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Article updated: 1/2/2013 1:02 PM

Termite evidence found 12 years after sale

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Q. When I bought my home 12 years ago, the seller disclosed that she had no knowledge of any termites. Last week, I discovered evidence of termites, so I called a pest inspector and he found plugged holes in the slab floor where termicide was injected years ago. This means the former owner lied on her disclosure statement. What can I do to hold her liable for the cost of exterminating the termites that are now in my home?

A. There is no way to have recourse after 12 years, even if the disclosure statement was less than honest. The seller, in fact, may have been totally honest in her disclosures, believing the termites at that time had been eliminated by the termicide that was injected through the slab.

If termites are common in your area, a termite inspection should have been performed when you were buying the property. If there were live termites in the home at that time, that should have been reported by the inspector. If none were reported, the seller's disclosure was probably correct. If termites have reappeared in the intervening years, that is not surprising or unusual.

Again, 12 years is too late for recourse. If you have a new batch of termites, simply have them treated. Once every 12 years isn't bad.

Q. We bought our home, an old ranch house, about 10 years ago. Recently, while remodeling the interior, we discovered the well and holding tank are hidden in the wall between the kitchen and bathroom. The building inspector says this is not to code and has put a hold on the project. We hired a home inspector before buying the property, but he never reported this condition. How could this have passed the home inspection?

A. The most likely reason the well and holding tank were missed by the home inspector is that they were concealed between the walls. Unless there was some visible evidence, there may have been no way for the inspector to make that discovery. On the other hand, a competent home inspector would have attempted to verify the water source, if only by checking for a shut-off valve on the outside of the building.

However, the unusual placement of the well and tank indicates this is a very old home. If that is the case, their location should be "grandfathered" and should not become an issue with the building authority. If the building inspector will not relent, you should discuss the matter with an attorney.

Q. We just converted our hall closet to a laundry, but we're not sure where to vent the dryer. Can the exhaust duct from a gas dryer be connected to a sewer vent?

A. Connecting a clothes dryer to a sewer vent is not safe or legal because sewer gases contain methane, the same gas as in your stove, furnace and water heater. If sewer gas vents into your dryer duct and is ignited, you might not like the way your laundry comes out.

Email questions to Barry Stone through his website, housedetective.com, or write AMG, 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, CA 94301.

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