Question: After I moved into my home, I had a water leak that caused damage. I had a property inspection and the inspector did not find the leak. The previous owner did not mention any problem with a water leak. I feel this should have been discovered or disclosed before I purchased the property. Your comments please.
Answer: You did not say how long you have been in the property but it sounds like this happened soon after you moved into the home. You did not mention where the water leak was or the extent of the damage. For instance, if it was a slab leak (a broken pipe under the slab of the home), then it might have been broken before you moved in but not discovered immediately and therefore unknown by the homeowner and undetectable by the inspector. There can be leaks that are not quickly detected. The home inspector can only inspect what he can see. On the other hand, if there was evidence that this leak should have been found at the time of the inspection, then I would contact the inspector and discuss the situation with him or her. If the leak should have been found and it was not then there may be some recourse through the home inspector or the company that insures his company. The home owner must disclose if there had been any past leaks in the home or water issues that have impacted the property when they fill out the real estate disclosure forms. If they indicated past leaks or current leaks, then that should have been addressed with the homeowner and the inspector at the time to have that item repaired. If the homeowner was aware of a leak and did not disclose that to you, then you may have some recourse with them. It can be difficult to prove that the problem existed prior to the sale and if it can’t be proven then you would likely not have any recourse in the matter. Neither the inspector nor the homeowner is responsible for items they cannot see or are unaware of on the property. I would suggest you work with your real estate agent to determine what the remedy might be in your case. Water is often not our friend in a home and water leaks can be costly. For instance, the hose that connects to the ice maker in your refrigerator seems like a small item but if it breaks lose or leaks it can cause thousands of dollar’s worth of damage. Another problem area can be the hoses to your washer, usually the water is always turned on so there is pressure to the lines, if there is a leak then the water flow can be extensive and damaging. A word to the wise is to shut off those valves before going on vacation. When you are buying a home, have the inspector check the water meter outside when all the water is off in the home. If the meter indicates there is water flowing somewhere, then it could be an indication of a leak. It could be something as simple as a toilet running or a dripping faucet, but it could be a way to find a slab leak. If you think there has been a water leak that could cause mold. It may be wise to have a mold test done. Your property inspector can advise as to the appropriateness of a mold test. I am sorry for your water issue and I hope you are able to resolve it to your satisfaction.