DEAR BARRY: My home was built about 10 years ago. I’ve had trouble with it ever since, and the builder avoids all responsibility. From leaky windows to settlement cracks, it’s been one thing after another. When the home was 3 years old, I called the builder’s home and was told that I had the wrong number.

Finally, this year, I was able to reach him. He told me that he is retired and gave me the number of another contractor to fix the problems. But that means I’ll have to pay for his mistakes. Isn’t he responsible to fix the defects in my house? –Tina

DEAR TINA: Your builder is suffering from what I call "DNS," or Dirty Nerve Syndrome. Without question, he should take responsibility for the home that he built. If there were defects from the beginning then he should address those issues, regardless of how retired he may feel.

His retirement, in fact, should provide all the time necessary to work on his construction errors. What he lacks, apparently, is motivation and concern.

Also at issue is the legal status of the builder’s warranty after 10 years. If his liability has expired, it is because he was unavailable for so many years. The fact that you tried to contact him when the home was only 3 years old may strengthen your claim. To verify this, you should contact the state agency that licenses contractors.

If he continues to deny responsibility, you should discuss the matter with an attorney who specializes in construction-defect law. The builder should not be at liberty to abandon these issues.

DEAR BARRY: I purchased a home about eight years ago. According to the seller, the roof was only one month old at the time of purchase. This year, I began to notice waviness in the roof and some water stains on the family room ceiling. I don’t know if the seller hired a roofing contractor or installed the roof himself. I was going to call him and ask, but I wanted your advice first. What do you think I should do? –Cindy

DEAR CINDY: Before you contact the seller, call the building department and ask if a permit is required for a roof replacement. If it is, ask if a roofing permit shows up on the property’s history. If not, the seller violated the code when he replaced the roof. Whether he is still liable after eight years is uncertain. The building department might be able to answer that question.

Regardless of permits or liability, an evaluation of the roof by a licensed roofing contractor is recommended. Hopefully, the leaks are due to minor problems, not major ones. But you need to find out from a professional. If the contractor tells you the roof needs replacement, be sure to get second and third opinions. Some roofers cry "Replace!" when reroofing is not really necessary.

When the roof condition, permit status and liability issues are clear, you will be ready to contact the seller.

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.

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