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House difficulties

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18 replies to this topic

#1 of 19 OFFLINE   Sarah S

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Posted August 26 2001 - 07:02 PM

I need some advice. My husband & I bought this great split-level house on Oct of last year, & we noticed the minor things that you don't really see until you move in, but everything seemed ok; no major problems whatsoever. Then, last week, after the minor rainstorm (for Tacoma, anyway) I noticed that the floor in my husbands lower room was very wet; especialy near the tv area. He checked a little further and noticed that the outside wall was sopping & slightly mushy. At this point, we started wringing out hands. We notified the insurance company (which has yet to get back to us) & we were wondering how to go about picking a contractor for this sort of thing....do you look for someone who specialized in basements? Foundations? How can we know that we are not paying for more work than we need, & what a fair price for this would be? If we call in one guy, does he call all his friends in the business to let them know what we are looking for & what he said "the going rate" was? This is our first home & we are not do-it-youselfers, so we are sort of clueless. Help Please.
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#2 of 19 OFFLINE   CRyan



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Posted August 26 2001 - 11:52 PM

Get in contact with your insurace agent and/or company right away. Nthing else can happen till you talk to them. I have no idea what sort of policy you have and what it will cover. However, I would think this would be covered unless they try to tell you it is flood damage in which case you could be in for a fight. Your homeowners policy will not cover flood damage. Anyway, they will schedule an appointment with you for a time an adjuster can come out and appraise the damage. He or she should be able to give you names of contractors who will do the work. They will either write you a check made payable to you or pay the contractor directly. I am going to assume the water damage is due to poor property drainage and not a leaky roof. Make sure the water is not coming from damaged roof flanging and traveling down your walls or a fireplace chimney. I would tend to guess that poor property drainage is one of the most overlooked problems when purchasing or building a new home. I would recommend getting out your policy and reading it. It will help you discuss the situation with your agent and the adjuster. I recently had a car accident where I had to actually quote my policy over the phone so that I was not charged a higher deductible. UGh. Anyway, good luck and please keep us posted. C. Ryan

#3 of 19 OFFLINE   Kirk Gunn

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Posted August 27 2001 - 07:31 AM

CRyan's drainage comments could be on-target, and we had a similar problem in our first house. As long as the gutters were clean, we had no problems. However, once the gutters got clogged with leaves, the front corner room would become damp. We ended up re-landscaping the yard in front of the room so the grade went away from the house, then added another gutter downspout. The problem never returned. Keep your gutters clean !!!

#4 of 19 OFFLINE   KyleS



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Posted August 27 2001 - 07:33 AM

Just to let you know you may also want to look at your sales agreement for the house especially a little piece of paper that the owner usually signs which states he/she doesn't know of any problems that haven't been disclosed already. In this case this would almost certainly be a problem that has been around for awhile and you can probably very easily go after the previous owner for not disclosing this to you. After that the Insurance company should be acting immediately and hey they may actually go after the previous owner for you. KyleS

#5 of 19 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted August 27 2001 - 08:46 AM

I don't know anything about US insurance policies, etc, so I can't comment on that. However, I would add that a little water can go a long way, and what may seem a flood may be a relatively small amount of water. So yes, poor guttering, etc, could easily cause this problem. FWIW, at least you didn't do what we did on day 1 in a new house. Last act of the day was to hang a picture - just guess what I put a nail through? And on a bank [i.e. public] holiday. In fairness, the plumber who came was v. nice about it and the insurance company payed up without a qualm.

#6 of 19 OFFLINE   DarrinH


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Posted August 27 2001 - 09:38 AM

I hate to burst the bubble but as I understand it homeowners insurance will not cover damage caused by runnoff. This includes basement leakage. I inquired earlier in the year about it with State Farm Insurance. Definitely talk to your realitor, because this sounds like a prosecuteable case with reguards to disclosure. I went through hell two years ago when we moved into our first home. We found all kinds of problems I did not notice beforehand. But you can't be too hard on yourself because you have never owned a home. I kick myself because we did not get a home inspection before we bought the house. ------------------ The EC The Entertainment Cave "Why did I get mixed up with that Bi$%?" "Cause shes got a GREAT ASS! And you got your head...ALL THE WAY UP IT. Ferocious aren't I?"
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#7 of 19 OFFLINE   Sarah S

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Posted August 27 2001 - 01:58 PM

Thanks guys! We recontacted the insurance company & were told an adjuster will recontact us later today. They also mentioned as a side note that State Farm doesn't cover "foundation leakage" (just property damaged because of is my guess) so we are going to try to see if this was earthquake damage from the Feb 23rd quake. We did buy earthquake insurance (even though everyone said it wasn't needed. HA!) so now we are hoping that it will fall under quake damage which IS covered. We haven't had any moderately heavy steady rainfall like we had last week either (since the quake, anyway) which would be why this hasn't popped up before. I really, really, really hope that this isn't foundation leakage; we will have to take out a loan in order to pay for that. Posted Image

