Log in

No account? Create an account
House Problems. I lose. - brad's life — LiveJournal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Brad Fitzpatrick

[ website | bradfitz.com ]
[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

House Problems. I lose. [Dec. 14th, 2006|03:15 pm]
Brad Fitzpatrick
[Tags|, ]
[Current Mood |crappycrappy]

Upstairs slate/tile deck is leaking due to terrible design and work. Slope is wrong, membrane not installed right (or missing), ... water getting into house. Cost to fix: $10,000 - $12,000? wtf?

Two ceilings probably with water damage due to aforementioned deck problems... cost to fix: $n,000. Where n = ????.

Second slate tile deck probably also needs same repairs as first. And maybe entryway tiles too.... another $n,000.

Oh, and septic/sump tank is clogged. Needs fixing. "Oh, that'll be at least $1,000."

Oh, but first I have to have a carpenter undo half the deck so sewer people can get into the tank and unclog it. "Few hours" of work, whatever that costs.

So I'm smelling like $20-$25k of bullshit repairs? (seriously?)

Oh, insurance? Maybe. Had 1 year home insurance for unforeseen problems, but I think it expired 6 days ago.

So ... angry, dejected? I don't know. Fuck all this.

[User Picture]From: bandicoot
2006-12-14 11:32 pm (UTC)
Welcome to the joys of home ownership.

Given that the amount of repairs is going to be quite high, you might well consider consulting a real estate attorney. In CA, all defects must be disclosed to the buyer, and if they weren't disclosed to you, you might have an actionable case against both the seller/builder and the selling agent. It's a complicated area, and only a good attorney would know for sure.

Keep in mind that the agent you bought from is actually working for the seller unless you specifically hired them as a buyer's agent, so I wouldn't talk to them prior to consulting an attorney.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: johno
2006-12-15 12:10 am (UTC)
Also, this the stuff that a House Inspector is supposed to find. He should have noticed the bad pitch on the decks.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: dina
2006-12-15 05:01 am (UTC)

The house was actually new construction

And the city was the one who inspected it... yada yada real estate contract jargon... they are essentially released from all liability (I worked in Real Estate for the last four years). This is what insurance is for...
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: youngoat
2006-12-15 07:34 am (UTC)

I don't usually do this, but...

Your icon rules. :-)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: sandy
2006-12-15 09:25 am (UTC)

Re: The house was actually new construction

It does not matter that the city inspected it, you still get a house inspection when you buy a house. The city inspectors do not know all the aspects of home construction. When I built my house, I had to tell the inspectors to not pass certain things, because I knew that they were not correct.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: nick
2006-12-15 05:43 pm (UTC)

Re: The house was actually new construction

From what I've heard, in San Francisco, the city inspectors will know whatever you want them to know for a benjamin or two.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: sandy
2006-12-15 09:33 pm (UTC)

Re: The house was actually new construction

That does not surprise me. I was not impressed with the workmanship of the SF contractors. I guess when they are so hard to come by, you can get away with anything. Our financial adviser is in San Francisco, and he told me that I could make a fortune if I came and worked in the area.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: synthetic_girl
2006-12-14 11:34 pm (UTC)
Oh God. Hope everything will be OK soon. House problems are always a disaster, hate them all. Be strong.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: rahaeli
2006-12-14 11:38 pm (UTC)
Without having seen the problems on the house, I'll tell you up front: you most likely need a different contractor. You should never commit to home repair without at least two and ideally three or four estimates from contractors who don't know each other and have no contact with each other.

Fixing the deck shouldn't cost that much; repairing slope and adding in a membrane shouldn't destroy the slate tile, and the only way it'd cost that much would be if they were replacing the slate tiles. Which, if they do, they will take your old tiles away, and use them in a different project, and charge those people full price for new tiles. (And the "new" tiles they use on yours will probably be the tiles they took from someone else.) It shouldn't take more than about a week's work to actually complete the repairs. Unless there's something really funky going on (which I doubt there is), that estimate's way over what it should cost.

The water damage ... eh. I can't give you solid advice there, not having seen it. Water damage is either really easy to fix, or really hard to fix. If it's just the sheetrock, all you have to do is pull that out and replace it -- some sheetrock, some spackle, a can of paint, and boom, fixed. If it's spread down into the walls, or if the rafters/framing is warped or deteriorating, it can get more ugly. The reason you can't get a firm estimate on that is that you can't tell until you open it up to see how bad it is. The house hasn't been leaking for too long, though, right? It's probably just cosmetic, easily fixed. (Hell, if I lived out there I'd do it for you for pizza and cost of materials. Ditto on the deck.)

I'm useless on plumbing, so I can't give you advice there. The at-least-two-estimates thing applies to plumbers, too, though.

(My dad's a general contractor who doesn't pull this kind of bullshit, and I started doing home repair at age 14 or so. He'd start something around the house and then get pulled off on a Paying Job, and Mom would freak out because stuff wasn't done, so I picked up a lot of it to complete various projects.)

From what you're describing here, unless there's some really nonstandard stuff going on (and I doubt there is), you should be looking at about $10k-$12k. Still not cheap, but not anal rape.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: brad
2006-12-14 11:46 pm (UTC)
Yeah, Dina's finding multiple contractors of each type for different quotes. Can't say they don't know each other, though.

Big red flag for this most recent guy was "so, uh, you're not paying for this right? You have some insurance?". Or something to that effect.

But finding people on such short notice is a pain.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: scsi
2006-12-14 11:54 pm (UTC)
Your homeowners insurance might cover part of this. I'd look into that too.
Ugh, sucks dude, wish I could help more.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: d4b
2006-12-15 03:19 am (UTC)
It certainly can never hurt to ask, but my understanding is that most insurance won't cover gradual water damage. Sudden damage, yes.

Yeah, I'd definitely look into potential liabilities of the seller and the home inspector (who supposedly worked for you and not the seller).
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: rahaeli
2006-12-15 12:08 am (UTC)
Yeah, it really is. (And you can't even post to sfbayarea asking for contractor recommendations, heh.)

If I were in a new area and looking for a contractor without knowing anybody in The Network -- I don't know anyone out in SF, unfortunately -- I'd pick up the phone book and look under "home repair" rather than "contractor" in the yellow pages, and pick out a listing that's not a Fancy Named Agency or something, just a small business/sole proprietor deal. Then ask him for references -- and call them. :P

But yeah, that question really should be a huge gigantic red flag. Along with "So, what kind of budget do you have for repairs?" and, in some contexts, "how long have you owned the house?" (Reason on that last one being: if they think you're a new homeowner, they might think you'll be more willing to do unnecessary repair/not know what's urgent to fix and what isn't.)

Good luck. And seriously, if you're having a lot of trouble, let me know, and I'll tell you what to take very good and careful photos of/what to describe/etc, and I can give 'em to my dad for you. Hard to diagnose house problems via internet, but if you call in a contractor and say "I need you to do this, this, and this, and this is what I expect to pay for it", you have a much better chance of managing expectations. Like software, there's always the risk that it's a more complicated process than it appears on the surface, but yeah, from what you've said, there's NO REASON you should be paying anywhere near that.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: chris
2006-12-15 02:20 am (UTC)
possibly a red flag as to the charachter of the contracter, but if you tell them "no, i'm paying for it out of pocket", you might get a different estimate than you would otherwise, by just the nature that they asked you that question. they might be willing to trim down a few line items and save you some money, wheras if insurance is paying, why should they bother? or they might just be concerned about actually getting paid for the job. anyway it can't hurt to hear what they offer.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mollyblack
2006-12-14 11:40 pm (UTC)

When did you find out about the problems?

If you had the insurance and the problems started BEFORE the six days ago happened, it should still be covered. This did not just happen. This is an ongoing problem that you did not catch until (today? yesterday?) and you've been gone which means that you couldn't do anything, anyway.

So lawyer time. They should get both the seller and the insurance company scared enough that it gets handled and fast.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: edm
2006-12-15 01:05 am (UTC)

Re: When did you find out about the problems?

IIRC this story correctly, this is a continuation of an ongoing problem. The fact that you (Brad) only just found out how bad it is doesn't automatically exclude it from being covered by the insurance. It might take some fighting with the insurance company, but it seems likely to be me that you'll be able to convince them that they should cover at least some of the cost given that the problem was caused by something which happened during the time covered.

But you should probably get onto arguing with them soon. They'll be much more dubious about it if you only report it months/years after the term expired, rather than a few days.

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: lisa
2006-12-14 11:56 pm (UTC)
put up a paypal link
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: erik
2006-12-15 06:42 am (UTC)
Yes, because Brad's poor. ;-)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: nick
2006-12-15 12:19 am (UTC)

I sent out a couple emails

Hopefully I'll have a couple contractor names for you shortly.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: brad
2006-12-15 12:26 am (UTC)

Re: I sent out a couple emails

whoa, thanks
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: dakus
2006-12-15 12:42 am (UTC)
it almost sound cheaper to put a roof over the deck and enclose it than weatherproof it.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: octal
2006-12-15 12:57 am (UTC)
"time to sell some more paid accounts!"
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: tydel
2006-12-15 03:05 am (UTC)

Two Words ...

Two words, dude ... Mike Holmes
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: valiskeogh
2006-12-15 03:16 am (UTC)
broken deck + fixing ceilings + tile deck + septic/sump = time to start another internet company
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: dpb
2006-12-15 04:58 am (UTC)
Look @ paying for your insurance premiums now. At least with auto it will go into affect from the time it expired, not from the time you paid!
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: erik
2006-12-15 06:43 am (UTC)
So you think that this was just poor design on the part of the architect guy who designed/built it, or subsequent problems that just went unresolved?

Seems like if the guy was an architect he should've known better. Then again, if it was his "dream house" then maybe he was thinking more in fantasy land and not in the real world.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: nezemka
2006-12-15 07:34 am (UTC)

Russian trouble know-how

aahh.. why don't ya fix everything yourself? Free of charge. ;)
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: scosol
2006-12-16 07:14 pm (UTC)
> Upstairs slate/tile deck is leaking due to terrible design and work. Slope is wrong, membrane not installed right (or missing), ... water getting into house. Cost to fix: $10,000 - $12,000? wtf?

bah! drill a few holes in the deck!
(Reply) (Thread)