After your truck is unloaded, after your house is full of boxes and you are sitting on your sofa with wine in hand and kids in bed, you like to think that you are at least half-way moved in. You like to think that, but reality says you are not.
In our case, SWMBO’s cousins came for a sleepover on about night 2 after we had moved in. They took the boys to the zoo through the day so we could tackle the unpacking of boxes. It was a good thing. As we all sat in the living room recovering from our days – them from the zoo, us from working on the house, I noticed that the ceiling was sagging right over the piano. Not a big sag, but a big enough sag. Strange. Below is a picture from the listing of the room in question - no sag there but a water stain that had disappeared by the time we moved in...
I did what any man would do, and poked the ceiling. The belly crumbled and water poured out. We put a bucket on the piano and watched the water drain. Welcome Home.
The previous owners had completed extensive renovations in preparation to sell this house. Among their renoes were the aforementioned tile in the entryway, a new kitchen, hardwood in the family room (we use it as a dining room – more on that later) and a new central bathroom upstairs.
The upstairs bathroom had new flooring and wallpaper. New fixtures and cabinets. It looked sharp. I went up now with a more critical eye. The toilet in the bathroom showed no signs of leaking, however it was exactly over the rotted ceiling below. I checked the opposite side of the wall in the front bedroom. The shared wall between the toilet and bedroom was fine. There was a pair of bookcases along the wall that the owner had left there for us when they moved out. I pulled the bookcases away.
Under the bookcases were rust stains where filing cabinets had previously been. The carpet had water marks across it.
Back to the toilet, and on my hands and knees I looked at its junction with the floor. Clear silicone caulk ringed the connection. I lifted the toilet and found a puddle of water under it. The wax gaskets intended to seal the toilet to the floor had never made contact with the toilet bowl. The previous owner had made a $2.00 mistake that was going to cost us a bundle.
I immediately called our realtor, and our lawyer. They advised me to get a quote to repair the damage and call them back. The quote came in at $1,000 to repair the ceiling. I wasn’t worried about the carpet; we had budgeted to replace it when we moved in anyways.
The lawyer suggested that the claim would not be worthwhile to pursue in small claims court. The realtor said the same, then promptly disappeared. We would be out of pocket for the repairs. My confidence was now less than fantastic for the other work done on the house.
We hired our contractor off craigslist, and in 2 days he had the room done and back together. It took me another week or so to get around to painting it and touching up the crown molding. Now the room looks A1. there are a number of other spots in the house that could use a spiff, and a project or three waiting to be done (I want a basement bathroom, hardwood in the livingroom/dining room, and a door between the diningroom and hallway) but they can wait. A laundry list of other small scale projects is waiting for me too – I have to relocate the thermostat, build some basement shelving, and organize the garage. But all that stuff can wait for bad weather days.
Before all of that falls into place we need to tackle the back yard.