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OK, Should I sue?

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G-man

Thread Starter
Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2002
Professional Status
Licensed Appraiser
State
Ohio
Here's the deal. I bought my home about four years ago. Nice neighborhood, great lot, home needed some interior cosmetic updates but appeared OK overall. During the home inspection by myself and a professional home inspector, it is noticed that there is some bowing of a basement wall. Most of the rest of the basement is finished so a complete inspection is impossible. No evidence of major cracks and homeowners make no mention of settlement issues in the disclosure.
Fast forward to today. Basement has developed some rather large cracks where previous owner patched over them. :x After several showings with potential buyers loving the house yet expressing concerns about the basement, I get a foundation contractor in to have a look. He recommends interior steel beams to support the walls that show the worst signs of bowing, which is approximately two sides of the house. Cost to me $2,800 :cry: Remove the rest of the panelling in the effected area and walls are in worse shape. :evil: Panelling and such not that old (10 - 15 years max), so previous owners new of problem yet decided not to fess up. 8O I'm not a litigious person, but this burns me bad. I don't mind fixing the basement, but the fact the previous owners hid and lied about the settlement makes me want to shout SUE THE BASTARDS!! Any thoughts, or am I pretty much screwed.
 

jtrotta

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
You've owned the property for four years;

best bang for your buck - hire an attorney 8O you need strong back up on laws in your state :wink:

8)
 

Blue1

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
California
G-man,

From your post, it sounds like the former owners purposely covered up the walls with that paneling to hide it's condition. Does your state mandate a Transfer Disclosure Statement? If so, it should be attached to your purchase contract. If you do have this document, look to see if this was disclosed. Might help in proving fraud on the seller's part.

As far as the home inspection report, look to see what they recommended about that bowed wall. (They probably "disclaimed" all over the place). Did the home inspector recommend further inspections of that wall? If so, was it done?

Did you have an appraisal? If so, was this mentioned in that report? (If I was appraising a home with a bowed foundation wall I'd "sure as he## disclose it)

Lastly, try to find out what's causing the bowing......if it's water, then you may need to put in some kind of drain in addition to shoring up the walls.

Good Luck
 

David S. Roberson

Senior Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Tennessee
I hate to mention this, but if you are a licensed appraiser, wouldn't the courts expect you to be more aware of such potential problems than the average consumer?
 

TEL2002

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
Professional Status
Retired Appraiser
State
Louisiana
Worry about the lawyer later.

Get an expert out NOW!!! The minimum you should do today is brace all interior basement walls that are bowed. That bowed wall could buckle inward during the next heavy rain storm...and your living room will be sitting in the basement. Worry about the previous owner etc. once you get your emergency bracing installed.

I have been through a buckled wall and they can be darn serious. Make sure your gutters carry all rain water 8-10 feet away from the house. Water and freezing soil are now your worst foes.

Good luck.
 

G-man

Thread Starter
Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2002
Professional Status
Licensed Appraiser
State
Ohio
An answer to a few of the questions:
Yes, there are disclosure laws in the state. No, there is nothing on the disclosure about major cracks & bows in the walls. The owners just plain hid it, IMHO. :evil:

I did have an inspection done on the home before I purchased it, and the inspector did point out some small, observable cracks in the foundation. Whether the bowed walls were mentioned, I can't remember. However, the majority of the walls are/were covered over with panelling, so they were not readily observable. I really can't fault a home inspector for not seeing what is hidden. I do not believe there was any mention in the appraisal about bowed/settlement in the foundation. Again, can't see what is covered up.

As to whether an experienced appraiser should have noticed the walls? Well, probably yes, an experienced appraiser may have. At the time, I was appraising for a whole four - five months. So I wouldn't consider myself experienced at that point. Knowledgable, yes. Experienced, no.

I have a signed contract to place interior beams within the basement to brace the effected walls, that I know of, and prevent them from moving any further. They have a 15 year transferable warrenty and I am water proofing the effected area. That has a lifetime warrenty. I am religious about adequate drainage and clean downspouts. The first spring after I owned the home, I relandscaped the sides of my home with approximately 3 tons of top soil to provide positive drainage. No one can say I haven't tried to address the problem as best as I know how.
 

Restrain

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Florida
I had a friend who purchased a home, got an inspection, including termite. However, the home had termite damage and the homeowner had very effectively hidden it. The first indication was when my friend was leaning against the doorframe and the wall fell through with him. It became an on-going repair operation with the seller paying for it as additional damage was found in the attic and foundation. So, get an attorney. Get the one you see on TV. You want a junkyard dog mean attorney. Go after both the home inspector, the realtor and the seller. Let the courts sort it out.

Good luck

Roger
 

Terrel L. Shields

Elite Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
May 2, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Arkansas
No, there is nothing on the disclosure about major cracks & bows in the walls. The owners just plain hid it, IMHO

Fraud generally does not have a statute of limitations. Sue 'em but document the cosmetic attempt to hide the problem first. Your Atty ought to have a plan of action.
 

John M. Parker

Freshman Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2002
This is a true story that I hope will help you make a decision. Eight years ago, when I was a self employed broker I sold a home to some nice people from California. Another agent represented them and I represented the seller. The seller was an honest person and had purchased the home from the original owner. They had an appraisal, home inspection and found some minor problems, negotiated and closed escrow.

Five months later they filed suit against the seller, appraiser, home inspector, termite guy, their agent and me. :cry:

Five years later and $145,000 in legal fees (everyone involved) on an $85,000 house the court throws out the case. We file suit for attorney fees and they file bankruptcy. :lol: justice :twisted:

Moral of the story, whats the cost of repairs versus calling the attorny and going through the above. By the way the seller file bankruptcy, the home inspector can't be touched (read your contract with him, most are limited to return of fees), appraiser left town etc. No one won.

Good Luck John
 

Mike Garrett RAA

Elite Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Colorado
Consult an attorney for legal advice....it's not our job! As for me.....I would most likely sue the seller for failing to disclose known deficiencies...the REALTOR® could also be liable. The home inspector is who I would have a hard look at. They wanted to get into this business to be "experts" and protect the purchaser. Sounds like it didn't occur.
 
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