DEAR BARRY: I’m not sure if this is a question for you, but here goes. My son is having a house built. Yesterday, while approaching the location of the lot, I observed the house framers loading good pieces of plywood in their truck. Since this was at the end of the workday, I assume that they were taking the wood for their personal use. Is it legal for them to do this? Or should I report this action to the builder? –Joel

DEAR JOEL: There are other possible explanations for the framers having removed materials from the property. For example, the plywood they were loading may have been surplus that the builder intended to use on another project.

On the other hand, if your son purchased the plywood himself, then removal from the building site would be suspect. The only way to know for sure is to consult the builder and your son. Hopefully, everything is above board.

DEAR BARRY: I am a property manager with a client who has a maintenance contract with a termite company. They noted dry rot two years in a row, but the reports go to the owner, and she never asked us to get estimates for repairs. We do an annual inspection of pipes, smoke detectors, air filters, etc. We did not see the dry rot during our inspections. Now she is trying to hold us responsible for thousands of dollars in damage. What do you think? –Janet

DEAR JANET: If your client was receiving copies of the termite company’s reports, she should have considered the information that was provided to her. If she chose to ignore that information, how can she now hold you responsible for the costly consequences of that choice, especially since she did not make those reports available to you?

In short, she has just pulled her head out of the ground and is holding you responsible for the proverbial sand that is in her ears and nostrils. The cost of ignoring a developing dry rot problem is something she should accept as a learning experience.

DEAR BARRY: We bought our home about 10 months ago. When the rainy season started, we noticed leaking under the patio door. Do you think we can get the sellers to fix it now? –Kal

DEAR KAL: In most cases, sellers don’t want to hear about problems after the close of escrow. After 10 months, they probably regard their previous home and its various issues as forgotten history. You can make your request, but don’t be too surprised if they refuse.

A typical seller response would be, "It never leaked when we owned the house." And unless there is strong evidence to the contrary, there may be no way to disprove that denial.

One thing to keep in mind is that homeownership involves a never-ending sequence of maintenance issues. Homeownership, in other words, is a hobby. Hopefully, this repair will not be an expensive one.

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