Is Full Disclosure Required for a House Fire?
Hello. I live in Rhode Island and purchased my 1948 Colonial-Style 3-Family in 1997. While n the process of renovating 2 kitchens (1st and 2nd floor) and 3 bathrooms, and separating the hot water for each floor, I had to have new hot/cold water lines sent to the 3rd floor. After the contractor was all done, he told me that he found some evidence of fire damage while running the copper lines. He said there wasn't any damage to structure or anything like that.
It seems like a bunch of seemingly-random observations are coming together. The house is sided with white vinyl siding. If you look at the back of the house, the siding around the stove area and kitchen cabinets on the 3rd floor, and a little into the 2nd floor has newer siding (it's a different color). Also, the original baseboard trim is missing from the wall behind the stove, and the original casing is missing from the window over the kitchen sink. Also, the kitchen walls are 1940's-tiled, but the wall behind the stove has no tile on it. On top of that, the kitchen cabinets on the 1st and 2nd floor were original, while the cabinets on the 3rd floor were newer (early 90's-ish) wood models, along with the same era fixtures. The 1st and 2nd floor also had original tile backslashes, where the 3rd floor is just painted drywall. On top of this, the 3rd floor kitchen has wires sent up on the outside of the house, whereas all the other rooms have their wires in the walls.
I'm guessing there was a stove-fire that spread a bit into the rest of the kitchen. When I purchased the house, there was no disclosure of a fire, or anything at all, for that matter. I'm not really worried about structural problems or anything like that, as I've had the house for 14 years without running into any problems, but shouldn't sellers be required to disclose this information? I haven't fully renovated the 3rd floor kitchen because it was newer with the cabinets and all, but when I do eventually renovate it (stripping it to the studs like the kitchens and baths), do I have to eat the cost of replacing things that were fire damaged?
I'm going to be visiting the town hall to see if any permits were taken out to repair fire damage. Are house fires recorded by the city or fire department? Would insurance companies have this info on file? I'd like to confirm what actually happened.