Do we have any recourse of action?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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