Bad Sonotube Cost Albuquerque Sellers over $16K

By
Real Estate Agent with Albuquerque Homes Realty 16572
https://activerain.com/droplet/4BYW

I recently closed a transaction with a delightful young couple purchasing their first home together to settle their growing family.  What makes this transaction stand out is the astonishing information derived from a home inspection.  We ordered the typical inspection covering mechanical functions of any home.  As the inspection progressed he suggested the home have a “Duct Inspection”  he was able to determine that the duct work in this home was Sonotube which is an in-floor type encased in the concrete slab.  You may be aware of Sonotube and its potential issues as I am but I had no idea it was utilized in this neighborhood or part of town.   We took the inspectors good advise and had an independent inspection of the duct work including a video.  The results were astonishing!  The Sonotube duct work which is basically a large 8” cardboard tube with a very thin metal wrap & liner  similar to heavy aluminum foil was in shambles.  It was likely installed incorrectly  during construction many years ago and had now collapsed, crumbled and was full of dirt and debris, all adversely affecting air flow and air quality.  The inspector could not even get his scope through much of the ducting. Now what?

There were two possible solutions, one was to have a very expensive and specialized company come in a remove all the debris and strip out all the loose duct work then apply a multiple step process that included some concrete application, then apply a spray-in type product similar to what is used in Bed Liners for pickups.  The second option was a complete new overhead system with all new duct work, furnace, refrigerated A/C unit.  After discussions the clear choice was the complete system replacement and it was actually cheaper!.  The cost of this major repair/upgrade due to Bad Sonotube cost Albuquerque sellers over $16K.  

Obviously this was one of those repairs an unknowing seller is absolutely not prepared for but it was clear this had to be accomplished before any buyer would agree to purchase.  To everyone’s good fortune we had a willing seller, a focused co-agent and a ready buyer.  Two weeks later the replacement was complete, the re-inspection cleared and we headed to the closing table with success.

I have always said how much I appreciate a great inspector.  I hear agents gripe about how an inspector has muddied up a deal etc. This situation could have been a nightmare for everyone involved had this severe defect not been discovered prior to close of escrow and corrected.

I love happy endings! Rely on your inspectors, let them do their jobs and thank them when their done!

 

 

If you’re considering the sale or purchase of an Albuquerque or Rio Rancho home it would be my pleasure to assist you.  I am easy to remember and just as easy to find.
Albuquerque Homes Realty and AlbuquerqueHomes.com or simply
Google me John McCormack Albuquerque or email John@AlbuquerqueHomes.com  
I love what I do and I am prepared to exceed your expectations!

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Rainmaker
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Wayne Johnson
Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS® - San Antonio, TX
San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale

John-Sometimes people take short cuts and suffer later. Good thing your clients were willing to spend a little more time and money up front to get a better picture of what they were getting into.

Oct 06, 2011 02:30 AM #1
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Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

That's a happy story John and could have ended so differently had all those things not been in place - great inspector, good agents, willing seller and knowledgeable buyer. The video showcases the importance of inspections - and how the devil is in the details.

Oct 06, 2011 02:34 AM #2
Rainmaker
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Martha Brown
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., Annapolis MD 21403 - Annapolis, MD
Your Homes Around Annapolis Agent

Wow- how fortunate everyone was to have all parties working together to make this happen. $16,000 is not pocket change when it comes to selling a home or buying one either. Great work by all parties.

Oct 06, 2011 03:03 AM #3
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Charita Cadenhead
Keller Williams Realty - Birmingham, AL
Serving Jefferson and Shelby Counties (Alabama)

Oh happy day John.  A lot of sellers would not have willingly forked over that kind of money without a fight.  Good deal for everyone.

Oct 06, 2011 03:34 AM #4
Rainer
478,183
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

Ack! That's only the second sonotube ductwork that I've ever seen, and I've never seen any myself.

Sonotubes are a great way to create tall columns. This bridge has sonotube columns:

Cabrillo Bridge

At the base of each column is a door so maintenance people could walk up into the column. Several years ago all the wood and everything in one of the sonotubes caught fire. A vagrant had broken in during cold, wet winters and had a fire going in one of them. We almost lost our beautiful bridge.

The theory behind sonotubes for heating and cooling was, I think, a good theory, but as with many theories, it wasn't applied well in actual practice.

I think you got a nice deal at $16,000 for the duct, furnace, and condensor. Would probably have been $5,000 higher out here.

Oct 06, 2011 04:00 AM #5
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Belinda Spillman
Aspen Lane Real Estate Colorful Colorado - Aurora, CO
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Hi John.  I have to say I have never had a duct inspection.  This is a new one for me.  Looks awful.  How great that your inspector suggested inspecting this.

