We have a deck that is not up to code from pryor ownes, where do we stand legally?

Asked by Debria Jones, Reading, PA Mon Dec 1, 2008

We want to repair the floor on our upper deck and had a contractor come in and give us a price to repair. He found that the roof was never attached good and it is not up to code. I have contacted our home oweners insurance, and the home warrenty but they cannot help us. I have a call into our real estate agent to see if there is anything that can be done. Can you help with advise?

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Loretta Leib…, Agent, West Lawn, PA
Thu Sep 6, 2012
I see another agent had this advice, and I agree, you should start with your Title company because these things are typically covered if you purchased the Enhanced Title Policy.
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Dennis Arner, Agent, Reading, PA
Wed Jul 14, 2010
If they did not get a permit you can receive compensation. I have seen this happen.
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Kathleen Rho…, , Reading, PA
Tue Dec 2, 2008
I am going to assume that you purchased your home recently. The deck should have been mentioned on the SDS if the sellers added it during their ownership. Using your agents help, if you discover they added it and omitted it from the SDS, you might want your agent to contact the selling agent to see if this can be resolved to everyones sattisfaction. Let them know you are thinking of contacting a real estate attorney to discuss your options. My hope is that the attorney will give you a free counseling session so you can decide if it would make monitary sense to go after the seller before you need to pay a retainer to the attorney. If you had a home inspection when you purchased the home, you might want to review the section about the deck. That may lead you to getting a second opinion about the current condition of the deck.
0 votes
Neil and Kat…, Agent, West Chester, PA
Mon Dec 1, 2008
One thing to check is with your Title insurance company. If you took advantage of an Enhanced Policy this may fall under their coverage parameters.


Your Real Estate Advisors For Life,

Neil and Kathy Haverly
Exit Elite Realty

P.S A Referral is Sending Someone You Like to Someone You Respect.
0 votes
Bob Waters, Agent, Chesterfield, MO
Mon Dec 1, 2008
It is a good thing to make repairs to your home as a well maintained home will show and possibly sell for more money in any market. A lot of questions need to be answered before you can go much further. First of all, you mention the deck and then the roof, is it a covered porch or is he referring to the roof of the home?
Before you go any further you need to get at least one if not more additional opinions from licensed contractords. Don't tell the next contractor anything about the opinion of the first because you want to hear it from them that there is a problem. After they render their opinion and they say nothing about the roof then you could introduce the topic of the roof and have a discussion then, but not before. Compare what they say to the first contractor and then make a decision.
I don't know how long you have owned the home, but did you have a home inspection performed by an ASHI certified inspector? In his report did he note any issues with the decks or roofing? If he did, did you receive compensation from the seller for repairs that you would have to perform? Is the deck an add-on to the house and if so, was it done by a licensed contractor using permits? If it was, then it should have been inspected by a city/county building inspector in your area. This usually guarantees compliance, but not always. Did the previous homeowner add this to the house and if so, did they disclose this on the "Seller's Disclosure"? If they had the work done or did it themselves but did not disclose it to you, then you make have a case for recovering the expense of that additional repair. You are doing the right thing in contacting your agent and I hope they can give you some of the necessary answers.
You need to get as much information in front of you to be able to make the right decision. One thing to think about is if you are replacing the wood on the deck and if you can afford it, you may want to replace all of it using material made from wood fiber and plastic such as TREX. It is very low maintenance and will last a lot longer than wood. It may cost a little more for the material but you will save money in the long run in your cost of maintenance.
Web Reference:  http://bobwatershomes.com
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Joe Michalski, , Philadelphia, PA
Mon Dec 1, 2008
Many disclosures I have seen often completely ignore the section about permits (they just don't answer the question, even if they list the additions/alterations). You may have some recourse, but my experience is that the new owners of the home inherit the problems and liability of previous construction. This is one reason good inspectors will alert you to the signs of potential amateur or unpermitted work, during your home inspection. Lots of homeowners are willing to live with it, especially if it is just drywalling of a basement or something small that does involve structure, plumbing or electric, but things like decks are important to ensure they are properly built.

The codes are there as a safety MINIMUM, and where safety is a real issue (like an elevated deck) they are important.
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Hommee Byer, , Lansdale, PA
Mon Dec 1, 2008
I would ask you to review the Seller's Property Disclosure. The newerst version of the SPD has a spot to list any additions and if permits were taken out. But one very important questions would be how long ago did you settle?
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Hommee Byer, , Lansdale, PA
Mon Dec 1, 2008
Well, I wouldn't stand on the deck.
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