What I'm Seeing Now

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Flipper Fodder 2 - Trapless In Virginia

Something like this post is about would in fact keep you SLEEPLESS in Virginia, if not checked!

One of the advertising points of a recent flip was "Gorgeous New Powder Room."  And it was gorgeous!  But in looking around, first with my nose, I discovered more Flipper Fodder - trapless in Virginia.

New flooring, very nice cabinet and sink combination, granite top - this is a very pretty piece to see when you walk by the powder room.

Okay, the receptacle is too close to the sink and no, it is not GFI protected.

Did I expect it to be?  I report, you decide.

On the other side the toilet was a new toilet and installed properly.  The service line was a good one and miracle of all, the toilet didn't wobble on the floor!

Impressive.

Then I flushed the toilet. 

My client, at the door, said, "What's that smell?"

I smelled some really prime-quality sewer gas.  And said that.

It was a powerful odor!

The sink had not been tested yet.  I was pretty sure what we would find.

The client asked, "Why would we be smelling sewer gas when the toilet gets flushed?"

"It has nothing to do with the toilet, it has to do with this."  And I opened the cabinet door.

Now, I want you to notice some things.  This Flipper used good stuff!

The service lines are braided metal, very good.

He used purple primer on the joints, not often done in bathroom sink installations, also very good.

The assembly is not too deep, a common mistake.

He notched the cabinet floor to accommodate the drain, and did it attractively.

What did this unprofessional Flipper do wrong?

He forgot the trap!  The diagram is an example of a P-trap.  So called because turned sideways it looks a bit like a P.

What does it do?  It TRAPS water. Why?  So sewer gases will not pass from the drain system and up through the sink drain hole!

What happened when we flushed the toilet?  Water entered the drain system, displacing the "air" in there.  Displaced air should go through the plumbing penetration in the roof, having no where else to escape.  But in this case it went also to the most convenient spot - the nearby sink! 

Sure, this is an easy fix, for a PROFESSIONAL!

What bothers me the most is that this indicates that the Flipper and his friends are not professionals.  If what we can see is wrong, what about what we can't see!?  THAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH FLIPS!  They are not professional contractors.  It's also why they don't pull permits for their work.

But, that is also why they are so fun to inspect!  And so full of blog fodder!

My recommendation:  if you go into a house and smell sewer gas, there is a reason!  Something is left open, like a clean out, or some plumbing somewhere has no trap.  Follow your nose and look around.  You might just find it!

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 54 commentsJay Markanich • August 18 2011 07:40AM

Comments

Good morning, Jay. Stupid is as stupid does. Maybe the "contractor" didn't want water to get trapped so he gave it an escape route...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) about 9 years ago

Jay - as usual, you have provided excellent information in a clever manner.  I read through to the end....very nice!  Shame of some of the flippers!  Enjoy your day!

Posted by Barbara Hensley, Homes for Sale in Rockwall County, Texas (RE/MAX Properties) about 9 years ago

The nose knows, that's for sure!

Posted by Nancy Pav, Nancy Pav, Your "GottaHave" Realtor (Century 21 Redwood Realty) about 9 years ago

What that says to me is that they didn't use the services of a licensed plumbing contractor for plumbing work.  Yep.  The work was more than likely not done with a permit.

Since it's a "flipper", the new owner will likely and very quickly have a money pit on their hands. 

JAY TO THE RESCUE.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) about 9 years ago

Jay, you and Michael should write a series.  I think Lenn is probably right.  The new owners are in for a lot of surprises.  Yeow!!

Posted by Mike Cooper, GRI, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) about 9 years ago

Michael - he obviously didn't know about traps!

Thanks Barbara!  And it's a good habit to read to the end!

Nancy - it's hard to deceive the nose!

Lenn - of course not!  It's a group of people getting together to make money!  You probably know this neighborhood well, off Harrison Street, between Catoctin and Sycolin!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Mike - not so many surprises after the inspection!  This was my second inspection for these people, and the second flip! 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Jay, We've had encounters with sewer gas on a vacant listing.  Water was evaporating since the home had been vacant for about 6 months and the water was off.  Had to bring in gallons of water to refill toilets and sinks, problem solved.

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) about 9 years ago

That's all it takes Bliz!  It worked too.  Water has a tendency to do that!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Something so simple can be a deal killer.  He saved on a plumber but now he has raised the red flag on the sale.

Posted by Gwen Fowler-864-916-2019 SC Mountains Lakes Homes, Gwen Fowler Real Estate, Inc. (Gwen Fowler Real Estate, Inc) about 9 years ago

Gwen - this was one of many, many things this Flipper did to this house!  See my post yesterday for another good laugh.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Sounds like a great place..to avoid! You are so correct, if they didn't do this basic thing..what else didn't they do...

