House #2: Water Damage?

August 11, 2008 · 2 comments

My out-of-town silent-partner was in town for my wedding this weekend, so I decided to take him around the three houses that we have under contract. We stop by the Corn House, and take a look around, and then we head over to the Bulge House. The first thing I notice when we walk into the house is that it sounds as if a facet is running in one of the bathrooms. I walk into the guest bath, and sure enough, the sink is running full-blast! My assumption is that someone was in the house, turned on the water, and left. But, I couldn’t figure out why someone would turn on the bathroom sink and leave?

Then my partner says he hears more water running, and it sounds like it’s coming from the back of the house. We walk around the back, and sure enough there is water gushing out of the exterior water tap (for the hose). We turn that off, and now I’m really confused. As we walk back up the steps into the house, I notice a familiar tool laying on the porch; it’s the tool that turns the water on and off at the main water meter on the street. Apparently, the water company was asked to turn the water to the house on (the listing agent must have called so I could do my inspection), and had no idea that various water supplies had not been shut off in the house.

As we re-enter the house, I again hear water. This time it’s coming from the laundry room in the converted garage. What was once an exterior tap is leaking rapidly, with water running onto the vinyl (which was essentially on top of the old driveway pavement/foundation. Without light in that room, I wasn’t able to fully determine the extent of the leak damage, but the floor was pretty soaked.

My partner then calls me into the kitchen where water is flowing out of from beneath the sink onto the vinyl kitchen floor! Apparently a water filter below the sink had been disconnected, and water had been dripping for quite a while. The floor was soaked, as was the sink cabinet. It took about 10 minutes, but we finally figure out the sources of the leak and shut it off.

Since we didn’t have any towels with us, we decided to head home and get some. About a block from the house we drive past a garage sale, where they are selling used clothes for $2 a piece. We buy 10 sweaters, turn right around and head back to the house. We clean up the water as best as possible, open a couple windows to facilitate drying and head home. I don’t know if there was any flooring, sub-flooring, or even foundation damage due to the water (my guess is it was running for several days), but we have an inspector coming out in a couple days, so we’ll get his opinion at that time. In the meantime, I let my agent know that if the damage is bad, I might need to exercise my due diligence option or negotiate a lower purchase price.

I don’t know how long the water had been running, but I do know that if I hadn’t come back when I did, the damage would no-doubt have been much worse when I finally did show up.

2 responses to “House #2: Water Damage?”

  1. Matt says:

    EEEK! I hope someone learns a lesson for that one… Definitely negotiate a lower price.

  2. Rm89004 says:

    This happens all the time. Someone (agent, prospective buyer, inspector, etc.) walks through the house turns the water on. Realize that the water is off and forgets to the turn the faucet off. Later they contact the agent to have the water turned on. The agent contacts the water company to turn the water on. The water company comes and turns it on. Water runs all over the place. The water company has no idea what is going on inside the house once the water is turned on.

    The agent should inspect the house before and after the water is turned on.

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