Home Buying in West Chester>Question Details

Maureen, Home Buyer in West Chester, PA

I would like to have someone contact me re: recourse for when an inspector (hired to look out for our

Asked by Maureen, West Chester, PA Tue Oct 30, 2007

interests) did not adequately do his job, and
also the sellers who did not disclose and even covered up things. I took pictures as we began to discover everything. We are up to $75,000.00 and looking at more in repairs. The sellers had two
mortages so I doubt they have much to sue for or even ask for. The inspector must be insured. At
this point, we can't afford an attorney, much less the two lines of credit we had to get to go as far
as we have on this. We wouldn't even be assured we would win, so we'd be out more money yet.
We chose this home because it accomodated our needs. We were combining two households to
move my in-laws in with us (88 and 85 years old). We have been crammed into a small area now
for months with boxes and furniture everywhere. Our contractor said he'd testify to the fact that there
is no way these things were wrong AFTER we bought the house. HELP!

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Answers

31
Please don't get the idea that I am putting you on the witness stand. I don't know you, the inspector, the home.... all I have is what you tell me, and I can only react to the issues you asked about. No doubt, there are issues!

I will try to take them as I recall them, in no particular order:
With regard to moving the ceiling tiles: concealed items are not within view, and not considered part of a non-invasive inspection. Moving ceiling tiles may sound like common sense, but (again, by extension) why not just move that rug a little? How about that couch? Can you unscrew that switch plate? There has to be a baseline set somewhere, and the industry has set it a visual and non-invasive. Is that the best for consumers? Absolutely not, but that's why looking for an inspector who exceeeds standards, not clings to them for deal life (and legal protection) is advisable.

Shut offs under sinks are not a requirement in many locations.

Mystery pipe - if the termination can't be seen, it is not really responsible to guess. Recommend capping, and move on.

Mold - This is trickier than perhaps all the others. Of course a lab will tell you that the inspector shoud have referred you to pay for their services! Inspectors will shy away even from use of the word mold if they are not certified to evaluate it. Even mentioning "potential" mold or calling for a test can scare buyers away, sour a sale, and result in a lawsuit from a ticked off seller (especially if it just moisture responsible for the odor, not mold!!) Even more so in the case where he can't identify a specific area of visible mold (or suspected mold). Most inspectors I have met fear litigiation like no other subset of people I can think of - they constantly bemoan their liability. For this reason, they will rigidly refuse to even say the word mold in the presence of a client. I understand that does you no good in this case, but is a defensible and widely-held position among lots of inspectors (part of the reason I got certified).

Broken window seals. When I identify a broken thermal seal, it is the seal around the panes (surrounded by the vinyl) that has deteriorated, resulting in a "foggy" appearance between the panes, and loss of insualting value, but not rot. Wood rot of that type typically results from a leak around the window somewhere (usually exterior), like poor flashing or bad installation. Maybe the caulk on the exterior was shot? If so, was there visible damage to the sills or interior wall areas? If no visible corresponding damage was present, I am not sure that the inspetor could have reasonably identified the extent of the damage. Again, a better inspector might have told you why caulking was needed (to prevent water penetration and damage), but it certinaly is not a requirement.

As for providing estimated repair costs: PA law actually forbids inspectors from offering them unless they are stated as a range of costs, and the source of the costs can be identified. (you really should try to find the PA inspection Law - it is called Act 114, I think from 1999). If his costs were off, but cite a source, that is all he is required to do. If he gave costs with no source, he may have a problem.

Tub overflows are often not tested (not required) as they require filling the tub to aout 12 inches (quite a lot of water). If there is a problem, that can be one GIGANTIC mess, and generally the tub overflow is not often used even by homeowners, making it less significant. Sink overflows are frequently tested (less water) but are also not required.

As for evaluating plumbing and electrical: Looking for signs of leaks where pipes are concealed and inspecting visible pipes is pretty much all that is required. With electrical, evaluating the service entry cable, panel, and wiring at the panel, outlets, lights and switches is all that is required (and even then, only a "representative number" of outlets have to be tested.) Again, a TOTAL disservice to the client - but again, that is why finding an inspector who exceeds standards is so important (I know, no help to you now!)

The contract - I am not sure, but I think PA requires one.... if not, I am SURE that the inspectors E&O requires one. I know I wouldn't do an inspection without one. It is also possible that you agreed on that contract to use a mediator rather than a court for such problems (some people have added these clauses, not sure how PA courts handle them).

Regarding notice to the inspector: Photographs and contractor opinions all help strengthen your case, but unless you can prove that that area was not blocked by a couch during the inspection, or that the damage was clearly visible, you may have a problem with this part. (After all, you didn't see it either -I know, you're not the inspector, but you get my drift here).

Again, I am sorry I am a downer, I am just trying to give you some info. Hope it help
Web Reference: http://www.SherlockHI.com
4 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 1, 2007
I think there are a few issues that you are addresing here. And let me say up front that I feel badly for you and wish there was more I could do to help you. You obviously have several issues here and a great deal of frustration and expense that could have been avoided.

I can only speak with any degree of knowledge aobut the items pertaining to the inspector/inspection.

Here are the items working against you (I know that isn't what you want to hear, but I am trying to provide accurate answers, not happy ones):

1) Somewhere there likely exists an inspection agreement or contract that spells out pretty clearly your responsibilities if you uncover any issues. If that exists, and there is such a clause, you probably will have problems based on the fact that you did not call the inspector with each item.

2) By NOT contacting the inspector or seller, and simply having the repairs performed you did not give anyone a chance to address the issues or (and this does happen sometimes) to correct the issue., and now no record of such damage exists (except for the word of the contractor who did not see the property at the time of inspetion and cannot attest to what conditions existsed at that time (this is critical when attempting to determine fault with an inspector). You also did not begin any paper trail, which weakens tyour case (while I am sure it is not the case, how does the court know that you didn't want upgrades, etc, and simply pay off a friendly contractor to testify on your behalf?)

3) An inspection is (by definition) a NON INVASIVE, VISUAL inspection. (here is the State of PA's definition: "Home inspection." A noninvasive, visual examination of some combination of the mechanical, electrical or plumbing systems or the structural and essential components of a residential dwelling designed to identify material defects in those systems and components, and performed for a fee in connection with or preparation for a proposed or possible residential real estate transfer.)

Again, somewhere there is a reference to a Standard of Practice that the inspector is required to be held "in substantial compliance" with. Whatever organization he belongs to (NACHI, ASHI, NAHI) is likely the prevailing standard of practice. You will find that they are pitifully minimal and do not require ,and sometimes it specficially prevents, the inspector from identifying mold (particaulrly if he is not a Certified Mold Inspector, as this can lead to additional liability for the inspector). Referring for a mold test could have been done, in most cases, but not if the inspector is not qualified to identify mold.

4) As far as I know there is no zoning needed to have multiple phone lines, and operating a business from a home (as many Relators, Inspectors, and other small business people do) does not require any specific zoning, but your township may be different.

