Remember how I mentioned that we were having a couple of leak issues , and had called a plumber to come take a look? Well, he came on Monday. And it was the awesomest experience ever. I think this was one of those cases of expecting the worst and having it turn out much better than expected, the kind of thing you can't fake.
We called the plumber because we did a spot-check of our plumbing through the wall access panels and discovered that the master bathtub leaks. Also, when Torsten moved his office down into the basement, a space we rarely used before, he noticed that when certain sinks and appliances were run, he could hear a dripping kind of noise in the ceiling that was quite alarming.
So, the plumber came. He was recommended by our realtor and he was really nice. He spent about an hour at our house. He investigated the bathtub and determined that the gasket holding the overflow valve in place wasn't tight enough, and was therefore letting water through. He told us he could fix it for about $180. Or, he said, we could just put silicone sealant around it, ourselves, for about $10, and that should solve the problem. And if it didn't, he'd come back and have another look.
Then we brought him downstairs and he listened to the noise and said that it's just the pipes expanding when the hot water goes through them. So that was a huge relief because we had both had visions of cutting into the ceiling and thousands of dollars spent, and it was so nice to find out that we wouldn't need to do that.
Plus, he said that even if we did ever get water damage in the basement ceiling, it wouldn't be a huge deal. The water would become visible almost right away through blistered paint, and we could address it fairly easily and inexpensively if/when it ever does happen.
Then he told us he'd give us the name of an irrigation guy he knows to find out if our built-in sprinkler system is functional, and went on his way without charging us a penny.
So! $10 project this weekend and all our plumbing problems will be solved! HEART.
It was just generally a huge relief to have an impartial expert in our house. He praised the construction and said that all the appliances were expensive and high-end and installed correctly. And that was SO NICE to hear.
The thing about buying a house like ours is this. The house was a fix and flip. It was built in 1963 and totally renovated by the guy who sold it to us, who was a builder who bought the house when it went into foreclosure a few years ago. He did an awesome job. He basically gutted the house. It has brand new everything--hardwood floors upstairs and down, totally redone kitchen and bathrooms, newly finished basement, brand new lifetime roof, new furnaces, new water heater, new electrical panel, new paint. From what we can tell, he didn't skimp. He used high-end materials and the construction seems solid.
The house still has issues, though, typical of a house of its age. The siding desperately needs to be replaced--it was poorly installed and is all warped. But we're trying really hard to wait until we can afford to do what we want with it. As it stands, the first floor of the house is brick and the second floor is done with vinyl siding. Our master plan is to rip out the vinyl siding and put in a brick facade that matches the brick that we already have on the lower half of the house so that it will be a completely brick structure. And that will be a lot more expensive than just repairing the vinyl siding that's currently in place. But we don't really want to spend money on repairing siding that we're planning to rip out shortly. So we're just hoping it can hold until we can afford to replace it with what we want.
The windows are the originals, and very thin and drafty. A couple of them are cracked and they all let huge amounts of wind in. They provide basically no insulation and half of them don't open. They too need to be replaced. Originally we had hoped to do that this year so that we could qualify for the $1500 tax credit, but with Torsten quitting his job I don't think that's going to happen. So that goes on the list.
And there are a few random smaller things as well--slightly sloped floors and uneven walls and cracked molding and all the usual stuff you get with older houses. And that's fine, really, in fact we really like that about the house, that it isn't brand new construction.
But my point is, we knew about these issues when we moved into the house. The inspector found all of them and the seller gave us credits toward the closing costs for everything we filed in the inspection objection. We didn't ask for him to address the windows in our inspection objection because we had noticed them ourselves before we made an offer and factored that in to the lowball offer we made in the first place. And, I think that helped us out, because he was so relieved that we didn't ask him to pay for window replacement that he agreed to nearly every item we did request in the inspection objection.
So, yeah. He was a decent guy and he did a good job with the house. But about halfway through the project, the housing market took a big nosedive, and around then I think he realized that he was going to lose money on the house. (As a side note, he did lose money on the house. We bought it for $70,000 below original list price, and though it was still more than he paid for the house when he bought it in foreclosure, when you factor in the cost of the extensive renovations he did, there's no way he could have broken even. Luckily, he was nice about it at the closing, if somewhat Grimly Resigned, and just said he was glad that a nice family was going to live there.)
And so, we became paranoid that he had kind of given up, and started cutting corners. Because there were little things that he didn't deal with. Like none of the bathrooms had towel racks. And the stove backsplash wasn't grouted.
So we started to worry that he had cut corners in places we couldn't see. I kept thinking of Shelly's horror story, where the builder put drywall behind her shower tiles instead of something waterproof, and the drywall got wet, and expanded, and popped the tiles, allowing even more water to get in, and they had to do a bunch of work to fix it, and it cost them over $1000, and they were LUCKY because they caught it before they developed mold problems.
We were totally convinced that our builder had done something similar. But so far, we haven't found anything. Our inspector didn't find anything either. And the plumber was very impressed with everything he saw. And that made us feel much, much better.
I'm sure the other shoe will drop someday. There are always unexpected costs involved in home ownership. But ever since this plumber visit, we are both slightly less edgy about the other shoe dropping sometime very soon, while we still only have one income. And that is a huge relief.
Assuming, of course, that I haven't just jinxed us. Knock on wood.
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