Leaking roof should have been disclosed
Q: Our house is only five years old. When we bought it, the home inspector found no major defects. I pointed out a water stain on the garage ceiling, but the home inspector found no roof defects, the listing agent said he knew of no roof leaks, and nothing was mentioned in the seller's disclosure statement. Since moving in, we've had major leakage every time it rains. A roofing contractor says the roof should be replaced, not repaired. Do we have any recourse, or do we have to pay for roof replacement ourselves?
A: One would expect a seller to be aware of a leaky roof, especially with stains on the garage ceiling.
The listing agent may have been unaware of any roof problems, but when asked about a ceiling stain, the agent should have questioned the seller, rather than declaring ignorance of any problem.
The home inspector was responsible for disclosing defects that were visible and accessible at the time of inspection. Ceilings stains call for careful examination of specific roof areas, in addition to an overall inspection of the roof. If the home inspector disclosed nothing about potential roof leakage, a meeting between the home inspector and your roofing contractor should be arranged.
As a final thought: Replacement of a five-year-old roof is highly unusual. Before investing in that recommendation, a second opinion from another licensed roofing contractor would be a good idea.
Q: I just bought a newly constructed home. The furnace is installed on a raised platform in the garage. The builder fastened cement bumpers to the garage floor to keep my car from hitting the furnace, but they also prevent my car from pulling in enough to allow closure of the garage door. I told the builder about this, but he refuses to move the blocks. Isn't he responsible to make the garage usable as a parking area?
A: The builder needs to apply practical consideration and common sense. Here are the facts. The building code requires a furnace that is installed within a garage to be protected from vehicle impact. The builder could have met this requirement without creating new or unintended problems: without compromising the primary purpose of the garage, which is to shelter your vehicles.
The builder should address this issue in a manner that is consistent with reason and functional purpose. A common solution in such cases is to install a steel post in front of the furnace. If this does not allow sufficient room for parking, then the furnace should be relocated to another part of the garage, or possibly to the attic.
If the builder refuses to be sensible, send him a certified letter informing him that he has 30 days to correct the problem, after which you will have corrective work done by another contractor and will pursue recovery of repair costs in small claims court. An alternative to this would be to file a complaint with the state agency that licenses building contractors.
• Write Barry Stone at www.housedetective.com.
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