Polybutylene Pipes in home

11 Replies

Hi, 

I bought a condo about 4 years ago and lived there until recently. Given the massive price increase an my area (Naples, FL) and the restrictive HOA when it comes to rentals (not more than 6 months, has to be re-approved every 6 months, no animals allowed for renters and more) I decided to sell the condo.

Long story short, it has Polybutylene Pipes. So I went back to my inspection report and the guy who did the inspection only noted that it might be an insurance concern. That's all. Didn't even make it a big deal or flag this item. Now four years later in the inspection report from my buyer a more dramatic statement is made: "Polyethylene Plumbing Supply Lines have been known to to be randomly defective and can rapture without notice" and the buyer wants me to replace the Polybutylene Pipes in the condo. I feel like the home inspector that did my inspection should have made a similar statement since Polybutylene Pipes are not up to code anymore since 2007 (I bought the condo end of 2017). To replace all the pipes will be between $6k and $9k

Any feedback and recommendations on what I can best do would be appreciated. 

Thank you!


Best,

Fabian

@Fabian G.

Happens all the time here, your Realtor (if you used one) should have educated you on the pipes.

However in this hot market it’s very common for buyers to move forward with the piping as is.

I imagine it will be difficult and expensive to hold your inspector accountable so it would probably be best to negotiate with the buyer or find a buyer who doesn’t care.

I recently sold a unit to a buyer whom I warned about the potential issues and he simply didn’t care and moved forward with the transaction.

Thank you! I think the problem are the vastly different statements in the inspection reports. If it would have been similarly mentioned in my report, I would have of course pressed for a discount or to replace it. Also, all the homes here in the area have these pipes that were build somewhere between 1982 and 1995. The condo I own was build in 1992, so right on the edge. 

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@Fabian G. The statement from your buyer's report is much more accurate for the situation and should be trusted over what you were told before. These pipes become worse with age, so even though there may not have been an issue for you in the past 4 years, that risk increases as time goes on.

I would say it's worth contacting your previous inspector to see what they have to say, assuming they're still in business. If they told you that, it's likely this was an issue for them elsewhere. I personally don't advise my clients on purchasing any properties with polybutylene still inside, most agents have this opinion as well.

With that being said, I would say it's safe to assume you will be replacing the piping, whether that be with a closing credit or replacing it prior to closing. With a price tag of $6-9,000, that could potentially be worth litigation against that inspector who told you it wasn't something to worry about. They have insurance just for things like this, so best case scenario, you could get a quick settlement check to cover the cost

Would you be in better shape today if you had fought the buyer for a credit and he said no and sold to someone else 4 years ago? If so, you might have a case against that inspector. You might be able to win his inspection fee refunded if he’s still in business, MAYBE. If you’re better off today than if you hadn’t bought, I’d probably offer the new buyer between 1/3 and 1/2 or let them walk. 90% chance you’ll find another buyer that doesn’t care.

@Stetson Miller the previous home inspector is still in business. He has chosen a cop-out answer and is just saying that the opinion on polybutylene piping has changed since he did the inspection four years ago. I am not sure why anything should have changed since it's not used anymore after 1995 and there was a $1B lawsuit in 1999 plus it's not in the building code anymore since 2007 or so. From my perspective, nothing has changed and it was his failure too not disclose the risks accurately in the inspection report. 

Does anyone know a good lawyer for these cases because I want to get at least on opinion if it's worth pursuing a lawsuit against the inspection from 4 years ago. 

Thanks!

Originally posted by @Fabian G.:

Thank you! I think the problem are the vastly different statements in the inspection reports. If it would have been similarly mentioned in my report, I would have of course pressed for a discount or to replace it. Also, all the homes here in the area have these pipes that were build somewhere between 1982 and 1995. The condo I own was build in 1992, so right on the edge. 

 If 1 unit has it....every single unit has it, so no discount would be warranted.

Every decade in real estate has some particular sub par product. Could be lead paint, asbestos, polybutylene pipes, aluminum wiring, federal pacific panels, galvinized steel pipes, lead pipes.

The fact is the vast majority of houses with any of these flaws are perfectly fine, and only a small minority of them will cause issues for their owners.

Ask 10 different knowledgeable people about how bad any of these issues are and youll get 10 different answers.

@Fabian G. One other thing worth mentioning that I just thought of is that the polybutylene pipes degrade due to the chlorine that is added by the city plants. Not sure where your condo is, but in the slight chance that it is on well water, there shouldn't be any issues with the piping and that may be a case you could make to the buyers