Recourse for failure of 8-year-old roof?

Find out statute of limitations in your state

By Inman News Feed
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Dec. 22, 2010

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Find out statute of limitations in your state

Barry Stone
Inman News™

DEAR BARRY: I purchased a home eight years ago and the seller disclosed that it had a new roof. The shingles are now becoming wavy, and there are some water stains on the family room ceiling. We don't know who installed the roof, but we're thinking it was probably the previous owner, and we're wondering if we should call him about it. What do you recommend? --Cindy

DEAR CINDY: Before you call the seller, contact the building department and ask if a permit is required for a roof replacement. If it is, ask if a roofing permit was issued eight years ago. If not, the seller was in violation. However, after this much time, the seller may no longer be legally liable. But you can still talk to him about it.

You should also have the roof checked by a licensed roofing contractor. Hopefully the leaks are due to minor problems, not major ones. But you need to find out from a professional. And if the roofer tells you the roof needs replacement, be sure to get a second and third opinion. Some roofers cry "Replace!" when repairs would be sufficient.

DEAR BARRY: I read an article in which you recommend presale home inspections. You explained that sellers can hire their own inspector before they put their property on the market, rather than waiting for a report from the buyers' inspector. The advantages you listed make sense for sellers, but I think buyers would be better served by hiring their own inspector, someone who would serve their interests exclusively. What are your thoughts on this? --Wayne

DEAR WAYNE: Your point is an important one. Sellers benefit from a presale home inspection in three essential ways: 1) They earn the trust of buyers by demonstrating that they have nothing to hide in the transaction; 2) They reduce their chances of liability for undisclosed defects after the sale; and 3) A presale inspection report affords them a position from which to negotiate an "as-is" sale.

The sellers' inspection report, however, should not be the buyers' final source of disclosure. Buyers, in fact, would be foolish to rely on a presale report as their sole avenue of information. Homebuyers should have a direct relationship with their own home inspector for reasons of accountability and to gain a clearer understanding of the property's condition from someone who is paid to represent their exclusive interests.

When buyers hire their own inspector, they can attend the inspection. They can walk and talk with the inspector, ask questions, express concerns, see the conditions that will appear in their report, and build a rapport with the inspector they hire to familiarize them with their new home.

Besides this, home inspectors are not equally qualified or uniformly thorough in their professional duties. The sellers' inspection may or may not have been done in a detailed and competent manner. To rely on a report from an unknown inspector, without a one-on-one, face-to-face relationship could be described as a pig-in-a-poke reliance.

Sellers and buyers benefit in important and individual ways when they hire their own home inspectors. Both types of inspections are recommended.

To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at www.housedetective.com.

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