blog about “letting it go”. Normally good advice but…

NOW it’s “Beer for my Horses” time:

Keeping a Low Profile

That’s what I’ve been doing, and for largely good reason; I have been in the absolute blackest of moods the last few weeks. Instead of subjecting readers to it, I’ve laid low, tried to catch up on emails and finish getting settled in. The Drama yet persists though…

Filthy Moving Company Scum:

Here lies the source of most of my anger. Our movers have hijacked our furniture and all our belongings. They picked up on the 17th and 18th of last month, and 18 days later we still have NO idea where our stuff is OR if we will EVER get it back.

Keep in mind that U.S. Dept of Transportation regulations limit commercial trucks to 500 miles or 10 hours of driving per day. That means the trip SHOULD have taken 5 days and they should have been here the 23rd of April. Their only excuses are the contract wasn’t guaranteed and they don’t care that we’re sitting in an empty apartment.

What I feel like doing about it now:

NEVER, EVER use Colonial Van Lines for moving. Hijacking our property is just the start of their wrongs. They also illegally subcontracted out the move to Best Price Moving and Storage (a violation of D.O.T. regulations not to disclose ahead of time). I had about 6 other complaints I filed against them as well when I went to the FMCSA website. FMCSA = Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a division of the D.O.T. By the gods, this country loves its alphabet soup bureaucracies. They (the FMCSA) handle all Federal level complaints against moving companies and long haul truckers.

Both COLONIAL VAN LINES and BEST PRICE MOVING MOVING AND STORAGE have done nothing but make excuses and finger point at each other. As far as I am concerned they’re both guilty of conspiracy to commit theft by false pretenses under California Penal Code 532 PC.

I hope they sue me for making that declaration too. I’ll use the discovery process to expose and document every person they’ve ever screwed over.

Am I mad? You bet! You try sitting around an absolutely empty apartment for a week and a half. No furniture, no bed, no TV, no desktop computer, no books… At least we took the laptops with us and FINALLY have internet.

Yeah, there’s going to be HELL to pay when I’m through. The D.O.T. was only the beginning. We’ve filed police reports and an insurance claim also, which means both companies will be explaining to Insurance Megacorporation attorneys where our shit is and why they’re not mitigating the insurance company’s losses. Then there’s various other state and local regulatory agencies and the possibility of Federal theft charges since this all theoretically crosses state lines. Let’s not forget civil lawsuits too.

A redhead with a temper is redundant, LOL. Likewise I don’t know if my Scots, Irish, or German ancestry contributes the most to my temper. I joke it’s only the Welsh 1/4 of my ancestry that keeps me sane.

Whatever. They’re going to wish they never screwed with us. >_<