A small rant about homeowners who don't give a crap about their property.

I bought my house a little over 2 years ago. The people who lived there before me were a pair of alcoholics with rage problems who eventually defaulted on their mortgage and got booted out. Good for me, since I got the house dirt cheap when the bank wanted to unload it before winter set in and they had to pay to heat it again…but bad for me, too, since the previous owners neglected (and sometimes outright abused) the property.

I’ve patched holes in walls. I’ve replaced kitchen cupboard panels that were punched in. I’m still trying to figure out how to repair the dining room door that had the center panel kicked out. But that’s not the worst of it.

No, the worst is the tree that the previous owners allowed to grow on the west side of the house. I don’t think it was intentionally planted there, it appears to just be a random chance thing, where they said “Ooooh…a tree. How neat. Let’s see how big it gets.” The problem with this is that the tree was growing about 18" from the foundation. In addition to the fact that it would flail its branches against the antique leaded glass windows in the dining room during storms, the root structure spread and cracked the corner of the foundation.

I cut the tree down the spring after I moved in, but the stump remained, as did the foundation damage. This year, I decided to finally fix it up and put it behind me. So, I called some tree services for quotes on stump grinding, since I didn’t relish the thought of digging the stump out by hand (stumps of this size typically have a tap root that extends down 6-8’). Final cost on stump grinding: $125. The guy said that if the stump was in the middle of the yard, it would have been less than half that…the fact that the subterranean portion of the stump was right up against the foundation drove the price up more than double. Bastards.

Now that the stump is gone, I can address the foundation damage. The entire corner is cracked off, which will require the mason to build a form around it and repour that section. The mason estimates that this will be another $300.

All that these lazy assholes had to do was cut the tree down when it was small and this could all have been avoided.

Ah, the joys of being a homeowner.


How in the world did you not see a TREE when you looked at the property before buying it? Or did you buy it sight unseen (I can"t imagine doing that either).

Oh, I saw the tree and knew about the damage before I bought the house. I’m just pissed off that the previous homeowners allowed it to happen in the first place. The expense of the repairs was totally avoidable if they’d lifted their noses out of the vodka bottle for 2 seconds and actually made the effort to cut the tree down before it got to the point that it did.

I know what you’re saying about basic maintenence being a good idea, BUT–they *were * the homeowners at the time. Meaning it was their property, and they could maintain it, neglect it, or pimp it out for crackerjacks at their whim. Likewise, you were perfectly within your rights to purchase or not purchase it, as is. You didn’t get it dirt cheap for no reason; and it’s not like they threw a giant tarp over the tree while you were touring the place.

I know where you’re coming from because the house I live in now was falling down when I bought it. Holes in the roof, porch rotted and caved in, floors buckled, yard destroyed, electricity that hadn’t been updated since it the Depression, rotted plaster, water-damaged walls, and on and on and on. Five years later, it’s just finally getting to the point where I’m not embarrassed to have company. Did it suck that the owners let it get in such a state? Of course, but I knew the state it was in when I bought it. So if I want to blame someone for the work and $$ I’ve had to put into it then I need only to look in the mirror.

Poor Jadis. I feel your pain. I used to buy fixer-uppers back in the 70’s and 80’s, and now own some rental properties. What’s up with kicking in walls and doors? Why do they do it? It certainly does not add to the ambience of the home, unless crappe-chique is their decorating style.

I hear you about the tree problem. I used to date a man that owned a nursery and worked with him during the peak season. Clueless folks would want to take that “adorable” “little” treesie-poo home and plant it in front of say; their picture window. Right in the foundation planting! We would explain to them until we were blue-faced that the “widdle” conifer would ultimately attain 70’ with a spread to match. Would they listen? NO!!! But hell, the customer’s always right, neh?

I would love to share some home-horror stories of my own; but at the moment I’m too busy with stripping pink-flowered wallpaper off the walls of my newest home. All the walls were covered with pepto-pink cutsey-wutsey flowered paper. To match the Barbie-pink window blinds. Which happened to match the pink carpet (which has been removed and replaced with a more neutral wheat colored carpet. Thank Og!)

I have owned this house for six months and am just now getting to the horrible wallpaper. Why? you might ask. Because I had to spend last fall and this spring pruning and spraying the friggin’ orchard that the previous owners neglected. Imagine, if you will; fruit trees planted 12 years ago and never pruned. Or sprayed. Ghastly!! I felt like a lumber-jack by the time I finished. On the upside though, my grandchildren had a grand time roasting marshmallows on the burn piles.

Good luck on the foundation. Once that’s done you can do something more fun with your house. Keep thinking about that next project. It’ll take your mind off the current one.

Yup, right there with you, Jadis. We bought a fixer-upper for a reduced price too, and I know exactly what you’re saying. We got the benefit of their neglect, but I still don’t understand how or why people do what they do to a perfectly good house and yard. Some of the things we’re dealing with - half of the screens missing - just plain gone; mature yard that has been completely untended for years; the obligatory holes in walls and doors; crayon scribbled in various and sundry places; and the one that really makes us go “hunh?” - lots of long, deep scratches in the basement wall under one of the windows.

We also have a tree that has to come down - a poplar that also looks like just a random volunteer that has grown so big that the roots are starting to threaten the foundation. truthbot, you would be so proud of us - we’re planning our yard and trees for how they are going to grow, not how they are now. And getting expert help so we don’t make a mistake like the people that Jadis bought the house from.

How on Earth did you find out they were alcoholics? Did your real estate person drink with them or something?

My neighbors were more than happy to fill me in on the antics of the previous inhabitants. My favorite story is the one about the time they got in a fight and the woman, who had a holiday decorating obsession, decided to cut down all of the Christmas lights that were strung on the porch railings and columns with hedgeclippers and then throw the Christmas tree, still fully decorated and trailing wires, out the front door onto the lawn. All while screeching invective at the top of her lungs.

All of the neighbors love me, btw. Frankly, by comparison, I could be an axe-murderer and as long as I was quiet and mowed my lawn regularly, they wouldn’t care. :smiley:

So the stump removal and* foundation repairs come to $400 and you’re complaining? It sounds to me that if four bills will fix it the foundation problem is pretty small…

Kalhoun, as a landlord, I can testify to the fact that some properties scream out “Alkyholichs live here!!” without needing a neon sign to attest to that fact. Holes punched in walls/doors: check. General neglect/disrepair: check. Failure to make rent/mortgage payments: check.

While it may not be true in all cases, in general sober people don’t kick in walls or doors. Or haul home non-working appliances/vehicles. Or let trees grow into the foundation which causes costly repairs. Sober folks are usually up on those sort of things, ya’know? Even if money is an issue, it doesn’t cost anything to cut down a nuisance tree before it creates the damage that Jadis has had to deal with.

And featherlou, good on you! Spend the money for a good design and build on it as you go. A good landscape lasts a lifetime, and so do landscaping disasters. You’re doing the right thing. I learned that from my best friend who happens to be a landscape designer.

::shrug:: $425 is a fair amount of money to me. No, it’s not bankrupting me, but it’s about a month’s mortgage payment, if you must know. I have a lot of other projects I’d have liked to spend that money on, and to know that I’m spending it to fix a problem that could have been avoided entirely is the particularly galling part.

I have had a very similar experience with my first house. I’m in California, so I had to pay a million dollars and my left testicle for a 50-year-old fixer-upper. I had to settle for a house with some interesting features.

  1. Punched-in closet door

  2. Front lawn consisting of 80% crabgrass, 15% clover and 5% grass

  3. Main bathroom with cracked tile in the shower, so all the drywall surrounding the shower became wetwall. When I redid the shower, demolition was a snap. I tore down the shower walls with my bare hands. I don’t even want to talk about the stuff I found growing in the wall framing.

  4. Back and side lawns which had been paved over with concrete at least 8 inches thick. According to the neighbors, the previous owner had lazy sons who wouldn’t mow the lawn. So he paved over the entire yard, or at least tried to. He got the back and sides done, but when he tried to pave the front the city wouldn’t let him. He actually did get the margin strip between the sidewalk and street paved, but the city came and tore it out. The concrete had to be removed with a jackhammer and a very large truck. Cost $1000, and you try getting grass to grow on soil that has been under 8 inches of concrete for 20 years.

