Why you need to wait a year before doing any work

You need to wait a year before engaging in any major capitol project on the house in a gentrifying area. Why? Crackheads, it all comes down to crackheads.
Cheap contractors getting houses ready for selling, hire cheap crackhead or questionably legal immigrant help who sometimes do poor work hidden behind the walls where the inspector can’t see it. Also a year allows you to see seasonal screw ups.

Spring- Spring rains show you the gutters were improperly installed and that the yard is poorly graded and sending water towards your foundation.
Summer- Guess what? Air Conditioning doesn’t work, or works so poorly it is not even worth using. Maybe it does work but condensation builds up in the walls and there is this wet spot forming in your ceiling. Or, notice you have no air conditioning?
Fall- Leaves. And the raccoon that moves into your crawl space waking you up at 4 am.
Winter- Furnace works poorly or dies. Windows don’t shut all the way and house gets drafty. House has no insulation and costs more to heat.

Then there is other stuff you don’t notice till you have been in the house a while. About 2 years into living in my house I got neighbors in a previously empty house. They are very nice people but I can hear them clearly through the wall. Lucky for me they are not speaking in English so I have no idea of what they are saying. I hear them come in, go up the stairs…. I can smell when they have burnt the toast, and they are always burning toast. I knew there was only 1 layer of brick between us** and with real live people next door, I now know what 1 layer means as far as noise and smell goes.
When you first see a house, you don’t see its faults. When I saw my house I was so happy it wasn’t a)condemned or b)in the middle of construction and c)it had a basement. I didn’t notice the little things like the toilet being encased in tile or the windows being a little off, or the poor paint job that got paint on stuff I still can’t get off. It’s several months after buying and living in the house you begin to notice these quirks. Like plumbing pipes not being properly installed. They looked ok, but when you go to touch it, it falls apart. Not good.

Some of these houses in the neighborhoods housed the poor and were maintained by landlords who possibly didn’t give a rat’s rear about the house, as long as the section 8 check came in. So then they decide to cash in, get some horrid contractor who is accountable to no one and knows you’re not going to find the faults until long after he and the seller have run off with your money. So beware.

**Yes, I know there is supposed to be two layers of brick, but there isn’t. When I was trying to fix a crack in the wall I discovered the 1 brick situation, so please don’t say anything about there ‘should be 2 bricks’, ’cause there ain’t and you’re not making it any better. Yes, it is a touchy subject with me.

15 thoughts on “Why you need to wait a year before doing any work”

  1. Amen…
    6 months and so far…
    1 leaky roof
    1 crawlspace with no insulation
    & leaky ceilings…the list goes on

  2. I’ve got the requisite 2 layers of bricks and I can still here the people next door. As in, I can evesdrop on their every conversation. They talk a lot about how their various relatives have been sent away for 45 days or two months, how people keep calling the police on them, and things like that.

    I’m sort of amazed how well brick carries sound… has anybody done any soundproofing on their walls that worked?
    – JM

  3. And don’t forget, once you’ve waited out the

    a) wonky plumbing
    b) ghetto kitchen
    c) stubborn heating system

    and take the plunge into major renovation you still find new and interesting things about your house. Like, for instance, the fact that there was a fire in the basement at some time in the past (that was never really fixed, just hidden behind drywall).

    On the plus side, I’m feeling really good about our contractor. Some of the HVAC duct work had been installed. Looked good to me; I had no idea it had to be wrapped in insulation. Thank goodness the main contractor did and he’s an honest guy. Needless to say we have a new HVAC installer and everything’s nicely wrapped.

    House still looks like a bomb hit it, but now it looks like a bomb has hit it, but could be comfortably cooled if needs be.

  4. I think the singl brick thing is pretty common (kind of depends on who the house was built for). I agree that you start to see things after you’ve been there for a while, but some of us can’t wait (i.e. it would actually be like moving into a disaster zone). I say do what is necessary & cheap, but save the rest for later (when you have a better idea of what you are doing).

