Home Repair Woes

smoothrecluse

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I feel overwhelmed. I tend shut down and ignore problems when they seem too big to tackle, but I’m hoping some of the more experienced minds here can give me some direction, or maybe even simply commiserate.

This is my first house. We bought this house 7 years ago, and it was built in the early sixties. We owe about 95k. We were given money to fix the foundation as part of the sale, which we did, and the repair has a lifetime warranty.

The corner of the garage is starting to dip a little, and the brick is coming away from the framing, which is worrisome. In order to perform warranty work on the foundation, the house has to pass a freshwater pressure test and a hydrostatic sewer test. It passed the freshwater, but failed sewer. I had a slab leak under the bathroom about 5 years ago, which we fixed, but this is probably under the kitchen or utility room, which still has cast iron pipes. The plumber doing the pressure test said that off the top of his head, replacing the cast iron would probably run between 20k-40k, which I don’t have. Plus, the repair would be lengthy, and my wife and I would probably have to stay elsewhere during the work, and would have to find a place to house the dog and pig while all this is happening.

Meanwhile, while taking a shower early in the morning, I hear a car revving and idling in my walls, which I figure out is the pipes water-hammering when my neighbor’s sprinkler system comes on. I mentioned it to the plumber doing the pressure test, and he basically said that it’s impossible.

Our master bathroom shower is out of commission because the poured floor cracked and leaks after the house shifted from the foundation repair. But we have two bathrooms, so we just don’t use that shower.

I’m fairly certain that there’s termite damage in the corner of the garage, and that might be exacerbating/causing the brick to pull away from the framing there.

Water heater’s knocking, and it’s on year 5 of a 9 year life expectancy. I’m just trying to get the motivation to change it. It’s on the ground in the middle of the house, pretty easy to get to, but lifting an old water heater out and soldering the new one in is a little daunting to me. I helped install this one with my dad, but he’s not getting around so well anymore.

I know I need to address the water heater soon, but I don’t know how much money I should invest in this place, or in what order, or even if I shouldn’t just sell the place as-is and start looking for a better place elsewhere. The thought of selling a home and moving also terrifies me. The wife and I are teachers, and the sewer repair on its own would eat up one of our yearly salaries.

I don’t know who to call about the brick - a mason, or a framer? Would a termite exterminator know a guy? How bad is the water hammering from the neighbor’s system? What should I prioritize? I feel helpless. I hear the megamillion lottery is up quite high, maybe I’ll buy a ticket.

I’m sorry for the rambling post.
 

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bgmacaw

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Have you looked into what you can sell it for "as is"? While the housing market has softened recently and will soften more given current trends, you might still be able to get out from under it without a loss. Of course, then there's the problem of moving to a new place (ugh!) and buy vs rent is also messy these days.
 

Cpb2020

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I’m sorry to hear that you’re going through this.

I would sit down and run a comparative financial analysis on:
(A) financing the repairs, selling, and buying something else
(B) financing the repairs and continuing to live there
(C) selling as-is, buying something else
(D) value of the house as-is vs after the repairs are done

(You can also consider renting vs buying after selling)

And separate and apart from the foregoing, even if you finance the repairs, whether you are emotionally “done” with the house also matters.

Also, whether the house is valued at $115k or $400k will matter on whether and to what extent you can get financing.
 

rarebreed

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My best friend was in the basically that same boat as you several years ago. His home sat on a hill side and he was having foundation issues like you are having, the masonry pulling away from the walls, cracks in the basement floor, etc. They ended up calling a structural engineering company to come out and look at it and they came to the conclusion that in a heavy rain, water rushing down the hill behind his house was slowly pushing it down the hill. He had a small hobby room in one corner of his basement and he told me many times that if he was in there during a storm it sounded like a river running under the floor. When they sold the house they ended up taking a loss due to the damage the water had caused.
 

Cpb2020

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I should add the following: write all of the analyses down!

That will minimize missing things and will help with the paralysis as addressing each issue separately makes it feel less overwhelming.
 

Ricky D.

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I’m sorry to hear that you’re going through this.