Posted by Scott Fogleman, Greater Good Group (New Home Team 804-573-9592) about 9 years ago

Scott - what we can't see is always the great danger.  There was a lot of new electrical work too - mostly invisible!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Jay, definitely a do it yourself job or maybe they were just saving on drain pipe. What else in the house doesn't follow code?

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA about 9 years ago

With everything else done "right", with the "right" materials, why wasn't this done right too?  I don't get it - unless they were just ignorant...but how ignorant can you be if everything else was "right"?  Let us know  what else you find!

Posted by Julia Maher, Connecticut Home Stager (Nestings: Connecticut Home Staging and Model Homes) about 9 years ago

Hi Jay. You are absolutely right.  With the obviously seen things being messed up, how can anyone have confidence in what's been hidden being done even close to right. I'd walk away from this in a heartbeat.
Thanks for sharing.
Bruce

Posted by Bruce Kunz, REALTOR®, Brick & Howell NJ Homes for Sale (C21 Solid Gold Realty, Brick, NJ, 732-920-2100) about 9 years ago

It is much better if the work is completed by a licensed contractor.

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia III, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (RentVest) about 9 years ago

Michael - I don't know all the codes, as you know, but the report on this house was epic!  Yesterday's post was the first of this series.

Julia - check in on yesterday's post for the first one.  There were many, many things on this house!

Bruce - I don't know where they are at this point, but this was my second inspection for these people, and the second flip!

Harry - for sure.  But Flipper doesn't think that!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Good post.

 

It is amazing that a flipper would take out the trap.  That is your basic plumbing.  The receptacle location I can see since it could have been there when the house was built. 

Posted by Keith Lawrence, ABR, SFR (Christie's International) about 9 years ago

Keith - he probably took it all apart to install the cabinet and when replacing the plumbing did not know or think about a trap!  Purely professional!  You're right about the receptacle.  It should be a GFI though.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

"Let JAY have his SAY" then do as you will is the new mantra for responsible Real Estaters...Buying a home is an emotional expereince and we dont always see and in his case "smell" what we should. We conclude that not everything that is shiny and new is what it apears to be. Inspectors (good ones) are worth their Real Estate weight in gold....

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) about 9 years ago

Thanks Richie.  Wow, I sure wish I was worth my weight in gold!!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Yes.  I know it well.  Prime rental territory and moderate income housing.  BTW, that gives me an idea.  Give me a call.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) about 9 years ago

Good catch and good thing you're not a smoker looking to take a quick ciggarette break. Yikes, that could make for an interesting blog post.  I've seen some interesting "flips" myself.

Posted by Justin Dibbs, REALTOR® - Ashburn Virginia Homes for Sale (Pearson Smith Realty) about 9 years ago

I will Lenn.

Justin - but the house smelled like smoke!  Even so, the sewer overpowered it!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Jay, To think if you had not found that it everything went on as normal, what happens to the courtesy flush ?

Hire a proffesional, hire Jay and help take the stink out of your home.

Enjoy the day

Posted by Don MacLean, Realtor-Homes for Sale- Easton Mass (New England Real Estate Center Inc.) about 9 years ago

Beat it to fit...paint it to match...People watch DIY a few times and think they are contractors.

 

Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate) about 9 years ago

Don - the nose knows, and my client, nearer to the sink, smelled it before I did!

Russel - I am with you.  Sometimes I watch those shows and they do something wrong and I email them about it.  I have never heard back, but they just taught a million people how to do something wrong!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago
Jay, some simple things are overlooked for a reason. They don't know what they were doing.
Posted by Mike Yeo (3:16 team REALTY) about 9 years ago

Good catch Jay.  I know that sometimes the most obvious mistakes are the toughest to catch.  A casual glance under the sink and you miss that.  Good Job.

Posted by Timothy Mattingly, Louisville Homes for Sale (Louisville Homes Team Louisville KY louisvillehomesreport.com) about 9 years ago

Such a horrible smell would definitely be something that I would want to find out what is the cause.  Having the knowledge to find these issues and then how to fix them is definitely an important tool to have when purchasing any home.

Posted by Eileen Hsu, LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) about 9 years ago

The sad thing is even I know about a p-trap so someone doing renovations/flipping should know too.  Of course, they should also get permits & hire a licensed plumber for their plumbing work!

Posted by Christine Smith, Exclusive Buyer Agent & Attorney, Canton, MA (Buyers Brokers Only LLC - www.BuyersBrokersOnly.com) about 9 years ago

Jay, I can't believe they didn't put in a trap. Doesn't everyone know this?

