Today was the inspection. Everything was going well, nothing too unexpected, nothing too major... until we got to the kitchen. The inspector noted that the vinyl was stained from underneath in some areas, which usually indicates the presence of long-term moisture underneath. Not good. Even worse, the staining wasn't especially close to or apparently related to the kitchen sink/dishwasher area--which meant that there was probably a pipe leaking under the concrete slab. Bad. Even WORSE, the inspector used this little moisture detector thing, and it read high moisture on/near all of the stained spots and low moisture/dry on all of the non-stained spots and baseboards. Blerrrrg.
The inspector talked to a plumber buddy, who said you can call a leak detection service to locate the leak, and then you can either bust up the concrete and fix the leak, or you can bypass the plumbing and run new plumbing. You can put the new plumbing through the attic--where it is more likely to freeze--or you can run it through the walls, which means you will have to do some drywalling. Ugh.
I called the plumber buddy after the inspection to pick his brain about the costs of repairing such a leak, if it was indeed a leak, and he said, "Where there's smoke there's fire"--meaning, if the pipes were starting to go bad, leaks could happen anywhere at any time. Uuuuggghhhh.
Of course my agent said "No big deal! A few hundred bucks to re-plumb entirely!" He talked to a couple contractor buddies, who both suggested other reasons for the moisture and who both said it'd be pretty easy to fix. I was/am skeptical--he is, after all, trying to sell me something--but at the same time, just because he's selling me the house doesn't mean he's necessarily giving me bad info.
So step one: watch the water meter to see whether it's moving, since no one is using the water. If it is, there's a leak.
I called the water company and had a good giggle with the woman who talked to me about whether I'd need a brawny man to help me lift the lid to the little pit that the meter's in. "Well, I always need a brawny man, don't I?!" She was amused.
Anyway, we located the meter, noted its position, and went back a couple hours later. It had gone up a whole number. There's a leak.
In some ways, that's a good thing--we might be able to fix a leak pretty easily and inexpensively, if we can indeed replumb the house for what my agent thinks. He's going to get some quotes from his friends and I will question them in detail. :) If it had not been a leak, then... yeah, no. I'm not dealing with water from an unknown source.
I really like this house and think it's a good deal, even though it needs a lot of work. People keep telling me that it's a buyer's market and there's tons of other stuff out there, but... no. Really, no. I've done a lot of research--a LOT. And while I haven't actually seen 80 houses, I've seen a number of them, and I've seen a whole lot from the outside. And this one is a good 'un, and my offer was a good one. So if we can get the issue fixed relatively painlessly, ok. If not.... Tears.
So, more inspecting and quoting and dithering and thinking and analyzing and debating ahead.