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Old 01-14-2009, 05:32 PM   #1
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new homeowner, winterized house questions...

Hi, I am buying a home that had stood vacant since summer. It is the north here, so freezing pipes is always in everyones mind.

The heat was on when the house was listed, but no water, which is typical here if the house is vacant.

I asked the realtors how long the heat had been on, to insure that pipes were ok. They said they didn't exactly know, but would meet me at the house to test the water, they said to their knowledge the water was on.

The main water valve inside the house just kept turning and turning and turning. It is no doubt broken. could it be broken in the 'water off' position? could the pipe from the main water at street level to the house freeze if the city did not turn the water off?

Any advice with this? thanks


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Old 01-14-2009, 05:51 PM   #2
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The pipe might have frozen just before it enters the house.

My first advice is to never, never, never beleive a single word the real estate agent utters. Always verify everything.

Second is that you want to make sure any offer is contingent on the plumbing not having any freezing or other damage and that seller will pay for repair or faulty or leaky valves, fittings, pipes and fixtures. In fact it would be better to tell agent that you can't make an offer until the plumbing has been demonstrated to work and not leak.

Check all the p traps including those in the basement floor drains, check the toilets and the dishwasher.


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Old 01-14-2009, 07:41 PM   #3
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an engineering report on the pre sale will pick up any water problems either cold/hot or draining of it.water has to be functioning on a walk around by you/engineer and your realtor before anything is signed the heater the hot and cold and all the draining.....and that main gate valve from the street.
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Old 01-15-2009, 02:41 AM   #4
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You have the right and the responsibility to have everything inspected between contract and closing in any real estate transaction.
In most states, such as here in NC, a residential seller and their agent must disclose all known defects (and all those that "should have reasonably been known", such as a malfunctioning water supply).
There is a specific itemized NC Residential Property Disclosure Statement that must be completed and signed by the seller and the buyer prior to a contract, and a Federal lead-based paint disclosure document for all homes built prior to 1978 signed by the seller, the real estate agent(s) and the buyer.
I have been a real estate broker for more than 22 years, and have always done business by the Golden Rule. Although I usually represent sellers only, I always highly recommend to all buyers that they do a minimum of three things before closing to protect themselves from unknowns.
If an inspector finds anything wrong, the buyer can always renegotiate even after signing a binding contract. Typically, the buyer pays for inspections and the seller pays for corrections prior to closing. It isn't mandatory for a seller to correct anything, but if it is "significant", the buyer can back out and have their earnest money returned.
A buyer should always:
A. Have a licensed pest inspection done (about $125 by a reputable company here). Beware the lowballers...they will always find expensive pest control treatments to be done whether the property needs them or not.
B. Have a licensed structural and mechanical General Home Inspection, performed (about $350-$450 here, depending upon the size of the home).
C. Have a title search done by an attorney and get title insurance, which is good for as long as you own the property. This is usually the only thing required by a lender now, and can run $500-$1,000 of the closing costs.
jogr, I don't know what you do for a living, or if you're in a field as a licensed professional or not, but I'm sure that there is always that small percentage of incompetent and dishonest people in it, too. That's what licensing boards are protect the public. The bad come and go, but the "good guys" are in it for a lifetime.
As with anything else, everyone should protect themselves.
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Old 01-15-2009, 03:55 AM   #5
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Hose buying issues aside. Yes a water shut off can break closed. The gates can stick down and when the valve it turned to pull it up it can break the shaft off causing the valve to be off. If this happens on the main coming in the street valve would have to be used to shut down for the valve to be replaced.

Back to buying a house. Yes, before buying or in the bid you want to make sure that you know you will have working water. Being vacant there is also the possibility that the water bill hasn't been paid for some time and was shut off at some point with payment due. Is so it would have to be paid up before a plumber could even check it out.
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