5) If the roots are on the interior (hidden) side of the drop ceiling, the inspector is not required to remove ceiling tiles or panels to inspect the concealed area. Despite what your lawyer thinks about these being "damning," the industry standards of practice have been tired many times in court and compiance with the SOPs is all that is required of an inspector.

Inspectors fear litigation. For this reason, many rigidly ahdere to the SOPs, refusing to exceed them, with the following logic: If they exceed the SOP in one way (for example, looking under teh ceiling panels) how can they defend that they didn't exceed them in other instances (like look under the area rug or move the furniture to find other defects)?

Often having two inspectors is an asset. If you want to follow each around, there is usually a lead inspector testing major functions, while the other handles more mundane functions like testing outlets, doors, windows, etc. Again, inspectors are not all created equal - I like to walk and talk with my clients, educating as I go, and answering questions to ensure there is no miscommunication or unaswered questions.

Now for the good news:
Yes,the inspector should have identified a missing drip edge.

If your report has photos, this can help you establish that items were missed during the inspection (like the non-existent drip edge).

Inspectors ARE liabile for their work, and PA does not allow "limitation of liability" clasues, so the inspector cannot limit his liability to "the cost of the inspection" as is written in many standard contracts. The court would throw that right out.

You may have a case against the sellers for fraud with regard to hiding damages they knew to exist, and falsifying the disclosure, but I am not an attorney or a REaltor, so I do not have any useful insight there.

Now, for the big issue: under current PA law, you must commence legal action against the inspector within one year from the date of presentation of the report.

I know this is not what you wanted to hear....
Web Reference: http://www.SherlockHI.com
3 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 1, 2007
Maureen,

I am extremely upset at your situation! I say upset because I've heard of this happening to other people before and it really gets my blood boiling when I know that there are people out there that are sneaky and devious and could care less about ruining other people's lives!

Obviously Joe has seemingly provided some excellent information and has probably addressed all of your questions as adequately as he can. (I haven't read all of his comments here as it's 11:36 pm and I am experiencing a mixture of extreme tiredness w/ my always normal level of ADD, so I apologize if I sound redundant here... this has turned out to be a long thread).

Anyway, not sure how it is in PA, but did the seller's agent (the nephew) notify you that there was relation there during the transaction in writing? If not, may be something there?

Who and where was your agent in all of this? Has she / he had an experience in real estate over 2 months? Not saying it's your agent's responsibility to inspect your home and also give it the Clean bill of health, but sounds like some of your issues are pretty obvious...no? How did he / she consult you and was he /she even there during the inspection?

Who picked out the inspector? Your agent? Where you given a selection to choose from?

Bottomline: Unfortunately Bad things happen to Good people and that's life. However, if you and your husband HONESTLY and TRULY believe 110% that you were ENTIRELY mislead by the sellers, inspector, agents (listing agent and yours), then obviously it's really going to be your burden of proof to bring the evidence to fruition to build a case.

One last thing: in TX, brokers, and inspectors have E&O along with a Recovery Fund if you are awarded damages if your case is awarded such recourse.
Web Reference: http://www.jmbsa.com
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 1, 2007
Speaking from an inspector's perspective, your inspector should have insurance (it is required of inspcetors in PA), but you may not have much success in pursuing that avenue if you have not been in direct contact with him.

For example, in my contract (the agreement you likely signed prior to the inspection) it states that should any claims or concerns arise, you are to contact me within 48 hours of noticing the issue, and I then have 5 days to review and assess the situation. No repairs are to be made (unless they are of an emergency nautre) without allowing me an opportunity to review the problem.

The reason for this is to ensure open communication, make all parties aware (in writng) of concerns (which begins a paper trail) and allow the inspector to determine if something was missed or if it is a condition that could not have been reasonably observed during a non-invasive, visual inspection.

I know this may not be what you want to hear, but that is the reason there are contracts and such clauses. Iwould review your contract and begin with contacting the agent and inspector.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 31, 2007
There are organizations in every state that help people like you. FIND ONE.
There is certainly recourse if disclosures were ignored or not properly represented.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 7, 2007
Maureen,

Laws for everything are different all over, and it is more a reflection of the priorities of the locals. There is a better law being proposed in the sate Senate. Write your State Senator and State Rep and tell them your feelings.

As for radon, 48 is very high. 4.8 is not acceptable and remediation is still required. Please share the name of the outfit that installed it by your bedroom so that I never make the mistake of referring them (just plain dumb). A radon test is sunject ot the EPA requirements for conducting the test or it is considered invalid. One of the criteria is that the home must remain under closed conditions for at least 48 hours while the sample is being collected. This means no open doors or windows (one open window can cut the radon level in half) for 48 hours, except normal use of entering and existing. Contractors and movers, etc disturb the test and can yield a false result - so the company is correct.

My question is what kind of testing equipment are they using where they can "drop" it and spoil the result? The test canisters are either E-Perms (teflon disks in a plastic chamber read on site with a special reader), activated charcoal (you guessed it - charcoal, in a plastic container read at a lab), or a continuous radon monitoring machine which produces a readout every hour (can't really drop that now can you?). So........huh? Dropped?

There is a tenuous link between radon and lung cancer. The EPA supports this assertion, hence the popularity of testing. The orginal study came about by testing uranium miners who were dying at a higher than usual rate from lung cancer. The study is flawed because there was no control for things like smoking.

The EPA admits that incidents of what they consider "radon related" lung cancer are much higher among smokers than non-smokers. Othe studies have been performed. One exposed animals to high levels of radon (WAY higher than 48) - and found increased occurence of lung tumors (yeah, if you sit mice on a pile of uranium for months, I would think something like that might happen). The others attempted to test for residential levels of radona dn link it to lung cancer. Some found a relationship, but many others did not.

Even combining all the data in the world, the best the scientific community could say was "there seems to be a slightly higher risk of lung cancer with exposure to residential radon." Not exactly a smoking gun. And of course, there was again no control for things like smokers, etc. in the studies. Finally a Swedish test of non-smokers was conducted and also claims a link, but this test also has its critics in the forensic science community.

Clear as mud, no?

To top it off, the EPA has set the limit at 4 picocuries. Why? Because this level is "safe" or not harmful? No!!! Because they estimate that they can cut radon related deaths by 2-4 % by doing so! Not eliminate these deaths, or dramaticially reduce them, or produce MUCH safer homes....nope....to reduce the risk by an ESTIMATED 2-4%.

One last note: the international measure for radon concentration is in Bq/m (cubed). The UK action level is 400, the Canadian level is 800, the US level is about 150. To eleimate risk from radon, scientists would recommend a level of 40. So, why not set the level at 40? Because it would cost so much that no one would do it.... so they set it at a cost-effective, but nearly useless, level.

