This week I began taking down the paneling in our finished basement.
We purchased the early 70's split-level about a year and a half ago
but allowed the sellers to stay in the house and rent for four months.
We are now "discovering" the finished basement is merely paneling
nailed to randomly placed 1"x3" furring strips nailed to the concrete.
We also found white powdery mold growing on the ceiling band joists
and musty moisture stained concrete walls that were hidden by the
The most horrific thing we found was they actually bored out the
concrete to fit in the electrical boxes. Each hole in the concrete is
nearly 4"x3"x3" deep!
Another scary find was the fluorescent fixture was hanging only by the
suspended ceiling and the wiring was loosely extended perpendicular to
the ceiling joists.
So before I continue with this mess any further..... does anyone thing
I have any recourse against the previous owners?
Obviously most of the work wasn't done to local codes and I doubt that
any building permits were obtained to do the work.
Am I stuck with the mess or is it worth going after the previous
owners since that likely did not have a permit?
Thanks for any feedback.
That is why you hire a qualified Home Inspector before purchasing.
It is too late for recourse.
you purchased it a year and a half ago but allowed the sellers to stay in
the house and rent for four months.
can you prove the previous owner installed these items?
I doubt it.
That's another story. Homecheck is worthless. We learned the hard
That is a problem but we are the third owner of the house and the
first owner lives a few blocks away and says he dind't finish the
The second owner also lives a few miles away. Hopefully I never run
Depends on state law. It is worth calling a lawyer in your state that
specializes in real estate litigation. Some states require sellers to
fill out a sheet listing any defects or listing that no representation
was made. If your state is one of them (NC for example) you may have
To me, this would fall in the Life Is Too Damn Short category- just rip out
the mess, redo it properly, and move on. You probably paid too much,
thinking the basement was finished, but the odds of getting money relief in
court, esp. after lawyer costs, are slim and none. The furring-supported
paneling and drop ceiling-mounted lights are cheapass, but may even be code
legal in your area, and the practice is not uncommon. Can't address the
holes in the concrete, but I have seen similar nonsense before. It alls
sounds pretty cheap to cure back to 'bare basement' status, assuming you can
fix the drainage problem that led to the mold, and abate the existing
infection. Splits are real prone to mold, what with one wall going from
below frostline to above grade, and the condensation that results. I've been
house shopping for awhile for myself, and most of the finished basements
I've seen have been done so badly that I would probably rip them out first
thing. But I grew up in the business, so sloppy crap irritates me more than
most, and a bare concrete basement would be more useful to me anyway, esp if
the place was a walkout.
I can just see the lawyers arguing in court that this has no
structural effect and that the only issue is that the wire is
not stapled within 12" of leaving the box - leaving your
damages at $1.99 for the staples.
I wouldn't mess with it either. Just consider it a lesson learned
in home buying. Look at the bright side: you get to finish it
right and in a style you like.
I had a similar experience with our basement. I am no remolding
expert but if I don't know what I am doing I wouldn't do a hack job
knowing that someday I'll have to sell the house.
We also learned that most Home Inspectors are clueless and rarely ever
dealbreakers. If you find a good one, pay him what he wants... money
Live and learn and you darn well bet next time I know to look for all
of those not so obvious problem areas.
On Tue, 19 Aug 2003 12:54:01 GMT, 'nuther Bob
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