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HELP Many, many leaks in foreclosure home I bought

12 years ago

I bought a bank owned home, 100 years old and during inspection since there were leaks near the main the inspector didn't turn the water on to have the plumbing tested. He gave me the card of a plumber and said that likely most breaks would be in the basement. The plumber agreed and said to call him after I closed, that likely it would just be a few hours of work.

Originally I'd budgeted 3k for plumbing repairs. No said the inspector and his buddy plumber, it should be easy. Since I'd owned a cabin before one of the things I knew about was plumbing was never easy and this two story victorian had sat vacant during a winter without being drained properly.

Anyways I closed on the house Wed and called the plumber, who seemed oh so nice before saying he'd personally help. Since the inspector said two plumbers would have to be there one slowly opening up the main to send water through the house as the other went through various rooms checking for leaks - I even called the company and reminded the secretary to send out two plumbers. She seemed to care less but mumbled sure.

The owner of the company was MIA that day, an employee showed up saying he was there to fix a toilet and a water heater. I asked where the second person was and explained this wasn't a simple manner of putting in a water heater/toilet repair that there was some misunderstanding, that I needed two plumbers. The guy was arrogant and said he'd start to work on the house anyways. According to my builder friend I should have followed my gut at this point and refused to let him work without two.

Anyways since I didn't think they should test the plumbing without a second person the guy said he could start in the basement and repair pipes that were broken - I had pics from the inspection. There was the main, a pipe going to where the washer would be and another. I asked the guy how long this would take then ran to Lowe's to get a water heater and pick up my boy, have lunch. I wasn't that worried although my had initially told me to stop this. I figured since I hired the $85 per hour plumbing people rather then a handyman for half I'd get professional plumbing work.

The day proceeded and a handyman came and was looking over the house with me, figuring out cosmetic issues etc. A second plumber showed up at some point. What I believe happened is the guy "fixed" the leaks in the basement, by the time the second guy showed up they "tested" the kitchen sink and this must have blasted out the pipes the guy spent two hours "fixing." I saw the pile of pipes in the backyard was getting higher, the second plumber looked stress, I checked on them and not knowing much I just let them work.

I was standing in the living room talking to the handyman as they found the gush in the kitchen, they didn't fix it, they then went upstairs to the second story, The guy in the basement turned on the water and the guy upstairs yelled over and over to turn it off. Water gushed through the walls and windows right where I was standing. I was stunned at the amount of water and the yelling going on. The inspector had told me the process would be 'barely' turning on water and this felt insane.

At this point it was late in the day, Friday, two days ago. The plumber from the basement, the original guy came upstairs, scratched his head, repeating I'm sorry about 5 times. The other guy looked nervous. It all felt wrong but I had no clue about the process of fixing pipes in an old house that had sat vacant this long. Anyways the guy said well, it was late in the time, time to close for the weekend, and that they weren't sure when they could come back to finish the work. He said they are always busy on Mondays and Tuesdays. So it might be Wed, I was most concerned at the time that I'd be leaving on a business trip next Wed. and the guy said I'd get a call.

When I went home a thought occurred to me, how stupid. They'd tried to fix pipes in the basement first, shouldn't they have even taped temp. the pipes and worked their way from the top down. I called my builder friend who lives hours away, he called them idiots and said it was wrong. I called my mom who has fixed a number of homes and she said now the walls are filled with water, the house was left without fans, windows open, nothing. The plumber had simply taken off without even worrying about cleanup or venting the mess. She said it would turn to mold. Ironically the handyman I was about to hire was there and didn't even recommend leaving windows open or the basement door open to vent.

I'd once done research on mold as ironically I'd backed out of another foreclosure home that was flooded just a week before closing because the water went into the floorboards and I was told could spread throughout the house. It was a new house. This one is old. That night Friday at about 8 pm I called the owner of the plumbing company as I had his cell number from when he'd called me back on it once. He sounded stupid and drunk and young and arrogant. I told him what happened and he said that I was the one that told the guy to fix the basement pipes first, he said he'd gotten a call from him to confirm this.

I couldn't believe it. I said two guys were supposed to be there. One showed up. That he'd promised to be there. He wasn't. That he sent his cheap unexperienced help out and they flooded my house. Here I'd house hunted six months finally found one that needed work but that didn't have mold in the roof etc. And they had to screw it up. I told him I'd researched all the troubles of fixing a house, and that there's so many horror stories and now I have one to add to the stories. He then mumbled that they weren't set up for "this" when I said that they should have had an open enough schedule to deal with this if there were issues or not have taken the job at all.

The arrogant jerk said "yeah baby" to me when I said they were unprofessional and didn't do the job right. I hung up. Called my mom. She said to call him back and tell him that his company is going to get sued (this is my sweet Christian mom by the way), she said what they did was irresponsible. She said I should have them fix the damage for free, that's what insurance is for. I called the jerk back and said I was going to sue, but rather then have him fix the damage I told him I'd find someone who would show up in the next few days to get the walls opened up at the least and would have made progress long before they could come back. That this was serious. He laughed and told me to hire an attorney.

I explained that I was a former journalist and that I had a witness, that I wasn't stupid and that's why they did this to me, they thought I knew nothing so they took advantage and sent the worst help out and then left after flooding my house. I told him the minute I get an invoice for the crappy work I'd hire an attorney and sue for damage. He then said he'd show up the next day, Sat to work on the house himself. I told him it wasn't necessary since the company was obviously unprofessional and at this point I didn't even know if they knew how to work on an old house to begin with, that I'd find other help. He did call yesterday morning, then he had his plumber call me, and I didn't return either call or answer the phone.

Truth is I cried, just like a girl, I got a headache, I went to a movie. My builder friend said he'd drive four house to come see the house. I didn't return his call. I was just so depressed. So here we are on Sunday, the house has been sitting wet now for two days and I think at least I need to go there and open windows and put up fans. I emailed the handyman about this and asked him what tools I'd need to cut into the ceiling and walls, that originally I'd planned on demo'ing the walls in the living room because the original drywall over plaster was done so unprofessionally and looked horrid. I told him that the plumbing company didn't even consider putting up fans or opening the walls after the house got wet, that I was concerned. The guy is some sort of worker who managed to get his contractors license who responded to an ad I put on Craigslist for someone to help paint/etc.

Anyways here we are. It's Sunday. At least I'm not in tears anymore. My headache is going away. I'm able to move. This was just disheartening. I realize the world has come to people who don't care. I know how help can be, I've run a small business almost 20 years. But I figured I'd gone to the pros and the pros would get the plumbing fixed. I never believed it was just a few hours of work, I'd budgeted for a lot more problems. There's enough cash sitting in an account to fix the plumbing, heating, water heater and roof. The main stuff then it's cosmetic from here. Who do I call at this point? Where do I turn? Another plumbing company? A contractor? I know a flipper, how about calling his help that's used to tearing walls out? I don't know what to do today... this week.

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