Buyer regrets not having home inspection

Q: We purchased a house two years ago but never had a home inspection. Since then, we've discovered a number of problems that were not disclosed by the sellers. Part of the house was added without a building permit, and the roof has major leakage at this addition. According to our roofing contractor, the roof has insufficient slope, and there is no felt under the shingles. Do we have recourse against the sellers or their agent?

A: Given the passage of two years, you may or may not have a valid claim against the sellers or the agent for nondisclosure. This will depend upon the disclosure laws in your state. You'll need to consult a real estate attorney to determine your options.

Foregoing a home inspection when you bought the property was an unfortunate mistake. Sellers and agents are required to disclose known defects, but no one can provide the defect disclosure of a professional fault finder, commonly known as a home inspector. Either you were not adequately advised of this prior to buying your home, or you chose to ignore the advice you received. If you were represented by an agent, it was that person's responsibility to emphasize the critical importance of a thorough home inspection.

Whether or not you pursue legal recourse, a home inspection at this time is strongly advised. Getting the full picture of your home's condition is essential. Without doubt, defects not already apparent to you will be discovered by a qualified inspector.

Q: Is duct cleaning for heating systems a legitimate service? We have lived in our house for 23 years, and lately have seen bits of paint and/or popcorn ceiling debris on our furniture, directly under our heating vents. Would duct cleaning be a remedy? Also, who does this kind of work?

A: Cleaning air ducts can be beneficial if dust and debris is forming on the inner surfaces of your forced-air system. Dust buildup in heating ducts can harbor dust mites and mold, posing potential health problems. Businesses that provide duct cleaning services in your area may include heating contractors, janitorial companies and chimney sweeps. Just check online and make some calls.

The loose particles of ceiling material you've noticed on your furniture indicate a problem of a different nature. When your home was built, acoustic texture was apparently sprayed onto the ceilings. In typical fashion, the person installing the texture allowed the material to coat the interior surfaces of the air duct openings. This over-spray is probably losing its adhesion, which is why particles are falling onto your furniture. The problem with this is that the loose texture particles may contain asbestos fibers. These particles should be professionally tested to determine whether they are asbestos-containing material. If asbestos fibers are found, the over-spray in the duct registers should be removed by a licensed asbestos abatement contractor.

• To write to Barry Stone, visit him on the web at, or write AMG, 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, CA 94301.

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