OK - rant over.
Web Reference: http://www.SherlockHI.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 5, 2007
Sorry about your experience Maureen:
Unfortunately, you pretty much have no options but making the repairs and getting on with life. We all have different degrees of finding a place acceptable. From looking at houses recently, it seems that people wear them out and then move. Its fortunate that you are able to afford to make the repairs, and keep your house.
Regarding suing:
If a law firm won't take it on contingency.....they don't feel very strongly that you will win.....and that says it all.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 4, 2007
Maureen:
Personally, I think you were "wronged" by the sellers. Everything else I think was just poor judgment or lack of knowledge. I would not "hire" an attorney but I would look for assistance from your local housing department for legal assistance and/or financial assistance. You are right that the protection for home buyers is seriously lacking but it is slowly changing with disclosure laws and home inspectors. Home inspection is still relatively new in the centuries old tradition of buying real estate.

After we bought my home (in Western Springs, IL) the sewer backed up. The plumber said that 80% of the time (with old homes in this area) a sewer back up occurs within the first year of ownership. It has become so severe with lawsuits and complaints that the next county over is evaluating mandatory sewer inspections prior to a sale. The added problem however is that when a sewer backs up because of tree roots clogging the pipe and the pipe is routed out, it's like pruning a tree. The roots will then grow back even faster.

We have rehabbed many homes. My dad used to be a builder. I got a real estate brokers license and my husband trained to be a home inspector. I have suffered in the past with severe depression. The stress I have now dealing with rehabbing and selling this Oak Park home has caused me to have anxiety attacks and an unbelievable amount of anger. I believe I am far more educated than the "average" home buyer or seller and real estate agent. My attorney (normal for all real estate transactions in IL) has been impressed with things in the "standard" contract that most agents and lawyers miss. I too am amazed at how well I am holding up. That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger! But I see the mistakes I have made and analyze them. Hindsight is 20/20. If you knew what you know now back then, you would have done things differently. However, looking back, knowing now that you didn't know these things, is there anything you could have done?

Unfortunately, you made a bad investment. Everybody does sometime. Look on the bright side:

"I keep telling myself that this isn't Hurricane Katrina and those people had it worse."

"because we were forced to remodel at this time, we may as well have it look nice."

You are making "it better for others who buy a home in the future."

Your in-laws are now living in an "upscale neighborhood" with family who cares about them.

You are surrounded by "birds, geese, and deer that can be seen here."

You are smart and wiser now.

With all the health problems and troubles and what you see everyday by being a nurse, you need to remember that life is short. You need to try and enjoy the people you love. Recite the Serenity Prayer every time you are feeling out of control and stressed.

* * * * * God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. * * * * *

It's only money, you can't take it with you. Sit down and set some priorities. Maybe take a little of that loan money and buy a party tent and heater to make a little outside oasis from all the mess and stress.

Sincerely,
Ruth
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 2, 2007
Ruthless, Other/Just Looking in 60558
MVP'08
Errors and Omissions Insurance. If they say something wrong or leave something out.
Ruth
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 2, 2007
Ruthless, Other/Just Looking in 60558
MVP'08
Good advice, regarding the BBB, Ruth. i would also recommend Angie's List and other consumer-oriented formats, but generally these places will want you to have contacted the inspector to provide them the opportunity to review the concerns and give them some chance to address them.

Josh - PA does require E & O, but there is no state review of it and it is a self-policing kind of thing, with little ability to do much about it after the fact (no recovery fund). Even if the agent gave choices of inspectors (not required in PA), it often doesn't help unless a buyer knows what questions to ask. A bad inspector can be a great salesperson (they almost have to be to survive).

Not be self-promoting, but I did a blog on this topic a few months ago - maybe the info can help others in the future: http://activerain.com/blogsview/206184/How-To-Hire-a
Web Reference: http://www.SherlockHI.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 2, 2007
Maureen:
I am so glad that you found this forum to vent and that Joe could provide you with such wonderful information. I agree with you that Ian's comment sounded rude, however, I don't think he meant it that way. I'm on this forum because of what you said, "I wish there was a way I could make it better for others who buy a home in the future." Unfortunately, the bad news Joe is informing you of is pretty much accurate from my experience. I agree with you that I have had better inspectors but I have also had ones that "appeared" lazy but in fact were just doing the minimum to protect themselves from liabilities. We had one inspector do an awesome job in Michigan and the next month we needed an inspection in IL. The MI inspector didn't have anyone to refer us to but a friend did. He raved about the inspector but the person who showed up was not the person I was referred to and he did a lousy job. I pointed out more things than he did. I felt it was a waste of my money. This wasn't the first time. A week earlier I had hired an engineer to assess the house because I knew it had foundation problems. The engineer cost me $350 for an undocumented overview opinion. When I pressed him for more specifics and advice, he said he couldn't without doing soil tests and calculations that would cost several thousands of dollars to determine. I then spoke with a civil engineer friend and he explained all of the liability issues with giving advice.

As for the mold, is it possible it was a dry day when you had the inspection? My house smells like dog when it is humid but not when it is dry outside.

As for the new verses old windows. If the advertising said "new windows" and not "all new windows", that means that there are at least two new windows.

When you are looking at a house to buy, you should open all the cupboards and invade their privacy. That is why most people go back for a second showing before making an offer. The first showing is polite, the second showing is invasive.

The sellers are just not the same caliber that you are. When you buy a car, do you expect that every seller always gets an oil change every 3 months just because you always change your oil every three months? I found out that my parents went over a year without an oil change. The bugs should have been a clue that they don't maintain their home. Everyone can get bugs for one reason or another, but someone actively trying to sell their home with an infestation obviously doesn't care.

My advice is to look into mediation against the sellers with the help of your Realtor. As for the inspector, contact the Better Business Bureau and they can set you up with mediation if the inspector cares at all about his reputation.

Good luck,
Ruth
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 1, 2007
Ruthless, Other/Just Looking in 60558
MVP'08
I appreciate the kind words, and unfortunately there is not too much I can do to help buyers become better educated about the process ( I post at DIYnetwork, here, and a few other sites where regular people have real questions I can help with.

I am looking for PA ACt 114, and all I can find are incomplete links. I think this is it:
http://www.legis.state.pa.us/CFDOCS/Legis/PN/Public/btCheck.…

Anyway, the info about the cost estimates is correct: it must be stated as a range, identify the source of the estimate, and also must recommend you obtain estimates from contractors.

With failed thermal seals, I always recommend repair (which I note is often difficult, or costly) or replacement (preferred). 9Side note - there are an increasing number of dealres who will attempt to repair you failed seals with the window intact, I am not sure how effective this is.) While it is a cosmetic issue in most cases, with wood casements, I can see how rot is a concern and while I might not have discussed that possibilty specifically, I generally recommend replacement anyway. (And I will now be sure to add that specific language to my reports - thanks!!)

The fogginess occurs between the panes (it is neither interior nor exterior) it is condensation trapped between panes. When that has a chance to drip out ino the wooden portion of the window encaseing the pane, I can see how that could cause the bottom portion of the sash to rot (not a concern in vinyl). I would think that such rotting would be noticed when you tried to close windows (the portion around the handles may feel soft) and if I found it on one, I certainly would check the others.

Of course, maybe I am not understanding your problem clearly. This site does a fair job of explaining the condition I am thinking of to see if it matches your problem:
http://www.freewindowcleaningtips.com/removing-moisture.htm

Opening cabinets may not be included on a standard inspection, but you almost have to open the undersink cabinet to see the drain and p-trap, so this should have been inspected. Where I see evidence of rodents, etc, I always point it out. It is (again) outside the SOPs, and many inspectors adhere rigidly to those precious SOPs for protection in case they get sued (seems like a self fulfilling prophecy, doesn't it?)

I feel badly for you and wish I could help in some way. Please feel free to conact me privately if you have any other questions (email is on my website). And good luck!!
Web Reference: http://www.SherlockHI.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 1, 2007
Wow...now this didn't seem as 'down' as your other responses. I know you thought it did, but
I am learning so much! One of the first things that comes to mind, is that I wish we would
have hired YOU as an inspector so you would have explained all of this first. We thought
we were doing the right thing by hiring an inspector...I think we would have found more
things than they did to tell you the truth.

He did not cite any resources for the estimated costs of repair. As far as the windows
go, he gave a cost to repair...it turns out we have to replace...a HUGE difference in
cost. Question: If you were inspecting a home and seals were broken on non-vinyl
windows with wood casements (another word I didn't know before this happened),
and you'd found some wood rot on a few...wouldn't you check all of them more
closely and determine if the entire windows needed to be replaced because
there was rot all around? I haven't had anyone tell me otherwise and we are
about to sign the contract to replace them. Aren't we sealing in that 'fogginess'
or moisture that we thought was exterior if we fix around it?

I kind of understand the noninvasive thing as a buyer, because we wouldn't
open their cupboards in the kitchen, etc....it would feel as though we were
invading their privacy. I don't understand that law though for an inspector.
I know I can't fight city hall...but if I'd opened all those cupboards I would
have noticed they were infested with vermin as well. I know this might
sound like I'm making this up, but I'm not. Wouldn't an inspector notice
there were traps set up in all kinds of places? Our son did the day we
moved in. It took us two months to finally not see evidence of any more.
That's another thing that was not disclosed and these people lived
here more than 20 years. They can't say they didn't notice all this stuff.

Sorry if I sound angry at you...I'm not...just venting here. I wish there
was a way I could make it better for others who buy a home in the
future. I think whenever we no longer have to move my in-laws again,
we will sell this house (disclose everything even if it means losing the
sale), recommend you as the inspector (however, that may cause
problems for the buyers to use the sellers' recommended inspector)
and rent...at least for a few years to get over this and let somebody else
fix everything and pay for it. Believe it or not, this is an upscale neighborhood.
We weren't here a month and had to take a line of credit and had to extend
it even more after that. Next will be selling off our 401K retirement money
and take the penalties. This surely isn't fun. We are really angry that this
kind of thing can happen and really relate to people who lose everything
and their insurance companies try to deny the claim.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 1, 2007
I kind of resent the response that indicates that we think everybody did something wrong but us. It was
very cold and unthinking and I couldn't possibly list everything here when the number of characters is limited. Let's just name a few that the inspector missed and we couldn't have seen when taking a tour of
the house: No drip edge, evidence of water damage in the lower level that was immediately noticed by
the contractor...we just thought it was a bad wallpapering job...tons of mold behind the wallpaper. Although the inspector had denied on his report that he had done a mold inspection, as a professional in that field being paid by us, he should have been 'inspecting' for water damage and recommended a mold
inspection. There were also roots growing half way into the dropped ceiling area in the lower level. We did contact an attorney with our photos, and he said the root thing was the most damning photo of the
negligence of the inspector. In response to other questions, the sellers' agent (their nephew) advertised the home as having a new roof and new vinyl windows. The roof is not new and the vinyl windows are on
the side of the house that would be most noticed. The agent told us there was 'another offer on the table'
(which the attorney rolled his eyes at) and that we could only spend one hour looking at the house because the owners would be coming home. We figured we could iron out any 'issues' based on the inspector's reports. He gave us estimates on the things he DID find that must have been based on what things cost in the 1950's. Now, I know it sounds like we are stupid and maybe we are, but we can't be expected to know what a 'drip edge' is...that's what professionals are for. We can't know everything...even the costs. The owners: covered wood rot with tape and painted it to match the wood around the windows, stained some wood the same color as the deck and placed a picnic table over it (also stained the same color) and the first time we had the family over (one week after moving in), we found that wood and moved it only to find a large hole in the deck where anybody could put their foot into and break a leg. Need I go on? It doesn't stop there. These people had 16 different phone lines in the house...obviously running some kind of business here (they DID say they owned their own business) and this house isn't even in a place zoned for that. Why wasn't that noticed? More responses would be appreciated. Oh...and we did not contact the owners or inspectors, because we thought if we did and then decided to take this to court, they would put their defense together before being served. The attorneys we spoke to at another cost to us, never suggested that we contact these people, but to possibly serve them with a notice of intent to sue and possibly there will be a settlement before having to go to court. We were also told we had two years to address the issue and we are hoping we can figure out a way to afford the attorney. We have never sued anybody in our lives, and it is very difficult for us to do it. Lawsuits are overdone these days. But we we had the wool pulled over our eyes and it has inconvenienced us tremendously. My husband and I haven't slept in the same room since July because there isn't enough room. I have mattresses up against the wall and boxes, etc. and he has the same situation going on. We both have small paths to the bed. I don't even have a dresser. I keep telling myself that this isn't Hurrican Katrina and those people had it worse, but we are angry because this all happened due to 1) dishonest people 2) a negligent professional who didn't do what we paid him to do. I will be happy to continue this conversation until we are sure we know how a majority of you think we should handle this. One other thing: My definition of 'inspection' is not equal to just 'looking'. We have had inspectors on previous houses who filled bathtubs, turned on every appliance, ran every faucet, etc. There were two inspectors on this team, and
not only would it be difficult to be two places at once, we shouldn't have to be. Someone told us that inspectors cannot be sued because they can't be held liable. I am a nurse. I would LOVE to have a job like that...get paid and not have to answer to anything I do. I hope whoever said that was wrong. Thank you for your interest.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 31, 2007
Something is missing in this question..it appears everybody involved did something wrong except you...I find it hard to believe that everyone else did something wrong....maybe there was a communication issue.

You need to clearly list the sequence of events that lead up to where you are today, from the first time you looked at the property to date. The only thing that concerns you is what was your expectations of the house...and what was there.