  5. It’s been four years for us and we are finally getting around to the “nice” stuff. I thought we would move in and just worry about furniture, but boy was I wrong. Just off the top of my head we have had:

    1. PVC pipes put together without without epoxy.
    2. Leaky roof. (It was new)
    3. Flooded basement. (There was no sump system)
    4. Electrical circuits that went from the breaker to no where.
    5. Light switches that spark when you flip them.
    6. An outside water supply that is not connected to anything.
    7. Gutters that funneled water right into the basement door.
    8. Drywall screws that were screwed directly into copper water pipes.

    I could entertain you with more but I might actually start to feel sorry for myself. 🙂


  6. MM…

    You have seen the raccoon as well? I thought I was crazy!!! I am sitting in my living room one night (after a happy hour so I thought it may have been the booze) and I look out a see a big old raccoon in my tree looking back at me! My wife thought I was joking with her…

    Seriously a GREAT post! We are now just starting to talk about renovations and I am glad we waited on certain things before making a mistake. However, there are times when certain things that need to be replaced ASAP when you buy (like my roof!!!).

    Anyone looking for a solid referral service should check out Marla Selko’s company urbanreferrals.com they have helped me with two minor projects and both contractors were great.

  7. pioneer: One who ventures into unknown or unclaimed territory to settle.

    Might want to think about that name. Unknown or unclaimed? What does that make us black folk in the neighborhood? Injuns? Will you be handing out smallpox blankets soon? Where can I pick mine up?

    Let me guess – tongue in cheek? Not funny.

    A passat? Maybe you live on my block. Do you Keep your U of Michigan sticker on the back? Let’s get real, you ain’t pioneered shit. You’re just a yuppie building up equity for that SFH out in West Falls Church you and the missus will be running to first sign of pregnancy.

    That’s a bet I’d be willing to take.

  8. Hold on…. What’s up with all the hostility? I didn’t see any personal attacks in UP’s post. Some of us live in Shaw because we want to. My house was a CRACK HOUSE. Do you think my neighbors prefer someone who keeps their property up or Pookie?

    While we are at it, can we kill the stereotypes about people moving in. I am black, born and raised in DC, a product of the DC public schools, and NOT a college graduate. I fit the demographics of a lot of the brothers out here. I work hard and do what I can to make the community better. Can you say the same?

  9. If I get one more Anonymous post that doesn’t bother initializing the post or stating who you are I’m deleting ALL anonymous postings.
    Also, I’m not keen on the direction this conversation is going. Stay on the topic of housing or get your own #$*!* blog.

  10. Well first I would like to thank the few people who stuck up for me. And while the jacka$$ who attacked me thinks they are so smart…I will explain my name.

    If the person went to my blog and simply looked at the post as to why I call my blog (and myself) UP they would see that the name was not my doing and it is not meant to offend. An African American elected official (I am only identifying because of the attack…who will remain unidentified as we have made up since this altercation) comes up to me as I am moving into my house (also a former crackhouse) and said the following.

    “Just what we need…another cracker urbanpioneer living in Shaw”. While you took it as such an offensive name…I find it hilarious.

    I do not pick fights over a blog…it is puerile. And the ironic part of my name is unless you are born and bred in Shaw…I have probably lived in the neighborhood longer than you have (as a renter…just bought last year).

    For the others on this blog…I like this place (inShaw). I like what MM has to say about a neighborhood that is changing (and like any other adult…another perspective allows me to see the other side of an argument sometimes). Anonymous…have the guts to put a name and email to your post…or are you one of those cowards who utter things under their breath but does not have the guts to say it to someone’s face?

    MM sorry for the rant…I am tired and car ownership (yes I caved) has stressed me out. To all…have a wonderful weekend and to anonymous I hope you can find a doctor to remove that awfully large chip on your shoulder.

  11. Okay, MM I have a question?

    A young city or suburban resident with a well-paid professional job and an affluent lifestyle.
    [y(oung) + u(rban) + p(rofessional) influenced by yippie.]

    Shaw has yuppies that are both African-American, Euro-American, Hispanic, Islamic, etc….. How come the crackers (I’m a cracker) get a lot of hate, it seems the all of the other yuppies are okay with the older residence.

    Can you enlighten me?


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