09:59AM | 10/30/04
Member Since: 10/29/04
1 lifetime posts
My husband and I recently bought our first home almost 5 months ago. We closed 5 months ago but have been living in the home less than 3 months. We had a full inspection and were able to resolve any outstanding issues with the seller before closing although we really had to fight to have them fix things. A few days ago we starting stripping trim in our living room with the intention of replacing it with new trim that we had purchased. When we took off the trim next to the newly installed patio door(installed just before the sellers put the home on the market) we discovered that the floor beneath the trim was damp. We thought perhaps the door had not been properly sealed and my husband lifted up some of the hard woor floor to investigate. Under the floor and all around the newely installed door we discovered damp wood and carpenter ant damage. We called a pest control specialist who came out and told us that the damage was old but also told us that the new wooden door frame had been placed ontop of rotted damaged wood. We uncovered the remainder of the door frame and he was right - the new door frame had been placed on very damp damaged wood. Our inspection did not reveale any problems with either carpenter ants or with dampness but obviously at that time they could not have seen this without taking off the trim. My questions is , can we sue the seller because they installed the new door and therefore someone (either the contractor or them) knew about the damage. The door was installed 2 weeks before the house went on the market and we put our offer in the same week that the house went on the market. Any help or advice would greatly be appreciated. We have emptied our saving into this home and have a 2 year old with another on the way.


01:11PM | 10/31/04
Member Since: 06/06/03
1250 lifetime posts
Greetings clh0826,

First, I need to mention that I'm not a lawyer--so I can't be all that helpful in answering your question.

But, one time when we were selling a home, a lawyer (in addition to doing other paperwork, etc.) advised us to disclose all known defects.

I wasn't clear from your post whether this problem was disclosed by the seller--or even whether the seller filed a seller's disclosure.

Assuming it wasn't disclosed (and that it might be PROVEN that sellers knew about the problem), I would advise consulting about the issue with a real estate attorney. I think that's the only way you'll get the answer you need.

From what I've always heard about litigation, it is expensive, time consuming, stressful, and not necessarily worthwhile. A competent attorney should be able to tell you if it'll be worth it, all told.

Since you sound pretty broke (let's face it, most people don't exactly have "litigation" in their household budgets!), there may be avenues in your area (wherever that is) for some free legal consultation. I know in the Denver area, there is a TV station that has occasional phone-ins to speak with an attorney (during the evening local news). Also, our credit union has (or used to have, at least) a way to get a free 1/2 hour consultation with a lawyer. (I think they do this in the hopes of drumming up business, but some of it might just be pro-bono; I'm not sure.)

Good luck, and please post back with updates on this. We all (unfortunately) need a lawyer's help from time to time.


-k2 in CO

Moderator, Miscellaneous Forum


05:42AM | 11/04/04
Member Since: 10/17/04
54 lifetime posts
Did you have an inspector go through the house as one of your conditions of sale? They should have detected water damage from either the floor itself or the ceiling below. I don't think that you can sue the home owner because there is no actual proof that they were aware of any damage. If you want to sue someone, you may want to look into your home inspector.



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