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Nightmare situation - feel like crying when I think about it!

(17 Posts)
starrychime Sat 24-Nov-12 07:50:38

Have been trying to sell my mum's old house for ages, finally got an offer and had to have a refreshed survey done - so went down (about 50 miles away) on Thursday and the place was soaking - water dripping through ceiling, soaked hall carpet, soaked kitchen floor. I totally panicked - I don't live there, house is empty, I've no idea where stopcocks are etc.

Luckily neighbour went up into the loft and said it looked like a pipe at the water tank was burst - I can't get into the loft myself. He turned the water off and I emptied the tank but then I had to leave - had to get back home to get DD from school. Got a plumber going in today to have a look but I can't get down till tomorrow so am waiting to hear what he says. I have no idea if turning the water off has stopped the leak - he could go in today and the ceiling has come down or something! Not insured for this sort of incident - it's been unoccupied for so long we can only get fire and aircraft damage insurance.

I put old pillows and duvets under where the water was coming in but then had to lock up and leave but feel totally sick - how can I deal with this - thought about getting a dehumidifier but I can't be there to leave it switched on and don't know the neighbours well or anything - I felt awkward about asking him to go up to the loft to take a look.

Any suggestions - am totally skint so this is just a nightmare, no money to put into repairs or anything sad What would you do in this situation? Work full time and have used most of my leave this year and have a DD to get to school, pick up etc and am on my own with her <cries onto keyboard>

mumblechum1 Sat 24-Nov-12 07:53:45

<<strokes hair passes brew>>

If the house is mortgage free and you have literally no cash in the bank to pay for repairs I'd suggest that you take out a secured loan on the house, ie the same as a mortgage but a short term one.

DownTheRabidHole Sat 24-Nov-12 07:58:52

Gosh, what a shock!

OK, well the "off" switch for mains can be "anywhere" in the house, but as your neighbour said he found it in the loft and turned it off then that's a great sign. smile When you've calmed down a little today, give him a ring or pop around and just clarify that he turned it off at the mains and I'm sure he can put your mind to rest and without sounding like a sexist clown, men often know by ingrained powers, which button/switch/tap is the OFF one!

Currently my mains tap is downstairs, but I've lived in a house that had it in the adjoined garage, and one which had it in the loft.

Once the water is off things aren't going to get wetter and a dehumidifier is a great idea - crappy timing though as it's not fling your windows open for days on end.

We had a house flood when I was 10, nearly everything was dry within a few days although my dad ripped up carpets & binned them.

With what you can do, tbh I'd not worry about fixing it. I would phone the potential buyer Monday (or today) and put your cards on the table. Tell them what's happened and say you totally understand that their offer will reflect this - the cost of FIXING, not the cost of ruined carpets because I'm going to assume this house is a project anyway for any potential buyer.

Good luck and chin up, it'll be fine.

Hassled Sat 24-Nov-12 08:03:02

Yes, your best bet at this stage might well be to just say to vendors that this has happened and you'll take a reduced offer (working out a reduction amount that's fair to both of you might be tricky) and leave them to it.

talkingnonsense Sat 24-Nov-12 08:04:55

I would tell the buyer and drop the price slightly. Do you have anybody living closer who could keep an eye on a dehumidifier etc, or will you need to emply someone? Sorry for you brew

GrannyRat Sat 24-Nov-12 08:09:59

Be prepared that the buyers may put in a lower offer or even pull out. If they do, you may want to consider putting the property in an auction.

starrychime Sat 24-Nov-12 08:23:56

Gosh, thanks for replies so early on a Saturday smile Don't think I could take out a secured loan on a property that (may) be about to be sold? Price is rock bottom already (44k) and valuation went down to 48k from 55k after survey on Thursday, reflecting market and this issue probably! Estate agent's been told about all this and has told all the parties so need to wait and see if he'll pull out. Could offer 1k off I guess. Can you employ someone for this sort of thing? Maybe estate agents, who have a letting section, might have someone who goes out and checks property? I just feel so helpless being so far away and having to deal with all the school run stuff etc as well! Always panic I get stuck down there and have to call someone to help pick up DD (hate asking for help grin)

DameEnidsOrange Sat 24-Nov-12 08:39:09

I would imagine a letting agent would be willing to manage the property for you, but there will be a charge involved. Reduced offer would probably be your best bet.

DownTheRabidHole Sat 24-Nov-12 08:48:23

See what they say but 1k is more than enough to have a plumber replace and insulate a pipe.

You do not need to worry about peeling or ruined wallpaper!

lightrain Sat 24-Nov-12 08:50:07

Okay. Sounds like a real shock and i understand why you're so upset. Take a minute to breathe then get a cuppa and sit down with a pad and pen.

First off, I think you should go back and assess the situation before telling the new buyers about this. You don't know enough information about cause of leak or damage at this stage..

