December 5, 2015

17 Months After Purchase

After working with multiple litigators, we have learned that our real estate laws are set up to favor the sale itself and ensure that a transaction takes place, but they offer no real protection for home buyers. Although we have the option to sue the flipper for real estate fraud, attorney fees are estimated between $30,000-$50,000, and a successful outcome is extremely unlikely. Even if we had these funds available, they might be better spent simply repairing the house.

A family friend started a GoFundMe campaign to help raise support for our massive repair costs estimated between $70,000 and $100,000.

Fighting Predatory Remodeling

Since there seems to be little hope for recourse, I am now committed to fighting real estate fraud by strengthening our laws at every level of government to ensure that no one becomes a victim of predatory remodeling ever again.

In the United States, there are examples of federal, state, and local laws that are designed to prevent predatory remodeling and provide recourse for victims. Unfortunately, many of these laws have been suspended in an effort to revive the housing market from the recession, or they are simply deemed not critical to some cities and states. This means that opportunistic real estate investors can still make use of these loopholes, and new home buyers can still become victims.

My goals are:

  • Educate and warn new home buyers about predatory remodeling.
  • Work with local officials to adopt a Property Maintenance program with Point of Sale Inspections for single family homes.
  • Work with state officials to adopt a resolution requiring real estate flippers to be licensed general contractors. This gives victims access to the Contractor Recovery Fund.
  • Work with federal officials to reinstate laws that deny real estate flippers access to federal housing loans.

How You Can Help

  1. Please consider sharing this blog to educate others.
  2. If you have been a victim of predatory remodeling, please email us your story. The more information we have about this widespread problem, the more reasons lawmakers have to adopt solutions.
  3. Be vigilant about construction projects in your neighborhood, and immediately notify your city building inspector of any projects that do not have a permit clearly posted.
  4. If you are interested in Columbia Heights, MN please consider signing this petition.

My family and I thank you for your continued support through our ordeal. We may never see justice, but we are using this experience to fuel our resolve and keep new home buyers safe from predatory remodeling.

August 26, 2014

The shingles were badly damaged from the ice dams.

Inside, demolition of the bedroom soffit revealed that it had been stuffed with insulation, plugging up the eves. The lack of cold air flow to the attic promoted the ice dams.

This date stamp on the new sheathing proved that this was recent work, completed shortly before the home went on the market in late 2012, and only a few months before I bought it. No permit was ever pulled for this work.

Similarly, this date stamp on some installed carpet padding shows that it was manufactured on December 27, 2012... less than 5 months before I purchased the home.

Additionally, an online description of the property fully admits that the house had a new roof, new windows, new floors, new appliances, and new paint... all of which have documented problems. Again, no permits were ever pulled for remodeling work on the property.

January 20, 2014

Month 7 - Roofing Code Violations

While trying to manage the overgrown lawn in the summer, we discovered roofing shingles strewn about the lawn, killing the sod beneath them.

Without a building permit, the flipper hid roofing problems beneath new shingles, and then simply threw the old shingles into the back yard. We found hundreds of them, every time we did yard work.

Specifically, a large section of new roof sheathing overlapped older, damaged sheathing. Portions of the original sheathing were rotted and caved-in, with its original shingles still visible from the underside!

Additionally, the flipper plugged the eves with construction debris and insulation, and damaged a ventilation chute that cut off airflow to the attic.

When winter came, ice dams formed on the western roof line...

... and water began leaking through the bedroom ceiling!

The damage continued to get worse as melt water seeped in faster and faster...

...until it was steadily streaming into the house.

December 8, 2013

Month 6 - HVAC Code Violations

As our first winter settled in, new problems surfaced. None of the solid wood doors would close because they wouldn't fit inside their door frames, indicating that they were installed without the proper clearance.

The lower level HVAC was completely wrong, with outlets positioned in the middle of the room instead of the perimeter. And the cold air returns were often adjacent to the heating outlets!

The flipper had cut large holes into both the heating ducts and cold air returns!

And this heating register had been cut directly into the main duct, and then framed-in with paint stir sticks and Liquid Nails!

Instead of using proper heating duct boots, the flipper ignored building codes again, and fashioned them out of wads of duct tape!

What's more, the heating registers were spray painted in place after installation.

I discovered that a closet ceiling that had drywall screwed directly into the heating duct!

Also, our dining room was freezing cold, and there didn't seem to be any access to the crawlspace beneath it.

I suspected that foundation access beneath the dining room had been covered up with drywall, probably in the basement.

So I carefully marked the area to be demolished...

...and began removing drywall.

Sure enough, the flipper had sealed up my crawlspace access and hid it behind drywall, completely against building code!

Here is the crawlspace underneath my dining room, which had been starving for heat during the winter months.

The flipper had littered it with construction debris.

November 24, 2013

We discovered another junction box hidden above the ceiling drywall.

And two more.

This bath fan had had no junction box.

And this recessed light had its own attached junction box, but when the flipper installed it above the bathroom ceiling, the box collided with a nearby water pipe. So he removed the box cover cover, and bent the junction box up against the copper pipe until the fixture fit into place.

Another ceiling junction box was hidden behind drywall.

And another electrical splice had no junction box at all.

Another wire splice without wire nuts and missing a junction box was found.

This ceiling box was improperly used inside wall, and hidden behind drywall.

In the remodeled kitchen we found electric wires pinched between framing and drywall!

In the basement we found electric wires simply stuffed underneath the baseboards!

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