Posted by John M. Scott, Broker / Owner San Francisco Bay Area (BRE # 01442690, Scott Keys Properties) about 9 years ago

Jay - Once again I learned something from you... No trap? Unreal... I thought anyone who owns a home would know this but... well you know....

Posted by Robert and Lisa Hammerstein -201-315-8618, Bergen County NJ Real Estate (Christie's International Real Estate ) about 9 years ago

What next? Pretty scary stuff. We bought a flipped house, but luckily the worst problem we have found is the decks and railings were not painted with the appropriate paint and it was horribly chipped and coming off after the first winter.

Gretchen

Posted by Mel Ahrens, MBA, Kelly Right Real Estate, Customized Choices for your Real Estate Needs (Kelly Right Real Estate) about 9 years ago

Jay, they probably forgot the saws-all that day and decided that they didn't want to cut the decking of that great looking cabinet. Beauty won out over functionality ,again

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) about 9 years ago

Jay - I guess it could be said that this flipper's work stinks.

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru (TheHousingGuru.com) about 9 years ago

Mike - you hit that nail in with one swipe of the hammer!

Timothy - you're right, a quick glance and sometimes we think we see what we really didn't see!

Eileen - it had to come from somewhere, and it sure wasn't the toilet!

Christine - shoulda, coulda, woulda doesn't exist on planet Flipper.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

No, John, they don't.  You KNOW they don't!

L&R - this one was pretty obvious.  I wish I had smell-o-blog capabilities!

Gretchen - then you found a gem!  Good for you!  It sounds like they painted latex on top of oil-based paint.  It doesn't stick for long.

John - well put.  Aply put.  Succintly put.  Well, you know, not bad!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Makes me wonder what other "surprises" might be found.

Posted by Kathy Sheehan, Senior Loan Officer (Bay Equity, LLC 770-634-4021) about 9 years ago

There were many Kathy!  Yesterday's post was one.  There will be more!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Excellent post Jay, really like the way you presented it.

There are flippers and people that renovate homes.  Unlike the normal flipper, the renovator takes the time to get permits and uses professionals.  Shame the flippers don't see it.

Posted by Jack Gilleland (Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton) about 9 years ago

Jay - Using the nose can help tell a lot in just looking through a house.  Also, finding something like that would make me wonder what else?

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) about 9 years ago

That fragrance graces unoccupied homes in the desert this time of year, even if they have traps.  Someone has to go around and run water in sinks and flush commodes to keep water in the traps or the sewer gases fill the house.  You had a house that needed more than an occasional flush.

Posted by Marge Piwowarski, Phoenix AZ Horse Property, LLC (Phoenix AZ Horse Property) about 9 years ago

Renovation is one thing Jack.  The flipping mentality is quite another.  Like they say, lipstick on a pig!

Thanks for the points Leon.  Toodles.

Christine - for sure!  And you are right about all the indicators the nose brings!

Marge - flushing here would not solve this problem!  But you are right, water can evaporate from traps.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Plumbing mistakes seem to be flippers most common faux pas. I can remember a flipper job where there were no drain clean out and, and open drains in the floor. You could look down into the pipe and see...well you get the idea.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 9 years ago

I've run across a few wher the trop was too far away or water flow kept it flushed dry, but I've yet to find this situation where there is no trap at all.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) about 9 years ago

Yummie Jim!  What no post with photos?  You report, we decide.

Robert - you've seen the bumper stickers - No Trap Happens.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

It's actually rare that mistakes are found on the supply side. It there is no water delivered or if it leaks then they keep at it till it's fixed or get help.

On the drain side, as almost any plumber will tell you, It's a different story.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) about 9 years ago

I had supply-side leaks on all my inspections today Robert.  The other bumper stickers - Leaks Happen.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Mr Jay,

I is very pleased you used the term microbial growths. And I is a top investigator myselves.

Nutsy

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) about 9 years ago

I use it all the time Nutsy.  I did tease Mason about it once though.  He is still learning, both about home inspections and about my dry humor.  You never answered me - where did you get Mrs. Beasley's overcoat and frilly blouse?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Unbelievable.  I'm now convinced that some of the dumbest property flippers in the world live in Virginia.  I find a lot of dumb stuff, but never of the magnitude that you find.  

If I actually found something like this at a flipped house, I'm pretty sure I'd be speechless.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 9 years ago

That's what started Mr. Jay's Neighborhood, Reubs.  I live in the "smartest" area of the country!  Ummmm...

Flipper Fodder is not exactly speechless!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

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