Interesting legal problem with home defect
OK, here is my story. I very recently purchased an old home (via a realtor) that was renovated. The home was advertised on Realtor.com as, among other things, "in very good condition ... no work needed to move in". Indeed the home is properly painted, with new doors (that indeed did need some adjustment), light and fan fixtures (that had some missing ligth bulbs) with clean but distressed wood floor, etc. There is also a new bathtub (there is only one bathroom.) Imagine the horror when I tried to take my first bath in this tub and the hot water came out ... cold. The hot water was fine for the vanity sink and kitchen, so that was not the problem. On a hunch I tried out the cold water for the tub and it eventually came out ... hot. OK, the problem is diagnosed, and I can take hot baths, but obviously am not pleased that the lines to the faucets were switched.
As for what would be required to fix the problem, the home is on piers, with the bathtub against a wall, so there would only need to be a few feet of digging out the ground to get to it, with the fix being as simple as it seems - just cut the current pipes and reconnect to the other pipes. There is no need to rip out the tub.
Now I should say that I hired a home inspector (recommended by my real estate agent) who up until this incident seems to have done a spectacular job in ferreting out all the little issues (as well he should), and has been helpful in explaining what the remediation for the various issues would entail, and estimating what the cost would be. There was the major issue of water under the house that was a known problem, and I had no problem in seeing that problem as something that, although an issue, was not something that would detract from the house being in move-in condition. (As the price was really sweet, I simply added the estimated cost of fixing that issue, and indeed hired a sand pumping contractor to remedy it for the exact estimated price.) But certainly it must be said that missing the faucet issue must definitely be considered as an incident of malpractice.
For the record, the seller's disclosure statement stated that it is not known if the plumbing system has any defects. Of course, the seller did authorize some idiot plumber to install the new tub, so it would seem that the seller, through her designated assign (i.e., the plumber) did have the ability to know if there was a problem with the plumbing there (of course, this presumes that the plumber was competent) since indeed the problem here was actually introduced by the seller herself (again through her designated agent!)
So I call my real estate agent and complain about the problem. His initial assessment was that this sale was without warranty, especially since I had an inspector do the inspection, that this is really an issue with the inspector. He said that since the sellers (which is actually a corporation which seems to be run by a mother and daughter combo) are "nice people", he didn't think it would be an issue for them to fix it. Well guess what - those "nice folks" don't want to fix the problem! So my agent tells me I need to get the inspector to pay for the repair since it was his malpractice that caused this issue in the first place. Of course, he is having problems contacting the inspector. I should say that during all this time, I have been without my internet and regular telephone (which is an internet phone), and since I have a mobile phone that is pay by the time, I did not want to spend any minutes making any calls (besides, my agent has been doing all the legwork, as well he should.)
Now my position is that irregardless of the malpractice of the inspector, the seller advertized the hosue as "in very good condition ... no work needed to move in", and certainly having the bathtub faucets as reversed would not be in accord with such an advertized claim. I feel that the advertized claim is akin to the seller having made her own cursory inspection that backs up this claim, and that certianly, if there would ever be any defects that any judge or arbitration borad would consider as being contrary to that claim, that these defects would be fixed. While a door that does not fit could be in the realm of still "move in condition", certainly the reversed bathtub faucets do not! In fact it would appear to me that for the seller, in advertizing her product as such, that to not back the claim up with the actual product is de facto commiting fraud.
So I plan on writing the seller one final letter that allows her to fix the problem, with the threat of complaints to any regulatory and fraud fighting governmental organization I can think of, and if it would come to it, a small claims court suit (I would include the inspector on this suit as well.) Also, fortunately for me, since this purchase of this home is in fulfillment of the covenant I have with the Louisiana Road Home Program to replace by Hurricane Katrina destroyed home (i.e., the convenant was established as a condition to get a grant to help me purchase a replacement home, with the requirement that I purchase a home in Louisiana within a certain time frame), this issue is covered by a special fraud task force of the US Attorney's office - a task force that has been tenacious in going after ripoff contractors. My letter will detail the exact steps I will take to rectify my situation.
Now I understand that real villain here is that idiot plumber, who at the very least did not test the faucets (or perhaps did but decided to knowingly commit fraud on the seller by just letting the problem go through. Of course, the seller would have an open and shut case against this guy - but that is not my problem.
It's too bad that we are not in Southern California - this would probably make a good case for Judge Wapner or Judy or whoever, and we would all get paid to hash it out in front of the camera!