If I recently purchased a 50 year old home that was totally remodeled, what are my rights regarding a major plumbing repair?

The first time I did laundry the laundry rm flooded. The sellers took out home warranty insurance so I called them and they sent a plumber. Long story short the drainage pipe under the house was totally rusted out and was literally in pieces. All water was running under the foundation into the ground. The foundation had to be dug up from inside the house and the cost was $13,000. The sellers said they knew nothing of the plumbing problem. Can I sue for the cost of damages? I did have a home inspection before I purchased.

Asked on November 12, 2015 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The issue is whether the sellers knew, or reasonably under the facts/circumstances logically must have known (i.e. any home sellers in their situation would have known) of the problem. If they knew or must have known but failed to disclose that fact, then they may have committed fraud (knowingly or intentionally misrepresenting a material, or important fact, unpon which you reasonably relied, to get you to buy the home or pay the price they wanted); if so, they may be liable for your costs.
But if they did not know and would not reasonably have been expected to have known, they would not be liable; knowledge is critical to fraud, and fraud would be the only basis for holding them liable based on what you write.
If you think that you can prove they knew (e.g. there are flood marks in the basement from before your flood; a plumber who examined the pipe indicated that if they did the laundry, it would have flooded on them; etc.), then you should speak with an attorney about possibly suing them.

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