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Water Damage with New House, Any Recourse? (1 Viewer)

Baloney Sandwich

Footballguy
So I bought a new house in November of 2013. During the inspection it was noted that there was potential water damage around the chimney. We requested in writing to the Seller that a licensed building contractor inspect and correct any issues. The Seller provided us a letter from a licensed contractor saying it was inspected and everything was fine.

Fast forward to today, a contractor friend came over to add an electrical outlet in the wall around the chimney for the tv we have mounted over the fireplace. He noticed that the studs are wet and there is widespread water damage (some studs are 50% rotted). This contractor went outside and notice damage on the shingles and it looks like there is significant damage and we are looking at very costly repairs.

My father-in-law was at the house when this happened and called the licensed building contractor that signed off on the letter saying everything was fine. The guy said he would have to call the old owner and used his first name before catching himself and using his proper name so we are thinking they are buddies and perhaps the guy just wrote the letter without actually inspecting the house (or new there was a major issue but signed off on the letter).

Any ideas as to our options at this point? I consulted a lawyer who handled our closing since he is a personal friend but this is a bit outside of his area. He can refer me to another lawyer but ultimately I'm afraid I might end up paying the same amount in legal fees that I may or may not recoup through a legal process. I'm thinking we can call our Insurance company with the hopes it would be covered through them but my understanding that is usually for sudden events and not something that happens over time.

I'm obviously going to put pressure on the contractor that signed a letter saying everything was fine but ultimately I'm going to need this issue corrected soon.

 
If you report water damage to your insurer you are probably going to regret it. I would focus on trying to get the original guy who signed off to do something. Maybe an official sounding letter on your lawyer buddy's letterhead informing him of the liability he took on when he put his license on the line with that letter.

 
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In short, yes, I think you have a lot of recourse. Boards that are 50% rotten don't get that way overnight.

 
If you report water damage to your insurer you are probably going to regret it. I would focus on trying to get the original guy who signed off to do something. Maybe an official sounding letter on your lawyer buddy's letterhead informing him of the liability he took on when he put his license on the line with that letter.
Thanks, why would we regret bringing in the insurance company?

 
If you report water damage to your insurer you are probably going to regret it. I would focus on trying to get the original guy who signed off to do something. Maybe an official sounding letter on your lawyer buddy's letterhead informing him of the liability he took on when he put his license on the line with that letter.
Thanks, why would we regret bringing in the insurance company?
Because once you report it it is likely to lead to them dropping you the first chance they get. Then you will find it hard to find anyone to insure the home after they do. It will almost certainly mean you will pay more. Insurers are very scared of water damage.

 
By new house, I assume you mean new construction. Most states require builders provide a 1 year warranty on materials and workmanship and a 10-year warranty on the structure. I can't imagine the builder is not liable.

 
why wouldn't you have your own inspector look at it. somebody thats working in your best interest.
His inspector spotted the problem, the seller had someone come out and bless it off. This was the first mistake. If your inspector finds something you have your own guy go out and check it out.

 
Did you have a real estate agent representing you?
Was this in the sellers disclosure at all, or just in the inspection report?
We did have a real estate agent, wasn't in the Sellers disclosure
I would call your real estate agent, explain the situation, and have them talk to the sellers agent.

As for the sellers disclosure, they have to disclose the things that they know of. When they filled that out, which would have been when they listed the house, they probably did not know about it.

As for the chain of events after your inspection, you did put in writing for them to address the issue whatever that is. I would check what your specific request was. If it was to fix a specific issue and it wasn't done, you have recourse, in my opinion. If you asked them to have it inspected and corrected if necessary, you may have an issue.

Sellers can always find someone to sign off on something. Even a licensed contractor can come back later and say: when I inspected it, I didn't see any issues at that time.

Hopefully you or your inspector took photos of that area, or you're probably in one of those he said/she said type of situations.

 
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The route to a monetary solution is through the contractor's liability insurance. To get a license you typically have to have prove that you're insured. If it goes the legal route, that's where your lawyer needs to attack.

 
Baloney Sandwich said:
So I bought a new house in November of 2013. During the inspection it was noted that there was potential water damage around the chimney. We requested in writing to the Seller that a licensed building contractor inspect and correct any issues. The Seller provided us a letter from a licensed contractor saying it was inspected and everything was fine.
I believe that gives you a year warranty on that issue. Particularly given that the amount of damage that you describe suggests it's never been fixed and/or should have been addressed more than it was at the time.

Having posted this, though--I should add that my sister just went through something similar with her house after nearly a year's occupancy. She asked me to flood test the shower and it failed--but the inspector was no longer in business and the previous owner refused to take responsibility. In her case it was not so pervasive as to be worth pursuing so we are doing the repairs ourselves, but it sounds like you may be looking at a much larger problem.

 
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