Thanks to everyone who sent their stories in for our First Time Home Buying Horror Story Contest. The overwhelming winner was the The 2-Inch Pipe and the Moldy Bucket, which will now move on to compete on Curbed National for a $2,500 gift certificate to a home store (standard contest rules apply). Here's the winning story again.
My wife and I bought our first (and current house) in 2007, just before the housing bubble burst. We were completely taken with the 300+ square foot bedroom, the garage, deck and patio. You just don't find this stuff in South Philly.
During our inspection, the inspector noticed a few things—mainly superficial stuff which we've since addressed. However, the big things he missed really bit us in the ass. He pointed out that the "newly rehabbed bathroom" had a slow draining toilet. He pointed out some old water damage in the kitchen. Overall he told us we had "a solid property," and we were so excited.
First problem: The new bathroom was little better than a movie set. During my first shower in our new home, my wife noticed a strange sound coming from downstairs. She came down the steps to see my shower water, streaming from the high hat lighting fixture onto a strategically placed couch left by the previous owner. Turns out the entire full bathroom—toilet, sink, and tub—were all tied into a single 2-inch, unvented PVC takeaway. After the first plumber identified the problem, subsequent contractors laughed at me when I explained how it was built. They refused to take my word for it until they traced the plumbing themselves. We had three plumbers tell us they needed to gut the entire bathroom, and eventually found someone willing to set things right with minimal invasiveness. (Rosen Brothers Plumbing don't remember us by name, but mention the 2-inch pipe to hear them tell their heroic tale.)
Second problem: During a nighttime rain storm, we awoke to find a puddle of water on the kitchen counter. We inspected a particularly water-damaged soffet to find, inside the soffet framing, a quart-sized bucket that had been built in behind the drywall. The infamous bucket, covered in black algae and disgusting mold, had captured who-knows-how-many years' worth of disgusting roof-filtered rainwater, and spilled over who-knows-how-many times. We ended up gutting the entire kitchen.
Oh, there are more stories, but these are our my favorites. I'm not shy about calling out the previous owner, [redacted], by name. If anyone knows this douchebag, please punch him in the face for me.