New stove and fridge are due tonight, so that's a plus. Had the chimney guy in last week to look at things (figured it'd be a good call to make before actually lighting a fire in the living room...)
Turns out it was a good call. I guess nobody told the former owner what a "rain cap" is, and why it is insanely important to a chimney. If you don't know, it'll let all the rain and snow come down, getting the inside nice and wet, and when it freezes up here in the north, the ice cracks apart all the mortar holding the firebricks in place. Loose a brick, and it's like having a blowtorch going against the structural bricks. Good times.
Thankfully the structure is still fine, so all we need is a stainless alloy liner dropped in. Price is per linier foot, so for the first time (of what I'm sure will be more than a few) I'm glad it's a short ranch style house. Still $1200 that could have gone to the bathrooms or kitchen rebuilds, had somebody simply stuck a little piece of metal up on the roof. On a positive note, we will be required to burn "a 2-log fire" every day until the mortar and insulation cures.