issues uncovered after the purchase of the house

41 Replies | Manchester, New Hampshire

Hello, I recently purchased my new duplex. Of course, before purchasing the house, I invited a home inspector, and he did a pretty decent job. As a result, the seller had to fix some electrical, mold, and foundation issues.

However, one major issue  was overlooked by my home inspector: the seller had remodeled the kitchen and laid hardwood floor on top of the main furnace grid, which was originally located in the kitchen. When I turned the furnace for the first time, I realized that something was wrong: it sounded like an out-of-balance washing machine and it frequently turned off and on (every 1-5 minutes). A professional HVAC technician cleaned up the furnace and fix the furnace blower. However, he discovered the real issue - the furnace was overheating a lot since the hot air had nowhere to go. The HVAC team can open the kitchen floor and resolve the issue, but this will cost me a few hundreds of dollars.

My question is: can I make the seller pay for this since the issue was clearly caused by him?

(If it helps, the seller is an experienced real-estate agent and a house flipper. )

Hi, is this your first investment property? I would eat up the cost since it's only a few hundreds. Maybe if you bought home warranty at timr of closing they'll fix it, but seriously if few hundreds are going to affect your ROI, the the deal isn't that good.

Yulia it's my experience you can't "make" anybody do anything without spending a bunch of money in court or with a lawyer. That being said you can "ask" the seller for some help. That won't cost anything and if he flipped this house to you he may fix it in the spirit of keeping a good reputation. It will likely cost more to force him to fix it than it will to simply pay for the repair. RR

If you only spend a "few hundred" to fix an issue from a previous owner (flipper or not) consider yourself lucky. Did you home inspector not run the furnace and notice the sound/issues at that time? Sounds like it would have happened had you tested the system at time of inspection.

If it’s a few hundred I would go and eat the cost and pay to get the home correct it’s not worth the time and headache to chase the seller to fix

Originally posted by @Brian Pulaski :

If you only spend a "few hundred" to fix an issue from a previous owner (flipper or not) consider yourself lucky. Did you home inspector not run the furnace and notice the sound/issues at that time? Sounds like it would have happened had you tested the system at time of inspection.

I remember him turning on the  thermostat, but we definitely did not run the furnace long enough (5-10 minutes) to start hearing the sound. I would consider myself lucky if I didn't have to deal with poorly installed siding (also installed by the seller), which is now falling off. 

Originally posted by @Yulia Garvanovic :
Originally posted by @Brian Pulaski:

If you only spend a "few hundred" to fix an issue from a previous owner (flipper or not) consider yourself lucky. Did you home inspector not run the furnace and notice the sound/issues at that time? Sounds like it would have happened had you tested the system at time of inspection.

I remember him turning on the  thermostat, but we definitely did not run the furnace long enough (5-10 minutes) to start hearing the sound. I would consider myself lucky if I didn't have to deal with poorly installed siding (also installed by the seller), which is now falling off. 

Sorry you are dealing with this. If it is any consolation you can use it as a learning experience and run the heat/AC for longer than just kicking it on.

Why is the siding falling off? Is it a poor substrate, lack of nails, nails too short... I imagine if you can prove shoddy work there may be some recourse, sadly it's a roll of the dice whether or not it is worth going after anything.

Originally posted by @Robert Hudson :

"main furnace grid". Exactly what is that?

 A large floor vent located right above the furnace. (That's how the  HVAC technician explained it to me.) The house obviously has a number of regular-shaped floor vents, but the main one is covered with hardwood floor. 

Sorry you are dealing with this. If it is any consolation you can use it as a learning experience and run the heat/AC for longer than just kicking it on.

Why is the siding falling off? Is it a poor substrate, lack of nails, nails too short... I imagine if you can prove shoddy work there may be some recourse, sadly it's a roll of the dice whether or not it is worth going after anything.

Thank you:) Yes, i'm enjoying the learning curve but would like to stop spending money on this house for now:)

As for the siding, in two spots, two siding pieces fell off and are now hanging. 

