Undisclosed HVAC problem found after the sale
Q: We recently purchased a four-year-old home. After moving in, we discovered an air conditioning problem that was never disclosed by the sellers or the home inspector. In one of the bedrooms, no air comes from the vent. We called an HVAC contractor and he said the main air unit is not strong enough to reach that room. The only solution, he says, is to replace the entire system, a major expense to say the least.
Shouldn't this condition have been disclosed to us by the sellers or our home inspector?
A: Sellers are required to disclose all known property defects, and one would expect a homeowner to know a particular bedroom does not receive conditioned air. Exceptions would be homes that were occupied by tenants who never reported the problem to the owners.
Regardless of seller disclosure, this should have been a routine discovery for your home inspector. Standard procedure during a home inspection is to operate heating and air conditioning systems, and that process typically includes verification of air output at all registers. This was apparently overlooked by your inspector, and you should ask the inspector to come to your home and review this problem.
An aspect of your situation that is rather suspect is the HVAC contractor's recommendation to replace the entire system. That would seem to be an extreme remedy for the lack of airflow at one register. A more common cause for this kind of problem would be a blocked or disconnected air duct. Therefore, a second opinion by another HVAC contractor is recommended.
Q: We've had three purchase offers on our home, but a lingering home inspection report has cause all three buyers to back out. The first buyer is the one who hired the home inspector. The inspection report included a cost estimate for repairs. When the buyer saw this, he canceled the sale. Since then, we've had two more offers, but each time we show the inspection report and estimated repair costs, they change their minds.
My question is twofold: Do home inspectors typically estimate repair costs? And what can we do to resolve this problem?
A: Most home inspection reports do not contain estimated repair costs. Some inspectors include estimates as an added benefit to their customers, either as a free service or for an added fee. However, the cost estimates in a home inspection report often tend to be high so the inspector will not be liable if subsequent repairs by contractors are more costly than predicted in the report.
One way to eliminate the stigma that is preventing the sale of your home is to have a general contractor or two provide an actual bid for the recommended repairs.
This will provide a more accurate cost analysis for prospective buyers. These costs could even be categorized, separating the routine repairs from those that are more essentially needed.
• Contact Barry Stone online at www.housedetective.com.
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