It is better served to use your energy to figure out what exactly is wrong, and how it was overlooked by yourself...then the inspector and sellers agent, and try to come to a decision as to how to make things right from your original perception of the home. It is too late to blame, and may be easier to solve the issues by listing the facts, and dealing with them one at a time.
Web Reference: http://iansellsnola.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 31, 2007
Maureen,
Seek the help of local professionals, have you spoken to the inspector? What was his response? Have you spoken with the seller? What was there response. Have you indicated that there might be a law suit? Sometimes this will bring people to action without having to actually file a law suit. Maybe you can get an attorney to write a letter on your behalf. It is a touchy situation. It is a good thing you have been taking pictures. What kind of problems did you find? If it is something behind walls etc. there is likely no way for the inspector or the seller to have known. Please give us more details. Just post another answer here.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 31, 2007
I would recommend that you contact the agent who represented you in the sale. Ask your agent if mediation is available for you. There are still costs involved in doing this, however, it is less costly than legal fees. As I'm sure this situation is much more complex than what you have written, there's no way for anyone to consult you on this matter except an attorney or the agents involved in the transaction.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 30, 2007
Hi Maureen:

I agree with Ute that you should contact the agent that helped you in this purchase. Additionally, did you have a real estate attorney handle your transaction? If so, contact that attorney and see if he would be willing to give you some free post-closing advice. Although he will certainly not sue on your behalf for free, he may be willing to provide you some initial insight into your situation.

Like Ute, I am concerned that you continue to spend money (taking out a second loan??) to repair the issues (I hope you are documenting in pictures and in writing EVERY single thing your contractor is doing) you are certain existed prior to your purchase. Disclosure violations can be very difficult to prove, and your simply taking pictures may not be sufficient. Unless you are in grave danger by leaving these issues unrepaired, you need to speak with an advocate of your transaction (your agent, your attorney) to find out what your next step should be before spending any more money!

I feel for you. Best of luck.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 30, 2007
Hello Maureen. You are in a tough spot here since you can't afford to sue either the prior owners or the inspector. I would recommend that you contact the agent who represented you in the purchase of the house to see if they can help you strike a compromise. I can't tell from your question what you have already tried. Therefore, it's difficult to tell you what you should do. Have you at all spoken to the inspector? I can't imagine that you spent $75,000 on repairs without ever having contacted the former owners and/or the inspector. You also don't mention what kind of things were covered up. While the contractor may testify that the repair items would have to have pre-existing conditions, depending on how obvious the problems were, his testimony may not prove that the sellers knew about the problems. I am sorry I can't be of more help.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 30, 2007
Ute Ferdig -…, Real Estate Pro in New Castle, DE
MVP'08
Contact
Something like "legal aid". If they cannot help you, directly, I would assume they can direct you. Your local district attorney's office might be of assistance, as well.

which westchester are you in?
Try this:
http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&um=1&ie=UTF-8&…
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 8, 2007
Maureen:
I don't know if you would appreciate this joke or not but you might want to take a look:
http://www.trulia.com/voices/Entertainment_and_Nightlife/Any…
Ruth
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 7, 2007
Ruthless, Other/Just Looking in 60558
MVP'08
Hey Chuck...you're a tease...have any ideas where I should start? That is exactly what I'm on here
for is to find out where to go, not to be told there's a place to go and not be given a hint as to
where to look. Please give more info. Thanks.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 7, 2007
Hey Joe...here I am trying to figure out what recourse there is in all of this, and you want me to get
sued for defamation of character for these radon dudes? ha ha Thanks for the info...maybe if I ever
get to your website I will share that info with you, but not on a public forum. With the way things have
been going for us lately, it would be our luck that some search engine would pick up that we're talking about radon remediation, and this company would see their name posted as a 'don't ever refer'. With
all of your knowledge, Joe, I'm not really sure how you live with yourself...ha ha. I truly wish I'd known all that you do when we ventured into this 'money pit'. Well, as far as installing it right next to the bedroom
window when there was clearly other places to put it, only goes with the fact that the sellers had to hire them...most likely found them at a dayworkers' place or something. (have to keep a sense of humor, right?) Well, I guess it was something I was definitely wrong about as far as testing while the doors were opening and closing often. Somebody had pointed that out when I mentioned it, so it made sense to me and I was running with it. It still doesn't explain the excuse about 'dropping it' though...and for the unreturned phonecalls for weeks until three people had to call every hour for a few days at a time.

We are close to moving downstairs now...end of next week if the schedule is kept for once. They are so far behind schedule now, we just go with the flow...as stressful as it is to be living like this. Ever watch "Everybody Loves Raymond"? I live Debra's life except in one house right now...ha ha. I am going on 57 years old and was shown how to plant tulips, make pancakes, and the real good one, was being shown how to boil broth and add noodles, which is really not far from 'she doesn't know how to boil water'. My in-laws go through our garbage and we get a rundown on how we could use every margarine tub and every jar for other uses. Do you know how many of those type of things are part of life? I love them dearly, but living on top of each other is kind of trying to say the least. Actually, I think I handle it better than my husband does. I'm sure they find it just as difficult to live with us. It's just kind of odd to be asked where we're going and when we'll be home at our age...hmmmm.

Well, today I received a lesson on radon...something I really knew nothing about. What other kind of testing should I be aware of? Somebody here mentioned testing for lead. I saw something on TV today that said homes built before some time in 1977 didn't have laws for building with lead products. This house, if I'm not mistaken, was built IN 1977...leave it to us to have to research exactly when in 1977 this law was passed. When they talked about the costs of hiring someone to test for lead I nearly fainted. Maybe it was overkill, but this program showed that this lady had an expensive serving dish with alot of lead in it. So what does one do...have a test done on every single thing they own?

I realize we are finding out quite a bit about hazards in this world, but I remember while growing up in a family all with Belgian background, going to picnics and family outings with lots of people...all smiling, laughing, eating, smoking cigars, pipes, or cigars, playing horseshoes and having a great family time. They would have children's games like hiding pennies in a pile of hay and having the kids scramble for them, relay races, etc. Most of these people were ... well, let's say stocky...portly...may just plain fat...but they weren't overly conscious about these things. They lived life and were happy.

With all of these scientific studies, we are forced to spend money on all of this testing, given the ever changing warnings on what to eat and what not to eat, this diet and that diet, and basically to live a life without any pleasure whatsoever. The young people are made to feel ugly by the standards set on television. That is how people are supposed to look. I remember my grandmother telling me when I was 14 years old that I looked good, pinched my cheeks and said "good and fat". To her that was healthy. I went to my room and cried.

So what other testing for homes will they come up with? Will anybody EVER be able to afford to buy a home anymore? Even now I'm wondering how young couples starting out are even able to make it. Most of them will never own a home at all. Sad...very sad.

Okay...off my soapbox for tonight.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 6, 2007
Hi...there have been a few responses since I was able to get back to this. I'll try to take them in order and address the person who posted:

Joe: I appreciate your input. It's interessting actually, to know how very different the real estate laws are in different states. Does anybody think they should be universal throughout the country? Years ago, people didn't travel much past their own village, city, or town. There probably weren't even laws then. Neighbors would help each other build homes properly. Then they traveled more. Now they are traveling all over the place. It's difficult for a home buyer to know the laws of every state or even to know the right questions to ask. Young people used to be able to learn from their parents how to go about such things, but today, a young exec who is transferred to another state can have everything his/her young family may have gained on their first home, lost during purchasing one in the state he/she was transferred to. It's really sad. If nothing else, we have learned NOT to give our children any advice even if they ask. Pretty sad world, isn't it? Yes, we can learn from them also, so I am not saying we can't learn from our children. Much to the contrary, our children and grandchildren teach us things all the time. But in areas like this, often they ask somebody who has more experience. I wonder why with real estate, each experience has to have different rules, as pointed out here by various responses.

