Home purchases and misinformation.

This is a friend of a friend situation.

Home purchaser decides he’d like to make an offer on a house, but wants an inspection first. Inspection is done and passes, so purchaser buys the house.

A few months later he runs into some flooding issues. After a plumber is called and investigation done, they find that the plumbing (house was listed as having ‘new plumbing’) is actually all just run into the ground. The toilet, sinks, tubs, etc., outflows all just…stop…in the ground. No connection to sewer, hence the inevitable flooding issue.

So, what’s the next step (apart from calling a lawyer)? Who should be responsible? The realtor? Seller (who bought and flipped, but didn’t live in the house)? Inspector (for obviously not inspecting)? Or is he SOL?

Not looking for legal advice, obviously, just personal experiences where you purchased something that was mucked up like this.

During our inspection last year, the guy said that our roof was good for another five years or so. The actual inspection report stated that it was old and needed replacing, which is quite true; we’ve already got two leaks and the roofers are coming next week.

I figure my only recourse is not using that guy again. I’ve got no evidence of him saying it was good for another year, and the report says otherwise.

What does your friend’s inspection report say about the plumbing? I’d have a look at that first off.

So the previous owner/seller bought it, did some upgrades, and flipped the house? He’s certainly the one I’d go after first, especially if he listed “new plumbing”. Inspectors don’t do that detailed a job - if all the sinks drained and all the toilets flushed, he wouldn’t start poking around in the ground to see if the plumbing actually tied into the sewer system.

I’m guessing the flipper found out the required new plumbing would cost him more than he expected, so he decided to save a few thousand by not actually, you know, finishing the plumbing. Or perhaps his plumber decided to pocket that money. Assuming you’re in the US - all the plumbing the flipper did should have had a permit and been inspected. So the building department for your city/town would be a good place to start.

The Housing Inspector had a legall obligation to check the plumbing and all other systems. Go after the company.

It’s not clear that he/she didn’t do that. The connections to the street aren’t typically on any home inspection I’ve seen. If the listing said “new plumbing” I’d start with the previous seller.

I’m just interested in the details of this house.

Was it a newly built house?

An old house, and the guy just wanted to be able to say “new plumbing” so he ran pipes into the ground?

A flipper, who did some terrible cosmetic changes because he was desparate and unscrupulous?

My father is involved in a much more serious situation. He bought a house that is completely unlivable, for more than 1.1 million dollars. He made many mistakes. But he did have an inspection. Unfortunately the inspection company has since declared bankruptcy. He was Fcked by the inspectors he was fcked by the termite inspector he was F*cked by everyone who inspected the property. It was meant to be his retirement home now I am stuck with supporting him. I have spent over 30K trying to help him but the legal situation is hopeless. The owners got divorced, all the shoddy work was by previous husband he signed a quit claim deed. Seller claims all shoddy work was done without her knowledge. Now my father is fucked and by extension so am I. I know he has claims against many people, but many of them have declared bankruptcy or gone out of business. We are involved in complex civil litigation…guess who is paying for it…

I don’t mean to be a smart-ass, but the next thing to do is contact a lawyer. Then let him/her decide what to do. Isn’t that right, barristers?

NO. The housing inspector should not go by anything the listing says. Inspectors work for the buyer to inspect the house and see where the seller is misrepresenting the property. They are not working for the seller and should not take anything the listing says without verifying it in their inspection.

Have you checked with your City Hall to see if permits were issued for the work? If not, they will go after the seller and you have one bitchin’ lawsuit on your hands.

Well, it depends on where the plumbing ends, doesn’t it? If the drain pipes just all sort of end in the basement ceiling, so every time you flush you get a cascade of foul water into the basement, yeah, I’d expect a home inspector to catch that. If they go out a foundation wall in a manner consistent with hookup to a septic system or town sewage, but don’t actually do so, that’s not something you’re going to find without a backhoe or a few hours digging a hole, and that’s not something the average 3-4 hour housing inspector is going to do.

ETA: Listen to previous poster. Ignore us, get a lawyer.

Wow that’s a mess. From what you said it seems that someone deliberately faked the installation of the plumbing. The question is who. Did the flipper do the plumbing themselves or were they taken for a ride by a dishonest subcontractor.

