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alexin 08-22-2010 09:58 PM

Water damage. How bad can it be?
Hi all. I'm hoping to get some advice, as a first time home buyer. Don't know if this necessarily fits in any particular category so I thought I would post it in general discussion.

I recently came across a condo which I was interested in purchasing. However, there are a few things that concern me and I'm not sure if I should be walking away from this place, or using this as an opportunity to try and get a good deal. The home has been on the market for quite some time.

The first time I visited the condo, I noticed a water damage line running along the living room ceiling, maybe 2 metres in length. I later found out that this was most likely caused by the upstairs ensuite toilet leaking a few years back. The leak has been fixed (no idea when), but the ceiling was not repaired in any way.

In addition to that, there was a distinct musty / mildewy smell in the master bedroom (which is above the living room). I'm putting two and two together, and figuring that this smell is being caused by mold, due to the leak some years back. I have no way of knowing if this is the case or not, but it makes sense to me.

In the basement, there were also some signs of water damage. One of the baseboard planks next to the roughed-in bathroom (with shower) was faded in a way that indicated water had seeped through it at some point, and the ceiling also had some signs of water damage (a thin line, nothing too bad). There was also a slight urine type smell, but the bathroom seemed very clean. So I'm worried maybe the toilet overflowed at some point and there is now dirty water embedded under the flooring.

So, I'm in a dilemna. For obvious reasons, my gut is telling me to walk away from this place because there is no way of knowing how bad the damage is. Was water leaking for months before anybody noticed? Is there mold and rot all along the ceiling because of the leak? Did water get in to the insulation along the walls? The home was built in the mid 80's - and it is in otherwise immaculate shape. If it wasn't for the smell in the bedroom and the ceiling line, I would have given it a 10 out of 10 for a place that old.

Am I over-reacting? What's the worst case scenario here? As I mentioned, the home has been on the market for quite a while. If the sellers are really getting itchy to sell and I can make them come down in price, is there an amount that would still make this worthwhile if the damage turns out to be extensive? $10k, $20k, $30k? is it worth it?

The market is really poor in our area right now, and this place is by far the nicest I have seen yet. So I'm trying really hard to see if I can salvage this situation and come out ahead. :thumbsup:

Any opinions would be appreciated!

Ron6519 08-23-2010 07:14 AM

You can't really guess at a damage level. Well actually you can, but what's the point? It's interesting that they didn't fix it before putting the unit up for sale. Or at least make an attempt to cover it in some way as is usually the case.
Unless the walls were opened and I saw the issues extent, I wouldn't bother with the condo. It's been for sale a long time for a reason and not just because the market is slow.

forresth 08-23-2010 09:04 AM

water damage is one of those things were; once you start fixing it, you keep on finding more stuff the deeper you go. too many cheap places out there without this very posibly major headache to deal with. walk, and don't give it a second though. let a gambler buy the condo.

also given that the damage is so expansive, I'm guessing it was more than just a minor toilet leak. could be a dozen different things letting water in behind the walls, or the toilet could have burst a pipe while the owners were away for a month or 2. I've heard of that effectively "totaling" a house.

alexin 08-23-2010 01:53 PM

Thanks, guys. I was leaning towards walking away as well. Oh well. Maybe next time.

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