A Horror Story: How Badly Flippers Can Suck

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Just in time for Halloween too!  OoooOOhhh, spooky!

No, not really.  Sh*tty.  More like really horribly terribly sh*tty.

Here, come sit a spell, tap tap, while I tell you a nightmarish story, the king of all "WTF, Flipper?!?!" episodes, years in the making. 

Back when I walked through this house for the very first time, I stepped out back and noticed that the downspout was not connected to the pipe underground leading to the city sewer.  I thought nothing of it, an oversight, easily remedied.

As part of the closing we asked the flipper to fix it, amongst a slew of nitpicky things.  It was one of a very short list of items they actually bothered to take care of.  Was not a buyer's market too, if you catch my drift.  Jerks.

A few months later the skies opened and deluged the city.  Dinner was on the stove, my sweetest pea Hailey upset at the storm as always, Mike due home shortly.  Out of curiosity, I stepped downstairs to see if it was dry.  Um, nope, no it was not.  Water was streaming in next to our brand new washing machine, the floor drain unable to keep up.  

"Oh holy sh*tballs crap!" I exclaimed.  Or a version thereof.  Oh holy crap again, I left a brand new smoke detector for our spiffy brand new wi-fi alarm system * on the floor and now it's wet!  

I fish the smoke detector out, grab two pans, start scooping water and dumping it down the sink.  Time elapses, Hailey slinks downstairs to see what the hell I was up to, "c'mon back up and comfort me Mommy," when I glimpse all sorts of flashy lights through the blurry glass block window.  

Huh, what are those lights?  Wonder what's up.  The water's slowing, maybe I should see what's going on.

Good timing on my part as two firemen were trudging through the front yard, one wielding an axe, and another two about to blow our front door off its hinges.  

The wet smoke detector set off a signal and because I was oblivious in the basement, frantically scooping water, I did not hear the alarm company call, did not hear the phone ringing a million times, Mike calling me in an insane panic because the alarm company called him about a fire alert, it's pouring rain, thunder, lightning, he's racing home, and I was not answering the phone.  He feared the worst.

I schmear the sweat off my brow, get the frizzy tangled mess of wet hair out of my face, and apologetically tell the firemen there's no emergency, gee, thanks for stopping by, aw dear so sorry.  They looked disappointed.

Mike then comes flying through the back door, bent every which way distraught as he was so worried, irked I didn't answer the phone but thoroughly relieved that we were a-ok fine.  He helps scoop the last puddles of water which finally stopped streaming in.  We eat overcooked dinner in a sulk.

I called U.S. Waterproofing, a guy came out, we toured, we chatted and through the course of our chat, we figured there must be a broken pipe somewhere under the extension of the house.  Greaaaaaaat.  That's why the flipper left the downspout disconnected in the first place -- he had to have known.

Not a huge huge deal.  I disconnect the downspout from the pipe and funnel the water out into the yard.  No major basement water issues since.

We do get water in the bathroom on occasion, if the ground is extra dried out in combination with a sudden onslaught of heavy rain.  The ground can't absorb it fast enough, bingo, water in basement bathroom.

Mind you, it's not a lot of water.  But any water indoors is bad bad bad and stresses me out.  Badly.

Flash forward to the other day when I bumped into our neighbor to the east and he mentions he wants to discuss water.  Yeah, no problem, can do.  

We both have issues with water pooling in our backyards.  

Ahhh, the weed patch, or ahem, yard.
It's a combination of many things:  the alley is higher than our yards so water funnels in, 

You can see how the concrete is an inviting chute directing water into the yard.  Oh look, rain barrel.  Grr.
us having to dump our downspout runoff into the yard, but mostly our yards are the lowest points and drainage is terrible due to years of general yard neglect.

Please pardon the yard mess.  Downspout extension here.
Our neighbor to the west has a drain in their half-concrete covered yard and a decent portion of our downspout water veers into that, so, hey thanks neighbor!

Current status of the downspout end -- I patched over the in-ground pipe with concrete so no water would get in.
Anywhoooo, east neighbor suspects it's the pooling water seeping into his basement.  I ask him where it's coming in and he says where the siding and brick meet.  Ok, I say.  I re-note his downspout location without really noting it.  "I'll talk to Mike and we'll catch up with you."

Our neighbor's house.  Downspout is hard to see, on the corner right where the fence meets the siding.
Two days later, Mike, Finn, and I pile into the car, heading over to Pork Shoppe for some preposterously tasty BBQ take out.  Yuuummmmy.  I had texted Mike about meeting up with the neighbors, but I randomly prattled on in the car, thought out loud, the words dribbling from my brain to my mouth; we gab, pick up food, start trek home.

The car is now awash in the joyful scent of smoked meats when my brain takes a painful turn.

