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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 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.


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