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Susan, Home Owner in Minneapolis, MN

I'm doing a remodel project on a home purchased 12yrs ago. I found rotted walls hidden behind aluminium siding and an old workbench. what can I?

Asked by Susan, Minneapolis, MN Mon Feb 20, 2012

do. I am building a new laundry room in an alcove of the garage. there was a large, wall covering workbench spanning a large part of the back wall. I removed the bench and found the wall board on the outside wall of the house rotted and crumbling. aluminum siding had been installed over the rotten board. the inside had been covered by pieces of wood cut to fit in between the studs. do I have any recourse after 12 yrs?

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Not that I know of.

Kirk Duckwall
The Duckwall Team of Realtors
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 15, 2012
Hi, Susan
Oy, this is a difficult problem. I'm sorry you're having issues with rotten wood, etc. But, here's the thing, if you think the previous owners should be held liable for this, you need to know that the onus is on you, the buyer, to prove that the sellers had prior knowledge of this defect and purposely didn't disclose it to you. How are you going to do that? I mean, if you didn't discover this for 12 years, maybe they didn't know it was there either. Maybe it wasn't there when they owned the house.

I would examine your own heart and ask yourself what you would think if you had sold this home a few years ago and the new owners discovered it after they bought.

Also, I would get rid of EVERYTHING that is damaged and replace it. But, first make sure you know what the cause is and rectify that before you do anything.

Good luck~
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 15, 2012
If it were my home, I'd tear out all the rotten stuff and replace it with new materials. First though, I'd try to figure out why it rotted to begin with. Most likely, water is the problem, and it's getting into places it shouldn't be. Find out where it's coming from and fix that problem first.

If you think you can absolutely prove beyond a doubt, that the former owner was aware of a problem and purposely covered it up to conceal a known issue, that might be something to talk to an attorney about. Without that proof, I'm afraid you are going to have to fund these repairs by yourself.

In the last 12 years, if you haven't become very familiar with a caulking gun, this situation probably falls into the category of "deferred maintenance", which was deferred too long and resulted in a moisture infiltration problem.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 21, 2012
I am not, and we are not, attorneys. But since this is a simple matter of facts.....

The statute of limitations runs for 3 years. So that is out. As for any builder's warranties, this would be covered, but runs out at 2 years for the walls and systems. The foundation and roof are covered by the statutory warranty, but even those run out at 10 years. It is my opinion that you are on your own. The next time you purchase make sure you have a good home inspector that won't miss things like this.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 21, 2012
Unfortunately it sounds like you are out of luck, after 12 years it would be hard to prove that this problem was around 12+ years ago.
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 21, 2012
In order to have any kind of recourse with the former owner they would have had to be aware of what you feel may have been a "cover up" & you would have to be able to provide the supporting evidence to prove it. Furthermore it would depend on if you elected to arbitrate & waive your legal rights or if you elected to go to court in the event of a dispute. There are statutes of limitation involved on an arbitration agreement, since it was 12 years ago seeking a legal consult wouldn’t be out of the question if you could in fact prove this was a material adverse fact that wasn’t disclosed to make the best use of your time. Contractors are only required to warranty their work (labor) for 3 years in the state of MN. To be frank 12 years is a long time & condition of a fiber board can change in this timeframe especially in a moisture laden environment such as a garage... I am not 100% certain on what exactly took place... If this was an interior wall that is damaged & it was not touched when the siding was done there is a good chance they were unaware of it or the siding could have been installed before they even owned it. If the siding was done recently & water intrusion is coming in from the exterior wall I would suggest seeing if there is still an existing warranty from the contractor that installed the siding. Worth a shot anyway..It’s not uncommon unfortunately for someone to do this kind of patch job. There appears to be some negligence here if the contractor elected not to cut the rotting board out. Using house wrap (tyvek) was not mandatory 12 years ago & codes are much more stringent today Regardless it appears you have some moisture concerns in the garage that should be addressed before finishing off any section of it this should be checked out to make the most of your investment, especially it's attached! . Best, Mel
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 20, 2012
At this point, you really don't have much recourse. You can't really prove the former owner covered up the rotting wall board. Their agruement is going to be after 12 years, this could have very well happened under your watch. Did you have a home inspection? If so, was anything noted? Did the former owner hire someone to reside the home, maybe they weren't aware of the issue either.
It is unfortunate that there is damage to your home, but I feel you are going to spend more money and invest more time trying to go after the former owner than you would if you had a contractor just come and fix the issue.
As I always suggest, A call to a qualified real estate attorney is always your best bet. We as agents are asked to interpret the law and it's the attorney's job to know the law.

Good luck with it,

Kyle Hinrichs
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 20, 2012
What year was the home built?

Kirk Duckwall
The Duckwall Team of Realtors
Edina Realty
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 20, 2012
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