We're off to Croatia, and while we're gone, the plumbers will be replacing ALL of the pipes in our house. In what's proven to be an unavoidable conclusion, Cliff and I are "sucking it up" and paying out of pocket to change out the PEX pipes which, to date, have sprung at least three spontaneous leaks in the walls of our home, resulting in extensive (and expensive) damage to the garden apartment below.
Yes, we have insurance, but we're unlikely to collect on a "product defect." ("Read the fine print." our agent flatly informed us.)
Yes, we could sue, but it's an expensive proposition: "My last client spent $800,000 to recoup her losses." our lawyer friend warned. (Greg owns a highly successful construction litigation firm in Orange County). "We eventually won, but it took years and deep pockets. My advice is that you do the work, sign on to the class action suit, and move on. Perhaps you'll see pennies on the dollar at some point down the road." (Hmmm; that wasn't the advice I wanted to hear.)
"Where's the contractor who put in the defective product?" you ask. "Doesn't he bear some responsibility?"
He's relocated back to Ireland. (Top of the mornin' to ya, Patrick. Good move.)
But as the defective pipes are certainly a significant problem, not to mention a disclosure issue should we decide to sell at some future date, there's no choice but to cure the disease, remove the offending pipes, and replace the whole kit and caboodle with copper plumbing (which is what should have been done the first time around).
In truth, I had no idea that PEX pipe even existed, that it's been an industry standard for more than a decade, and that billions of feet of these polyethylene pipes have been used throughout the U.S. for the last 15+ years, OR that the plumber was installing PEX instead of copper. (He never offered options and I never asked.) PEX pipes offer flexibility making it ideal for turning corners, thus avoiding cutting and fitting rigid copper pipes. Additionally, it's about 30% cheaper to install as it requires less labor. However, its lifespan is about half that of copper, so, on balance, it may not be worth the savings. (Certainly, not in our case.)
Unfortunately for us, we seem to have gotten a bad batch that's developing spontaneous "micro-cracks" and splitting open INSIDE THE WALLS! (@#$%&!)
So we're off on vacation. It's a novel approach to a BIG problem, but as the water will be turned off for the next two weeks while our new plumber opens the walls and replaces the offending materials, Cliff and I will be e-biking our way through Slovenia and Croatia with his older brother and wife, enjoying the scenery, overeating I suspect, and meeting new people along the way.
Is our solution akin to "Nero fiddles while Rome burns?"
I choose to think of it as "making lemonade out of lemons."
This is my long-winded way of suggesting to homeowners with "red flags" or "fatal flaws" of their own that whatever the hurdles your home presents, you'll need to address them prior to selling. Too often, people choose to ignore MAJOR underlying issues in the hopes that prospective Buyers will accept the faults and take on the damage. (They won't, but if they do, it will come at a significant cost in the selling price.) The truth is, no one wants your headaches.
"You pay at the gate or you pay at the bridge," a friend suggested, in a saying I hadn't heard before, but somehow fits our situation perfectly. (It occurs to me that Cliff and I are paying at BOTH the gate AND the bridge.)
No matter, Croatia has been on my bucket list for years, but alas, the hills made it seem off-limits with respect to a biking tour (e-bikes open up the world). Slovenia, Venice, and London are the cherries on top. I'll deal with the dust when I return. At least we'll be able to come back to a home where the water will stay in the pipes and not find its way through the walls and the ceilings. Wouldn't that be nice? (Yes, it would.)
Now, where did I put those biking shorts?
P.S. - The Perspective will take a break while I'm away. I return on July 10. In the meantime, Sarah, Jill, and Kate will be here to steer the ship. Ciao!
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 18 years and has published more than 750 humorous but always informative, essays on life and real estate.