DEAR BARRY: We bought our home about four months ago and now have a big, undisclosed problem. The house is very old and was completely renovated -- not by the person who sold us the property, but two owners previous to them. Our Realtor advised us to check for permits at the city hall, which we did. The city showed us copies of permits for the electrical, plumbing and mechanical work. But we did not notice the absence of signatures on the permit records. We didn't know that people could apply for permits and never call for inspections. Our second mistake was buying the property without hiring a home inspector. We'd like to blame someone for this mess, but I suppose the lesson here is "buyer beware." What should we do to get all of this straightened out? --Alison DEAR ALISON: Some home inspectors routinely advise buyers to verify signoff of building permits. This is because many people have taken out permits for additions, renovations, remodels, and even new construction, with...
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