What to do if we hired a company to do a home inspection and advised the inspector to concentrate on the roof primarily but he failed to properly inspect it?

We told him this because that would be the deciding factor on whether the deal would close or not. The inspector advised us that the roof had at least 5-7 more years of life and that, “It’s in great shape”. Yet 1 week after closing the roof was leaking. A roofer was called and they stated the inspector should have seen how bad the roof was and that, “It needs to be replaced”. Also, we had them do a wind mitigation inspection which was not acceptable to the insurance company. Do I have a case to sue for a new roof? Who should I contact if so?

Asked on November 2, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Florida


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the home inspection company for negligence.  An employer is liable for the negligence of its employee which occurred during the course and scope of employment.

In order to prove negligence, you will need to prove duty of due care (that degree of care that a reasonable home inspector would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm), breach of duty (failure to exercise due care), actual cause, proximate cause, and damages.

Actual cause means but for the home inspector's assessment of the condition of the roof, would you have purchased the home?  If the answer is no, which is clearly the case, actual cause has been established.  Proximate cause means are there any unforeseeable, intervening acts wihich would relieve the home inspection company/home inspector of liability?  If the answer is no, proximate cause has been established.  Damages means the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit for negligence against the home inspection company/home inspector.  Your damages would be the cost of a comparable roof.  You will need to mitigate (minimize) damages by selecting a roofer whose charges are comparable to other roofers in the area.  If you were to select the most expensive roofer and/or most expensive roof you could find, you would have failed to mitigate damages and your damages would be reduced accordingly.

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

From what you have written, it appears that the home inspector failed to adhere to the standard of care of an inspector from what the roofer has stated. As such, under the laws of all states, it would appear that the home inspector would be liable to you for the lesser of the costs of the repairs or diminution in value of the home you bought.

I suggest that you consult with a real estate attorney to assist you in your matter.

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