Are there any legal actions I can take against a previous homeowner for installations not being up to code?

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Are there any legal actions I can take against a previous homeowner for installations not being up to code?

I purchased a home in San Antonio, Texas. I did my due diligence and had an
inspection before purchasing my home, however shortly after moving in I began
having problems. The largest problem is a Jacuzzi tub that the owner must have
installed themselves. It was run and tested 3 times before it was actually
used, but the first time it was used it leaked through the ceiling it is on
the second floor. My insurance company will cover the secondary damage, and my
home warranty will cover a small portion of the plumbing corrections. The
bathtub was not installed up to code, there is no secondary drain and the
faucet flows back into the wall when run. Directly under the bathtub they
spliced into an electrical jumper that runs from the breaker to the family room
and breakfast nook causing irreversible damage to the wiring. The plumbing will
need to be completely redone, as will the entire electrical line. The walls,
ceiling, bedroom flooring and sub-floor in the master will all need to be
replaced. The shower is also leaking in the same bathroom same installation
time, I would assume.
The toilet in the second bathroom upstairs was also not installed correctly and
leaked through causing the OSB subfloor to rot and the tile in the bathroom to
become damaged. This also caused a very large hole in the ceiling of my laundry
room.
I understand that there are some risks when buying a home, but these seem like
avoidable issues had the work been done up to code and correctly.
Are there any legal actions I can take? Both my warranty company and my
insurance company suggested it.
Thank you for your time.

Asked on January 24, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Assuming the homeowners did not give you a warranty or guaranty of some kind (if they did, you can, however, enforce it in court; it would be a contract), the answer turns on whether they knew, or reasonably must have known, of the defects and code violations. If you can show that they did know, or that under the facts/circumstances, it would not be credible for them to have not known, then if they knew of significant--but not readily apparent on inspection--problems but did not disclose them, they committed fraud. Fraud would provide a basis for recovering compensation, such as the cost to correct or remediate these issues. So it comes down to what you believe (and believe you could prove) about the state of their knowledge when they sold you the home.


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