We havn't really given any thought as to the gutters either; I wish we made enough money to just hire everything done but then where would the joy of owning the house be? Posted Image
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#8 of 19 OFFLINE   Sarah S

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Posted August 30 2001 - 04:58 PM

After the adjuster but before the contractor this is pretty much what we are looking at:

1) Could be Earthquake damage. Not a strong posibility, but could be; in which case our deductible is $12,0000.00. Home loan time. Posted Image

2) Could be ground seepage caused by clogged drain (apparently there should be a drain around the foundation, who knew?). Stronger posibility. Not covered, would have to sue former owners/realtor ourselves. Posted Image

3) Could be ground seepage casued by bad site. Not covered. We're toast. Posted Image

Of course now, the contractor is taking his own sweet time to get back to us so he can look at the damage. This is very hard on the marriage as husband & I try to deal with the stress of not knowing & large amounts of debt looming over our heads. :mad:

[Edited last by Sarah S on August 30, 2001 at 07:59 PM]
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#9 of 19 OFFLINE   DonRoeber



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Posted August 31 2001 - 05:45 AM


This is very hard on the marriage as husband & I try to deal with the stress of not knowing & large amounts of debt looming over our heads.


Be sure to communicate with each other. My girlfriend and I bought a house together two months ago. As we get frustrated by things going wrong with the house (fortunately there haven't been many), we constantly tell each other that we're upset at the situation, and NOT at the other person. It helps, a lot.

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#10 of 19 OFFLINE   DarrinH


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Posted August 31 2001 - 06:57 AM

I can REALLY relate Sarah, e-mail me if you want. We discovered major foundation movement when we moved into our house. That year was very stressful. Try not to let it overwelm you and take time to really study the problem so that the contractor can not take you for your money. I just learned to take one problem at a time and sort through it. You sound like you should be ok as long as you dont get another heavy rain for a while. Just remember that all homes have some problems. ------------------ The EC The Entertainment Cave "Why did I get mixed up with that Bi$%?" "Cause shes got a GREAT ASS! And you got your head...ALL THE WAY UP IT. Ferocious aren't I?"
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#11 of 19 OFFLINE   Michael Silla

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Posted September 01 2001 - 08:45 AM

Wow. I feel for you Sarah. I hope things turn out for the better. I just recently bought my first home in July. Things are going okay so far - I haven't noticed any major problems. Like someone else mentioned previously, I also did not get my home inspected before I bought it. I guess you could say I "rolled the dice."

As far as the damage goes, I wonder if you do have a recourse with your Appraiser. I know no-one has actually determined that the damage was indeed "Flood-based" but when the credit union and I Posted Image had this place appraised, part of the process was a recommendation for or against flood insurance. My appraiser said 'nay' to it so to be quite honest, if I ever do experience flood damage, I'll be asking for his checkbook.


#12 of 19 OFFLINE   Deane Johnson

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Posted September 01 2001 - 09:21 AM

Sarah: I was driving down the street yesterday and saw a truck with "specialists in foundation leakage, free estimates" on the side. I immediatly thought of this thread. I would check in the Yellow Pages to see if such a company exists in your area. A qualified person might be able to tell you if it's a leak that's been going on for some time, or if it's fairly new. And what it might cost to fix it. You can never have too much knowledge when it comes to negotiating with people on these type things. You don't want to rely on what the insurance company's designated "experts" tell you. It seems to me that persons like yourself are not expected to be experts in these matters. That's why you are supposed to be able to rely on the representations of the seller and of the inspector that performs the inspection just prior closing. It's his responsibility to find these kinds of things if they are in existence at the time of inspection. Since the liability on some representations may run out after 1 year, I would get on record with everyone in the chain as soon as possible. That would include the real estate agent, the inspection company, as well as the insurance companies you have already contacted. After you have gathered all of the facts and expert opinions you can, you might have to consider consulting an attorney. I should think they would not charge you for an initial consultation just to determine if you have something they should be involved in or not. Just some thoughts to hopefully help you along. Deane

#13 of 19 OFFLINE   Robert Wainwright

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Posted September 02 2001 - 10:31 AM

Just a aquestion, did you have a ASHI certified home inspector? A good inspector will alert you to existing and possible problems. The wife and I have been trying to buy a house since May. On the first one, the inspector found a wall that was slightly bowed. The floor above that wall sloped downward. Both not really seen without looking for them. That house had major hidden termite damage. I hate blowing $300 but it was better then getting stuck in that house. House #2, now we were gunshy. The first question we asked was "Do you have a termite warrenty?" They said yes and it was marked on their disclosure as well. One week before closing, I call the termite company to work on the warrenty transfer only to find out that they had canceled it a year ago. Then, the appraisal came up 200 square feet short of the list amount. My (former)realtor didn't see the problem. Now we are in litigation over deposits and such. House #3, so far everything is going well. Only problem so far is the closing won't happen until November.
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#14 of 19 OFFLINE   Craig Robertson

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Posted September 02 2001 - 11:58 AM

since you bought less than a year ago, check out the terms of sale, generally the seller has to fix anything that fails within a year. i had the fan motor go out in my gas furnace about 13 months after i moved in, if it had gone out a month sooner the seller would have had to pay to fix it.

#15 of 19 OFFLINE   Sarah S

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Posted September 07 2001 - 02:16 PM

New info all!

The contractor showed this morning & without opening anything up; thought it was most likely that the drain around the foundation which is apparently what the gutters drain into is clogged. He said that the current stains & water damage are consistent with the water leaking from between the foundation and the footing which would come from the drain backing up, so now husband & I are on a quest for a plumber. The contractor gave a very rough estimate of about $1500, which is slightly affordable.

Now after we get the drains unclogged & fixed (hopefully not more than $200 max) we start arguing with the adjuster as to what exactly, State Farm will pay for. If the obstruction was something that should have been regular maintenance, we pay; if not, we get to argue that they should pay. At this point, we're just happy we aren't looking at major structural damage. Posted Image

Thanks for all the support & info guys. This was so much less harrowing knowing that we had options from the info given here. Posted Image
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#16 of 19 OFFLINE   Jeff Ulmer

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Posted September 07 2001 - 03:38 PM

It is a good idea to flush out the drains at least once a year (not that I follow that advice myself, but..). You can do this by simply feeding a hose down the drain from the top, and pushing it along. If it starts backing up, you're in for a bit of work.

Depending on how you feel about doing the work yourself, and depending on the age of the home, you might want to dig down to the drain tiles and make sure they are clean and still functioning. This will cost you a bit of elbow grease, and assuming they are intact, maybe a bit to get some new gravel and tar paper to help them from becoming clogged again.

Up here most drain tiles on older buildings are concrete pipe segments, which over time get clogged by material working its way between the pieces. A bit of tar paper over the top helps stop sand from getting in, and coarse gravel around will also help aid in drainage. he only down side is that the drain tiles should be below the foundation, so depending on how deep your basement is it could mean a fair bit of digging. It took me three days to dig down the 6 feet to my tiles on a 25' wall, however since doing that, and coating the exterior with foundation sealant, I haven't had any more leaks, and that was 8 years ago.

Good luck, and don't let it stress you out too much!

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#17 of 19 OFFLINE   Derrik Draven

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Posted September 08 2001 - 02:19 PM

Don't feel so bad:

I'm in the exact same boat as you!

Unfortunately, my downstairs was completely finished and, my carpet was soaked in certain spots with groundwater. Smelled like hell. I spent a day moving furniture and ripping out the old carpeting. My downstairs is going from finished to unfinished.....!

Now, I have drywall damage all around the lower perimiter inside my basement. Well, it's not actually a basement, it's the lower level of a bi-level house. So, I have to replace all of that too, along with new carpeting.

Anyhow, since I'm pretty damn cash tight right now, I REALLY don't want to get another several thousand dollar load from my credit union.

So, I'm going to have a few contractors (excavators) come by and give me an estimate on JUST DIGGIN THE DITCH. I'm going to do the rest of the work which, really isn't all that bad. The only part that sucks ass (other than the bill), is slapping down new tar around the footer and up the walls. The drain tile and the pea gravel are easy to install.

Alot of the guys I work with have had professional contractors come out to their places and dig drainage ditches and such. The most $$$$$ I've heard of so far was about $75/hour.

Hopefully, I can hook up with someone like that.

Oh yeah, also see if you have alot of trees around your foundation; especially silver maples. Their roots grow out instead of down and, they are viciously notorious for damaging foundations. Many landscapers won't even put them near a hose. If fact, go to a nursery and see if you can even find one for sale.

...guess what I have right next to my house...a big one?

*sigh* Posted Image

This is my 1st home too and, what a pain the ass home ownership is. You don't even want to know about all the other crap I've fixed/replaced.....

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#18 of 19 OFFLINE   Inspector Hammer!

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Posted September 08 2001 - 09:33 PM

Damn, by your topic header "House Difficulties", I thought the joint was haunted or something! Posted Image

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#19 of 19 OFFLINE   CapnSharpe


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Posted September 09 2001 - 03:50 PM

This is almost too bizarre...I had/have drainage difficulties with my first house.

Last January, I paid for a french drain on one corner of the house to stop standing water against the slab foundation ($800). A month earlier, I had two small plastic drains installed in the backyard to try and handle water from the association's common area draining into my 3 foot-wide backyard ($500?). Both drains rely on cheaper pop-ups to drain out into my front yard and take advantage of a good slope toward the street. When Tropical Storm Allison and her 12+ inches of rain hit one Friday night, my back yard was drier than the front yard and especially the street, which flooded up to the sidewalk. Posted Image

The irony is, for the same total amount of money another contractor wanted to put a french drain along the entire backside of the house, which it really needs, but I didn't have the money then or now. Ironically, he also wanted to put a hole in the curb to let the water drain out of a pvc pipe. Well, had I gone that route, then my backyard and gutters would have flooded during Allison, and probably would have flooded my house as well.

Home ownership is certainly an adventure - or the fastest way to a nervous breakdown and bankruptcy. Take your pick. Posted Image

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