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Housing Defects: Getting the At Fault Party To Pay For Repairs
First, find out if the problem is due to defects in the materials or from
a defect in installation. The
former may be a manufacturer problem while the latter may be a contractor
problem. The defect may be covered
under an insurance policy, warranty or contract, but you may first have to
determine which party is responsible.
Ask yourself: Is the defect a structural problem, involve health and safety concerns or is it a less serious cosmetic problem?If the defect is a serious one and the one at fault refuses to fix it, report it to state housing authorities.
Get An Independent Inspection
Get the defect examined by a licensed housing inspector. This may cost a
bit (about $100) but it will bolster your case when talking to the party
responsible for the damage. Make
sure to choose an inspector who is unaffiliated with either the contractor or
the manufacturer. Often the contractor and manufacturer will deny responsibility
and point fingers at each other. Remind
them that the inspector had no reason to favor either party and merely
"calls em like he sees em." Note that in some cases companies such as pool
repair services may offer inspections free of charge.
Once the inspector has pinpointed the problem, get him to write out a
report saying who's responsible and how much it will cost for repairs. Then send
a copy of the report to whoever was to blame. Make sure you also keep copies for your records.
Call your state consumer protection division or housing authorities to
find out if the builder needs a permit/license.
Once you know how such are
issued, find out if they can be revoked for misconduct. Explain
to the builder what you plan to do if he won't play fair.
Checklists-Documents And Things Covering Repairs
Is the defect covered under:
insurance/contract or warranty?
Who May Have Known Of The Defect But Failed To Disclose It Prior To The Sale
the builder know? (The house may still be under warranty if built recently).
the seller know?
the realtor or broker who supervises the realtor or real estate company know?
(Realtors and brokers have a legal duty to disclose certain defects).
the housing inspector know? (In some states, inspectors may have malpractice
insurance to pay for their blunders).
the closing attorneys of the buyer or seller know? (Attorney's may also have a
legal duty to disclose certain defects. Call your state bar organization for
Documents Leading To Other Responsible Parties
termite inspection certificate
(was it forged?)
structural + electrical
inspection certificate (are such required in your state?)
Certificate showing that the wood
used for deck was treated wood.
Find Your Local Newspaper, Magazine, Radio & TV Stations
Give them a little bad press and you're bargaining power increases tremendously. Select your state, and then click on your county or city for the proper media to report to. (DC Not Included).