Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Horrible Home Repair

We have had no end of trouble since purchasing our home six years ago. We bought it from a man who had built it himself with his own building company and we naively (read, stupidly) assumed he would have done a reasonably decent job on his own home.  Were we ever fooled.  The couple we bought this disaster of a house from must have seen us coming a mile away.

Our home is a geodesic dome and when we bought it, it was inspected by someone our real estate agent (who worked in the same office as the owner) suggested.  Obviously, he wasn't going to look at anything too closely.  He assured us the place was just spiffy! In the last five years we've had to completely redo the septic system, many areas of the roofing, the plumbing and in many places the electrical -- all were jimmied with the cheapest possible equipment and the lowest possible skills.  To a man, every single professional we've had in here to make repairs has expressed astonishment at how horribly the job had been done by the original builder and anyone making subsequent repairs.  There were truly scary risks everywhere.
Lovely wiring job, hmmm?  A fire waiting to happen...

Here's just one small example, the owner warned us to get the chimney swept before lighting a fire in the fireplace.  He said it had never been swept for 37 years and it was a good idea to get it checked.  Um... ya think?  There wasn't a chimney sweep on the mountain who would touch it.  The fire department came, declared it a disaster and asked that it all be torn down.  The fireplace was zero clearance and would most certainly cause a fire if lit.  On top of that, the massive chimney was not securely fastened and its ominous swaying at any sign of a breeze was a disaster waiting to happen.  We had to tear the entire thing out to avert a likely collapse.  That was fun...

But the latest problem truly takes the cake.  As I said, these people saw us coming a mile away and apparently saw the word "suckers" printed on our foreheads. It turns my stomach to even think about the deceptive tactics they used on us.  The original owner knew quite well he'd built this place with the cheapest materials and to the lowest standards allowable by code in the late 1970s.  He knew this house wasn't going to last much longer.  We first noticed the stucco peeling away from the exterior within 6 months of buying the place.  We were already dealing with multiple roof leaks and had begun to get leaks through the walls.  We did spot repairs  for awhile and learned from the neighbors that the owner had lightly re-stucco'd areas and repainted to hide the problem shortly before putting the house on the market.

The stucco is a structural element of the house, but the roofing staples used to attach the wire mesh to the house have since been made illegal because they rust out quickly and fail.  They've failed.  The house is literally sagging in areas because the stucco -- the structural element -- is falling.  The flimsy 2x4s used for the framing are all rotted (as can be clearly seen in the top picture).  We have to pull it all out and replace the framing with 4x4s and 4x6s and install plywood sheeting (something that will actually keep the house standing).  We'll do this a small section at a time to keep the house from falling down completely.  So far the price is close to $30,000 for this job alone.  And, as I'm well used to in this house, I'm daily called out by the builder to witness some new atrocity he's discovered.  The builders are universally dumbfounded and cannot for the life of them understand how the original owner (or anyone, frankly) could have botched a job so very badly.

We have been hurt by the recession as much as anyone and the cost of these repairs is burying us.

Today's latest finding actually made me just laugh out of sheer hopelessness.  Even my father remembers the owner telling us that he had done quite a bit of retrofitting to make the house more earthquake safe.  I had assured our builder that at least that wouldn't have to be done.  Hah!  The owner couldn't even do that right as the picture to the right shows.  Not only were the braces installed incorrectly -- they're beyond flimsy and worthless.  One fun discovery, of course, always leads to another.  The house is barely bolted to the foundation.  We will have to put in the proper earthquake retrofitting -- but, hey, what's another $1200? Right?  I could go on and on like this for days, but the damage this has caused my family just makes me too sad.  It's too bad some people are so shamelessly willing to swindle others.

Obviously, this is my assessment of the situation and these are my opinions.  We've been dealing with this for years and today literally broke the straw on this camel's back.  I don't know how I'm supposed to sleep at night knowing that the second floor of my house may fall.  Everything on the outside is a mess -- our next project will be to start opening walls to see what disasters await us on the interior.  I realize life is not always fair, but in my opinion, we were duped.  I hope the original owners are able to sleep at night, knowing what they've done to our family.

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