Joyce: Yes, there was a 'walk-through' to make sure everything is still working. We are told when the closing is, and the walk-through leaves us about 45 minutes to check this out. Naturally we go to the things the inspector had pointed out and that's about all the time there is. In our previous sales and purchases it was the same way. Also, there was one of my main points in your response...I would have LOVED to have had the inspector recommend we extend the inspection time to accommodate further inspections. This house was in such disrepair, (which we didn't know was so extensive), that I really do think an inspector would or should have noticed it enough to recommend such a thing. It is required to have a radon remediation set-up on the houses here to keep the radon level below 4.0 The sellers were required to install this per the inspector and they did. The radon test showed a level of 48 !!!!!!!!!! The company they hired to install this thing, put it right next to the bedroom window so we hear a constant drone in the bedroom. The company was supposed to supply us with the retest results and they did but it was still 4.8 so they were to change out the fan and redo the test. They redid the test but we weren't hearing from them regarding the results and they were difficult to contact. We had to get both realtors involved and finally they came out. When I explained that we needed to know the results of the retest, they said that the sample had been dropped so it was no good. I'm a nurse. If you take a sample of blood and the sample is contaminated or dropped...YOU REDRAW IT! You don't just say "Oh well, it broke". Geeeeeeeeeesh! Then they told us they couldn't retest now, because of all the guys coming and going to redo the lower level. This makes no sense because the radon piping goes directly into the ground. We have never lived anywhere that having a radon mediation system was necessary. If this inspector had missed that one, I imagine it would have been another added expense to us when we sold...if we were alive by then from all the radon. Sometimes I wonder how the sellers were still alive and if the radon thing isn't a bunch of bunk. (See how negative I can get when expressing my anger at things? Nobody who knows me can believe it...they are seeing a side of me they've never seen before. So am I. )

Gee G: Ha ha...couldn't resist saying that...you assume we can afford to repair it and will be able to keep it. We are worried about that every single day. My in-laws have a house for sale in one of the worst markets there is: Florida If that sells, things will be better, but until then, we aren't sure we will do anything but either lose it or hope there's a buyer who can see beyond the main floor need for cosmetic help. That's what we'd hoped to do slowly in retirement. Even with their house in Florida sold, we will have to work way past normal retirement age. We just hope to keep our excellent credit rating.

Ruth: Saving the best until last. Sorry...I agree with the written word being misconstrued. You may even have been the brunt of my anger at the situation when I wrote my response. One VERY positive thing you have done for me, is include the website for children's songs. Our son and daughter-in-law are active in childcare and can use that! I do empathize with you and your being in the same situation. It was thoughtless of me to not comment on that the first time. :-)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 5, 2007
Maureen:
Online in type, it is difficult to hear the tone of what is being written. I am not sure if my sincerity came across and I am not sure if you are offended or asking sincere questions for clarification. I think your summary of "get over it, already" is close but not accurate. I don't think you should let anyone trample on you and there ARE things you can change. When I suggested not "hiring" an attorney, it was because I believe you would be throwing good money after bad.

My definition of depression is anger without motivation. You are angry and that is good. I'm hoping that WE can change the real estate laws. I'm angry too. I know more about demolition, mold in houses, carpentry,
plumbing, electricity and wiring, windows, etc. too. When the house was finished, I thought my problems were over. But then my Realtors were just as bad as dealing with the contractors. They were so careless that it is now costing me over $100,000 and I've been having nightmare for a year now.

I'm fighting to prevent what happened to you from happening to others. I am fighting to change the "real estate is local" mentality right here at Trulia because of situations where "it wasn't like that in Michigan." Even if I accomplish nothing more than making sure that a buyer opens every cabinet, it will save someone the trouble you have experienced. I think there should be lemon laws for homes. I agree that an inspector should be liable.

I have helped people here on this forum. It is about the only good in my life right now. I've had a list of troubles like yours in the past year as well. But part of my debt now is that I let my husband buy his dream car because life is short. When you are in debt by $800k, what's another $25k? He loves his car. I wish I could find an oasis that I could enjoy. That's all I was saying.

Now I have to email Joe and see if he can give me some advice.
Sincerely,
Ruth
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 4, 2007
Ruthless, Other/Just Looking in 60558
MVP'08
Hi Ruth,
Your answer sounds to me like "Get over it, already". I am a firm believer in God,
which one reason we came to the decision to try to recoup at least some of the money
not only we have lost, but the in-laws have as well. The upscale neighborhood
is not something they can enjoy; however, it was a way for them to have
a 'sense of pride' that in their lives, they came from nothing to where they are.
Now they feel they have lost everything AGAIN. Their entire legacy (which
they only can see as going down the drain) sits right before their eyes every
day. We have had to have them put on anti-depressants. My husband and I
are not the 'upscale neighborhood type people' but thought this house would
surely be a good investment if in this subdivision. Now we will be disclosing
things that other people didn't, and may have a tough time convincing potential
buyers they don't have to worry.
My father-in-law, who is legally blind, sits in his chair and often says to me
"We didn't deserve this. You should have known better". That really hurts
when one of the things we were saying while looking at this house was
that he could still do one of the few things he can...bake...the center
island in the outdated upper kitchen we'd hoped to update some day would be
truly a delight for him to roll out his dough. Now he can hardly find what
he has used for so many years bake. I don't think he will ever think that
his family cares about him after this. My mother-in-law cried when she
first got here, but is trying to make him see the bright side by
telling him . We are
trying to see the bright side or I wouldn't have said the thing
I did about Hurricane Katrina. Buy a tent and heater and get away
from the mess and stress? We don't have the money to waste
on a tent and my husband is having nightmares
now about Vietnam and also the house. Not a 'camper'. I know that
was only a suggestion, and I get your point. It doesn't mean we should
just 'get over it' and learn from it. Being this close to retiring
is not the time to lose your money, especially when people are living
longer and Social Security is not only shaky but doesn't increase at
the same rate as cost of living.
We are very happy to be here where the children and grandchildren
are, and this would have been the ideal house to have family gatherings.
Their houses are too small because they want their
children to go to college. We gather here, and the thing that
the conversation centers around is this house. Even if we go
somewhere else, that is the topic...none of us can believe it has
happened. It will probably take a while to change our focus...but
I firmly believe someday we will.
We sold a house in our earlier years, and it was nearly two years
later when the buyers called us and told us the garbage disposal
broke. They were young and I imagine this was their first house,
so I explained that they weren't renting any longer and we were
not their landlords. This is an entirely different story.
Yes, we learn lessons in our lives. That is a positive for sure.
I've learned a whole lot about demolition, mold in houses, carpentry,
plumbing, electricity and wiring, windows, etc. Unfortunately I'm too
old to do much with that knowledge physically.
We have piled on many lessons in our
lives, and one of them is that there is "a time for every purpose under
heaven". Knowing this, does not mean we let everyone trample
all over us. The Serenity Prayer does include "the courage to change
the things I can" which is why I am asking these questions...to find
the wisdom to know if this is something that can be changed...
whether for us, others, or both. I don't know if you have ever read
the poem "Tapestry" but it really helped me during stressful
times. I can't quote it, but only tell what is important in it: Have you
ever looked at a beautiful piece of tapestry or a beautifully cross-stitched
picture? Have you seen the back of it? The back looks like a scrambled
up mess, and the front is beautiful. Our lives are like that: Sometimes
all we see is the back side and only God sees the beautiful picture on
the right side. Occasionally in this life, He will give us a sneak peak
at what He is seeing..there is a purpose for everything. I do believe that
about this house situation, whether it be winning a case that will set a
precident for others who are wronged, or fighting to change real estate
laws. That may be what God is leading me to do in my retirement...that
is, assuming I'll ever be able to retire now.
We have had house inspections as far back as 1977 when we sold.a
home, and the bathtub was filled. That was in Michigan. Why would
we expect less years later? Most of our inspections whether we were
the buyer or seller, showed minimal problems and the negotiations
were resolved without problems. It is difficult to accept that people
can ruin lives without having to pay for it at all.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 2, 2007
Look at your sales agreement. Our sales agreement (PA) dedicated alot of paperwork to the inspection clauses. Typically, the inspection "period" is 14 days and the buyers can bring in anyone licensed (inspectors and contractors) to have the run of the place during that time. Also, it is very common to request the inspection period be extended to accomodate specialists such as structural engineers, lead testing, etc..if recommended by the original inspection report.
I don't feel that your real estate agent should be blamed, unless he discouraged you or prevented you from doing an inspection.
Also, did you do a "walk-through" or pre-closing inspection shortly before closing? That is the norm in PA, just to make sure that things are still in working order at time of closing, and the seller has not damaged anything in the move-out.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 2, 2007
Hey guys...what's an E & O ?
I know now that contacting the inspector first to let him address the issue
is the proper procedure, but I don't think it should be, because we would
end up the the same place, wouldn't we? The contract was signed and
we moved in. I think people should be able to take a 'test drive' of a house
that costs wayyyy more than a car. Well, it's not that way and I can
imagine how that would turn out. People would buy houses,
trash them and leave. Even so, with as much money
involved in purchasing a home, there should be opportunity and
laws to protect the consumer between the time of the original signing
of the contract (like a built-in contingency) that would allow the buyer
the extra time to inspect, have more than one inspection and results,
discern which inspectors they want to hire, etc.
Ruth-thank you for your comment about the humid days smelling
like 'an old dog'. These people had a dog they kept in the furnace
room when they weren't home, with his beds etc. (In fact, they
left his stinky beds in there behind the AC unit when they left).
We suspected that possibly it was the dog smell down there
and that possibly their dog did his thing in that room sometimes.
We planned on washing the floors and walls to get the dog
smell out, but from your comment I guess it won't be all gone.
I'm really sensitive to odors down there now and
paranoid something is wrong. I guess we'll find out once
these workmen are gone. We'll clean that
furnace room, make sure we have dehumidifiers going, etc.
before the odor isn't as obvious and we can stop smelling
things that may not be there. We have 2 small miniature
Schnauzers-housebroken. We knew when
we moved that their dog wasn't and we'd have to
replace carpeting upstairs in some rooms...cosmetic
things which we can't afford now. I'm
still not sure I recognize the odors of things yet that we
have experienced during all of this. I do know the rot in
the windows on the main floor was really horrible when
the wood was broken up, and also the wood in the
'sleeper floor' and walls downstairs. The odor was mixed
during the demolition between wood rot,
mold, and dog...who knows now? I just know we are
paranoid there may be a recurrence after this
lower level is completed. We especially feel bad for my in-laws.
He was in Siberia concentration camp after WWII She lost
her family (they weren't Jews and that story
is never told which they still resent). She came over
to the USA with my husband who was 3 years
old, and one small wooden suitcase. She spoke no
English. She worked hard all her life in Detroit,
2-3 jobs at a time to make ends meet. Eventually
she got a job at GM in housekeeping and had good insurance.
Her husband, whom even though we consider him my husband's
original father and our kids the only grandfather
they've ever known, was a baker all his life and paid very little
without benefits at all. They lived frugally so none
of us would have to go without, and have helped us out
many times, even contributing life's savings to this house. We looked for
one in a setting where their final part of life would be comfortable
and peaceful...there are birds, geese, and deer that can be
seen here. We don't know how long they will live We just
hope they can enjoy some of it before they die. Now
we feel guilty that they are amidst boxes and
furniture, and have to dig for things they need in in the garage.
What a way to show our appreciation!
Joe- the link works fine for the laws and we
will wade through over the weekend. Please keep checking back.
We may contact you through your website as long as you
won't charge us for money we absolutely don't have. :-)
We hoped my husband could retire in two to five years
depending on his health. He has diabetes, arthritis, and now
heart problems. My history of breakdowns does not make stress a
good option, but I need to go back to work rather than being here to help
my in-laws with their needs, not knowing what needs there will be.
Our son recently had a serious back injury requiring surgery in 2 weeks...
No idea how much he will need me. I have a bad back so that
limits abilities that I must disclose before being hired. I hope they'll
overlook that based on my experience in my specialty area (dialysis).
These places train the inexperienced but they often leave afterwards,
not liking the job. There is only one dialysis unit to apply to.

I do want to mention something: Our realtor is my son's brother
in-law, making it a sticky situation. We do think he should have noticed
more during the inspection; we have a good relationship with our
daughter-in-law and her family. The sellers had a nephew for their agent
and we think we also have issues with him: new roof? Wrong. Each
person who contributed to this would be a separate complaint. Knowing
this, should we blame ourselves? Who? We take some blame, but we
were wronged.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 2, 2007
Great info Joe as to PA's "loose" policies. Thanks.. I did not know that. Keep up the great work!
Web Reference: http://www.jmbsa.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 2, 2007
...most likely because somebody never shut off the water
prior to freezing, a faucet in the bathroom that with my foot
against the vanity I couldn't even get the handle pulled out and
neither could my husband (not a real big thing, but kind of shows
the kind of lax inspection had gone on).


4) Whatever organization he belongs to (NACHI, ASHI, NAHI) is likely the prevailing standard of practice. You will find that they are pitifully minimal and do not require ,and sometimes it specficially prevents, the inspector from identifying mold (particaulrly if he is not a Certified Mold Inspector, as this can lead to additional liability for the inspector). Referring for a mold test could have been done, in most cases, but not if the inspector is not qualified to identify mold. Even the Lab we
hired to test for the mold said that any inspector should have
known enough and been around enough to suspect there could and
most likely would be mold somewhere. I would think if the
inspector truly was looking out for our interests, he may not
have to put that in his written report, but could have verbally
recommended we have a certified mold inspection.

5) If the roots are on the interior (hidden) side of the drop ceiling, the inspector is not required to remove ceiling tiles or panels to inspect the concealed area. Despite what your lawyer thinks about these being "damning," the industry standards of practice have been tired many times in court and compiance with the SOPs is all that is required of an inspector.


6) I think the attorney may have been alluding to the fact that
in order to inspect the electrical and plumbing, how could
he do that without lifting a ceiling tile and looking...just
speculating, but it makes sense if he's supposed to be
checking those things. As far as electrical, he reported
a faulty outlet, but not lights in the closets being against
code. He did mention that the panel needed to be replaced,
was way off on the amount to do that which we based our
negotiations with the seller on, and we were glad he atleast
noticed that much.

Now for the good news:
Yes,the inspector should have identified a missing drip edge.
(that, together with the broken window seals, should have made
him 'inspect' further for what damage these things may have
caused...he did include some window seals but never checked
for the wood rot they caused, nor the ways the lack of drip
edge may have affected the house. He MUST know why it's supposed to be there, right? We are going to have to replace the windows
involved and had two estimates, both about the same: $14,000.00)

Now, for the big issue: under current PA law, you must commence legal action against the inspector within one year from the date of presentation of the report.
(well, we have less time than the attorney told us, but still have
until the end of April or first of May according to your time table, and I appreciate it that you informed us of that)

I want to make sure that you realize we have no intention of
trying to get our home remodeled by suing somebody. We were
perfectly happy to do that over our years of retirement and
doing alot of it ourselves as we could afford and knew about.
We also know there is a regular expectation to maintain a home
that is reasonable. We intend to separate the 'wants' from
the 'needs' but also expect them to allow for the fact that
our having to gut that lower level and redo it, REQUIRED
that we choose flooring, paint, new stove and refrigerator
due to the mold, new cabinets, etc. and that just because it
now looks better than it ever did, they can't expect us to
choose ugly things to prove we weren't 'remodeliing'. On the
contrary, it was because we were forced to remodel at this
time, we may as well have it look nice. Anything that isn't
the basic expected cost to replace we wouldn't ask for. We
planned to put in a full shower because there wasn't one, and
that's when we hired the contractor...he was going move where
the washer/dryer was located to accommodate for the shower.
We wouldn't expect that part to be paid for by anybody else.
We had also contracted him to gut the upstairs bathroom for
my in-laws so they could help each other in the shower. We
Wouldn't expect others to pay for that.

BUT...after we signed those contracts, we learned about all
the other problems, and the project kept getting bigger and
bigger. We also have estimates from other contractors who
gave estimates on the lower level shower and laundry
reconfiguration and upper bathroom remodel that I believe
we saved. This should also show that we did not know
the contractor prior to this. I have emails showing where
we did find him and also the others who gave estimates.

Again, I thank you for your input and I can't thank you enough.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 1, 2007
Before I begin responding, no matter how I sound, I am not
arguing, just trying to find out the reasons why the consumer
has no recourse, even while under extreme stress from things
like this. I've had psychological problems in the past, and
under the circumstances, I'm holding up quite well...usually
it's after the storm I fall apart and I'm hoping that doesn't
happen. I don't want to 'go there' again. It's bad enough
that stress triggered my husband had to be hospitalized
for heart problems not long after we began uncovering all of
this. Please write again after this...it seems I am getting
a better idea of how things work and I appreciate it.


1) Re: Contract with inspector.
Due to our circumstances, we've had difficulty finding
anything. We had to get away from the mold, of course.
Three out of four of us have respiratory problems. We
actually don't recall there being one, except contacting
them by phone for the date to have it done, but not sure.
Our realtor keeps files, so we are hoping he has a copy.



2) By NOT contacting the inspector or seller, and simply having the repairs performed you did not give anyone a chance to address the issues or (and this does happen sometimes) to correct the issue., and now no record of such damage exists (except for the word of the contractor who did not see the property at the time of inspetion and cannot attest to what conditions existsed at that time (this is critical when attempting to determine fault with an inspector). You also did not begin any paper trail, which weakens tyour case (while I am sure it is not the case, how does the court know that you didn't want upgrades, etc, and simply pay off a friendly contractor to testify on your behalf?)

Have a question: If they can say that we may have paid off the
contractor (highly doubtful seeing as we just moved here from
Florida and didn't know one until we hired him), couldn't someone
also have paid off the inspector? The previous owner was a college
star athlete at Penn State and possibly well known in this whole
area. If not, his trophies and news articles were hung in plain
view...just a thought, but we've become quite paranoid through
all of this. We have a variety of people working on this house
who would testify that the damage done to our lower level could
not have possibly been done in one month.

I did take photographs when we realized this was becoming
"The Money Pit" and I have a good amount of them. The
contractor we hired for the windows is about to start, and
he is not the same one, although the lower level contractor
and most of those he hired saw those windows. The concrete
being replaced and the French drain that was recommended to
prevent further water problems are also being done by a
different contractor. Could we have paid them all off?
I highly doubt that and believe others would agree.


3) An inspection is (by definition) a NON INVASIVE, VISUAL inspection. (here is the State of PA's definition: "Home inspection." A noninvasive, visual examination of some combination of the mechanical, electrical or plumbing systems or the structural and essential components of a residential dwelling designed to identify material defects in those systems and components, and performed for a fee in connection with or preparation for a proposed or possible residential real estate transfer.)


Referring for a mold test could have been done, in most cases, but not if the inspector is not qualified to identify mold. (We have
repeatedly been told that the 'musty smell' should have triggered
him to suggest we have one...whether that musty smell was mold or
not, really didn't matter. He missed wood rot all over the house,
up and down) We lived in Michigan in our early lives, and never
experienced wood rot smell or mold smell because if there was ever
a leak, we maintained our home and took care of it right away.
Then we moved to Florida, and didn't have a basement. We noticed
the 'musty smell' ourselves, but had never had a 'raised ranch'
that was open often to the outside and would experience more
outside exposure to just simple moisture. We expected to have to
buy two or three dehumidifiers to remedy this...not gut the whole
thing. The entire subfloor (sleeper floor) had rotted wood. One
of the attorneys also said that this inspector was obviously lazy
because he didn't know the 'overflow' for the bathtub was allowing
water to go through to the lower level and there was no stopper, that the concrete in front of the front steps had settled toward a corner of the house where water had obviously come in, that there was an open pipe from the outside that still to this day, nobody has any idea what it is for and we had a plumber cap off, that there was no shut-off valve under a sink in the kitchen, that one
of the hose bibs outside had water going backwards as well as
forward...

...to be continued
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 1, 2007
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