Correcting Illegal Extensions
LESLIE: Carolyn in New York, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
CAROLYN: Hi, yes. I have a question about an illegal extension on my house. My husband and I purchased a home two months ago. Our contractor, when he was doing some work on our house, is actually the one that poked around and found that our extension – originally we wanted the house for the extension – was built on wood, so it doesn’t have a permit. So now the extension has to come down.
TOM: It was built on wood?
CAROLYN: It is built on wood that is basically rotting.
TOM: Oh, boy. Hey, Carolyn, did you get a home inspection done when you bought this house?
CAROLYN: Yes, let me tell you. I had two real estate people. I had an engineer. I had a new survey done. I had a lawyer and I had a title company and not one person found it.
TOM: That’s unbelievable.
CAROLYN: It is unbelievable.
TOM: I’ll tell you what, that home inspector’s got some explaining to do.
LESLIE: And the home inspector wasn’t recommended to you by the realtor, by any chance?
CAROLYN: No, he was recommended through a family friend’s lawyer.
TOM: Well, I’ve got to tell you. The one professional involved in the transaction that sounds like probably should have found it, assuming it was accessible, was the home inspector. The home inspector may have errors-and-omissions insurance that you may be able to claim against. I think that your lawyer should probably bring in an outside expert to have that thought confirmed and if you want to understand what home inspectors are required to report on, go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors at ASHI.org. And also, in New York home inspectors are licensed; so your state department is going to have – or your licensing bureau is going to have some standards as well that are probably very similar to the ASHI standards. But the question is what was the condition of the foundation at the time of inspection; was it accessible; is it, in fact, a defect and if the answer to those questions is yes then the inspector should have pointed it out to you.
CAROLYN: OK, thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Carolyn. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT