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:
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:
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: