New house, water damage, not sure where to begin

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by sdilley14, Feb 3, 2016.

  1. sdilley14, Feb 3, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2016

    sdilley14 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2007
    Location:
    Mesa, AZ
    #1
    I bought a house and closed back on 12/28/2015. The inspection for the house revealed a leak at the water heater. The water heater is located in the garage, which is attached to the house. The little room in the garage that houses the water heater shares a wall with a bedroom in the house. So, prior to purchasing the home, we wrote in the offer that the water heater needed to be fixed. The seller supplied a receipt showing the work was done on the water heater. So I kinda just forgot about it.

    Cut to about a week ago, I stumbled upon a pretty significant leak in the hose attached to the water heater. It was spraying water all over the wall in the garage (shared wall with the bedroom). I'm honestly not sure how long it had been leaking...I'm guessing for days. I'm not good with "handyman" type stuff at all. :/ I was able to twist the hose in such a way that it stopped the leak (for now).

    However, now I'm seeing mold on the wall, water on the carpet in the bedroom, and now mold is showing along the trim inside the house/bedroom along the floor where the water came in. I'm guessing this isn't going to be a cheap project to get this cleaned up and repaired.

    I'm wondering where to begin as far as getting this fixed? Do I call the company that came out to do the work on the water heater? Do I call my homeowners insurance company? Do I call my home warranty company (American Home Shield)? I obviously want to do this in such a way that I have to pay the least amount of money possible (hopefully none!).

    Thoughts?
     
  2. tobefirst macrumors 68040

    tobefirst

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2005
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    #2
    I personally would start with the company that did the work on the water heater, especially if you have the receipt. They, in my mind, should take care of this for you straight away.
     
  3. ProjectManager101 Suspended

    ProjectManager101

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2015
    #3
    No, call your insurance and tell the story. The insurance should cover the damage, fix it and deal with the previous owner themselves.
     
  4. sdilley14 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2007
    Location:
    Mesa, AZ
    #4
    That was my thought/hope, too.

    My only hesitation in calling the insurance company is that I will be on the hook for the $1k deductible. :(
     
  5. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #5
    You'll be paying a lot more in water damage if you don't get this sorted soon, especially as it is clear - re the growth of mould - that firstly, this problem has not been addressed satisfactorily by the company contracted to do so, and secondly, that this is not a recent issue, as it is clear that it has been a problem for quite some time.
     
  6. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2008
    Location:
    Always a day away
    #6
    Well, there's your problem, right there. :p
     
  7. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #7
    Well spotted.
     
  8. sdilley14 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2007
    Location:
    Mesa, AZ
    #8
    Lol, got me. 12/28/2015!
     
  9. hallux macrumors 68020

    hallux

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2012
    #9
    If it was not specified in the purchase contract that there also needed to be work done to remediate the water damage (instead of just replacing the water heater as your initial description makes it appear), I can't see where you'd have much recourse that all work was not completed. Did the PO provide any kind of "warranty" on the home and its construction? If not, you're on the hook to repair it.

    In other words, if the contract said "repair water heater" and they provided a receipt indicating such work was done they fulfilled their side of the contract. If the contract said "repair water heater and any wallboard and insulation damaged by the leaking appliance", you might have something.
     
  10. ProjectManager101 Suspended

    ProjectManager101

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2015
    #10
    Get a lawyer and ask, not in a Mac Forum. You may create a case for small claim court depending on the terms of the contract. The good thing is that if you win, you can charge your lawyers fees too on top. Everything up to $5K.
     
  11. A.Goldberg macrumors 68000

    A.Goldberg

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2015
    Location:
    Boston
    #11
    Sorry to hear about the trouble with the new house. Water damage can be a big problem.

    The maximum claim varies state-to-state but $5k is ballpark. CT for example is $5k, Massachusetts is $7k. The water damage could easily exceed ~$5,000 between plumbing repairs, drywall/insulation and flooring replacement, not to mention furniture and other property.

    ----

    I'd say legal action may not be necessary at this point, so it might be premature to hire a lawyer IMO. Make sure you keep thorough records of any communication with the plumber, insurance company, previous homeowner/real estate agent, inspection company, etc from this point forward. Date, time, who you spoke with, what they said, etc. Try to keep your communication in writing (email) if possible too- or at least send follow up emails summarizing your conversations. That way if it comes to taking legal action you have all the right documentation.

    You might also want to look into those water sensing alarms and cut off valves just to prevent a disaster like this from happening in the future.

    Best of luck.
     
  12. Gav2k macrumors G3

    Gav2k

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
    #12
    Go to your insurance company as mentioned above. The repair could run $10k+ especially with Mould cropping up. Pay the $1000 and let them sort out the crap for you.
     
  13. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #13
    A lawyer is premature and unnecessarily expensive and inflammatory. The first steps to is contact the insurance company. In fact during the subrogation process they may very well be the ones that go after the prior owner if they deem it worthwhile.
     
  14. DeltaMac macrumors 604

    DeltaMac

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2003
    Location:
    Delaware
    #14
    I agree completely - contact your insurance company - first. They can decide who best to contact next, which could be to previous repair business, or some other firm who will actually fix your problem. That should also mean that your household warranty company gets involved, too - but your home owner's insurance agent is your primary contact. They will not have the emotions that you might have now, and will just concentrate on what needs to get done to get your house back in order.
     
  15. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    CT
    #15
    Either way you will need to have those walls opened up and the carpet pulled. The longer you wait the worse it will be. Call your insurance company and let them handle the rest.
     
