Q. I am selling my home, and the buyers' inspection report was hideous! The house is 40 years old, and I just spent $150,000 on a total remodel. According to the home inspector, the toilets are loose, but I've pushed against them and they don't budge. The worst part of the inspection report was the list of supposed defects under the building. According to the home inspector, some of the framing is rotted and dead rats need to be removed. I asked him for photos of these conditions, but he said he didn't want to get his camera dirty in the crawl space. Making matters worse, the buyers' agent said it was illegal for me to be present during the inspection. And one more thing: the inspector said that debris in the spider webs might be dead carpenter ants. Who knows, maybe I have a cobra living down there, too!
A. If the home inspector's findings are questionable, you should state this in writing to the buyers, and the inspector should have to verify his findings with photos. If he doesn't want to get his camera dirty, he should place it inside a plastic bag, or perhaps he could borrow your camera. In any event, he should have to show exactly what he saw regarding the foundation, dead rats, carpenter ants, etc. It would also be wise to hire your own home inspector to provide an unbiased report of the property's condition. If these buyers back out of the deal, a second inspection will help to provide disclosure to future buyers.
As for the agent: The idea that it is illegal for you to be in your own home during a home inspection is preposterous. It is your home. You own it, and you have the right to be there any time you want, regardless of home inspections, cobras, or any other circumstances.
Q. I purchased a home and then learned the upstairs loft was built without a permit. I want to make the loft legal and need some advice. What are the steps in having this done?
A. The process of making an unpermitted addition legal is to go to the building department and apply for an as-built permit. But here's the catch: The building inspector may look at the loft and simply sign it off, or he may require some changes and upgrades before signing it off. On the other hand, he may tell you that the loft is unacceptable and must be removed. And even though you volunteered for the permit, you would have no choice but to submit to the inspector's judgment. So before you subject yourself to the omnipotent will of the bureaucracy, hire a home inspector or a qualified contractor to evaluate the construction of the loft.
By the way, if the sellers of your home are the ones who built the loft, they should have disclosed the lack of a building permit.
• To write to Barry Stone, visit him on the web at www.housedetective.com, or write AMG, 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, CA 94301.
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