Dear Barry,

I just bought a brand-new home with a gas furnace in the garage. The unit is installed on a raised platform, but it’s not higher than the bumper of my car. The builder fastened cement bumpers to the garage floor to keep my cars from hitting the furnace, but the position of these blocks prevents my cars from pulling in enough so that the garage door can close. I told the builder about this, but he refused to move the blocks. Isn’t he responsible for making the garage usable as a parking area? – Will

Dear Will,

The building code requires that a furnace in a garage be protected from vehicle impact and specifies three general methods: “by being installed behind protective barriers or by being elevated or located out of the normal path of vehicles.” In your garage, elevating the furnace was not sufficient, so protective barriers were installed. But the builder should meet these requirements without creating new or unintended problems or difficulties. In this case, the primary purpose of the garage–to serve as a shelter for your vehicles–has been compromised. The builder’s obligation, therefore, is to address the issue in a manner that is consistent with reason and common sense. If he refuses to be reasonable, send him a certified letter. Inform him that he has 30 days to correct the problem, after which you will have corrective work done by another contractor and will recover the costs for such repairs in small claims court. An alternative to this would be to file a complaint with the state agency that licenses building contractors.

By the way, the most common and practical means of protecting the furnace from vehicle impact is to install a steel post in front of the fixture.

Dear Barry,

Our house is only five years old. When we bought it, the home inspector found no major issues. I pointed out a water stain on the garage ceiling, but it was dry at the time. When asked, the listing agent said he knew of no roof leaks. But since moving in, we’ve had major leakage with every rainstorm. A roofing contractor says the roof should be replaced, not repaired. Do we have any recourse, or do we have to pay for roof replacement ourselves? – Scott

Dear Scott,

One would expect a seller to be aware of existing roof problems, especially when ceiling stains in the garage reveal a history of past leakage. Pertinent information regarding roof conditions should have been listed in the seller’s disclosure statement.

The listing agent may have been totally unaware of any roof problems, but when asked about a ceiling stain, it would have behooved the agent to consult with the seller, rather than simply declaring ignorance of any problem.

The home inspector was responsible for disclosing defects that were visible and accessible at the time of inspection. Ceilings stains call for careful examination of specific roof areas, in addition to a general inspection of the roof overall. To clarify uncertainties in this regard, a meeting between the home inspector and the roofing contractor at your home should be arranged.

As a final thought: replacement of a five-year-old roof is highly unusual. Before investing in that recommendation, a second opinion from another licensed roofing contractor would be a good idea.

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

***

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