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HELP Bought house roof leaks inspector/previous owner responsible?
We bought this house in June 2008. We had our first leak in the kitchen ceiling in September 2008. Our inspector indicated no problems with the roof or leaks in the house at all. Now we have a huge problem. The roof is leaking into the attic and dripping into the kitchen through the light fixtures every time it rains heavy. We contacted the sellers when we first had the leak (they still live nearby), they said the used to have leaks before they replaced the roof 4 years earlier but none since then. That has to be a lie because it looks like they've been concealing it for some time. We had a contractor come out to give us a quote and immediately he said our roof was terrible. Before even coming in the house - he said the roof was not flat and then proceeded to show us exactly what he meant. Turns out the roof has dips in and out around the house. Huge dips. He couldn't believe that the home inspector did not see/note this in his report. This is turning into a huge problem and we are wondering if we could sue the inspector or the previous homeowners as this is going to cost about $25,000 to fix. It's not fair to us because we thought we had a brand new 30-year roof. The ceiling is deteriorating. On top of all that my husband looked in the attic and thinks there is asbestos.

Posts: 6 | Registered: 15 April 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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First off let me say that I do not advise suing anyone until all the facts are in.An dperhaps you do have a case, against several folks.

You need to read the seller disclosure first?
Did they say they had a new roof? What paperwork did they provide to you saying so? New roofs (labor only) typically are warranted against leaks and workmanship for several years even to new owners. Most sellers make a point of letting everyone know if they have a new roof or not. As this is a big selling point that people like to hear. So experiance tells me that if they did not say anything about this "NEW ROOF" then they are only lying or trying to say that they had the roof repaired a few years ago and your only hearing New Roof from them.

You also said something about the roof not being flat? Do you have what is considered a flat roof, or one that is pitched that is bowing as it runs down from the top ridge to the gutter area?

Flat roofs typcially are not flat at all. They simply have a very little amount of pitch to them. This is to prevent the water from standing on the roof. This can be easy to spot as dirt tends to collect in these areas as the water that remains after a storm dries out and leaves the soil behind.
A pitched roof that has sags in it is a different animal. Sagging roof rafters are typcially caused by undersized or over spanned rafters or to much weight from to many layers of shingles. You did not say how old the home was, but assuming its fairly old. Its not uncommon to find sags in these boards. I would have a bigger concern if its a newer home however.

What I would do before you begin to let the wolves out after these people.
Read the home inspection agreement and the report carefully. Most likely you will find somewhere in the paperwork that the inspection is NOT a warranty of any kind. You also may find that the inspector did not get on the roof, due to height, pitch, snow and weather when the inspection took place etc. If he stated that he did not get on the roof for any of these reasons it would then be up to you to pay a professional roofer a fee to do this job.

Did he view the roof from the ground, or from the edge of the roof on a ladder? All important information. Did he or she say that the roof was nearing the end of its life? What exactly did the report say about the condition of the roof?
As far as the inspector not saying anything about dips in the report, That is the opinion of the roofing contractor.

Having been involved in the inspection business for many years and hearing about all the issues inspectors have. Its always the contractor who gets called in after the fact that says I cannot belive the inspector did not see this.

You must remember a few things.

1. The home inspector is there for only a few hours. Its their job to review the entire home, from roof to foundation and everyting in between. And to know and understand all of the items that they look at and suggest that follow-up evaluations be made where things do not look right.

2. Bringing in a professional in what ever trade who is there only to review one area or part of a home, and who does that on a daily basis will always find something wrong with what they are there to look at. They will almost always blame the home inspector by saying that they should have seen this. Not doing this spitefully, they just do not understand what the inspectors job is.

What I would do is the following.

I would review the report carefully first. Then call the inspector and ask him or her to vist the home to explain what is happening, Then ask him/her to make things right. All they can say is no.

Then I would ask the past seller to provide the name of who worked on the roof. My bet is they cannot provide this information. But if they can, call these folks up and ask them what transpired on this roof. They may have told the seller that they needed a roof, but the seller told them just to make temp repairs.

Then and only then would I contact your closing attorney and ask him or her to get involved.

No one likes to be sued or to sue. But in some cases it cannot be helped.

As far as what your husband thinks is asbestos in the attic. Again you will find that the inspectors job is not to check this out, nor to inform you if you do or do not have hazardous materials in your home.

