Buying a house is a big decision. There are lots of moving parts to the transaction and at times a deadline that requires quick reflexes. The pace is even faster in a hot market, where the right to a home inspection is sometimes waved.
Problems can arise when home buyers skip the home inspection due to a home selling fast to avoid a bidding war, or because it’s a newer house and all appears to be well. In other cases, there could have been some negligence on the home inspector’s part and some problems may slip through the cracks. This is why it’s always important to hire a reputable property inspector and check their licenses and reviews.
So, what happens when you move into your new house and find out there are plumbing problems that you didn’t know about? What are you supposed to do?
Let’s take a look at the three steps to dealing with unknown plumbing problems in your new home.
1. Contact Your Local Plumber to Determine the Problem
The very first thing you need to do if you suspect there is a problem with the plumbing, you will need to contact a plumber to get a diagnosis and an estimate to have the issue fixed. Should the problem be small, like a clogged drain, a water leak between your house and meter, or a toilet seal needs to be replaced, the cost shouldn’t be too high. If that’s the case, you can probably just handle the problem and bill yourself. It would be an inconvenience and a nuisance, but there isn’t really a need to bring out the big guns.
Now, if the repair is something serious (all the pipes need to be replaced or the hot water heater is old and needs to be replaced) and the estimate is expensive, you will want to figure out if the seller is responsible to handle the fee. This is especially true if you suspect the need for slab leak repair.
2. Determine who is responsible for paying for the repairs
For those large repairs, you should talk to your real estate agent or even an attorney who is experienced with real estate laws. Unfortunately, the buyer will be saddled with the cost of repairs but there are some instances where the seller is responsible.
Instances, where the seller would be responsible, include:
- Seller didn’t fix repairs that was listed in the purchase agreement
- The repair couldn’t have been discovered before the transaction closed
- The seller intentionally did not disclose problems with the plumbing
3. Hire a plumber to repair issues
Whether the seller is footing the bill or you’re stuck paying the cost of repairs, the simple fact is the repairs cannot be ignored. That means you need to hire a plumber so the work can get done. Now, you could stick with the plumber who gave you the initial diagnosis and estimate (which we recommend because they already know what the problems are), or you could find a new plumber. This also goes for fixing HVAC issues you uncover.
Regardless of your decision, you will need to do a little research before hiring a plumber to do the work. You will want to look for a plumber with a good reputation and experience. You can use the Better Business Bureau to find a local plumber with a good rating and who has been in business for more than 15 years of experience. You can also look at Yelp, Google, or local community groups on Facebook where you can ask for recommendations.
When you do find a plumber you’d like to hire, ask them how long they expect the project to take (if it’s something big like needing to repipe the house) and whether or not they offer some kind of warranty on parts and labor. You don’t want to shell out a lot of money only to have subpar results.
As you go through the process of buying a house, your emotions are going to be all over the place. There are a lot of things that need to be done, a lot of walkthroughs and inspections. It doesn’t matter how thorough the inspector is, there is always a chance that something like problems with the plumbing may go unnoticed. If something like that does happen, remain calm and reach out to your real estate agent and ask for their advice on how to proceed and whether or not you need to contact a lawyer.