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We're embarking on a home building expedition, and here's what we have to say about it!

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Black Cloud Returns

We FINALLY (after 5 days) heard back from our lawyer about the list of improvements we wanted made based on the home inspection.

Basically, Old Friend said no. To everything.

He offered to paint the house before we even bought it. That was put into the offer that we both signed. But, now, he's saying that he only wants to paint one coat and we have to pay the rest. Not sure why he thinks that second coat is a luxury rather than a necessity, but he does. He is refusing to fully paint the house even though he told us he would, and signed the offer saying the house would be painted.

We asked him to fix the burner on the gas stove that doesn't work. He said it does, there's just a trick to it. Great, so while I am trying to figure out how this trick works, I'm filling my house with gas. He won't get it looked at or even cleaned.

We asked him to provide permits for the gas insert in the fire place, which we know he can't because we checked with the town and no permit was ever filed. We want it out since it was installed without a permit or an inspection, and figured if we asked him to provide the permits, he'd either get it checked and permitted (at least then we'd know it's safe) or just take it out. He said he'd produce a permit. Not sure how he's going to do that, but we assume it will be checked and permitted. Sort of a win for us.

We asked him to replace the big picture window in the living room that is rotting. The inspector wouldn't even touch it for fear that if he opened the window the glass would slide right out and shatter, and he said no. He said he'd replace the sash, but not the frame. Thanks. What good is a new sash on an old rotten frame? One bad storm and it will probably fall out.

We asked him to get the AC fixed (there's a leak) and to get a new air filter. He doesn't think there's anything wrong, but he is going to get someone to come out and look at it. If it needs to be fixed (which we know it does) he will ask us to split the cost with him.

Last but certainly not least... we had our radon test last week. Radon is a fun little chemical element that is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. The EPA says that anything below 4 pCi/L (no, I don't know what that means) is safe. Anything above is not. Anything above 10 pCi/L is really unsafe and you shouldn't live there.

Ours was 7.9. That's DOUBLE what is the high threshold for safe. Closer to 'you can't live here' unsafe than safe.

Those results were forwarded to Old Friend and his lawyer. We believe that something like radon is the responsibility of the seller (legally, like they HAVE to take care of it) but we are not sure so we're looking into it. A radon unit can cost about $1,500, so Old Friend should be able to afford it. And frankly, if I were Old Friend, I'd be calling my doctor for a lung screening after finding out the radon levels in the house!

Old Friend and his lawyer are "discussing" the radon unit. We think this means they know they have to install the unit, but they don't want to pay for it, so they'll find a cheap quote and force us to split it.

No way.

And before you think, "wow, that's a lot of demands, take it easy!', here are the things that need to be done that we didn't ask for:

new garage doors (they are warped, heavy, and do not have child safety sensors)
railings on the back door and deck (not originally installed but codes have changed and we need them now)
bathroom repair (the master and half bath toilets are not sealed properly, and there is serious eroding of the tiles in the master bath)
new driveway (it's cracked, and our inspector said it only had a few more years left before it got dangerous)
bolts in the deck (currently the deck is only nailed to the house, not bolted. Old code again, we need to update it.)

And these are the things we didn't ask for but are needed more along the cosmetic line:

new kitchen flooring (it's ugly, dirty, old and chipping)
new carpet (it's 15 years old, faded, stained and flat)
new doors (not insulated, old and scratched)
new frames for all windows and doors (same thing, all just old and in need of updating)
new light fixtures in all bathrooms (half of them barely worked, could be as easy as some light bulbs, could be a replacement fixture)
serious landscaping (our inspector said too many bushes were overgrown and brushing up against the house, this can cause molding so we needed them pared back)
painting (not new painting, but just painting. The walls are white and full of scratches and marks. They haven't been painted in 15 years!)

It's a lot. And we knew that, but we THOUGHT that if we were reasonable and asked Old Friend to replace the things that we felt were general home maintenance that he should be doing anyway, he'd see that we were taking on a lot ourselves too. Kind of a 'meet me halfway' thing. You know, a compromise, like grown ups are known to do?

Needless to say, this is crushingly frustrating and pessimistically expected. Margot the Agent said she is not surprised because "he is cheap" and will try to get out of anything. And Margot the Agent has known Old Friend for 30 years...

We have 3 options.

1. Go back to the lawyer with the repairs that are deal breakers for us (the paint, the radon and the window) and hope Old Friend realizes that these are going to have to be fixed no matter who he sells to and just says yes.

2. Accept that he's going to pay for NOTHING and ask him to pay our closing costs so we have some extra money immediately to do the repairs that are essential to live safely in the house.

3. Walk away. And continue to troll the stagnant real estate market listings every day (every hour, really) while pretending it's OK to live in my parents' basement. No ill will toward the 'rents for being there for us, we couldn't do this without them and appreciate the open arms, but it's a 300 square foot basement room and we are cramped! Two extremely independent people only last for so long in someone else's home.

We have solicited advice from both sets of parents and are trying to cool down enough to discuss what's really important so we can chose one of the above options.

Hopefully we'll have a plan tonight.

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