Secondly, I'd rip up the carpet in the rooms damaged and chuck them. Make sure they aren't included on you fixtures and fittings list. Same goes for any curtains or other items that have got wet.

After all soft furnishing items have been chucked, get a couple of dehumidifies running. Leave them for a day if you can, then go back with an objective eye and see what the real damage is. Could be nothing. If its something you can fix quickly (or plumber finds something fixable) then get it done, I'd honestly guess its a few hundred, not thousands. If its something like new boiler/ tank then don't get it done, but get an estimate, knock off cost of agreed price and take your suggested new price to estate agents with evidence of quotes for work for them to take to buyers.

Don't panic about this. It will all be fine, you just need to be systematic, objective and get through it. Good luck!

ClareMarriott Sat 24-Nov-12 12:13:08


Sorry to add to your list of things to do but on the insurance front... ordinarily if the house had been occupied then with the burst pipe in the tank , you would be covered for what is an escape of water from a fixed installation subject to the policy excess ( the replacement of the pipe being your responsibility as you are only covered for the resultant damage ) but as the house has been unoccupied then the insurers ( are there separate building and contents insurers ? ) have restricted cover on it. I would suggest you look at the terms of the unoccupancy clause/s because you may be expected that between 1st November and 31st March to have drained down the water supply and turned off the gas supply and also for a responsible person to check the property every 30 days.

greyvix Sat 24-Nov-12 16:04:47

If you are lucky, the insurance company will pay for everything, and may even help with tradespeople. You may not need to spend any of your own money or reduce the price. Good luck with it!

mumblechum1 Sat 24-Nov-12 17:31:34

She isn't insured. That's the problem.

clam Sat 24-Nov-12 17:53:27

Something very similar happened to me once - the stopcock jammed on the upstairs loo and I came back to a waterfall cascading through the light fitting and the wallpaper sliding downwards on the walls. There was about an inch of water on the floor and the ceiling was actually bowing with the water collecting above it! The surveyor was due that day as I was also in the process of selling.

Anyway, don't despair because it was sorted comparatively easily. I got a Vaxx and sucked as much water up as I could. I hired a dehumidifier and let it run constantly for a few days, with the heating on full. Within a week (? I think - was a long time ago) you wouldn't have known anything had happened. Everything dried out, the wallpaper stuck itself back on somehow, and the only evidence was that the re-scheduled surveyor (who I'd explained the whole thing to) said the damp readings were slightly up on what he'd have expected but not worryingly so. The sale went ahead with no problem.

I'm sure that a neighbour would be glad to help out by popping in every now and again to check the humidifier was OK. People like to help in a crisis, and just because you don't know them, they probably knew your mum.

Good luck.

PickledGerkin Sat 24-Nov-12 19:50:47

I know you don't like asking for help with things but this isn't you popping off for a spa day! grin

I would happily have someone else's child for a day on a weekend for this sort of thing. My friend had my two young sons on a Sunday whilst me and DH did a 100 mile round trip to organise my Mum's funeral.

I agree with lightrain, rip up the carpets, and do damage control.

I moved into a house where the vendor handed over the keys and told me the hot water tank had sprung a leak. A plumber replaced the tank for me and it cost £650 for the work. I'm in West Yorkshire.

starrychime Sun 25-Nov-12 00:16:01

Thanks for all the replies - am a bit calmer now and plumber texted this evening to say he'd fixed the leak - replaced a bit of pipe and join. Am going down there tomorrow to assess damage - am thinking about hiring a dehumidifier for a week and asking the neighbour to keep an eye on it. Had a laugh at the website I was on looking for equipment hire - it's so blokey, has options to choose from which are headed - 'How long for mate?' 'What about these accessories mate?' grin

PigletJohn Sun 25-Nov-12 12:00:48

sorry to be harsh but saying you can only afford to knock £1k off the price is no good.

I've had a wet house, and I'd say £5k is the least I'd consider if I was thinking of buying one. There will be mould, all the carpets need to come up so the floors can dry, some plaster will have to come off, it will need more decorating than previously expected. Walls cannot be papered until dty. Ceilings may fall down.

A big dehumidifer may take weeks to get it tolerably dry and uses quite a lot of electricity. Opening the loft hatch in an unheated house allows airflow which will help dry it, but when you use a dehumidifier, close all doors and windows as well as the hatch or it will try to dehumidify the world.

Insurers will genarally insist that an unoccupied house is inspected every two weeks inside and out, and that the water is either turned off at the stopcock (which may be in or close to the pavement) and/or the heating left constantly on at 12C to prevent freezes.

The stopcock in the loft can't be the one for the whole house, it might be the one for the water tank. If you already know a plumber ask him to find out where the stopcock is, to tell or show you, and to turn it off.

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