Q&A / 

New House Walk Through

Andrea S, from Little Rock, Arkansas wrote to me. She was in a huge bind. Two weeks ago she was planning to close on a house. Fortunately for her, she did a walk through inspection with her realtor the day before the closing.

New House Walk Through Nightmare - Broken Water Pipe

When they opened the door to the house, they walked into a swimming pool of sorts. The recent cold weather had frozen a water line in the attic, it burst while no one was in the home and water was everywhere.

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She told me, “Water was pouring down above the ceiling in the laundry room. The ceiling in the laundry room had already fallen out. The floors (some carpet and some hardwood veneer) were covered in a couple inches of water in most of the rooms in the house. On the brick on the outside back of the house, where the laundry room is, was a huge icicle.  Apparently, the water was seeping from the inside of the house out.”

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Andrea didn’t close on the house and wanted to know what to do. Here’s the best part. The insurance adjuster offered $7,000 to repair and restore the house.

Without being there to see the damage, I think the adjuster left off a zero on his estimate. Based on Andrea’s description of the house, there could be all sorts of hidden issues. Mold in walls, the attic and other places is a definite possibility. I’ve known water damage repair bills like this to exceed $70,000.

I’d want to strip out lots of the finished walls and inspect for hidden damage. Warped doors, woodwork, ruined cabinetry and damaged flooring are all very likely.

My advice to her is to walk away from this home. If the plumber put a water line up in an attic where it could freeze, what other bonehead mistakes did he make? If this was a new home, how could the builder allow this to happen? What other latent poor-quality mistakes are going to show up months or years from now that the builder allowed?

I told Andrea to hire an ASHI certified home inspector for her next home. This association, in my opinion, has the best home inspectors in the USA.

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7 Responses to New House Walk Through

  1. As our weather and climate change, we may see more of this type problem in areas where the consequences of freezing weather were not previously a problem.

    In my area it shows up in freezing septic systems that previously had benefited from the insulation provided by heavy snow cover. With reduced snow covers we are experiencing problems that in the past no one thought would be problems.

    • Yes, the climate is dynamic. Always has been, always will be. Geology was my college major and I was lucky enough to live for 55 years where the great Wisconsin Continental Glacier stopped on its journey south back about 14,000 years ago.

      It's important to realize the Wisconsin Continental Glacier was the most recent one in a series of four that spread out across lots of North America - all within the past 2,000,000 years.

      Another key point is that all this ice was created and melted with no input from us humanoids!

      Heck, we can't even get close to the melt-rate show that Mother Nature put on when she decided she'd had quite enough of the cold weather! She turned up the heat so that the massive enormous thick glacier receded back up to the North Pole at an astonishing average rate of 1/3 mile per year!

      The poster child glacier that many point to as being destroyed by man is the Athabasca Glacier in Canada. In the past 100 years or so it's only retreated less than a mile. What's more it's a thin tiny glacier compared to the mammoth Continental Bad Boys!

  2. You should have told them to run away from the home. My suggestion if it a older home go to the county auditors website and dig through the records to find out the builder and stay away from any houses they built. I am on Nextdoor.com in my area and we had a recent cold snap. There were several people from a local neighborhood complaining about frozen pipes because they were run in a outside wall. I am assuming all the houses in the neighborhood were built by the same builder. The houses in my neighborhood were mostly built by the same builder. It seems every house in the neighborhood has had or eventually will have water main line problems. All the homes were connected to the main with black poly pipe which I had on my well in another house. The lines were not sleeved where they go through the foundation. Mine was pulled taut and eventually wore through at the foundation hole. I had it replaced and the foundation sleeved. Usually every year 2 or 3 houses in the neighborhood have water line breaks. Luckily the water meters are in basement. I reported one last fall to the city because the owner did nothing about it.

    • Well, that's odd! It worked correctly for many many hundreds of others. It could be a gremlin in your device.

      It could be invisible electromagnetic waves in the ether that are disrupting your commands.

      It could be a signal for you to lead a more pure and simple life.


  3. Great point about using a home inspector - preferably a seasoned one that is a member of ASHI or knows his/her stuff well. Or both.

    My biggest gripe about too many HGTV shows these days is that they show all these homes where the "portrayed" buyer ALWAYS runs into additional issues that cost many thousands of dollars if not more.

    Well wake up! If they had hired a home inspector they wouldn't be running into these issues sight unseen.

    Now I realize that many of these shows are all fluff (because like in Hollywood, conflict sells), while not the real deals. My point is that many people who watch these shows do not.

    HGTV is not doing anyone a service without first and last proclaiming a disclaimer about these
    being "entertainment" .

    It's people like you, Tim, who've got to set the world straight, giving sage advice to humanity in desperate need of it..even if they don't realize it.

  4. Well, I could not get the mouse to zoom in either. But if I could, I would try to see the date on the top magazine in the closet.

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