Oct 06, 2011 04:12 AM #6
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

John, nice post---love the video too.  I sometimes see metal ducts buried in concrete around here---there are often high water marks or actual water in them.  Never a good idea to locate them underground around here in my opinion.

Oct 06, 2011 04:28 AM #7
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Joni Bailey
101 Main St. Realty - Huntsville, TX
Your Huntsville / Lake Livingston Area REALTOR®

Wow! I have not heard of this problem. I'm going to ask my favorite inspector (a friend) if he has seen this around here. ANOTHER reason to have a home inspected!! Thanks, Q!

Oct 06, 2011 05:15 AM #8
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Dick Greenberg
New Paradigm Partners LLC - Fort Collins, CO
Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate

Hi John - Astonishing! I've never heard of Sonotube, and don't know whether it's ever been used here, but I'm going to talk to my favorite inspector about it and find out how prevalent it has been in this area. You're absolutely right about the value of a great home inspector.

Oct 06, 2011 05:16 AM #9
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John McCormack, CRS
Albuquerque Homes Realty - Albuquerque, NM
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Wayne,  Fortunately no short cuts on this one, yes the buyer spent a bit more for the inspection but the reward was a completely new Heating/Cooling system.  It was a good outcome for a bad situation. Thank you for coming by, I appreciate your thoughts! 

Best Regards from Q!

Oct 06, 2011 11:34 AM #10
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John McCormack, CRS
Albuquerque Homes Realty - Albuquerque, NM
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Debb, You are so right, the details are crucial in these type of things, it could have so easily been overlooked.  Happy endings indeed!  Nice to see you!

Oct 06, 2011 11:36 AM #11
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John McCormack, CRS
Albuquerque Homes Realty - Albuquerque, NM
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Hi Martha, You are so right the $16K was a huge hit on the poor sellers and they had only purchase the home a few years prior and apparently did not do a duct inspection.  The whole time they were oblivious to the condition of the duct work.  I feel for the seller but it had to happen.  Thanks for sharing!

Oct 06, 2011 11:41 AM #12
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John McCormack, CRS
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Hello Charita,  Happy Days indeed it always good when all parties work together for the common good. Hope your week finishes nicely!

Regards from The Q

Oct 06, 2011 11:43 AM #13
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John McCormack, CRS
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Hi Russell,  I knew Sonotube was used to create concrete forms etc, I never knew them being used as the interior of a form like you explained..very interesting.  I can see why they thought it was a good idea initially but doubt they forecast out 20yrs to the possible implications of a breached system.  Not good! Cool bridge, glad it didn't burn or collapse.  Thank for your input, always appreciated!

Oct 06, 2011 11:51 AM #14
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John McCormack, CRS
Albuquerque Homes Realty - Albuquerque, NM
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Hi Belinda,  I suppose in parts of the country this type of thing or type of material was not used and most duct systems are reliable.  It these times when they aren't that its a real problem!  If ever in doubt call the inspector!  Thanks for dropping in!

Oct 06, 2011 11:53 AM #15
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John McCormack, CRS
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Charles,  I agree there are just some things that don't seem right at least from my perspective and this is one of them!  Along with radiant heat, I just don't trust the materials being used.  But hey they didn't ask me :>)

Oct 06, 2011 11:56 AM #16
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John McCormack, CRS
Albuquerque Homes Realty - Albuquerque, NM
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Hi Joni,  I bet if you have not heard of it, its likely a non issue in your neck of the woods but worth investigating for sure.  I don't want to come see you in the local jail :>)

Oct 06, 2011 11:58 AM #17
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John McCormack, CRS
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Dick,  I don't know anything about the geographical areas of Sonotube use, maybe it was a desert application with the low moisture etc.  May some builder found a super cheap way to duct a home and this was it.  Check it though and make sure.  You don't want it sneaking up on you!

Oct 06, 2011 12:00 PM #18
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Jeanean Gendron
The Address Realty - Redding, CA
Specializing in Selling Unique Properties

John, this is new to me and very interesting. So glad you were able to move forward. I am always amazed at what we learn in this Industry. I wonder just where this is used and why it was a solution in the first place. Great post. I am guessing we don't have it here but will ask. Thanks for sharing the video....very interesting!

Oct 06, 2011 11:15 PM #19
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John McCormack, CRS
Albuquerque Homes Realty - Albuquerque, NM
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Hi Jeanean -

Glad you dropped by and checked out the Sonotube blog.  Yes you might want to make sure it's not used in your area.  It can be a beast if not installed correctly.  Glad you liked the video I'm still working on the task of building YouTubes.  Slow but sure will win that race :)

Hope you enjoy a day filled with productivity!

Best regards from The Q

Oct 07, 2011 03:31 AM #20
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