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Buying a house, inspection raised a big red flag


kelley
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My wife and I are in the process of buying a house, well we got the inspection back and the inspector said that the air ducts in the foundation are destroyed and need to be replaced along with the plenum. So I called up some local A/C companies to see what it would cost to have it fixed by the current homeowner.....no less then $10,000 is what I was told by three out of the four A/C contractors and the one that was different said no less then $8,000. So I told the homeowner that, they immediately freaked out. Well last night he called me around 10pm and asked if I could come over, that he found a solution. He found this company that will clean the ducts out and patch the holes in the ducts and then they line the ducts with this material that is similar to a spray on bedliner, so it seals them up. It only will cost about $4,000 and comes with a 10 year warranty. I'm worried that this is just a patch and not a fix and that when I go to sell the house I'll be stuck with the $10,000 bill. Anyone have any advice as to what I should do? Or even better has anyone had this type of work done?

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Ew. Thats a hard one.

 

We just bought a house and had an AC related issue - we had a special ac inspection since the main unit looked very old and very huge. There were several issues with it (holes in gas pack etc) that were pretty major. So we asked them to replace the units and they did almost immediately. They wanted to sell their house and they knew they had to do that in order to sell it.

 

I would call the guy who you had inspect it and ask them about this "alternate" way of doing it. He might say not even to consider it and save you some worry. They will have to fix it if you are buying it or if you aren't. Has it been on the market a while? If it has I would think you may have a little more leeway in saying "fix it right or I walk."

 

Reguardless if you end up with that house or not you should have them include one of the new warranties they are doing now. It costs like $300 and it covers everything for the first year. With an old house stuff will wear out and there might be some things that pop up after getting settled in. We've already used ours once and it is nice to have some extra peace of mind at a "new" house.

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Originally posted by gigapower@Jul 22 2004, 10:40 AM

I'm worried that this is just a patch and not a fix

That's exactly what it is. It's like using tape on a muffler with a hole in it.

 

If the ducts were in the house (behind drywall) it's an okay fix, but in the foundation, not so good. I'd be more concerned with how the ducts came to be like that. Are there cracks in the foundation? Is there a water leak? How old is the house?

 

My buddy is coming over later today, he's an HVAC tech, so I'll get his opinion, but I'm pretty sure he'll say the same thing.

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My wife and I are in the same process of buying a house. We actaully had to back out of the initial house we were under contract with, because the inspection went so bad. The house was 40 years older than we were told. Just signed the release on that house this week, but it may have turned out better, because we have found something alot nicer since.

 

My advice is call around to all the AC places and your insurance company to see what they say about the proposed fix. Is the insurance company going to cover a fix like that. If something goes wrong after that and your not covered, he just passsed the $10,000 fix onto you. If Not BACK out. Just tell the lawyer you have(hopefully you hired one) that his proposed solution is unacceptable. ALso if the proposed solution is fine, make sure its not something you'll need permits for, if they are needed make sure the company performing the fix gets them(very important). Otherwise when/if you goto resell the house you'll have to go get the permits, and by that time that could be messy.

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My advice regarding this would be to go to your inspector and see if the fix that the owner is suggesting is good enough to fix the issue.

 

It's either that or call the other A/C contractors and see what they think of that procedure.

 

It seems like the owner is trying to avoid a repair that might be needed, and that's never a good sign in my book.

 

I wish you luck with this and hope it ends well.

 

Glen

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I'm worried that this is just a patch and not a fix and that when I go to sell the house I'll be stuck with the $10,000 bill.

 

That's because it is a patch, not a fix, and the next people you sell the house to are likely to want it fixed properly - the owners are passing the bill onto you with the hope that $4k vs $10k now is enough of a sweetner to get you to buy it. Don't blame them, that's what the seller is supposed to do - of course, if they're wanting this patched, what else have they patched up in order to get the house marketable?

 

Talk to your inspector, see what he says about the repair option but I suspect he's not going to like it.

 

If it was me, an issue like this would be a sufficient redflag for me to move on to the next house.

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Guest Bryan

Have it fixed properly or don't even consider buying it. It will be your nightmare to live with and the next buyer will insist on a complete replacement. You'll want the piece of mind as you make the biggest investment of your life.

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Thanks for the advice guys! I've got a call into the inspector and into a couple AC places around town.

 

In even more red flag news, our insurance company called today to say they won't insure the house because it has wood shingles on the roof under the asphalt shingles.

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I just looked up on a realtor web site the houses in and around Tulsa, makes me pretty sad living here in Southern New Jersey, what I'm looking to buy here is so expensive compared to whats out there. Prices up here are just so high right now, anything under $200,000 is pretty much junk or in not so nice areas.

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Just talked to the owner of the inspection company I used and he said that after reviewing the video made of the ducts in the house that they must be replaced, they are way too damaged for the previously mentioned fix process.

 

I think that the wife and I will be discussing building a new house.

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Kelley, a nice rule of thumb when reading inspection reports:

 

"Foundation" = $10,000

 

Every time you see the word foundation in the report (other than "foundation is good"), add $10,000. If they had to mention it three times in report, expect $30,000 in expenses to fix it.

 

A would take just about any other problem over a foundation issue. If the foundation is solid, anything else can be changed with relative ease and inexpense (comparitively.) I would have walked away when they mentioned foundation duct work, it just puts too much at risk in your new house.

 

That being said, best of luck! Home buying can be a harrowing experience, but it really is worth it in the long run.

 

PS - The best thing we ever did in buying our home was to use a buyer's broker instead of a real estate agent. Gives you real peace of mind that your broker works for you and only you...

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I posted then thought of a whole bunch of tips I should have put down (from our adventures in real estate.)

 

* 5-10 year old homes are the best deals usually. The foundation has pretty much settled in as much as it is going to and there isn't much repair work needed yet (roof, furnace, etc.) Also the previous occupants have likely already landscaped the yard fully but can't really up the price for that addition. A new home needs landscaping and that can mean big bucks in addition to the build price. Also, just because a home is new doesn't mean it is problem free. If the foundation is going to crack for any reason, 90% chance it will do it in the first 5 years.

 

* If you want to see how much a foundation has settled, go find the furnace in the basement. The furnace is attached to the foundation slab, the ducts are attached to the house, and they are connected (usually) by a black rubber looking sleeve. Look at how much the sleeve is bent and how far off the furnace is from lining up with the duct. When the house was new it would have been straight up and down. If it is off by more than 4-5 inches, unless the house is 5+ years old beware. The foundation moved a lot and might not be done.

 

* Anything in a house is up for negotiation. If you like their couches and dining room table, ask if they want to sell it to you or leave it with the house. Many folks want to get new stuff when they move and are willing to let old furniture go for a song. We got our dining room chandelier, two couches, and 3 breakfast bar stools all for $50 this way, owners didn't want to move it. Plus, if this is your first house you likely don't have nearly enough furniture to fill half the rooms yet.

 

Best!

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Well, I would guess the roof would have to be removed and replaced in order to satisfy your insurance company.

 

May I ask, what is the attraction to the house (price, location, etc) that you are willing to go through all these hassles just to buy it?

 

I would suggest not making an emotional decision when buying a house, as most decisions based solely on emotion are skewed. It sounds like something you might need walk away from, repairs made or not.

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