Also, after I installed several new replacement windows, I realized that whoever worked on the siding "forgot" to wrap a few storm windows. (Sorry, I might not explaining it right, but that's what a few contractors I had asked for a quote said.)

Personally, I would think the home inspector would be more at fault than the previous owner. The home inspector may be willing to work with you on fixing the issue, it would seem he was the negligent party. This is just my opinion, but that would be my first call. 

Originally posted by @Sam Alomari :

Hi, is this your first investment property? I would eat up the cost since it's only a few hundreds. Maybe if you bought home warranty at timr of closing they'll fix it, but seriously if few hundreds are going to affect your ROI, the the deal isn't that good.

Sam, yes, I'm very new in real estate investing. The deal still seems to be good (haha, unless I discover more "surprises").

Originally posted by @Account Closed :

Personally, I would think the home inspector would be more at fault than the previous owner. The home inspector may be willing to work with you on fixing the issue, it would seem he was the negligent party. This is just my opinion, but that would be my first call. 

 I agree that the home inspector is also at fault here. However, the seller was the one who covered the in floor air return (or whatever this thing is called). The seller owns a bunch of homes and claims to be a professional builder. P.s. The reason I believe the seller did that is because, according to the HVAC technician, running the furnace with the blocked in floor air return would have killed the furnace pretty soon. However, the furnace is still in a decent shape. 

I would definitely tell the home inspector of the furnace air return floored over problem. Maybe  the home inspector is bonded and could  pay or help pay for your cost to correct problem. 

Every house you buy for the rest of your life will have problems not discovered til after you close on it.  

Originally posted by @Tom W. :

Was this a new HVAC installation? Central return air inlets installed in a kitchen are a code violation.

 It's an open-plan kitchen. The inlet used to be located more in the dining room than the kitchen itself. No, it's not a new HVAC installation. 

Residential mechanical code states that return air inlets are prohibited in kitchens unless the system is serving only the kitchen. The open concept may give you some leeway in the eyes of an inspector because it may be difficult to determine where the kitchen ends and the adjoining room starts. Under no circumstance is the return allowed to be installed closer than 10 ft from the stove. If the return inlet was caused to be in violation by a kitchen renovation, even if it was part of an existing HVAC system, it should have been required by the code officials to be moved. I would be concerned that this work was done without permits and has not received code official approval. If this is the case you could have other issues as well. I would suggest checking with your town building department to determine if there have been any permits pulled for this work and if any of those permits are still outstanding and awaiting inspection.

Originally posted by @Tom W. :

Residential mechanical code states that return air inlets are prohibited in kitchens unless the system is serving only the kitchen. The open concept may give you some leeway in the eyes of an inspector because it may be difficult to determine where the kitchen ends and the adjoining room starts. Under no circumstance is the return allowed to be installed closer than 10 ft from the stove. If the return inlet was caused to be in violation by a kitchen renovation, even if it was part of an existing HVAC system, it should have been required by the code officials to be moved. I would be concerned that this work was done without permits and has not received code official approval. If this is the case you could have other issues as well. I would suggest checking with your town building department to determine if there have been any permits pulled for this work and if any of those permits are still outstanding and awaiting inspection.

 Oh, my. I had no idea...I've just measured the distance between the stove and where the return inlet used to be - 12 feet. 

But isn't it a code violation to simply close a return inlet without making a new one? (Boy, I'm just really glad I called HVAC professionals in time.)

I can't say that it's necessarily a code violation to cover the return but doing so will definitely leave you with a system that does not operate. At the very least there will be no airflow through the furnace and it will shut down on its high temperature safety controls. At worst, if the controls fail to operate properly, the furnace could be destroyed due to overheating.
Fortunately, as someone mentioned earlier, this is all probably an easy fix. Since you're not in violation of distance to the stove just cut away the flooring that was placed over the return and install a new grill. It should be less than an hour's work plus the cost of a grill. My guess is that would be less expensive than trying to legally go after the home inspector or previous owner.

You have little leverage, and it’s small dollars. I would just pay it and consider it cost of education. If it was more expensive, and you believe they falsified Information that might be a different sorry