Its their job to compare your home to other homes of the same style, type and age and provide you with information on how its doing as compared to these other typs of homes.

If you can provide us with more information on the home, such as age, area in which the house is located and answer some of the questions asked above, perhaps we can help pinpoint a better solution to your leak.
Posts: 1933 | Location: New Jersey | Registered: 31 January 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hi since I last wrote we found out that there are no aspestos in the attic. owever it is still leaking. So much so we now have a crack in the ceiling. I also was able to contact the person who put the roof on and he said since it's no longer under warranty he can't do anything for us. Also the previous owners stopped by after I called their realtor to tell us this wasn't happening when they were living here. I guess somehow once we moved in it decided to magically start leaking.... mmmm - don't know where to go from here.

Posts: 6 | Registered: 15 April 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Although I do not like to go the lawyer route, I would suggest that you contact one regarding this issue. But prior to this you must figure out why the roof leaks.

The seller of the home has a responsbility to disclose any prior known issues with the home when selling. Not doing so can lead to the issue you now have. Many sellers think their responsiblity ends with the house changing hands. Not so.

Your home inspector must take on some responsibility as well. Although this should be limited. If they wrote in their report that a leak has occured in this area as noted by visual evidence and did not suggest to you that this can be an issue or that you should follow up on this, then their responsibility goes up. If they say to look into this leak further and you either did not, or accepted the seller response that it was an old leak and has not leaked for some time, then you can do little to nothing about this. The key is how much prior damage or hiding was done to mask this issue.

A good quality inspector should be able to tell about how long this leak has been going on and if someone tried to mask the evidence. Is the wood rotted and decayed? Is there evidence of past repairs to the ceilings where the leak has occured? What is really causing the leak? A heavy tar covered area in the area of the leak? All signs that the leak has been going on for a long time.

The roofing contractor is sort of right. Warranty on roof materials oftentimes expires when house changes hands. Next time your in a big box store that sells roof shingles read the back of the roof shingle package. Its written right on the paper saying this. Many times sellers and real estate agents say the roof has a 20 year warranty on it. Not knowing the manufacture does not provide this. Its the quality of the roofing contractor who provides this warranty. Good roofing companies will stand by the products they sell and install. It sounds like this guy is not one of them.

However did the seller say the roof has a warranty? If so they are responsible for the repairs. Your insurance company can provde the repairs inside, but not on the roof. You need to fix this and to protect your property first. Then chase the people who are responsible for the leak.

Get your lawyer you used for closing involved. They can shake things up fast and get this resolved before to much time goes on. I do not like going this route, but sometimes its the only way to get things done.
Posts: 1933 | Location: New Jersey | Registered: 31 January 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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A thought I had while reading through this thread: If your light fixrures are wired using BX cable (metal-sheathed cable), and the cable runs through an unfinished attic, when it's cold and damp, moisture can condense on the BX cable, and run along the cableto a light fixture. You can get lots of water, and there is no roof leak at all.

I had a house with a medicine cabinet that had a light as part of it, and it was wired with BX cable through a cold attic space, and one day I had a small waterfall in the medicine cabinet. I also had a client who called and asked me why his kitchen ceiling fixture was filiing up with water. Same problem. It can be solved by routing the BX cable under your ceiling insulation instead of above it. Then it's kept warm by the house heat, and moisture won't condense on it.

Architect (NY) and Home Designer (PA)
Posts: 2870 | Location: Tobyhanna, PA | Registered: 24 October 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Well we had a roofer come and we thought he fixed the problem - however he didn't. How do I add pictures? - we have pictures I want to show.

Posts: 6 | Registered: 15 April 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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It's not just a leak through the fixtures. There is water leaking in from the roof.... We have pictures.

Posts: 6 | Registered: 15 April 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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How do you upload pictures - we are still having issues.

Posts: 6 | Registered: 15 April 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I had some roof problems last year but fortunately in 2 days the problem was solved. My son works at Wilmington NC real estate and he knew some good specialists that came and fixed everything. You can call the inspector, show him the problem and let him figure out a solution. If none of this works, you can sue him because he made the mistake, not you.

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Posts: 18 | Registered: 09 May 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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When I had a similar problem with a leaking roof my uncle told me the problem would have been solved in no time if I would call these guys earlier. Luckily the inspector was easy to find and he admitted he made a mistake, he agreed to pay for the repair so no one would find out about this.
Posts: 29 | Registered: 06 March 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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