DEAR BARRY: We live on the top floor of a condo complex and have two questions for you. The first involves our condo board of directors. Rain leakage caused water damage in the condo below ours. The condo board refused to pay for repairs. They said the leak was from our bathtub. Actually, we never use the tub, but the board made such a stink about it that we paid the $200 repair bill just to make peace. What do you think about the condo board’s position?

Next, we have a home inspection question. When we bought our condo, our Realtor advised us not to hire a home inspector. She said that the areas in need of inspection were covered by the condo board. Since the condo board dumped the leak repairs into our lap, what do you think about our agent’s advice? –Michele

DEAR BARRY: We live on the top floor of a condo complex and have two questions for you. The first involves our condo board of directors. Rain leakage caused water damage in the condo below ours. The condo board refused to pay for repairs. They said the leak was from our bathtub. Actually, we never use the tub, but the board made such a stink about it that we paid the $200 repair bill just to make peace. What do you think about the condo board’s position?

Next, we have a home inspection question. When we bought our condo, our Realtor advised us not to hire a home inspector. She said that the areas in need of inspection were covered by the condo board. Since the condo board dumped the leak repairs into our lap, what do you think about our agent’s advice? –Michele

DEAR MICHELE: The qualifications of those who serve on condo boards can vary widely. They may be retired entrepreneurs with excellent management skills, or they could be idle people who are bored with daytime TV shows and have opted instead to wield authority over their neighbors.

Regardless of qualifications, your condo board abandoned common sense and fairness in their assessment of the water damage. They presumed to know the cause of a problem, without evidence or professional expertise. Water testing could have been done on the outside of the building. The bathtub could have been operated to see if leaking occurred. And a general contractor could have been consulted for an opinion about the source of leakage.

As for your Realtor: Agents who advise their clients not to hire a home inspector are foolish and unprofessional, if not totally unethical. The idea that condos do not need to be inspected makes no sense. There are many interior details that warrant inspection, including plumbing, electrical and heating systems. Exterior repairs may be the responsibility of the homeowners association (HOA), but home inspectors who inspect the exterior portions of condos can alert buyers to conditions that warrant attention by the HOA. Examples include potential leaks at roofs or exterior walls, trip hazards at entry walkways, electrical hazards, ground drainage problems, and more. Agents who truly represent the interests of their clients never advise against a home inspection. No exceptions.

DEAR BARRY: I read your article about "When is a basement a legal bedroom?" You wrote in detail about requirements for room dimensions, windows and fire escape. But you said nothing about heating. Is a heat source required for a room to comply as a legal bedroom in a basement or anywhere else in the house? –Mark

DEAR MARK: You raise an interesting point. A dwelling is required to have a heat source that meets minimum standards, but that requirement does not apply to the definition of a bedroom. Analogous to this would be the hot water requirement for a bathroom. The lack of hot water would not mean that a room with a toilet, sink and tub is not a bathroom. It would still be an actual bathroom, but with a plumbing violation in need of repair. The same would apply to an unheated bedroom. It would be a legal bedroom, but with a heating violation in need of upgrade.

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

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