  5. Added-on master suite that was laid out in such a way as to prevent access to one whole side of the yard.

  6. Brick facing added to the front of the house which prevents the front screen door from opening the same direction as the front door. (Front door can only open one way due to the layout of the entry.) Result: screen door and front door are hinged on opposite sides. Not a lot of fun when you’re coming in with groceries.

  7. A gas fireplace that consists of a length of steel pipe with holes drilled into it, connected to the gas main.

  8. Front door with a big hole where the deadbolt is supposed to go.

:eek: On the bright side, most gas fireplaces can only heat one room efficiently. I imagine that with this one, you could heat the entire neighborhood.

Burundi and I just bought our first house in November, and we’re having the love-hate relationship with it. The love is because it’s decently-sized and light inside and in a wonderful neighborhood (i.e., within walking distance of a grocery store and a pub) and has garden space and a big old kitchen.

The hate is mainly due to the humongous pile of honey locust (we think) branches in the back yard. Apparently pioneers used to use the spines that grow on honey locusts for nails. I’m not making that up; I read it last night on a website about the trees. And it’s no surprise, either, considering that those motherfuckers are about four or five inches long and that (again I’m serious) some of the thorns have thorns growing on them.

After we signed the contract, but before we moved in, the neighbors pruned the tree and left a gigantic pile of these deadly flesh-seeking branches in the backyard for us to deal with. They said they’d get rid of them before we moved in, but they lied like lying dogs.

And that’s not even mentioning the carport that they promised to fix before we moved in – another stinking lie. If it falls over, which it might do, it could take one wall of the house with it. Tearing it down will cost us close to $1,000; repairing it could run several thousand bucks.

Ah, well. It’s nice that at least a little bit of our monthly housing payment stays our property instead of going to a landlord. I just wish we’d had better representation when we bought the house, or bought it from people that weren’t lying liars.


I’ve got better uses for $425, myself, but given what foundation repairs COULD cost, $425 worth of damage sounds like you’re getting off easy. I had a friend who had to dump $20K into his foundation – and he didn’t have $20K just sitting around waiting to be spent, either…

Since the house you bought was “dirt cheap”, according to you, I’m not sure why you’re complaining about a 400 $ expense…

Yes, I sympathize with the repair costs, but from the perspective of someone who had to buy a house in the over-priced Boston area, it sounds like you’re getting off amazingly cheap. Five years into home ownership, and $425.00 is * still * a relatively cheap month for me as far as home repair goes. And I bought my house from people who took care of it – it’s just that it’s 150 years old and hadn’t been redone since 1970.

I dunno if you could even get a stump drilled around here for $125.00. I got stung for over $200.00 just to get a 2 x 3 section of asphalt repaired on the driveway. I’m not looking forward to getting an estimate on the painting this spring.

Because the fact that the house was “dirt cheap” was the only thing that allowed me to buy a house on my own in the first place? Because the $400 I had to spend was (IMO) a waste, since it was on something that could easily have been avoided entirely?

Sorry that I didn’t make it clear that I don’t shit hundred dollar bills. :rolleyes:

Gee, when I first read the title of this thread, I thought Jadis was gonna call me out for my weed-encrusted, I-have-no-green-thumb-and-am-hiring-a-gardener-soon lawn. Whew

If it’s any sympathy, Jadis, last December I had to shell out over $3,000 because the previous owner of my home had a wooden back fence that was aged, rotted, and just about to fall over from propping up two trees in my yard… and which finally blew down after a strong December storm. Got rid of the trees myself, and now there’s a nice solid cinderblock wall back there, but that’s still $3K I won’t see again.

I’m just beginning my second trip down restoring a house. The first one was a 1868 farm house in the Blue Ridge and now I’ve move and got a 1909 Victorian in small town Ohio.

Right now I’m getting bids on rewiring, tearing down the old back porch and building a new one with HVAC and such, and refinishing the attic. It’s a headache but I got the place for 80K so I’m not complaining.


But I’ve been standing here with this baggie all day. Come on - how 'bout a $50?