VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Buying a home is a big stressor, and often, it all boils down to that all-important home inspection. Everything may look great from the outside, but just one hidden problem can derail the entire deal.
Local homeowner Heather Wooden knows that lesson all too well. She thought she’d bought the house of her dreams, but found holes in the floor, rotten wood and termite damage, just after she’d signed on the dotted line, and moved in her family.
“I knew this was our home when I walked into it,” Wooden said. But when she pulled back the carpet in her son’s bedroom, “it was nauseating,” she told WAVY.com.
Under the pad and the carpet there is significant rotten floor with termite damage.
“It’s pretty obvious that it is rotten, wouldn’t you think?” Wooden asked. “Someone knew about that. Someone put carpet right over that.”
The daughter’s bedroom is filled with insulation pulled out from the crawl space to get a good estimate on what it would cost to do the repairs down under. 10 On Your Side got down in the crawl space to see first hand the structural problems with the house.
“Someone should be held accountable,” said Class A Licensed Contractor Bob McCullough, who is licensed by the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation. He can’t believe a home would be delivered the way hers was.
According to the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code, if you see something that does not meet code, it must be replaced.
McCullough showed us a piece of wood covering the hole that had 27 nail hits in it. “It had 27 nails because it wasn’t holding anything because it was all rotten.”
Wooden bought the house from Investor and House Flipper Andrew Marscheider. We’ve learned he currently owns at least 23 properties with at least 16 on the market.
“I understand they are angry,” Marscheider told 10 On Your Side.
Virginia Beach Permits and Inspection ordered Marscheider to stop working on the Wooden house after he failed to
get a required foundation/structural repairs permit.
“We posted a stop work order based on complaints by the homeowner, and our investigation saw that it did need a permit,” said Permits and Inspections Administrator Cheri Hainer.
10 On Your Side confronted Marscheider about that and he acknowledge twice that he needed a city permit to do work on floor and sub structure, but when we asked if he did not get a permit for the Wooden house project, he said, “I cannot comment.”
Marscheider won’t comment because he and Wooden have retained attorneys for possible mediation of their dispute over the house.
Marscheider said he did everything the city told him to do: “I would say whatever was under the floor in question was looked at during the final inspection. So, if the city gave a final on it, they obviously missed something.”
Hainer said that is absolutely not true: “We didn’t find it because he didn’t pull a permit for the work … by law we can not inspect something that is not part of the permit.”
But Marscheider repeatedly blamed the home inspector: “the home inspector didn’t see any issue, the city didn’t see any issue when they gave us our final inspection, so obviously this was not an obvious situation.”
Hainer counters that, “whether it was obvious, it doesn’t matter. If it is a code violation, or it is an unsafe construction, we are looking at two issues here. It should have been addressed.”
Hainer said that’s part of Virginia State Code, and the Wooden’s Home Inspector Brad Brinke knows he didn’t catch it.
“I probably dropped the ball by not being tough enough on that house,” Brinke said. “If there is hidden damaged, I’m not seeing it.”
Hainer looked at the pictures in Brinke’s Home Inspection, which WAVY.com also got on video. On the report he found “No deficiencies were observed at the visible portions of the structural components of the home.” But Hainer saw problems in the pictures: “I would be very concerned about that.”
McCullough was concerned about it, too.
“The report should have said it wasn’t supported correctly, and that it needed to be replaced,” he said. “They need to come in, and redo the block, [which is a support in the crawl space supporting the home.]”
For now, it’s the blame game: Marscheider blames Brinke’s home inspection, and Brinke, while upset he missed the structural problems, blames Marscheider, who owned the home, refurbished it, and then flipped it to Wooden.
“It kills me, it absolutely does,” Brinke said. “In hindsight, I would have killed that house. I would have turned it upside down.” He’s already alerted his insurance of a possible claim.
Both sides are trying to find common ground to make things right.
“I would just like to say, I am sorry that they do not feel comfortable in their home, and I would love to find a remedy where we can work amicably together to make them happy in their dream home, and to be 100 percent satisfied with their purchase,” Marscheider said.
The one thing Heather Wooden has going for her — the city of Virginia Beach seems to care about accountability. 10 On Your Side asked Hainer whether at the end of the day Wooden will be made whole somehow. “Yes, we will hold Mr. Marscheider responsible to get the work done,” she said.
“I’m not asking for the moon. I’m not asking for damages or pain and suffering,” Wooden said. “I just want [Marscheider] to make right what should have been right to start with.”
If you are thinking of getting a home inspection, Permits and Inspections Administrator Cheri Hainer strongly recommends your home inspectors and contractors to be DPOR licensed.
DPOR stands for Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, and it regulates professions like contractors and home inspectors. DPOR enforces standards of professional conduct, investigates complaints, disciplines, and can compensate you if one of their members does inferior work.
If you want to learn more about DPOR, click here.