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Old 03-30-2011, 07:20 AM
jennifer22109's Avatar
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Exclamation We bought a death trap! HELP!!

I love WAHM forum. I usually am posting on WAH jobs and such...however this is a more personal issue that I'm just seeking some other opinions on and would appreciate any feedback from people who deal with real estate a lot and can maybe give me some advice or opinions. I apologize in advance for the length of this post. I just want to give some background so you will understand the situation...

My husband and I moved into a large home in Indiana that was recently remodeled and we purchased it on a land contract. The man we purchased it from owns many homes (over 20) and since moving in we have been warned of how he cosmetically fixes up homes but structurally they are very messed up. We were young and stupid and since I knew the man (he used to coach me in softball and I grew up with his kids) I trusted that the house was fine since it had just been remodeled. (STUPID MISTAKE!) We have definitely learned our lesson there. 1. Never trust people even if you think you know them..2. ALWAYS get a home inspected!!!

We have lived there for a year now, and the house has literally gone from beautiful to disastrous.

We decided to look into grounds for cancelling our land contract due to the poor situation of how our house is literally falling apart. Since we have put so much money into the home already, there is a clause in the contract where we can cancel at a certain point as well. There is just no way he did not know about the issues he created in this home. We have talked to an attorney and have been discussing our options. Apparently on top of all of this, the contract probably isnít even legal because the home is in he and his wifeís name and only he signed the land contract. We have put over $20,000 towards this home thinking we were purchasing a dream home and it is literally a death trap. It went from looking beautiful to just falling apart in a matter of months.

Here's the thing...Our 20 mo old son has had respiratory issues for months since we moved into the home. He has been on breathing treatments since 6 months old (after moving in) and in and out of the hospital and dr office monthly. We recently found a large amount of mold right above his crib when the paint literally just peeled and cracked off the wall. We hired an inspector to come into the home and he had the following major issues pointed out to us..

1. The hot water heater is a huge fire hazard (the ventilation is going right through a support beam (which the man cut out to make room for!) and touching wood, insulation, and pvc pipe. The inspector actually made us shut off the hot water heater before he would continue inspecting because he was concerned about fire issues.

2. The gas furnace is installed improperly- it is in the master bedroom closet and touching the walls - you can't even remove the front panel - huge fire hazard especially since it is in a closet and close to all of my clothes!

3. The electric in our home is not grounded! The bonding/ground wire is actually cut and painted over on the outside of the home, There are not proper outlets in our kitchen, there are outlets in the upstairs bedroom floors with carpet - apparently a big no no. There are exposed wires behind our dishwasher. And the main thing, he enlcosed our breaker box inside the wall and you can't even take the front panel off or it will fall inside the wall. Many major fire hazards there as well.

4. My youngest sonís bedroom floor is caving in on one side due to him cutting through support beams when he installed a new front door below his room. That wall has actually moved out a couple inches. The inspector emphatically advised nobody go into my sons room because the floor may cave in on the outer wall side.

5. The roof needs to be completely replaced. Apparently he used caulking to ďrepairĒ the roof and water has basically been just running down the outer walls of our home and we have a HUGE mold problem.

6. The wood floors downstairs were literally laid on top of old vents and old flooring with cut out strips of wainscoting in used in between. Our wood floors were bowing and our furniture wouldn't even sit level due the warping of our floors.

7. Our walls are turning to literal mushÖthe wainscoting is warping and paint has been chipping and falling off the walls due to the moisture and mold. The house smells like a giant pile of dirt due to all of the mold.

We moved out immediately of finding mold behind our walls due to our sonís breathing issues and our son hasnít had any breathing issues since we left. He is completely off breathing treatments and isnít even congested and weíve only been out 2 weeks!

My question is, what govt officials can we get involved to inspect our home and bring major awareness to this manís shady practices? We are going to seek refund of our $8,000 tax credit so we can pay the IRS back since this was our first time purchasing a home. We arenít sure if it is worth getting into a huge legal battle and paying through the nose for legal fees if he probably wouldnít have the money to repay us anyway.

