Every time I’ve relayed this crazy story in the past month, the response has been, “oh, the joys of homeownership.” I was hoping to avoid that phrase for some time – at least a few months. But alas, I had a crazy mishap one week after moving into my new place. After experiencing so many crazy stories in the past three years of writing this blog, I shouldn’t be surprised that the stories would follow me into my new place!
I went to Las Vegas for a conference one week after moving into my house. I hate Vegas, but I did enjoy walking past the Bellagio fountains during one of their performances. That and an amazing dinner at STK in The Cosmopolitan were definitely the highlights.
I returned home close to 9:00pm on a Wednesday night. As soon as I opened my garage door, I knew something wasn’t right. I could tell there was water on the floor.
When I pulled in, I realized the ceiling was dripping. I immediately panicked, because my garage is a tuck-under, and it’s directly below the kitchen…where my brand new hardwood floors are! I ran upstairs, but found no water. I came back down to the laundry room…no water. But the ceiling was completely saturated and dripping from a number of points across the beam. I parked the car outside for the night, because I was afraid the dry wall would come crashing down.
Now, I know that water is a serious problem that has to be dealt with immediately, so even though it was late, I started texted colleagues to get plumber recommendations and started leaving messages with said plumbers. I’m sure my messages were a bit insane…something about my first week in my place, water coming out of the ceiling, HELP! I even googled to see if I could find any 24-hour options, but Roto-Rooter was all I could find, and I was pretty sure that wasn’t what I needed.
Believe it or not, one of the plumbers actually called back around 9:30pm or so. I was truly amazed! The woman was so kind and reassuring (probably even more so than normal after my crazy voicemail message). I explained the situation, and she said the earliest she could get someone to me was the following morning between 10:00am-12:00pm. She asked a few more questions, and when she realized that I have a home warranty, she told me I needed to deal with them directly before she could send someone out.
All of the pictures may have been hung on the walls already, but I definitely hadn’t organized all of my paperwork yet. Especially the enormous pile I acquired at closing. I started rifling through all of it looking for the one page that would remind me of the name of the home warranty company. I found it, called them, and waited for ONE HOUR to speak to a human. At this point, all I really wanted to do was sleep, since it was nearing 11:00pm, but I knew someone needed to come first thing in the morning to fix this issue.
When I finally spoke to a person, I was informed that they didn’t have anyone available to come out, but they would put me in the queue. They had four hours to find someone, and if they didn’t, I could call back and get permission to use my own provider. I went to bed stressed that nothing had been resolved.
In the morning, the water was still there, the dripping was still happening, and I was panicking even more!
[You can tell from the photo how wet the ceiling beam and walls were!]
I will spare you all of the details of the series of phone calls, but in short…the home warranty’s plumber was not available to come out to my place for ONE WEEK. The home warranty company wouldn’t allow me to use my own plumber. I called the head home warranty sales guy who spoke to me before the purchase of my home to explain how unacceptable my interactions had been over the past 14 hours. He found a way to get approval for my plumber to come – with strict instructions that the plumber was to call them before doing any repairs.
The plumber came and had to start cutting holes in the ceiling of the garage. When he didn’t find plumbing, he had to start cutting holes in the walls. And when he finally found what he was looking for, he informed me that he had to come up to my dining room to cut a hole to access the water line. I probably asked him a half a dozen times if he was sure, since I had JUST had the dining room walls painted!
Isn’t it awful?!?!?! I was trying to remain calm, but was definitely FREAKING OUT inside!
Once he cut the hole in the dining room wall, he was able to tell what the problem was immediately – two nails had gone through the baseboard into a waterline!!!!! The plumber asked me if I had the floors redone, and I said, “yes.” He said I needed to talk to the flooring company, because they should fix this. Another series of phone calls began as I went back and forth with them a number of times explaining the situation, getting quotes from the plumber, etc. Ultimately, they decided to send the plumber away, because he was too expensive. Instead, the flooring company sent out one of their contractors to do the fix.
The new contractor arrived, and he immediately started tearing out wet dry wall and insulation. He also replaced the punctured water line. The lead flooring guy brought fans and a dehumidifier for the garage. Not long after he left, he called back to tell me that he spoke with the guys who laid the flooring, and they said they didn’t take off that piece of baseboard!!! I kid you not. Of course, I wasn’t taking pictures throughout the construction, so I have no documentation of which baseboards came off and which did not. The guys came over to look and gave me a LONG explanation of what they did / didn’t do. Meanwhile, my garage looked like this:
24 hours after coming home to the problem, my house was a disaster, and it was now unclear who would be paying to put it all back together again. (To which everyone was saying, “oh, the joys of homeownership to me.”) The contractor tearing the house apart without the approval of the home warranty company voided my home warranty. (When I spoke with them later, they said that a nail in the baseboard was not “normal wear and tear.” Even though, the flooring company claims I bought the house with these nails in the baseboard.)
The next day, the contractor’s boss called me at work to ask if I wanted him to finish the work, since the flooring company wasn’t going to pay. Of course, this sent me into a fury, because the flooring company didn’t have the decency to call and tell me themselves. When I finally got a hold of them, they said the contractor spoke out of turn, and that they would see what they could help with in the end. I told the contractor that one way or another, he had to finish the work.
In the end, the contractor did beautiful, beautiful work. You cannot tell that anything happened to the dining room wall. And in the garage, the parts of the wall they patched look far nicer than the rest of the garage drywall! They even painted the whole garage, which desperately needed it. I think that’s what you call the silver lining.
The cost was 3x what the contractor originally quoted, and while the flooring company paid a portion of the repairs, the final bill was still a doozy. I now follow my mom’s advice to turn off the water main while I’m traveling. I’m not sure I would have caught this situation much sooner, since it was buried behind walls and insulation. But hopefully, this will reduce the risk of future water emergencies. I’m beyond grateful that none of the new hardwood floors were damaged. That would’ve been a much worse disaster.
Here’s hoping that homeownership will actually be a joy for the foreseeable future!