Updated on November 2, 2018
Have you ever purchased what you thought was your dream home only to find out it was a total nightmare of a home? What can you do if you purchase a home that has structural problems or other types of defects? Do you have any remedies?
If the home is a newly built home, there may be remedies available. For example, in California, there is a 10 year warranty on newly built homes. That means if there are problems or defects within 10 years of the time the builder built the home, then the buyer can go back to the builder or contractor and ask that they fix the structural problem or defects at not cost to the buyer. The law generally protects the buyer of a newly built home for a period of time. This is the best remedy for dealing with defects on a recently built home. If the builder refuses to fix the home, then the buyer typically has remedies provided at law to hold the builder accountable.
For older homes, a different analysis applies.
It is actually quite common that following a buyer’s purchase of a home they discover defects and undisclosed problems with their homes. When this occurs there are a few things that the buyer should do.
First, they should make sure that the problem really was undisclosed. Even if the seller did not disclose the problem the buyer may have had the opportunity to learn about the problem during the home inspections that typically occur during the escrow period. Buyers should double check their inspection report to see if there was any indication of the problem prior to the close of escrow.
Second, after discovering the structural or other problems the buyer should get an estimate from a qualified professional to determine the cost of repair. All homes have ongoing maintenance issues so it is important to determine if the problem is relatively easy to repair and inexpensive, or whether it is a major problem.
For major problems the buyer should contact their homeowner’s insurance policy insurance company to determine if there is coverage for the problem. If there is no coverage and there is reason to believe the seller knew about the problem, then the buyer should contact an attorney to see about bringing a claim against the seller for failing to disclose the defect – provided there is some evidence that the seller knew of the undisclosed problem. The real estate agent may also be liable for the undisclosed defect if there is evidence that they knew about the problem and did not disclose it.
By Zachary Schorr, esq.
See related: The Anatomy of a Non-Disclosure Case – Reliance