Mostly Venting About My Old Fireplace

LaurieApril 30, 2011

Just a year ago, I purchased my 95 year old Craftsman inspired home (sort of a mixture of Craftman and Victorian as it turns out - a Architectural Historian that I ran into online is rather intrigued by it's appearance and it just doesn't fit into a specific category).

Anyway - it's been nothing but trouble since we got here, and even though I've been in architecture for over 30 years (management) and thought I could handle the renovations mentally and financially, it has truly drained me on both accounts. And yet, my BF and I do love the home so thus far we're just plugging ahead as best as possible to continue improving it.

Anyway, the latest disaster is this. I purchased the home with a TCO in place. I am almost done clearing the items on the the TCO, probably about 80% there. Next week I'm asking for my 2nd extension. So, I've been pestering the "chimney inspector" to bring me his certificate of inspection already. This has been going on for months upon months.

This person was recommended to us when we moved in last August. He came, "inspected" the fireplace and chimney, cleaned it also, and also cleaned out and "inspected" my boiler. The boiler flue runs up the chimney. He led us to believe that he was qualified to make these inspections and kept stringing us along that he would get me this certificate.

Plus, the cap he installed on the chimney (it was missing when we took possession) was blown off during the winter).

Well, months went by with numerous calls. About 3 weeks ago, he brings me a notarized copy of his invoice. I call him and ask him why he brought me that? Again, tell him exactly what I need from him (I mean, I'd been telling him for what, 9 months?) And come to find when he dropped it off, that he admitted to my husband that when he installed the cap he didn't have the correct strapping so he kind of just jury rigged it up there.


On a side note - the guy is like 80 years old, and his son was his side-kick. Both of them were dumb as rocks and annoying as hell.

A few more days goes by and he calls my husband and tells him he must talk to us in person. My husband is like, just freaking talk to me over the phone, you don't need to sit us down in person (plus, he knew I was utterly disgusted with the guy at this point and had no desire to see him). The man finally admits he has no authority to inspect fireplaces or boilers!!!! And we need to get a certified person to do so.


In the interim we now realize we'd been using this fireplace all winter, probably dangerously. I mean, it IS 95 years old, and the prior Owner took care of nothing in this house so why would we think the fireplace is ok? We took this "inspectors" word for it.

So, now we call another company in - who IS certified, is registered with the Better Business Bureau, etc. He proceeds to tell us, after an inspection that the damn thing is not going to pass, does NOT meet code in any way, shape or form, the boiler flue is falling off the wall (the wall in fact, was damp and crumbling, we had no idea!).

We need to reline the chimney in order to even pass Code - $1500. That is the minimum amount. Then, we have another approx. $3500 on top of it for I forget what (I need to look up the paperwork, in another room) and then..... a mason needs to come in because....the brick is all cracked inside the firebox!!! How much THAT is is anyone's guess. $3000? $5000? Plus my mantel isn't fire-rated, and there is a decorative insert placed into it a gazillion years ago which isn't fire rated either. Yikes.

So I ask him, would doing a gas insert make sense at this point? At least it gets rid of the masons cost. He agreed, that perhaps this would be a wise choice. It would absolutely cut costs dramatically.

So, right now I have to bite the bullet and have the re-lining done for sure or I can't clear my TCO. And it has to happen quickly too. The rest can probably wait for a while at least.

What I'm angry about is this. While I would have had to make this repair regardless, had I known this 9 months ago I would have done things differently financially with the repairs I had made here. Now because of this other "inspector" lying to me about what his capabilities were I am at a point financially at the moment where $1500 more to spend is a huge issue, let alone causing us months of potential carbon monoxide poisoning.

I'm seriously thinking of taking him to small claims court to get back the cost of what I paid him to help me pay for the re-lining. I'm so NOT that kind of person, but this whole thing has just really pissed me off.

Ok, vent off. I don't know if I feel better for having written it down, but you group of people are probably the only ones who really understand. Thanks for listening.

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TCO = Temporary Certificate of Occupancy?

Was this a condemned property when you bought it? Did your solicitor check for outstanding work orders?

Small claims courts here are limited strictly to claims for monetary losses. So if you haven't paid Larry and his son Darryl, you may not have a case. Check your local jurisdiction.

In any case, right now, today, buy, install and maintain at least three CO detectors!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 10:27AM
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No the property was not condemned. In my town, when a property is sold but not correctly maintained it can be sold "as is" for a low price so and if things are not up to Code, the new Owner is obligated to correct those violations. I purchased the house "as is" for a very good price and have been making those corrections.

I did pay the other "inspector" $700 to "inspect", clean and make small repairs to the boiler and fireplace in September I believe it was.

Thankfully, CO detectors were installed by the previous Owner prior to us taking possession. Our DOB mandated that HE do this before I moved in. As of yet, none of gone off - thank God.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 1:21PM
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