Your friend could be royally screwed. Sounds like a hobbyist flipper who did a lot of work themselves. They may not have the money or the insurance coverage to address issues like this. Any money they made in the flip is likely spent. If your lucky it’s tied up in equity in another property you can attach.

Your friend will likely need to retain an lawyer. They could start with a letter to the seller, the Realtors and the inspector, outlining the problem and demanding repairs. Those letters are often ignored.

On a side note to all the comments about the inspector. I took classes to become a home inspector and I have inspected a number of homes. Home inspectors usually test the plumbing by flushing the toilets and filling the tubs sinks ect and then draining them to check to see how it flows. If the plumbing just runs to ground as the poster described the drain line would fill after a few flushes. That may not be found out in an inspection. Since the flooding happened after a few months of occupancy it sounds like the usual run the water tests wouldn’t have found the problem.

What’s the legal standard for home inspector performance – due diligence or omniscience?

Exactly. I suspect all the plumbing inside the house was new, and the inspection verified that. But once it leaves the house there’s really not much the inspector can do, at least not for $400 and 2 hours of his time. Again, speculation, but it sounds like enough work was done to allow for an inspection to succeed.

Somebody is at fault on this one. It should be easy to win a verdict against the seller, inspector and realtor (assuming the realtor wrote that ad). Sue them all and they will point fingers at each other and the judge will fault one or all of them.

Yes. No permits have been issued for any of the previous “work”. What good does it do to have a great cause of action when none of the liable parties have any assets? Between bankruptcies divorces and disappearances my dumb ass dad is left holding the bag and unfortunately I think he is getting ready to hand it to me.

The seller is not necessarily liable. Her husband did all the work and at the time she had no knowledge it was substandard or shoddy. They got divorced and he quit claimed his interest to her. She made no representations at the time of sale. The inspector gave the house a clean bill of health then promptly went out of business. Sure my dad has a great case but have you ever tried to finance a great case. Lawyers do not take this type of case on a contingency basis and we are 16 months into litigation. It gets frustrating and expensive.

Yeah your friend is going to need a lawyer, preferably one that specializes in real estate. My friends had a sort-of similar problem (the seller lied on the disclosure) and the lawyer helped them figure out who to sue. First the sellers and then the seller’s real estate agency.

FWIW they paid a flat fee to the lawyer. Good thing, too, because since the real estate agency got brought into the suit, the suit has been dragged on over a year now.

Each time I’ve had a home inspection done; there has been some sort of legalese or fine print in the inspector’s work order contract that essentially absolves them of any responsibility or liability in the misdiagnosis or lack of diagnosis in any potential problems with the home. IANAL, so I don’t know how challengeable it is, but they’re tried to cover themselves nonetheless. Realtors also have similar fine print in their contracts that covers them nicely. It’s just another item on a long list that peeves me about realtors and the value of service they perform.

I just don’t understand how in the heck an inspector could or even would check for something like the plumbing running into the ground. I mean, the homeowner didn’t even notice it for months until after purchasing the property. How could a home inspection possibly determine something like this without tearing up the property?

From what I’ve read, I wouldn’t even consider holding the inspector liable.

My house has a septic system. The inspector put dye in the toilets, flushed them, then let water run in the sinks for over an hour. Then he walked around the backyard looking for evidence of water/dye. He called it a dye test. With a sewer hook-up I guess you are SOL if there is fraud.

Yeah, that’s been my experience as well, and a reason I consider inspections of limited value. Essentially, they can explain to you how things work, and might spot some defects, but they provide no guarantee/insurance. IMO you are just as well having a handy relative/friend go through the house with you.

I’d assume the first person your friend would sue would be the seller. Not my specialty and I may well be mistaken, but absent an “as-is” sale, I believe there is generally an implied warranty of habitability. And, with non-functioning plumbing, this home clearly is not habitable. If a predecessor owner installed the bogus plumbing, then the seller can go after them. But the only person your friend has privity of contract with is the seller.

Then, there is a potential breach of an express warranty, re: the terms “new plumbing.” I would be comfortable arguing that that term necessarily implied new functioning plumbing, rather than just simply new worthless pipes running into the ground. Further, listing it as a selling point implies that the seller knew the necessary info about them - even if a previous owner did the installation.