Dear Barry,

We purchased our home 1 1/2 years ago, and our home inspector missed a number of problems. These include rotten eave boards, a bad roof, a rusted water heater, garage-door openers not equipped with safety eyes, rotted window frames, an unvented kitchen stovetop, a broken vent on the furnace, and the list goes on. We trusted him because he was recommended by our Realtor. Do we have any recourse? –Sandra

Dear Sandra,

Dear Barry,

We purchased our home 1 1/2 years ago, and our home inspector missed a number of problems. These include rotten eave boards, a bad roof, a rusted water heater, garage-door openers not equipped with safety eyes, rotted window frames, an unvented kitchen stovetop, a broken vent on the furnace, and the list goes on. We trusted him because he was recommended by our Realtor. Do we have any recourse? –Sandra

Dear Sandra,

The first step in the process of recourse is to notify the home inspector and the agent that these problems were not disclosed. You should invite them to your home for a review of these issues. And be sure to do this before making any repairs because corrected problems are not as negotiable as existing ones. Be aware also that not all of the issues you listed are within the scope of a home inspection and some may not involve actual defects. Here are some examples:

  • Rotting wood at the eaves and windows may or may not be included in the scope of the inspection. You should check the inspection contract in that regard. Termite inspectors are the ones who typically inspect for rotted wood.

  • Older garage-door openers were not required to have safety eyes.

  • In most states, venting is not required at a kitchen range.

On the other hand, the rusted water heater, the broken furnace vent, and the faulty roof should have been disclosed by the inspector if the problems were visible at the time of the inspection.

It is an unfortunate reality of the real estate business that some agents cannot be trusted to recommend the best home inspectors. This does not apply to all agents, but it does apply to some. Therefore, your agent should be asked, "Was this the most thorough and experienced home inspector you know?" In most cases, agents know which inspectors are the best. If you can get the name of a "top gun" home inspector in your area, a second inspection would be advisable. This may alert you to additional problems that may have been missed by the agent’s inspector.

Dear Barry,

I own several condos in a large building. Recent roof leakage caused $4,100 in damages to my unit. The homeowners association (HOA) has agreed to repair the roof but will not repair the damage to my unit. Part of the problem is its neglect of normal roof maintenance; it allowed pine needles to accumulate on the roof and in the gutters, and this affected roof drainage. Is there any way to make the HOA repair my unit? –Tom

Dear Tom,

If the HOA has not maintained the roof in a responsible manner, that weighs against its disclaimer of liability for consequential damages. You should check the documents that govern your condo complex to see how HOA responsibilities are spelled out. If the HOA is required to maintain the roof, that increases its liability for damages to your unit. If they remain firm in their refusal to make interior repairs, you might test the issue in small claims court. For a nominal filing fee and a few hours of inconvenience, you might be able to enforce your position.

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


***


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