What we want most is to prevent this man from being able to buy and cosmetically fix up homes and sell them to vulnerable people under land contracts that might get into issues like us. Just 3 weeks ago a home of his burned to the ground (my guess is probably due to the electrical nightmares he creates). Thankfully the family was at church that morning and nobody was injured, however they have nothing left! He does not hire professionals to do his work. He has already been to jail 2 times in the past 6 months for breaking and entering into his tenants homes. We have been advised by our attorney not to speak to him at all until we are completely moved into a new place due to his mental instability and anger issues. (apparently this man is bipolar and has anger issues, especially towards women) We just want to get the right people involved to put a stop to this guyís nonsense before the next house burns down and someone gets killed. We are lucky it wasnít us! I want to do the right thing. Our attorney told us we could try to have the marshal come in, but isnít there more people we can get involved to put a stop to this guy? I seriously think my house could be condemned and I certainly do not want this man to be able to resell it to someone else without fixing everything! We had an electrical engineer come in and inspect the electric work and he said there are multiple major code violations. We have been told by 2 inspectors we are lucky our house didn't burn to the ground and that we might as well have put gasoline and matches in our walls! This guys is a monster and a danger to society in my opinion. I would appreciate feedback you can provide. I want to make it so he canít hurt another family just to make an extra buck.

Thanks,
Jen.. from Indiana
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 03-31-2011, 11:14 PM
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I wouldnt buy a car without getting an inspection, let alone a home. I can't imagine anyone buying a home with NO inspection!! That is truly insane. That is the biggest purchase you will ever make! We bought a brand new home and had it inspected and there were $3,000 worth of repairs to be done. ALWAYS get an inspection. Always. I am sure you know that now. Glad you shared your story. It serves as a warning to others.

I personally wouldnt waste my time trying to scare other people out of doing business with him. You should use your story to educate others to get an inspection. It's what you cant see that is of concern. And without an inspection, you dont know what youre missing.

It's not the guys fault that you bought a house without an inspection. His mental health issues have nothing to do with that. I think youre focused on the wrong thing.
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Old 03-31-2011, 11:36 PM
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wow, that is an expensive lesson.

We are property investors, so have bought many houses, and would never think of skipping a building and pest inspection. Small investment which can save you thousands.

I hope things start to turn around for you, and a dodgy bloke like him shouldn't be allowed to continue ripping people off.
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Old 04-01-2011, 01:40 AM
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Wow - that's a terrifying story.

OK, now for the "silly me" moment - I'm Scottish and don't know my way round the American property purchasing thingy. So I wouldn't know a land contract from .... well, anything else. What exactly do you own when you have a land contract? In other words, do you have anything in the contract which you can sell???

Alternatively, what would be the cost of demolishing the death trap and starting a self-build - is that completely out of the question??

.... I'm sure my Scottish roots are showing good and proper by now.

Mar

ps - in the meantime, PLEASE - tell me that you've got the death trap properly insured ..... I can see a horrendous situation developing if it does go up in flames and you find you're not covered.

pps - If this guy is running a property business, can you report him to the Better Business Bureau? I would definitely look into that.

Also, I can't imagine there is anything which would make you feel good about this property purchase having gone through such a trauma. My feeling is that I would walk (run) away from it as fast and as cheaply as possible. If it has cost you $20,000 - then, it's an expensive mistake, but a real good education.

Last edited by MarMacGillivray; 04-01-2011 at 03:15 AM. Reason: afterthought - ok, several of them
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Old 04-01-2011, 04:16 AM
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We have definitely learned the lesson of not trusting anyone and INSPECTION INSPECTION INSPECTION!!!!

We are getting out of our contract. He will be paying us part of our money back. The house is being inspected by the city and they may or may not condemn the home due to safety issues in which he will have to repair before he can resell.

We also found out that 6 months ago he had to buy back a $130,000 home due to the same issue.

I will bring awareness to always get an Inspection!....and I'm going to make sure this man doesn't sell homes anymore. He's going to kill someone with his bad business practices and I would never forgive myself if another house burns down and I didn't do everything I could to stop him from doing this anymore.

Thanks for all your feedback!
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Old 04-01-2011, 07:05 AM
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That's great news - I was going to be worrying about you .... now I can heave a sigh of relief. Is there any way the local authorities can cramp his style some more?

Mar
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bad construction, fire hazard, home inspection, land contract

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