You have every right to be present for inspection
Q: When the buyers of our house hired a home inspector, our agent insisted that we not be home during the inspection. We had wanted to be there to point out some issues to the buyers and to comment on conditions found by the inspector, but we were told we could not be present. This seems to have been an unreasonable requirement, and we want to know why it was necessary. After all, it's our house. Please let us know your thoughts on this.
A: It is neither necessary nor a requirement that sellers vacate the premises when a home inspection is in progress. Agents can ask (and often do) that sellers not be present during an inspection. They do this to enable buyers and inspectors to speak freely about the condition of the property, and, they try to avoid direct encounters between buyers and sellers, fearing the possibility of disagreements or emotional exchanges that might jeopardize the sale.
Notwithstanding these considerations, it is your right to be in your own home whenever you see fit. It is, as your say, your own house, and no one can mandate that you not occupy it, even when a home inspection is taking place.
Q: We bought our home about eight months ago, and we asked our home inspector for his opinion regarding rust where the edge of the bathtub meets the floor. He said this was caused by water dripping from the shower curtain. After buying the home, we learned otherwise. While remodeling the master bedroom, we discovered moisture on the wall behind the tub, and further investigation revealed leakage under the tub.
We also learned from the neighbor that the seller had previously complained about bathtub leaks under the house. The warranty company refuses to repair the problem, leaving us with one question. Who is responsible for this mess?
A: Liability for nondisclosure points to the seller, as well as to your home inspector. The inspector's assumption that dripping from the shower curtain was causing the rust might have been a plausible first guess, but inspection of the crawl space below the building should have revealed water stains on the framing and subfloor below the tub, which would lead to more accurate conclusions.
Standard procedure during a home inspection includes testing the tub and shower faucets, and this might have revealed active leakage when the subarea was then inspected.
The sellers are even more culpable, because they were legally required to disclose all known defects, which would include bathtub leakage. However, it is possible they thought the problem had been repaired and no longer required disclosure. Errors of that kind are often made by sellers, sometimes resulting in liability disputes after the sale of a home.
It may be possible to get the inspector or the sellers to pay for repairs. The leakage is clearly a long-standing problem, not a new one. From that perspective, it would seem reasonable for either or both to share in the repair costs.
• 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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