I would sit down and run a comparative financial analysis on:
(A) financing the repairs, selling, and buying something else
(B) financing the repairs and continuing to live there
(C) selling as-is, buying something else
(D) value of the house as-is vs after the repairs are done

(You can also consider renting vs buying after selling)

And separate and apart from the foregoing, even if you finance the repairs, whether you are emotionally “done” with the house also matters.

Also, whether the house is valued at $115k or $400k will matter on whether and to what extent you can get financing.

Good advice.

You are in a deteriorating situation. You need to act.

There’s a reasonable chance that there is something else that is not yet discovered.

So what’s it all going to cost for the repairs that you know about? What’s the house worth after it’s fixed? How much can you sell it for as is? Selling it and moving on seems like the most attractive solution if it is feasible.
 

SacDAve

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I think it's time to move, the house if falling apart fix one thing something else needs repair. As for the market there's a lot of people in the market for fixer uppers but the price has to be right.
 

telleutelleme

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We bought an older house built in the 50's. During our initial move in we did a lot of fundamental upgrades, wiring, pipes, insulation, new sewage and gas lines. When we added a second story, we had to do a bunch more. Older homes can be a bargain but they can also be very expensive. I agree with the others, assess what you must do, determine the costs, figure out what the "as-is" market might be and then make the call. Wishing you the very best outcome.
 

getbent

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Those are daunting problems. If you like where you live and the house is pretty much the layout that you are comfortable with, I guess the way you eat an elephant is one piece at a time. Check with your lender to see what kind of equity you have in the house and what a home improvement loan would look like for you. Don't get the loan yet, just see what you qualify for.

Next, I'd get the plumber back out, get him a big cup of coffee and explore options. for the sewage part, you will have some jack hammering and re running that line(s) but for your plumbing, explore using he attic rather than going through the slab.

As for termites etc, have an expert come out and examine the whole house (you may want to get a good, qualified inspector out to look at your whole home.) if it means you need to tent the house, so be it.

Housing prices are crazy, if you like your location, you may need to invest. if you fix these things, you will know you are solid for many years.

The big thing to find out and mitigate is if your slab is moving how to remedy that.

Years ago, I helped a friend when I lived in colorado, he had a newish house with with a cracked slab and one half was essentially falling down a very steep hill. Many people told him to sell and move, but the problem is that it is hard to sell a house in that condition and liability is an issue.

We got a decent contractor involved and a bunch of guys (my friends and I) put our resources together, shored the property with pour concrete posts, massive cable and a ton of trenching (temporarily destroyed his yard) but, that with drains and gravel, then returning the topsoil, we stabilized the lot, then the contractor came and in about 2 weeks work, the pad was repaired, then came fixing the plumbing and resetting some parts of the house that had shifted.

They spent about 40K even with the help we gave for free, but, he still lives in the house and they fell back in love with it once it was fixed.

You will need to be out of the house for part of it. If you can couch surf with a relative for that period, that is great, if not, maybe find a decent fifth wheel you can buy used and live in the driveway or sideyard during so you can keep track and when the project is over, if you take care of the trailer, you can sell it for what you bought it for (buy used)
 

ale.istotle

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Wow. That's a lot. I agree with everyone that recommends cost/benefit analysis.

1. You have an unstable foundation and a lifetime warranty.
2. In order to get the warranty work performed you need to pass the sewer hydrostatic test.
3. It's crazy expensive to have it dug up and replaced.
4. You may have other structural problems including Garage settling or termites and masonry issues.

First thing is to figure out the plumbing so you can take advantage of your warranty.
- Look into trenchless sewer line replacement. They dig a hole at each end of the line and use a cable to pull a replacement line through the old one. It's cheaper than pulling up the whole floor and relatively fast. If that is affordable, do it and get the warranty started.

Your brick is probably not structural. It's probably wood frame construction with brick veneer. I would get a carpenter in to open up the garage wall from the inside and figure out what's going on. If he can fix, then the exterminator. Mason last.
The water heater can probably wait.
The noise in the shower wall could be the shower valve. While annoying it can probably wait compared to the other stuff. Good luck.
 

4wotitswurth

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Trust naming a company isn’t against the rules….

