Do we have any recourse of action?

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Do we have any recourse of action?

We recently purchased a home, that we hired an inspector to check before hand. He told us it was ‘rock solid’. We had a contractor remove a small closet about 3’x3′. After it’s removal he noticed the ceiling was sagging. Upon further inspection he noticed a double ceiling, so he checked it out and noticed the rafters were sagging, due to no bracing or gusset plates on the trusses. Do we have a case, and who would we hold accountable for the extra costs?

Asked on May 5, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Home inspectors are not liable for "latent," or not visible on inspection, defects in a home. You write that the problem was only discovered when a small closet was removed: if the defect is only visible when part of the house was removed, the inspector would not be liable for that. Similarly, the inspector would not be liable for electrical problems unless they were ones which he could have perceived during the inspection (e.g. faults with outlets, which he should have tested, or obvous mis-wiring in the elecrical panels); if you have to get into the walls to find the problem, or they are only noticeable after you've lived in the house for a time, the inspector is not liable.
The same rule applies to the previous homeowner (the seller): the homeowner is ony liable for defects which he either knew or logically must have known about but, despite knowing them, did not disclose; in that event, the homeowner committed fraud. But if again you would not know the problem unless you opened walls, etc, and the seller didn't do that, he is not liable.


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