Is the home inspector liable for a missed illegal addition to a house?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Is the home inspector liable for a missed illegal addition to a house?

We bought a home last year and when it was inspected, we were told that the roof just had to be re-sealed, which would be about 4k. Now, a year later, we are getting new quotes and are being told it will actually cost 15k and the whole roof needs replacing. On top of that, shingles were illegally added to our roof years ago without our knowledge. The inspector did not alert us to this unauthorized addition and now we are financially responsible for fixing it. Is there any action we can take against the inspection company or against the previous owner?

Asked on August 15, 2018 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

It is not the inspector's responsibility to check that all additions were permitted or otherwise authorized; he is not liable for it. They check for structural soundness and the like, not permitting.
However, the seller may be liable to you for fraud: he had a legal obligation to disclose significant issues (like unauthorized additions) known to him and which would not be reasonably noticeable to a buyer on inspection (and there is no way to tell at a glance whether something was permitted or not). Assuming that he knew that the addition was not authorized, by not disclosing it, he may well have committed fraud, which would make him liable for the cost to correct the situation. In your state, you have up to three years to bring a fraud case, so you would still be in time to pursue this.

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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