Inspect This


So it all looked so innocent, just a shabby little house needing a little mrpeenee love and decorating to turn it into a swell New Orleans pied a terre.  And then came the inspection from hell.

In my post about buying the house, I mentioned I was going back for the inspection and that “unless it turns up a nest of alien invaders in one of the back rooms, I’m set.”  How was I to know that would wind up being pretty much the whole truth?

My realtor, my friend Stephen, who’s going to be in charge of the reno, and I met up at place with the guys who would handle the inspection, a jocular gang and who rapidly confirmed all the worst fears a prospective home owner could have.

To wit:

The electrical system consists of the knob and tube wiring from when the house was built in the early 1900s.  When I enthused over all the original fixtures being preserved in the house, I meant the pocket doors, the charming transoms, the mantles and such, but certainly not the antique wiring.  Everyone meticulously avoided the term “firetrap” but it hung unspoken in the air.   So the entire electric system needs to be replaced.

The plumbing includes a gigantic crack in the downspout from the bathrooms so that sewage flushed from them simply gushes out onto the ground under the house.  Maybe that’s what’s kept the whole place from burning down in a tragic electrical fire.  Who knows?  I do know the plumbing has to be replaced.

The sellers had proudly advertised the roof as new, which is true.  Unfortunately, it was installed without the proper plywood decking under the shingles and tarpaper so it turns out to be more decorative than functional.  Roof, has to be replaced, got it.

By the time the inspector even mentioned the sill, which is the beam the house rests on above the foundation piers, I assumed it would have to go.  Sure enough, but just the back one, and about a third of one of the side ones.  All right!  Only thirty per cent of the foundation!   Score!

Oddly, I’m still interested in the house.  The realtor is supposed to meet with the sellers on Monday to hash out a deal where they come down enough on the price to cover the extensive repairs.  If they do, then at least I’ll know all the systems in the place are new and as good as I want them to be.  If they don’t, I’ll walk away from the deal and call the health department on their sorry asses.  We’ll see.

At least there wasn’t any nest of alien invaders in one of the back rooms.

18 responses »

  1. Any self respecting alien invaders would avoid building their nest in somewhere that has a potential battle going on between electrocution and cholera… I am amazed you are still interested. Jx


  2. Wow, I love a roof for beauty not for function, and I love my junk floating under my house after I flush, and I thrill at the idea of the sill rotting and house tipping over, and, well, knob-and-tube sounds a little naughty.
    I'm in.
    Seriously, hope the owners come down a bunch because it's an adorable house.


  3. My little Oakland bungalow had the same sort of problems. Do the electrical first, replace the main drain but leave the rest of the plumbing till after you replace the sill and re-lay the roof. Believe me, you can live with old plumbing when the other defects are a threat to the structure. And you'll love the place even when it's a mess of plaster dust, soot from the roof work, and a sink for your checking account — it's a lovely little shack (shack is my affectionate term for small houses, you understand — I, who live in a place now called Little Shack In the Slums).


  4. What you do is tally up ALL of the repair coasts, add 40% (you know, cost overruns) and then plunk that down in front of the seller and tell them! this is what is needed to bring the house to code and satisfy the health department. And then wait for them to respond.


  5. “Little Shack in the Slums” I love that.

    Best thing, I'm not going to be living there through all the reno hell. I'm just going to pop in after it's all done and commence decorating.


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