Home inspection - lots o'problems

spuckyJuly 25, 2009

I bought a house last year. Had an inspection from a licensed, ASHI inspector. He missed a furnace that was improperly installed - can't be accessed for repairs or maintenance. Said furnace was fine. His report recommended a maintenance contract and annual maintenance. I got the contract and the technician came out. Looked at furnace and laughed. Furnance installed so close to wall that he can't get inside. Former owner aware per gas company - had a repair down in 2007 and access problem identified. Lied on disclosure - said "no problems." Garage floods. Seller lied about that too. Inspector noted flat lot. After watching storm water flow down driveway and into garage called a paving guy. Driveway is clearly graded toward garage, not away. Signs of long-term water damage in garage. Cost to fix driveway $1500, cost to replace furnace $3500. Got recommendation to obtain a dispute home inspection and to go after first inspectors errors and omissions coverage. Any thoughts on going after the home inspector, seller or both? I'm in MA - inspectors can't limit their liability to cost of the inspection if they are negligent. Can I go after the home inspector myself without a lawyer? Notify him of my clain and tell him to contact his insurance company? Small claims court for the seller? I don't want to spend a fortune on attorney fees for a 5K problem. Thanks!

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mariend

Was the inspector recommended by RD agent? Broker? Could put in complaint to state board. Am not familiar with certification of inspectors, so you many need a legal consultation. Talk to realtor that sold the house.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 10:16PM
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berniek

"Was the inspector recommended by RD agent? Broker? Could put in complaint to state board."

If you have a problem, this is a good place to start.

Here is a link that might be useful: Division of Professional Licensure

    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 10:40PM
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spucky

The home inspector was not recommended by a RE person. The state board in MA rarely disciplines, and there is no compensation for damages. I'm weighing taking action myself as opposed to hiring a lawyer whose bill will quickly exceed the damages.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 12:21AM
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fixizin

Fully understand the cost/benefit roadblock of involving a lawyer in a 4-figure dispute. But consider that fast and satisfying results can often be obtained by:

a) paying a hungry lawyer just $150-$300 dollars to write an intimidating letter of intent, aka the NASTYGRAM! ;')

b) Loading up on intimidating legalese your own self, and writing your own NASTYGRAM. I've found the books from Nolo Press to be especially useful in this regard. Often stocked by your local public library. MASS is known for great public libraries.

If you're willing to invest the time, you CAN shame this inspector and/or their ins. co. to cough up the $$... the internet is your friend!

You can start by ID'ing the lax inspector right here in this thread! Won't help me in FL, but MA is a populous state, so a great public service will be performed.

The 2 oversights you've cited are so BASIC that you MUST get compensated for them. In fact, AFAIK, they are both OUTRIGHT *CODE VIOLATIONS*! Zero excuse for passing them.

Getting the lame inspector DE-licensed would be nice too.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 5:25PM
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susana_2006

As I understand it, the inspector's contract is pretty ironclad in protecting him/her from almost any damages.

My daughter did have a septic problem (the septic had been re-done as per the inspection) however, it was apparently not done according to code (even though the county engineer had approved it)
Anyway, long story short -- an attorney made several calls to the septic company, county engineer & the result was that my daughter got a new septic at no cost to her (other than hefty attorney fees)

I'd try to consult with the best real estate attorney I could find to see if you have recourse from the inspector or former owner. It does sound like the disclosure was not true.
Good luck
Susan

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 2:32PM
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diveguy1

Spucky,

I've seen MANY furnaces that have limited access for maintenance. Usually noted on an inspection but not cause to sue. Does the furnace work? What do you want a new furnace?

>> Signs of long-term water damage in garage Are these signs readily visible? High water marks, crumbling drywall etc? Otherwise the inspector is also off the hook.

Sounds like your biggest beef is with the former owner and "disclosure" of flooding/water damage.

Bob

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 3:41PM
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sweet_tea

Sounds like the furnace works? This could get sticky if you are wanting to sue for $3500 just to get access to a working furnace. You really need to talk to a real estate attorney. The initial consulation should be pretty reasonable and then you decide what to do based on attorney's guidance.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 6:39PM
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logic

The Mass regulations do not require the HI to report on the ease of service for a furnace. HI's are not service technicians; as such, with the many varied models on the market, and not having had to service a furnace, they can't equivocally provide information in that respect.

As far as the water damge is concerned...if the driveway is clearly graded toward the garage, and there were signs of water damage in the garage, indeed the HI should have reported both...

That said, prior to closing, I'm not clear on why did not ask him about those two issues when you saw that they were excluded from the report.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 12:16AM
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spucky

Thanks to all. I'm taking fixizin's advice.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2009 at 9:11PM
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deee_gw

I'd have another HVAC guy come out and look at the furnace before you spend a lot of money tryng to "right the wrong". Where we live, most of the HVAC guys are like old busy bodies. They look at your system and gossip and belittle the work and choices of their competitors. Maybe someone else can figure out how to service your furnace.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2009 at 7:17AM
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logic

spucky, there is one problem with fixiszins advice...a home inspection is NOT a code inspection, by nationally accepted standards and most state's laws..including Massachusettes.

Code inspections are performed by CODE inspectors.
A home inspector does not pass or fail anything. They cite and describe visible defects. Somtimes those defects are also code issues, but the HI will cite it as a safety issue of deficiency...not a code issue.

So...if you try to use that argument, you will have little if no success.

From the Masachusettes regulations: '6.02: Purpose

(1) The purpose of a Home Inspection for Residential Buildings, including their attached garages, is to provide the Client with an inspection Report that forthrightly discloses the physical conditions of the systems and components listed in 266 CMR 6.04 which are Readily Accessible and Observable, including those systems and components, which are Safety Hazards as Observed at the time of the inspection.'

Here is a link that might be useful: Standards of Practice

    Bookmark   August 5, 2009 at 1:33AM
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ncrealestateguy

But Logic, suing is just soooooo PC!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2009 at 12:17PM
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logic

ncrealestateguy: "But Logic, suing is just soooooo PC!"

Sadly, so it is...

    Bookmark   August 5, 2009 at 6:16PM
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