  16. Huntn, Feb 5, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2016

    Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #16
    Have a company that specializes in mold inspection give your house the once over. I know that when there is a leak in the house for a period of time or that goes untreated, it's not unusual to remove the bottom 4' of drywall in the effected areas to inspect for mold and go from there. No, not cheap.

    Not said to scare you. If it's something like a lot of Black mold, and you are living in the house, this can be a nightmare, with health consequences and a requirement to clean the entire contents of the house. My son found himself in such a house in USAF base housing, run by a ... contractor. Fortunately he did not own it and I think the health consequences were there, evident in at least one of them, but it does not seem to be and we are hoping they are not long term consequences for him, spouse, or kids.
     
  17. ProjectManager101 Suspended

    ProjectManager101

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2015
    #17
    I wrote him that before but he is saying he has $1000 deductible, a lawyer can go over the issues for less than that if that is the case. A good lawyer in FL for criminal cases (for example) could resolve that issue for $500 AND the other party would have to pay the lawyers fees if the case is won in small claim court.
     
  18. farmboy, Feb 5, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2016

    farmboy macrumors 6502a

    farmboy

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2003
    Location:
    Minnesota
    #18
    First, as others have said (but it bears repeating), contact your insurance. This is what you pay for. In my experience, there will be no issues, this happens 1,000 times a day; they'll send out a claims guy and write you a check.

    But even if you don't involve insurance, the repairs are not difficult even for a non-handyman, and should not be expensive. You can do the preliminary work yourself. You open up the wet wall by cutting off the bottom portion of the drywall with a mat knife, pull it off and toss in the trash. New drywall is very inexpensive, so get rid of anything that doesn't look new and undamaged. Peel back the carpeting and pad--odds are you are going to replace this, especially if mold is already present. I speak from experience here, it's not worth the health issues down the line.

    Vacuum up any standing water and spray down the area with a 5% bleach solution or equivalent--look for mold removal sprays at your home/hardware store. Easy to do, close the door and let it dry (in Mesa this may take about 14 seconds).

    With the wall open and the room dry, you can easily find a handyman to come in and put on new drywall and paint, and it won''t be expensive. My guess is about $200-250 for the new walls (labor and materials), and $350-400 for new carpeting (depends on room size). Not too bad at all.

    By the way, there should never be a "hose" involved in a hot water system of any kind, other than the drain line for your clothes washer. It should all be PVC, PEX or copper. So unless Arizona standards are way different than other states, you may have an issue with the water heater installer. I can pretty much guarantee the claims guy will ask you about the hose and if you put it on. The answer is always no, that's the way it was.
     
  19. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #19
    Farmboy, you might be right on the ease of handling this but there is a caveat. The OP would be far better off having a 3rd party involved that can at minimum, document the damage before any action is taken beyond opening up walls.

    My hunch would also to contact the insurance company. I gather what it really all comes down to is what agreement was made with the seller of the house and is it on paper. While a verbal agreement is acceptable in court it is never the same as a written agreement. The company that did the work was contracted by the seller and not accountable to the OP/buyer. The seller is the one that the insurance company would deal with if not the OP. I doubt the seller will do much if notified by the OP and again, this is what the insurance folks would want to examine - the original agreement of work to be done.
     
  20. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #20
    Getting a lawyer at the first hint of a trouble can usually cause more harm as the other party will be less likely to help out, i.e., they'll be nervous about being sued.

    Sometimes a friendly call goes further then getting a threatening letter from a lawyer. Plus a lawyer would invariably ask about what steps the OP took to resolve this, including contacting his insurance company. Without doing his due diligence, he's spending money on lawyers needlessly. I'd say the issue that the OP is having, a lawyer shouldn't be considered as his first action, but one after contacting his insurance company and/or the seller.
     
  21. Gutwrench macrumors 65816

    Gutwrench

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2011
    #21
    Are you from Arizona and have personal experience with your advice?

    As far as I know Arizona has a $3500 damage cap, attorneys are not permitted unless both parties stipulate and then it's moved out of small claims to regular civil court. Damages can include court fees but awarding them is the sole discretion of the court. My guess is, private attorney consult fees would probably be ignored. And all this assumes the case was successful.

    I think the op should contact the repair company to determine repairs were made and what they were. If repairs were made and relevant to the agreement between the op and the seller, then there's a problem and the op may have to eat these costs.
     
  22. Huntn, Feb 7, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2016

    Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #22
    The above description characterized as not expensive is based on the house not being toxic. Worse case, if it is toxic, the routine is vacating the house, living with friends or in a hotel, emptying the house out, cleaning all the contents of the house, replacing carpet, removing, replacing and refinishing drywall/insulation, and wearing a hazmat suit for some portion of the procedure. Usually the home owner for worst case, would not be doing this... Not cheap in that case. That's why as a rule, you want an inspection, the insurance company involved, and documentstion so you know what your dealing with.
     
  23. tobefirst macrumors 68040

    tobefirst

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2005
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    #23
    I am not very knowledgeable on this, so forgive my ignorance, but do you really mean that they remove the bottom 4 *feet* of drywall to inspect? Or did you mean 4 inches?
     
  24. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

    Joined:
    May 18, 2004
    #24
    is the deductible for your home warranty as high as your insurance?
     
  25. hallux macrumors 68020

    hallux

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2012
    #25
    Pretty much what I said back in post 9:


    I missed the part about the home warranty. If the above is the case and the deductible is less than your insurance (as suggested by someone else) use that.
     

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