"Wait a second," I sputter.  "The neighbor says water is getting in where his siding meets the brick?  That's exactly where the water comes into our basement too.  It likely can't be the pooling water in the backyard as it doesn't even reach that far.  Wait a second...."

The car gets deafeningly silent as Mike lessens his contributions to the conversation...

"...the downspout from his flat roof empties into a sewer pipe there.  I bet we share it."

Sooo, downspout behind last slat of wood on left, the black line on our house to the right is essentially our leaky spot.  His, brick meets siding.  They align perfectly with each other.  Finn butt in distant background.
It smacks me cold and hard.

Meltingly I choke, "omg, the sewer pipe must be broken right there."

Heart palpitations.  Forehead sweat.  Eyes darting about the car.  I start biting my lower lip.  Mike stops speaking completely.  The heady aroma of pulled pork and brisket buoys us just enough to get home.

I bet the flipper knew that all along too and just plain opted not to fix it.  

If I can't see it, la la la la la la, leave it for the new owner to deal with, ha ha!!, I'm off to the bank with the big fat profit I made off of you ha ha!  Ha ha ha!  Hahahahahahahahahaaaaa!

Oh I felt queasy.

Mike proffered a hushed "we should have a camera run through the sewer line."  No other words were spoken.

Too many coincidences, too many rights to make it wrong, ya know?  As we know from roofs, sure, water can come from anywhere and reveal itself elsewhere.  Water wicking from back yards some fifteen+ feet away to that specific spot in two neighboring houses?  Seems highly unlikely.  

I mean, if a fifty five gallon rain barrel fills within minutes from our roof, imagine what's going on underground with the neighbor's downspout funneling into it right there.  If the pipe is broken. 

It's a ticking timebomb.  It will destroy both our houses.  I bet that's why we had such a huge crack in our dining room wall (link repeat).

Thanks.  Thanks a lot Mr. Flipper Dude A**hole.  I hate you now.  And I try never to use that word.  Worse?  He's still out there in the world, doing this to others.  Mike always tried to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, see the (cough) "good" in him.  Wonder how he feels now.

Leaden and infuriated, I am.  He knew.  He had to have known.

This kept me awake for hours that night, roiling and spinning in my head.  

Of course in the dark, buried under the covers, others snoring around me, worry compounds itself:  what else did he do, or not do?!  What other large, scary, expensive things did he ignore due to sheer greed and desire for profit?!?  Is everything I've done to this house all for naught?!?!?!

My faith in people dropped another several notches.  My tummy flipped upside down and into knots.  My eyeballs hurt.  My shoulders up into my ears, clenched in tension.  Flip flopping around in bed.  I was yelling at myself in my head, stop it, stop thinking and get to sleep!

Next day:  hands to face, head to desk, head thumping on desk repeatedly.  Groggily.

I'll talk to Mike again and we'll talk to the neighbor.  

This is not to say we don't need to remedy our backyard water issues as we do need to address that although I have no idea how.  But I was not expecting a broken sewer pipe.

I mean, we don't know for sure at this point without having someone snake a camera, so I could be totally wrong, completely off-base, overly freaking out about if's and my gawd let's hope so buuuuut.....  But please, tell me I'm crazy (qualifier:  about this) and wrong and be right about it.  

If ever there was a time to start buying lottery tickets, now would be that time.

Scary story, right?  

Thanks for joining us on this episode of "WTF, Flipper?!?!"  We'll see you next time no doubt.  

sob sob sob....

I'm going to go assemble a new power tool to lift my spirits now.

*The SimpliSafe Alarm Systems is an Amazon affiliate like.  Mwah, thanks!  Please see the "boring stuff" tab above for more info.


  1. OMG Becky... this IS a horror story :o( Did you ever try to sue that flipper or anything? There are laws about hiding things from home buyers... maybe it's too late now... or maybe no way to prove it... It's just too bad he's still out there... doing his version of flipping.


    1. Our problem is that we have no way to prove that he knew, unfortunately. If we did, I'd be all over that but even so, if we did sue him it'd take years plus he's so smarmy we'd never see any money. The guy gets sued like 20+ times year and filed bankruptcy on one of his buildings to avoid paying a slew of contractors. No joke. I looked it up. Yeah.....it's pretty awful. I'll never understand why house flipping isn't licensed. Or something. Heh. Thanks Tania!

    2. Yeah. He's a special guy. But. We will persevere and overcome! I hope! :)

  2. So what did you find out? Is it as bad as you thought?

    1. We haven't been so brave as to have someone come out yet which I know, isn't helping us. Not much of an update, sorry! Thanks for the reminder though -- I'll start calling around for camera pricing.

    2. Hopefully you find good news or at least cheap news!


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