DEAR BARRY: When we purchased our home, the inspector was very thorough. At least we thought so. He spent hours looking at the house and reported a lot of defects. But later we discovered that one of the toilets was not connected to the septic system. Instead, it flushed directly onto the ground under the house. This mess was discovered by our cable man. What is the likelihood that something like this could have been missed by a home inspector? –Jesse

DEAR JESSE: If the inspector went under the house, it would not have been easy to miss raw sewage on the ground, unless something blocked his entry to that part of the crawl space. In some cases, air ducts or low ground clearance prevent full access. Such conditions might have impaired your inspector’s view of the mess, but it would not likely have masked the distinctive "aroma."

The cable man’s discovery of the undisclosed "flushings" indicates that there were no impediments to that part of the subarea. Therefore, you should contact the home inspector and request a reinspection of the bathroom plumbing.

DEAR BARRY: My friend owns a downstairs flat in a two-story building. The new owners of the upstairs flat recently moved in and noticed a plumbing leak on the outside of the building. They guessed that it was leaking into my friend’s unit, as well as their own. When they asked her about it, she confirmed that she had known about the leak for quite some time and had discussed it more than once with the previous owners of the upper flat. The new owners claim that my friend should have disclosed this problem to them before they closed escrow. They are all upset and demand that she pay for the repairs. I should mention also that they hired a home inspector before they bought the property, but he said nothing about the leak. What do you think my friend should do? –Heather

DEAR HEATHER: If your friend had been selling her own flat, she would have been obliged to disclose the leak to her buyers. But that wasn’t the case. Instead, the previous owners of the upstairs unit were selling their flat, which was none of your friend’s business. She had no relationship with the buyers of the upstairs flat and was in no position to be making disclosures to them. It was the obligation of the upstairs sellers to disclose the leak, and since your friend had already discussed the leak with them, they had no excuse for not disclosing that problem to their buyers.

Furthermore, the leak, as you described it, was plainly visible on the exterior of the building. This means that it should have been discovered while the property was still in escrow, particularly by the home inspector.

The bottom line, therefore, is this: The sellers were not forthcoming with their disclosures; the buyers were not very attentive when doing their final walkthrough inspection; the home inspector was negligent; and the buyers have no reasonable claim against your friend. In fact, their demand is totally outrageous.

To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at


What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.

Show Comments Hide Comments


Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Real estate news and analysis that gives you the inside track. Subscribe to Inman Select for 50% off.SUBSCRIBE NOW×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription