What I'm Seeing Now


The Shower Drain That Doesn't Exist

The shower drain that doesn't exist.

I have seen this before.  People who don't pull permits to do "improvements" and try to sneak a fast one on an unsuspecting buyer.

Seeing this new shower I was immediately suspicious.

Why?  Because this model house, built in this area in the late 60s and early 70s, always has a powder room in this location.

Seeing it and seeing where the new shower was placed really got my Spidey Sense tingling.

The main drain stack could be seen beside the framing in the furnace room, as well as the drainage vent stack which proceeded from there to exhaust sewer gases through the roof.

So I began looking for clues.

1.  No aspect of the slab had been removed to connect the shower drain you see to either of those stacks.

2.  When the water drained I could not hear the familiar sound of air moving as the vent does what it is supposed to do during drainage.

3.  Looking into the drain hole I could not see water, which would be present had a trap been in place beneath the drain hole.

4.  If there was no trap sewer gas would have been noticed and I smelled no sewer gas.

So I looked closer into the hole!

What did I spy with my little eye?

The white connection beneath the hole which is a protruding part of the plastic pan to allow connection to the drain line beneath the shower.

But deeper down beneath it that protruding drain tube was connected to ...  wait for it ...


There could be no water in the trap because there was no trap!

What did I see?  What did my client (a plumber) and the agent see?

Dirt, along with rubble from broken concrete.  Not so visible in this photo all that was clearly visible to the naked eye.

The installer broke out an opening in the slab and dug a hole under the slab into which the shower was draining!

The shower water drained into the earth beneath the house!  Back into the ground to restock the water table!

That may be code in other areas of the world, BUT NOT HERE!

Don't get me started with this - I won't say what I'm thinking.

My recommendation:  just because you see a new anything does not mean it is correct.   Every time I see new work I recommend to my clients that they check to make sure there was a permit pulled and closed by the local jurisdiction.   The word "closed" means the local jurisdiction looked at the permitted work and approved it.   When a home inspector gets a sense about something, allow him the leeway to line up and inspect the clues surrounding the work to see how professional it is.  When it is not he will tell you!  His job is to observe and report.  And rest assured the shower you see here was reported to this home inspector's client!



Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

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


Comment balloon 17 commentsJay Markanich • November 03 2017 11:00AM


Another example of why you are the expert! I can't believe anyone would attempt this.

Posted by Nathan Gesner, Broker / Property Manager (American West Realty and Management) almost 3 years ago

And this is why it's important for us agents to know the top inspectors in town and recommend only those to our clients.

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Realty) almost 3 years ago

Good morning Jay. I would say you are one of only a few, or the only one, that would catch this! Nice job! Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) almost 3 years ago

So many DIY people should not.  It really costs them more in the long run!

Posted by William Feela, Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No. (WHISPERING PINES REALTY) almost 3 years ago

I don't often use the word idiotic but this is a time where that word is not harsh enough for this job that was done.

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) almost 3 years ago

Good morning jay. This is another very scary post. You just never know unless you have an expert review the home.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) almost 3 years ago

OMG, new one on me! I have seen washing machines drained like that but never a shower... lol, nice! Unreal!

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) almost 3 years ago

Nathan - once I saw a whole bathroom with a pit underneath it to capture everything - toilet, sink and shower!

Nina - I think this is a big deal and I expect this problem will not be resolved for this buyer.

Thank you Wayne.  It took a minute, but once we figured it out it was figured out!

You got that right William.  I think this seller was trying to pull a fast one.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 3 years ago

Sheila - interestingly this neighborhood is full of people from other countries and stuff like this is rife throughout the neighborhood.

Fred - once I did an inspection on a house in the country with a new dishwasher.  What I did NOT find out was that it was draining under the rear deck, which was right on the ground.  The people called me about a month later, laughing.  They were sitting on the deck after dinner and heard the dishwasher draining under their feet!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 3 years ago

Great advice to see if permits were pulled and closed.  My husband and I are currently looking and I'm so suspicious when I see a home has been "completely renovated". Yeah, by WHO?

Posted by Sharon Tara, New Hampshire Home Stager (Sharon Tara Transformations) almost 3 years ago

All buyers should have a home inspection, even on new construction.

The inspection should be done by a very knowledgeable inspector who finds problems that are not always obvious.

Posted by John Wiley, Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA almost 3 years ago

Sharon - it pays to do super due diligence and find out!  Permits, licenses by all contractors, etc.

John - isn't this amazing?  And the poor buyer would have inherited this mess and have to rectify it.  It's a big deal!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 3 years ago

Now that is amazing.  At least it wasn't a new toilet install draining down there!

Posted by Stephen Weakley (Nationwide Mortgage Services) almost 3 years ago

Oh boy what a nightmare and really, some 'contractors' have no sense of pride or ethics .  Very disturbing. 

Posted by Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR, Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes) almost 3 years ago

Stephen - I have had that one only once before, in the same neighborhood!  And once a laundry room was changed to a "bathroom" and the drains for the washing machine were used for the new toilet.  Unbelievable.

Mary - it is truly that.  I still maintain that these people were trying to pull a fast one, and get more money for the house with a new "full bathroom"...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 3 years ago

Very interesting.  I have a 'friend' who listed her house with another agent ... as I said 'friend'!  I happened to know when she updated the master bath and made the lower level into a bedroom, dressing area and a wonderful bathroom.  As I looked at her listing, I kept seeing where the other agent was saying 'recently updated'.  I thought it only fair to contact my friend and tell her that Public Records had the most recent upgrade dated 1998!  Ooops!  Hence, I suggested that it would be a good idea to have all 'updates' permitted or she may have a problem with a sale because NONE of it was permitted or approved by the Board of the HOA! 

Posted by Christi Farrington, ~ Your representative in Fairfield County, CT (Dagny's Real Estate) almost 3 years ago

Thanks Kristi.  Yes, it pays to do some background checking!  Often I see listing information that says "updated" this or that, only to find out the house was built in the 40s and the updates were made in the 70s!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 3 years ago

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