Council Bluffs couple assessing damages after buying flipped house

Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 5:30 PM CDT
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COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT) - A remodeled home was a seemingly perfect purchase for one Council Bluffs couple with several grandkids to care for.

But that new paint smell quickly changed to sewer odor, drawing the attention of code inspectors.

“It was beautiful when we walked into it,” said Cheryl Erwin, the homebuyer.

Erwin bought the newly remodeled Council Bluffs home for $261,000 and never expected her first visitors to be emergency plumbers assessing a sewer backup.

“It’s a flip house and we didn’t know what we were walking into,” said Erwin. “So, here we are with thousands of dollars out of our pocket.”

The newly remodeled bathroom had to be torn out and required a city housing inspector to be called in.

The city housing inspector found five code violations, primarily with the bathroom plumbing, like incorrect pipe sizes and connections that may cause venting issues. Wiring concerns are also cited in the violations.

“We found work done without benefit of permits and licenses, which as the investigation rolled on it became a matter of an individual that’s what’s called a flipper of homes,” said Steve Carmichael, Chief Building Official for Council Bluffs.

Mark Brungardt tells 6 News that he’s redone 50 houses and he always has his guys do it by the book. But this project had a different ending with the city issuing a civil citation.

The house flipper, Brungardt, didn’t show up in court to dispute the violations so that means the homeowner, Cheryl Erwin, gets a $750 default judgment that she’ll have to collect.

“This shows, right there, that he is responsible for this mess,” said Erwin.

However, the city can’t order the house flipper to pay for the repairs.

So, Erwin contacted a lawyer while her boyfriend assesses what’s needed to bring the plumbing up to code.

“Be careful when you get a flip house,” said Randy Jackson, Erwin’s boyfriend. “Make sure it’s thoroughly inspected, find out who did the jobs, and find out if they had a permit to do the job.”

Brungardt has not responded to 6 News’ request for comment after the default judgment in court. Erwin estimates it could cost her $15,000 to look for, and fix, the code violations.

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