DEAR BARRY: When we bought our home, our contractor was with us on the day of the home inspection. They both inspected the attic but had different opinions. The inspector said there were no problems, but our contractor said the ceiling joists were separated more than an inch from a beam. The inspector took a second look and said this was due to old settlement and was not a problem.

We should have listened to our contractor because since moving in we’ve noticed other evidence of building settlement. The front and back walls are leaning and the floor is sloped in one corner. If we had known all of this, we would not have bought the house. Do we have any recourse with the home inspector? –Dora

DEAR BARRY: When we bought our home, our contractor was with us on the day of the home inspection. They both inspected the attic but had different opinions. The inspector said there were no problems, but our contractor said the ceiling joists were separated more than an inch from a beam. The inspector took a second look and said this was due to old settlement and was not a problem.

We should have listened to our contractor because since moving in we’ve noticed other evidence of building settlement. The front and back walls are leaning and the floor is sloped in one corner. If we had known all of this, we would not have bought the house. Do we have any recourse with the home inspector? –Dora

DEAR DORA: The home inspector apparently did not do an adequate job and should be accountable for failure to report observable defects. Separated framing in an attic is not something to dismiss as "old settlement." Instead, your inspector should have recommended further evaluation by a structural engineer.

Recourse, however, is a legal issue that varies from state to state and is largely affected by the terms of the contract that you signed when you hired the inspector. These are points to review with an attorney. In the meantime, you should find out if the home inspector is insured for errors and omissions. If major repairs are needed, insurance coverage could determine whether the matter is worth pursuing.

But before you do any of these things, you should hire a structural engineer to determine the extent of the problem, whether it is a major issue or just old settlement, as reported by your inspector. Once you have an engineering report, you will know what work is needed and can obtain bids from contractors. At that point, you’ll be prepared to pursue recourse.

It is also recommended that you obtain a second home inspection. But this time, try to find an inspector with many years of experience and a reputation for thoroughness. If your home inspector missed evidence of building settlement, he probably missed other issues that need to be discovered.

DEAR BARRY: Our buyers backed out of the purchase contract because the home inspector’s repair estimates were very high. I was wondering if it is legal for a home inspector to provide such estimates. We and our agent were very angry with the inspector. Now our home is back on the market. Should we attempt to fix all the problems addressed in the inspection report before we can make a sale? What should we do now? –Yvonne

DEAR YVONNE: Some home inspectors provide repair estimates. Most do not. Whether the estimates in this case were accurate or inflated is the big question. The only way to know for sure is to get bids from contractors. Once you do that, you will know what is actually needed to make repairs.

At that point, you can repair some or all of the defects. Those that you do not repair can be disclosed to future buyers, along with the contractor’s bids.

Show Comments Hide Comments

Comments

Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Success!
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Limited time: Get 30 days of Inman Select for $5.SUBSCRIBE×
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