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Help me sort through this quagmire

Started by wheateater, March 11, 2020, 08:45:39 AM

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I bought a house a year ago. Beautifully maintained, mid-century ranch style. Built 1960. Slab foundation.

I knew to expect to deal with the typical stuff that comes with a 60-year-old house.

I didn't know to expect this price tag.

Turns out my cast-iron waste pipes are on the verge of being critically damaged. Might not happen this month, but sooner or later, if I don't replace them, they're toast. So now's the time, like it or not.

2 separate plumbers have now quoted me in the range of $80k for this work. When the first one said that number, I thought it was a joke. Now I'm resigned to my fate: this is just what it costs for the amount of pipe I need replaced (~120 feet) on a slab foundation.

Vast majority of the money goes to a subcontractor, because to replace the pipes on a slab foundation they have to go under the house and obviously if they don't do this the right way, plumbers die.

Of course this all could likely have been avoided had my asleep-at-the-wheel realtor bothered to mention that, prior to purchasing a 60-year-old house, it's worth spending $200 to have someone run a camera through the pipe system. But she didn't, and I didn't know better. So it is what it is.

The question is, how to mitigate the financial damage.

Naturally this comes at a time of great uncertainty in the market.

Unfortunately, that's where my available money to pay for this thing is sitting.

Here's an overview of the financial landscape:

~$650k house
~$490k and 14 years left on a 15-year mortgage
$110k in fairly accessible stocks/ETFs
~$300k in wife and I's two 401ks combined
~$20k in cash

It seems selling the house is a fool's plan at this point, but feel free to tell me otherwise. It's in a neighborhood with a lot of tear-downs, so I suppose it's possible a buyer might not care about the pipes because they just want the lot for a new build.

I think (haven't explored in detail yet though) I can get somewhere between 12-18 months of 0% financing through the lovely and generous plumbing companies.

What are my options?

How would you pay for it?

Smarter to sell off basically the entirety of my stock holdings in order to pay for it all in one fell swoop, or try to parcel it out over 12-18 months at a nausea-inducing rate of something like an additional $3-$5k lead weight in every month's budget?

Find a new plumber? Move to Mexico?

I'm open to anything. Thanks in advance.


Would it be unreasonable to make sure the homeowner's insurance covers the pipes under the slab to the city services (lots of the time this is a separate option and possibly have to pair with flood insurance) and wait for it to fail. Then you only have to pay the deductible....


Nowadays the COVID 19 pandemic going on, So you can wait for some time(few months), after resell this house and buy new one.


If you haven't looked into it already, try trenchless or "no dig" sewer repair solutions? May or may not be an option depending on your situation.