Dear Barry,

Before we sold our house, I repaired a roof leak above the bedroom, and just to confirm that the repair was good, I climbed into the attic during the next two heavy rains. No leaking occurred. The people who bought the house hired a home inspector. He didn’t find any problems with the condition of the roof, but he disclosed the water stains in the attic and recommended further evaluation of the roof by a licensed roofing contractor. The buyers did not follow that advice and proceeded with the purchase. A few weeks later, it rained again and two roof leaks occurred. When the buyers contacted us, we asked them to get three written estimates for roof repairs. Instead, they sent us one estimate for a completely new roof. We repeated our request for three repair estimates, but they insisted that we should replace the entire roof. What do you think we should do? –Lesley

Dear Lesley,

The buyers were advised by their home inspector to have the roof evaluated by a licensed roofing contractor. They chose not to follow that advice. By disregarding the inspector’s expressed recommendation, they failed to exercise due diligence and are therefore in no position to make demands at this time. By waiving the home inspector’s recommendation, they were, in effect, accepting the roof in as-is condition.

A second vital point is that their home inspector did not cite any physical damage or other observable defects on the roofing itself. He merely reported evidence of past leakage in the form of water stains in the attic. If roof replacement is necessary, that fact should have been reported by the home inspector. The lack of such disclosure indicates that the home inspector regarded the roof as needing possible repair, rather than total replacement.

Given the buyers’ acceptance of the roof as reported by their home inspector, and given the inspector’s lack of major defect disclosures, it would appear that the buyers’ demand for a new roof is unreasonable and overreaching. Unfortunately, this does not guarantee that they will not continue to pressure you for a new roof or to use legal pressure to achieve that end.

What you need at this point is a detailed written report of the roof’s condition by a qualified expert, with lots of pictures of the existing roof. It would also help to have the buyers’ home inspector reinspect the roof to see whether he will confirm or alter his original findings. If the buyers are intent upon pursuing the demand for a new roof, they should cooperate with this discovery process.

Dear Barry,

When we purchased our house, our home inspector said the furnace and air conditioning were fine. When the system began having problems, we called a heating contractor. He said the furnace was installed incorrectly and needed to be replaced at a cost of $5,000. We can’t afford a new furnace. What should we do? –Julie

Dear Julie,

You should contact your home inspector immediately and ask that he reinspect the defects that were reported by the contractor. The puzzling part of your story is why you need to replace the furnace at a cost of $5,000 simply because it is not installed correctly. Why not correct the installation, rather than buy a new furnace? These questions need to be pursued.

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

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