How my chimney is one of the biggest disappointments in my life

March 16 2016

We had started looking to buy a house after our landlord had refused to fix a gas leak for months. Within a month, we found it; the perfect house (house #1). This house had everything that we wanted- updated bathrooms, master bedroom, and a good school district. We were told there was another offer on the house, and to submit a “best & final” offer. We submitted the offer, and got a call back saying our offer was not the high one, but they liked our steady jobs compared to the other buyers. This is when I first realized how insane buying a house truly is.

We said no and moved on. We had been trying to see another house (house #2) on the other side of town- once before house #1, and two times after. It had gone under contract before we had put an offer on house #1, but came back on the market. We scheduled an appointment to see house #2, and on the way got a call that it was under contract again. Finally, our realtor reached out and we were able to tour the house. 5 bedrooms, 3 full bathrooms, an outdoor pool, and a beautiful kitchen. So we put in the offer on house #2, which was accepted.

We had many inspections, as we had learned from friends the many things that can go wrong. We had a chimney inspection and a sewer inspection, in addition to the normal home inspection. It paid off to have the chimney inspection- there were problems with the mortar in between the chimney flue sections. We were quoted about $3500 to repair. The sellers wanted to get another bid, which was completely fine; they were quoted $3800 to repair. The sellers were still unhappy with this number, so they asked for a third quote, which came in at $2175. This quote was from Ridgway Chimney Service here in NJ.

There were a plethora of negative reviews online, but we reluctantly say yes. We figured that at least the job would be completed according to code. This is where the horror show begins. The morning of closing, I look out at the chimney and notice the moss was still on the chimney. It was supposed to be sealed- how could they seal over moss? We put in a call, and Alan Ridgway, the owner, was verbally abusive towards me. We get him to agree to come out, scrape off the moss, and reseal the chimney.

We decided to close on the house, because it looks that all the other work is done (but how can you be sure?). After closing, we get our chimney re-inspected, utilizing the first company. I said something to the effect that we hadn’t been able to negotiate with the seller, so we wanted him to come back out and take a look. “What happened here? This chimney is in much worse shape than a month or so ago!” My heart sank. Ridgway Chimney Service had done $7000 worth of damage to our chimney, and we are unable to use it due to an incorrect liner not lifting enough smoke out. It wasn’t sealed around the liner they put in, either, so combustibles can get through the old terra cotta liner and light other building materials. The best part? Our contract wasn’t with Ridgway, so we can’t sue them. It will take $5000 to sue the seller for the $7000, as we’re out of the small claims court territory monetarily. So our house has an unworkable chimney, which will cost us out of pocket to repair.
Thanks so much!

Jason DeFuria
[email protected]
Cherry Hill, NJ

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