Home Buying in 21157>Question Details

Freetoroam, Home Buyer in Baltimore, MD

Home inspector missed a serious issue, can we get our money back?

Asked by Freetoroam, Baltimore, MD Wed Feb 6, 2013

We found out 1 month after we purchased our home that the fill pipe for our heating oil tank is corroded and causes leaks into our foundation during a fill-up. When the oil company came by to examine, they were shocked to see that the oil tank is right below the main electrical box for the house and also an electrical outlet. They said this is not code and the tank must be at least 5 feet away from anything electrical. Obviously, the home inspector missed this. In fact, I remember specifically asking him if it was safe and he said it was fine. Now that we know that it is not, we have to spend $825 to move the tank elseewhere and re-pipe. Could we get our money back?

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You can certainly make the request. As for whether there's anyway to enforce a refund, you'll have to check the language on the inspection report. Often there's a clause to exempt the inspector from liability resulting from a missed issue.
Web Reference: http://www.archershomes.com
3 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 6, 2013
I agree with Michael Cheng. At best, you may get a refund of the inspection fee.

It seems as if there are two issues here. One is that the fill pipe is corroded, and the other is the location of the tank. Since you had a discussion about the tank, the inspector didn't "miss" this, they just have a different opinion of what is "safe" than the oil company does.

All the best,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 6, 2013
There's Mack, the "voice of reason." Short, concise and spot-on seeing both sides. My passion gets my typing fingers to run away sometimes...!
Flag Wed Feb 6, 2013
This is a sticky situation, but one that I hope you will pursue as far as you can legally and financially. The Home Inspection is a critical piece of the process of buying a home; consumers entrust their homeownership "tranquility" to the Inspector; Lenders rely on a quality home inspection report to prepare a Buyer for serious issues on a home they may need to deal with after purchasing.

When applying for an FHA Insured Mortgage, HUD and we Lenders strongly recommend a consumer get a home inspection. The reason? Lack of home inspections can lead to foreclosures! The homeowner who can't heat the home due to a bad oil tank---or fill pipe---may not be able to pay the mortgage since the repair of such an item is expensive.

In your case the inspection was faulty, and IMHO, this is a serious defect that you should pursue so as to send a message to this inspector.

First, the inspector probably has a "limited liability" clause in the inspection report. I don't care if he does: if you can afford a good, nasty, Attorney, then you should have that attorney sue this inspector for your damages, liability clause be damned. So soon after closing? Oh no. Obvious damage that should have been picked up by the inspector? No, no, no.

Second, you need to notify whoever referred the inspector to you, or, if you found the inspector on your own, file a complaint with the local Better Business Bureau and/or Consumer Agency.

I don't know about Maryland, but here in New York the home inspectors must be licensed; but so are hair dressers and hot dog vendors. We still encounter shoddy inspections even with what should be an important consumer protection built in.

I can only offer you encouragement to pursue the legal actions and not to give up. An Attorney can best answer your question as to a refund of your inspection fees, and, if possible, the reimbursement of your costs to repair.

Trevor Curran
NMLS #40140

If you thought my answer was helpful, please give me a "Thumbs Up." Thanks!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 6, 2013
Hi Freeroam,

This is going to depend on how your contract was worded with the inspector. You first step would be to have a candid conversation with him/her and explain the issue. Most reputable companies will do the right thing.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 6, 2013
Does the inspector carry Errors and Omission Insurance? Are they licensed? these may be options for you. Have you talked with the inspection company to see what they will do about this problem?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 6, 2013
Carefully read the contract that you signed prior to having the home inspection performed. A real estate attorney can help to determine what type of compensation, if any, you could expect.
Web Reference: http://richsellshomes.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 6, 2013
Freetoroam,

Ask your home inspector to pay for moving the oil tank an don't give up on this issue.

Greg Myers
RE/MAX Realty Group
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 6, 2013
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