I didn’t know where panther city was, so had to take a look at google maps, dfw area… I recently had a high front door brick arch looked at by a company called brick restoration, here in Houston. I see they also serve up your way. I’m not affiliated with them, and they only did a trivial fix for me, DreMel? grout and pump cement into the cracks that appeared. I would ask them for a quote on brickwork if I needed work done again. Hard to know how good/professional another location is, but here they seemed quite well organized and gave what to me seemed a reasonable quote and look to have done a good job… best of luck, stressful times….
 

wrathfuldeity

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Nothing to add, but you might want to get a bigger picture than just the construction, i.e., the terrain of your hood, how the water flows, ground moves and what is likely soil content under your house. We love our neighborhood and house. My 100+ yr old house sits on hardpan clay about 6' down...so here in the PNW in the summer we are almost dry docked and during the rainy season a floating boat...with an artesian spring in the basement. After some consulting, analysis and quotes of 30-40k, Due to my measly budget of blood sweat and tears, diy'd. First was handling the water off the roof and french drains in the backyard to bring the rain that was getting blocked by the backside of the house around to the front. Then tackled it with a couple of highschool boys who were friends of my daughter at the time for about 4k, 2 weeks and some good old teen spirit from the boys...btw they were excited to handle the jack hammer. All of this took about 2 summers at a doable pace.
 

stxrus

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I recommend getting several estimates IN WRITING so you have an idea of the scope of work and cost.

Old cast iron is failing everywhere. I assume you are on municipal sewage and not a septic tank. Are your bathrooms and kitchen on exterior walls?

Unless your neighbors sprinkler system is tied into your supply water there is no way it can be causing you water hammer issue

All I can offer is positive thoughts and good luck
 

bobio

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I don't generally venture into our upstairs bathroom. Went in there this morning and noticed a water stain and joint tape lifting on the ceiling. Looks like the roof is leaking where a plumbing vent pipe goes through. :twisted: That side of the house sees the full sun, probably dried out whatever sealant they used when the house was built. Can't get up there myself and I know better than to try so I am gonna have to call a roofer and then I will have to deal with the drywall repair. :cry:

Ohhh the joys of home ownership, never-ending repairs, and upkeep 😓
 

schmee

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The good news (great news actually) is that you are in your own house and at $95k! many places you'd need that for a down payment now days.
I can't visualize all your issues very well but :
-It sounds like you have some plumbing issues and part of the problem is that some of the plumbing is under a slab style foundation...? I would probably be looking at work arounds. For the problem areas, can you get to an exposed pipe and run new piping through alternate routes to get where you need to be?
-The Brick veneer you need a mason I suppose. Most of that type (if I'm seeing it correct) is just a decorative veneer. Which means really, it's aesthetic. It's a house, not a boat, so things like that wont leave you swimming! I would get some mason types in and ask what a fix would take and learn how they would go about it in the process.
-Home repair can be very expensive if you don't do your homework. Learn all you can about it. Try to find a knowledgeable guy that works independently. I have found many contractors bid jobs super high because they are busy and want only the high profit jobs. So they dont care if they are a high bidder, many people dont know to get multiple bids and to talk about it and learn.
-20 years ago I needed a short cement walkway and 3 steps done in cement. One bidder said $5000. A guy did the same job for $800
-I had a new roof put on 5 years ago. The bigger company quoted me $11000. A small company guy who did a great job fast did it for $5000.

Above all, dont give a bunch of money up front! Sleazy contractors rip people off all the time. My niece (in Texas like you) a few years ago wanted a kitchen remodel. They selected a contractor and he wanted a big deposit ($40k) He delivered a few materials in a couple days. They never saw him again.

If materials are a major expense, tell them to select them and have the order ready... and YOU pay the bill under your name and arrange delivery.

Sewer: Is it a septic tank? Not sure I understand a "Sewer Test"
 

Peegoo

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You are in a deteriorating situation. You need to act.

^^^ No matter what you decide to do: the clock is ticking, and each minute that goes by means more $ out of your pocket. Deferred maintenance/repairs simply costs more down the road, or it means less realized at the sale of the property.

From a financial standpoint, doing nothing right now is the worst thing to do.
 




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