It's time once again to take a voyeuristic look into the misfortune of others and render judgement: it's a 1st Time Homebuyer Horror Stories Smackdown! Read these tales of woe and then vote which story should advance and represent Atlanta in the National contest, where the winner gets a $2500 gift certificate to the home store of their choice. Happy voting!
Entry #1 "A House of Horrors...Really" from MS:
**The author wishes to note from the outset that there WAS an inspection done on this house prior to closing.**
Horror stories: I has 'em! I've been in my house for just over 5 years and although I don't regret my decision to buy this house, as a first time home buyer I wasn't really prepared for the large amount of work that this house really needed. And lawd it needed work.
The house was built in 1960 and, having been abandoned for over a year and whose previous inhabitants (the humans, not the rats) wouldn't know a bottle of bleach if Joan Crawford poured it on their heads, was filthy. Fiii-hih-hih-iilthy. I didn't bother trying to clean the stove that came with the house - I just drug it to the curb. It took three hours to sanitize one half bathroom to make it clean enough to poop in. I scraped away the black goo that covered the kitchen counters with a razor blade. I swept up mountains of cricket droppings - yes, they make droppings - out of the garage-turned-den. I slept with the lights on.
The first two weeks I didn't have heat - only the old and not-surprisingly inefficient radiant heat installed in the CEILING. I lost a few toes but my eyeballs stayed toasty and crusted over every hour. After 10 days my water heater quit working with a head full of shampoo. Did I mention I had no heat and it was 19 degrees in November? That home warranty paid for itself within the first month.
Entry #1 "A House of Horrors...Really" (con't.)
For the first major project, my experienced reno friends used a garden hose to spray all of the ceilings to remove the ancient popcorn texture. It rained 50 yrs of cigarette smoke and filthy ceiling curds on our heads like an Amazonian jungle storm of nasty. I have good friends. Well, they used to be my friends...
Apparently the filth was holding the house together because after we removed the popcorn, the plaster ceiling began collapsing in my bedroom. I held it up with a wing and a prayer and a stack of Southern Living magazines on top of a ladder until I could afford to pay someone brave enough to let concrete fall on their heads. I lived in the guest bedroom during the master bedroom renovation - aka Operation Ceiling Death Eagle.
I couldn't even use the living room because it was haunted and the streaks of yellowed nicotine down the walls seemed like the ghost was murdering people in the attic at night. It was not pretty. I lived like a hermit in one room of my own house. At some point the renovation and disrepair of both bedrooms proved to be too much and I had to brave the living room ghost and sleep on my couch for six weeks. During that time, and the following 7 months, I stripped and refinished all the original '60s wood paneling in my living room/bedroom with dental tools. Now every time I see my hygienist I break into hives and cry. Those first two years were dark times, dark times...
I picked wallpaper border off of textured plaster walls until my fingernails bled. My throbbing fingertips felt like victory after awhile. I stripped old wallpaper from the bathroom for days until I realized it was probably asbestos. Dying by ceiling collapse seemed preferable since it was probably swifter and involved less bleeding-from-the-eyeballs. There's still paper in corners of the bathroom.
I'm not even going to mention the kitchen (except for the attached picture and following story) that I lived with for four years until I could finally afford (and fully understand the scope of) the remodel necessary to not live in a crack den with some new laminate counters slapped on top. Once demo began, we opened the hellgate of misfortune at my house including surprise inspections, a second ceiling collapse, water damage, all manner of general renovation woes and a plumber who sliced his face open from lip to cheek in an unfortunate accident. I think the ghost in my house is actually the Joker. I still feel bad about that scar... sorry, dude.
On the outside, after ripping out 50 feet of hedges using some chains and a 4WD truck (and an emergency shower after discovering a large bed of poison ivy) the backyard was completely tilled and reseeded. From a space no bigger than a large living room, I personally removed 3 tons of dirt and debris. Very slowly... like Andy Dufresne in the Shawshank Redemption. In the front yard I almost passed out from dehydration and heat stroke trying to dig a hole to plant an azalea because the place I decided to dig was the location of a former brick retaining walled long since buried. The ground did seem especially hard... I still can barely keep a plant alive out there.
I've dealt with cracked walls, sagging doors, rotten HVAC ducts, a sea of astroturf and a leaking roof compounded by the tornadoes that hit the South last year. A man lost his finger while installing my new roof. I guess the hellgate of misfortune wasn't quite closed.
Currently, because of leaking toilet gone unchecked for oh... a few decades, the floor of my bathroom is sinking. Part of the floor is propped up with cinder blocks in the crawl space but once you step beyond a certain point you better hope you turn into the Criss Angel of teeth-brushing. If you drop the cap to the toothpaste and it rolls over there you better say your farewells because you ain't gettin it back.
I'm not even sure what kind of new horrors I'll unleash once the bathroom remodel begins. It will most likely involve all new plumbing (water pressure is nice) and well, all new everything. But I'll keep forging ahead because if I stop the terrorists win. Or the rats might come back. Yay for mortgages!!
Entry #2 "Slippery Agent & a Crappy Contractor" from GdT:
I bought my home in 2005 at almost the top of the market. My real estate agent was OK but he did wind up tricking me at closing. Basically as part of the closing I got $4000 from the seller for home repairs. We were at the closing table and when this came up the attorneys asked me who the contractor was that I would be using because the $4000 check had to be made out to them. I had no clue this would be the way this worked. But my Realtor did! The Realtor spoke up and provided the name of one of the worst contractors that I have ever had the displeasure of working with. Once the contractor started working on the house he would show up only sporadically, and would do things very slowly. The main thing he was supposed to do for us was to provide a new roof which was done improperly and it leaked. While the contractor was installing a dryer vent under the house (which had to be replaced) he decided that it would be appropriate to take a smoke break in the crawl space.