Originally Posted by CathMac
When did you buy your house? Depending upon what state you live in you may still have time to make a claim against the previous owner, one or both of the Seller's agents, or possibly your Buyer's agent (if there was one).
Our closing date was the day we got back from our honeymoon (supposed to be the day *after* we got back but we were delayed in Florida due to a hurricane) so I remember the day very well. Unfortunately it was 10 years this past summer.
I'm in Canada so I'm not sure if that makes a difference.
|The time frame for the Statute of Limitations will vary depending upon whether you have a plain vanilla Breach of Contract claim or whether or not you can make an argument for Fraud. Note that in some states a Seller has an affirmative obligation to disclose any "material defects" (generally one affecting the price), that cannot be discovered by a visual inspection.
Actual Fraud would probably not apply unless they took active steps to hide something (perhaps cosmetically or with a deficient repair).
I'm pretty positive there was no attempt at fraud. I think they were just completely clueless when it came to home renovation.
|Oddly enough, claims against an inspector are usually pointless. Oftentimes your damages are capped at the cost of the inspection.
Also, check your paper work to see if you are covered by a Home Warranty. Sometimes these get "rolled in" with everything else so you wouldn't necessarily know that you have one.
We definately do not have a Home Warranty. The house is almost 100 years old.
|I'm not trying to get your hopes up but you should at least look into it and perhaps go as far as a free initial consultation with an attorney. If you had an opportunity to inspect and you didn't do an inspection or your inspector did a bad job you may be "tough out of luck" unless your state has stronger consumer protections under these circumstances than most do.
I have mentioned it to a lawyer friend of mine to see if there is anything we can do. We did do an inspection. There is absolutely no way the inspector would have seen this unless he cut out large chunks of drywall.
|Sometimes even if you don't have a strong claim you can get some sort of "nuisance value".
Also, if you there is any chance at all that you will attempt to make a claim start taking pictures now.
Partly to document the extent of the damage but also to possibly help establish that the Seller knew or should have known of the conditions that were hidden and that they arguably had a duty to disclose.
Our contractor always takes multiple pictures of every job he does at every stage so we already have those on file. This is one of the reasons why we love him so much.
Oh, one more thing. If you have any inkling as to who might have done some of the work in question for the Seller, if you're feeling nervy you might give them a call and see if you can finesse some basic information out of them. You'd be surprised what people will tell you if you simply ask nicely. If you're feeling really, really, really nervy and know how to reach the Seller you might try giving them a call and casually asking for the name of the contractors that did any work since you are thinking of having some work done, and then going from there.
If there is any chance you can find out what was done: why the Seller wanted the work done, whether there were any restrictions the Seller placed on the repairs (e.g. price) that might have led to defective work, etc. that could be helpful. By itself it's not evidence but it could help you develop a theory of liability and increase your chances of finding an attorney willing to take your case on a contingency fee basis if they think there's a paper trail that would help establish your theory.
FWIW, I used to handle Professional Liability (Malpractice) claims for Realtors.
If I wanted to, I could contact the previous owners. They still live in the area and one of the neighbours is still friendly with them.
Unfortunately, I've discovered from the neighbours that the "contractor" on all of the work done on our house was the previous owner, his buddies and a case of beer.
: I discovered that when the fence fell down last winter.
I'm pretty sure there wasn't even a permit and quite frankly, I'm not sure I want to open up that can of worms with City Hall. We're already dealing with them for the permit-less shed in our backyard. I'm going to figure out if I can investigate this without sending up any red flags at the city.
Thanks so much for the advice, you've given me some good things to think about.