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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