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August 10th, 2009 2:43 PM by David W. Welch
Do you remember Underdog? Underdog's girlfriend was Sweet Polly Purebred, but that actually has nothing to do with this post. I am actually writing about polybutylene plumbing. While this is not nearly as interesting as Underdog's secret super energy pill, it can definitely make a real estate transaction more interesting. I cannot speak for other areas of the country, but here in the sunshine state property insurance has become a bit more difficult to come by over the last few years. We can thank Charley, Frances and Jean for this real estate revelation.
As a result, it seems insurance companies will find almost any reason not to write a property policy. Since the class action law suit involving polybutylene expired recently, some insurance carriers are electing not to insure homes with this type of plumbing. I am not here to support or condemn this decision, only to bring it to your attention if you are buying or selling a home.
Owners, if your home was plumbed or re-plumbed prior to 1996 you may have polybutylene. You can usually see your plumbing where it comes into your water heater in the garage. Google polybutylene and look at the pictures, it is gray and flexible piping. If you are not selling, I would not worry about it. If you get a leak, then re-plumb. If you are selling and you have an older home (over 25 years old), your buyer's insurance company may require a four point inspection. This inspection includes a report on the roof, A/C, electrical, and plumbing in your home. Be prepared for the buyer to ask you to re-plumb so they can get insurance. If you have a newer home this probably won't even come up.
Buyers, it is not the end of the world if the homes you are looking at have polybutylene piping. If the home is newer, your insurance company will probably not require a four point inspection. Check with your inspector to see if they include this report as part of their inspection agreement with you. Some may charge extra. If you see on the seller's disclosure that the home was re-plumbed prior to 1996, look for the gray piping where it runs into the water heater. Check with your insurance company to see if this is going to be an issue with them. If it is, you can shop other insurance carriers, ask the seller's to re-plumb their home as part of your offer, or keep on looking. Personally, I would not be concerned with polybutylene as long as the fittings are brass. You need to get your own information on the product and decide for yourself though, before going forward. The class action lawsuit has concluded, so if you get a leak you are on your own.
Orlando Real Estate, David Welch Real Estate Optimist