Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Northgate: Condo for Sale

Hey all,
If you or someone you know is looking to buy a GREAT place in a GREAT area for a GREAT price, have them check this link! This is a newly foreclosed condo in my building. (If the link doesn't seem to work, just look for the address on that website: 1942 N. Northgate Way, Seattle.)

This building was completely remodeled in 2008 so it's like new! There is a shared pool and plenty of parking. Lot's of quick access to I-5, bus routes, shopping, etc. Every unit is 2-story, 2-bedroom, 2 1/2 baths, and 1000+ square feet. Sell price is $149,900! At todays low mortgage rates, you'll be spending less than your rent now! Did I mention that you'd have GREAT neighbors??

Please pass this on to anyone you think would be interested.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Homeownership: bathroom dry rot

Well, I have been a home owner for a year and a half now. Some of the things I've been dealing with as a new home owner have been fairly reasonable. Joining the HOA Board was definitely a good way to learn about my building, meet the neighbors and have a direct impact into what goes on with our dues, expenses, etc. Getting elected President of the HOA was a surprise! I am not sure how qualified I am for this role being a new home owner... but the rest of the group thought I would be good because (get this) I am organized, I respond to emails, and I have opinions. Good lord, that's all it takes?! I should learn to keep my big mouth shut!

Like I said I am learning a lot. I have been learning a lot about the operations, landscaping, and HOA insurance. Unfortunately I am also learning a lot about dues, collections, liens and foreclosures. This economy has taken a toll on some of our owners and I am dealing with the monetary and legal ramifications of that. Ugh!

On top of that, I realized I had some water damage in my main bathroom. Over the last couple months I have been noticing water on the floor in the hallway, on the outside wall of my bathtub. A small amount of water was appearing on the floor, under the molding so I thought that maybe the grout was cracking or leaking. Under some advice from my plumber, I didn't use the shower for several weeks (hoping that would dry out the interior of the wall). Then I purchased some caulk and went to town sealing up whatever grout lines or crevices that I could find. I thought I did a pretty good job! But over the months, the problem got worse. I started to see mold on the wall, and discoloration of the molding and wall. The wall felt wet to the touch. Worst of all, I started to see tiny bugs coming out of the wall! Gross!

I decided to call a plumbing company that I have worked with before. I described the issues and they sent out their plumber/contractor to check it out. He arrived on site and based on the visible damage, he also thought it was a bad tile job which was causing the water damage. This assessment was based on the fact that the last owner/remodel had set the tile directly on the sheet rock without any type of waterproof board in between. If water was leaking thru the grout, it would immediately soak the sheet rock and basically melt it. This was evidenced by the slight bowing of the wall near the faucet handle. The contractor thought that possibly all 4 walls were compromised, but without actually opening up the wall, couldn't be sure. Yes, my tub is actually surrounded by 4 walls with one wall being a shorter wall (allows for entry). This was the wall in question. In the end he gave me a quote for "worst-case scenario" which would mean the tear out of all the tile, cut thru the walls to remove any water damaged sheet rock, dry-rot, etc. Then rebuild the walls, re-tile, re-paint.

Worst-case scenario quote = $5800. Yikes! Well, I know I probably should have gotten some bids before starting the project, but I felt comfortable with the plumbing company that I had used in the past, and the contractor seemed very knowledgeable about what needed to happen. So I went ahead and told him to get started with opening up the walls. In doing this, we would be able to see instantly where the leaking was actually coming from. That would determine the extend of damage and we could move on from there.

Opening up the first wall was indeed tell-tale. He opened the wall where most of the visible damage seemed to be coming from (the short wall) that has the plumbing for the faucet. It was definitely a shoddy job, the copper pipes were not soldered together - they were glued together on the outside with some sort of clear epoxy. There pipes were glistening wet and clearly showing leakage. There was even an old rag that had been wrapped around the pipes there, which was rotted from the mold fell apart into pieces. You can see the BLACK sheetrock behind the pipes inside the wall opening. Sheetrock is supposed to be white! The shower tiles are affixed to this sheetrock so naturally it all had to come down and out.

The next hole in that same wall showed that the tiles around the bathtub were not properly sealed. The bathtub was also not level therefore gravity was pulling water drops from the edge of the tub into the grout, instead of into the tub. This was adding to the already moldy wet sheet rock in that wall.

The third cut was into the wall closest to the drain. It was here that my contractor found even more misery. The drain pipe had been cemented into the flooring with some sort of ready mix cement. The trap drain was also in this wall therefore limiting access to cleaning the trap. My contractor thought he would need to bring in a jack hammer to break up the cement, but as the cash register sounds in my brain were ching-chinging, I asked him to hold on. I asked him if that cemented drain was a problem NOW, or could it be a separate project later on. After doing a water pressure test, he agreed that it wasn't leaking so was not a current issue, but definitely would be an issue later on. The fact that the trap was buried in a wall with no access was also not up to code. I convinced him to leave those issues for now, and asked him to put a panel or cabinet door on that wall during re-build. Then I could easily monitor the drain pipe for leakage, have access to it in the future when it needed fixing, and have access to the trap.

The fourth cut into a third wall was to view the shower head and it's plumbing. Knowing that the plumbing around the faucet was so shoddy, he could only imagine that same plumbing led all the way up to the shower head. Sure enough the same plumbing fixes were used here as well. Small, daily leakage led to moldy wet sheet rock. Yikes!

The fix: my contractor removed all the wet sheet rock and dry-rot from the walls. He cut out any wet studs and replaced them with new cedar studs (bugs hate cedar so should double as a insect repellent for years to come). He replaced all the copper with a new fangled Swedish pvc tubing and refreshed the plumbing. He replaced the sheet rock and mudded the walls for tile and paint. He matched the paint perfectly (2 different colors)! He replaced the door and the moldings and he re-tiled the shower and grouted it. Now he just needs to come back to put a waterproof seal on the grout and do all the finishing touches. Should be done on Tuesday!! I will post the AFTER pictures when it's all done. Stay tuned!