DEAR BARRY: We bought a newly constructed home without having a home inspection. Now we’re wondering if we should hire an inspector before the one-year builder’s warranty expires. One problem we’ve had involves the carpet. It sheds lint fibers that get in our hair, clothes, socks, etc. Each time we use the vacuum, the hose and bag become filled. The builder says this is normal and that nothing can be done about it. This has been going on for seven months and we fear that there could be other problems we haven’t yet discovered. What do you recommend? –May
DEAR MAY: A common practice among some builders is to say that a problem is "normal" when it is absolutely not normal. In this way, they attempt to avoid liability. Carpet that sheds lint to the extent that you describe is so abnormal that it is almost unheard of. You should have the carpet inspected by a local flooring contractor and get a written evaluation of the problem. A qualified professional will be aware of product recalls or of conditions that could produce this type of defect. A written statement from a carpet contractor will help to overcome the builder’s excuses.
Buying a new home without a professional inspection is a mistake. A good inspector can identify defects in a new home, and repairs can then be demanded as a condition of the purchase. Rather than wait till the end of the one-year warranty, you should hire a home inspector now. Try to find an inspector with years of experience and a reputation for thoroughness. Call a few real estate offices and ask who the most thorough inspector in the area is.
If the builder continues to be unresponsive, get some advice from an attorney who specializes in construction defect law.
DEAR BARRY: When we purchased our home, the seller submitted a written statement that disclosed a moisture problem in the basement. But this statement was not included in our paperwork from our Realtor, and we never saw it during or after the transaction. Our home inspector reported the moisture condition, but he said nothing about mold.
Several months after moving in, we discovered mold in the basement and spent $7,000 to have it removed. That was when we requested, and finally received, a copy of the seller’s disclosure statement. Who is responsible for the cost of correcting the mold problem? –Clarence
DEAR CLARENCE: The seller apparently acted in good faith by submitting written disclosure of the moisture problem. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the seller was not aware of the undisclosed mold.
Environmental hazards such as mold are outside the scope of a visual home inspection. Therefore, the inspector cannot be held liable. However, if the mold was visible, the stains should have been reported by the inspector with a recommendation for further evaluation.
The liable party in this case is the Realtor. If the agent received the disclosure statement from the seller and failed to provide a copy, that was a major professional breach. A real estate attorney can advise you on the best way to proceed with this claim.