Dear Barry,

The sellers of the home we’re buying hired a septic contractor to inspect and pump the septic system. In the course of this work, they cut two sections from the front entry walkway to provide necessary access. But when they were done, they simply set the cut pieces into place in a way that is unsightly, uneven, and likely to trip someone. When we made our offer to purchase this home it had a nice concrete entrance that was pleasing to look at. Now the sellers and their agent say it is up to us to replace the damaged pavement because temporary removal was required to meet the terms of the sale. Do we really have to fix this ourselves, or is it the responsibility of the sellers? – Maureen

Dear Maureen,

You made an offer to purchase a property in the condition that existed when it was marketed. Since the offer was accepted, that condition was adversely altered by contractors who were hired by the sellers. Therefore, the sellers should take responsibility for the damage caused by their contractor and restore the conditions that prevailed when you agreed to the purchase. The sellers’ and agent’s excuse for this circumstance is unacceptable. Suppose the sellers’ chimney sweep had damaged the roof? Would that also be your problem? What if the sellers’ painter had cracked a window? Would you then be required to replace the glass? In this case, the sellers had to hire a septic contractor. The performance of that obligation did not license them to denigrate the property at your expense. Either the sellers or their septic contractor should restore the property to the conditions extant when you made your offer. Your agent, not theirs, should step up to the plate and demand that this be done. Hopefully, you have your own agent in this transaction.

Dear Barry,

When we bought our house, the home inspector said he could not open the damper in the fireplace and suggested we have it checked further. We probably should have taken his advice but did not. Recently, we used the fireplace for the first time, and our teenage son had no problem opening the damper. The fireplace worked okay, but on a rainy day, the brick firebox became wet. Now we’re wondering why the home inspector was unable to open the damper and whether leak repairs are covered by the home warranty policy. – Michael

Dear Michael,

Your son would most likely prevail against the home inspector in an arm wrestling match. Be that as it may, leaking at the chimney top apparently caused rusting of the damper hardware, causing the damper to stick. To prevent further water intrusion, a chimney cap is probably needed. It is unfortunate that caps are not required on all masonry chimneys. You should also follow the home inspector’s original recommendation and have the fireplace system fully evaluated by a qualified professional, such as a certified chimney sweep.

As to home warranty coverage, that will depend upon the fine print in the policy. With most insurance companies, the primary objective is to protect their financial interests, not yours. This claim would probably be disallowed as a pre-existing condition, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at www.housedetective.com.

***

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