When we bought our house seven years ago, we knew there were some things that would need addressing. For example, the kitchen was a little small. And by “a little small,” I mean there are only three usable cabinets in the entire kitchen. There is only one outlet in the kitchen, and no garbage disposal. Still, it was a cute house in a neighborhood with a really great elementary school. Lots of potential.
The sixty-year-old house only had one resident before us. When Miss Irma’s husband died, she packed up and moved to Florida. A contractor bought the house to flip it. He was the flipper, we were the flipees. At first it seemed like an awesome deal. He got his flip, and we got a house with new drywall, a newly-finished basement, buffed hardwoods, and shiny new kitchen appliances. Win/win, right?
I think you see where this is going. This week, our house shook off whatever bubble gum and duct tape that had been holding it together and showed its true soul. An old woman’s soul that is crotchety, unreliable, and in desperate need of a spa weekend.
The flipper was a great contractor — great at half-assing a repair or upgrade so that cosmetically it looked good, but underneath it was held together with spit and cobwebs. A list feels like an appropriate addition to my rant:
- Deck built with boards too small to meet regulations (not that we knew at the time). Warping and shrinkage ensued.
- Brand new bathroom in the basement. The shower drain was never actually connected to a pipe beneath the floor.
- Brand new air conditioning unit was the cheapest on the market. The Carrier guy actually laughed when he came to replace the paper weight that was our dead, five-year-old unit.
- There is zero insulation between the floors in the house. If you’re in the basement, it sounds like a herd of elephants is walking above you. If you’re standing in the laundry room, you can hear even a whisper from the boys’ room above. At least I’ll know how to spy on them when they’re older.
- Cement patching on the front porch has become decidedly unpatched.
- A trickle appears under the basement door when we have a hard rain.
And there’s this week’s tale — the basement trickle. In the time we’ve been in the house, we’ve had the trickle looked at by a plumber, who installed a sump pump. When that didn’t work we called a basement waterproofing company. They jack-hammered the floor and lined the foundation with plastic. Then we removed the carpeting in the offending area of the basement and replaced it with tile. When uber-expensive jack-hammering didn’t work, Corey bought some caulk and spread it on like birthday cake frosting into every seam and crack. Finally it seemed like we had stemmed the minor tide in the basement. The finished basement. You know, with carpet. And the nice big sectional. And the biggest TV. And the carpeted playroom for the boys. I mentioned it was carpeted, right?
Let me break down my week for you:
Vague queasy feeling turns into all-night projectile vomiting and other assorted unpleasantries.
Puking gone, but is replaced by debilitating fever. Giant thunderstorm sweeps through the area, driving unprecedented amounts of water into the basement, which we don’t realize until…
Fever gone, replaced by mysterious rash. Basement carpet is squishy and horribly water-logged. Corey digs out the carpet steamer and starts sucking up scary amounts of rainwater from the carpet.
It becomes clear that the carpet steamer, heaters, dehumidifiers, and fans are useless against the swamp that is developing in my formerly-cute playroom. Musty smell appears. Corey gets out the boxcutter and starts lopping off dripping, wilted sections of carpet and chucking them into the backyard. As a bonus, we discover that the shifty contractor had put the carpeting directly over the 60 year-old linoleum that had been hiding in the basement. I’d bet dollars to donuts that it’s rife with asbestos, abandoned dreams, and hantavirus.
The chunk Corey exorcised is not enough. The boxcutter reappears to remove more of the boys’ playroom and expose more of the haunted linoleum.
A consultation with our friendly neighborhood repair guy reveals that to fix the issue permanently, we’re looking at a horrifying expense. And that doesn’t cover the costs to repair the water damage inside the house. A quick call to our homeowner’s insurance confirms that they will not be covering any of this. About an hour later, Dwight has a very scary seizure and I rush him to the vet’s. I told myself that I wouldn’t mention that he lost bladder control all over my bed during this seizure, but hey — why hold back now? (thank God for waterproof mattress covers, by the way)
Remember that lone electrical outlet in the kitchen? That crapped out today, too. And I still have that effing rash.