Possible Claim FL Exterior Wall

Hey all!

I did an Inspection in early Nov 19. The client called me a few days ago and said he noticed some damage to a wall inside of his garage. He said he noticed it because a neighbor had told him about a reoccurring problem the previous Homeowners had in this area, and that led him to lift up a piece of loose vinyl siding, where he noticed the damage. Home built in the 70s, wood frame, with vinyl siding. From the interior, the baseboard doesnt match the rest of the space, as it appears the sellers did a cosmetic cover up for the Inspection. The damage appears to be moisture related, but he wont let me out to look until Feb 11th at the earliest. As always, the client signed the NACHI pre-inspection agreement. During the Inspection, I did note several holes in the vinyl around the home, and advised them to be sealed, including in this garage area. I attempted to attach the pic of the home (in this forum) as it was during the Inspection, not sure if it worked. No damage was noted to the interior, but I also dont have a photo to prove it.

My big question, if the damage is only visible when you pull up on the vinyl siding, exposing the interior portion of the wall. That surely isn’t “visually accessible” is it?

I know the sellers should have disclosed this on the Sellers Disclosure, but good luck getting them to A) Answer the phone or B) Admit to covering it up. So that’s why I believe hes coming to me.

Ask your clients, and buyers agent if any, to Review the sellers decoration.

No worries on you.

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Nope! …

Pulling siding off would fall under invasive inspection. However, you should always look for signs and clues of any abnormalities on the surfaces. I also use a mirror to look under the siding’s starting strip, sometimes you will see the sheathing and any WRB. If the sheathing is visible and is damaged, the damage could extend up and into the wall.

Did you put in your report that the vinyl siding is too close to grade? How close was the slab to grade?

I did not. Definitely a learning experience for me. The only defect I noted was several holes around the exterior, and that they should all be sealed.

I did not. I will know more when I go back out, but you’re definitely right.

Thanks Roy!

Thanks Robert! I’m sure the disclosure had nothing on it, but the client can get me to respond. I’m sure the sellers are just blowing them off.

All legal. Disclosure is part of the contract.

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Don’t say anything! when you’re there… tell them you will examine your findings once you’re back in your office and will get back to them. Just go there and gather as much info as possible. Talk to your attorney/EO if you have it.

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Kevin, maybe you can get a written statement from the neighbor and talk to your E&O insurance…just a thought.

No, it is not a visually accessible inspection.

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Not a bad idea. Thanks Larry!

You really don’t know that for certain or at all.
They may have hired someone to fix an issue, may have done it themselves, and who knows when or why it was completed.

If there’s a (possibly obvious) repair to the interior wall, did you mention it or report it? Perhaps it didn’t draw any attention to itself at the time of the inspection.

Sorry Dominic, that’s what the Client told me on the phone. He said he believes they covered it up, and hes going after them. But he believes I should have found it. The interior garage didnt show any obvious signs on Inspection day.

Of course he does.

Of course he does. But what was there to find? Apparently, nothing without destructive or invasive inspection (unless there were water stains, re-painted or repaired walls, etc.) Gossip or hearsay from a neighbor isn’t proof of anything.

If you have E& O, notify them of the possible claim, and document all communications.

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Great idea using a mirror Simon!

This is in the introduction of my reports…
“THE INSPECTION IS LIMITED ONLY TO VISIBLE AND ACCESSIBLE AREAS.
LATENT AND CONCEALED DEFECTS OR DEFICIENCIES ARE EXCLUDED FROM THE
INSPECTION.”

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Take detailed notes of your conversation with the client and any future conversations, particularly what he said the neighbor told him about a recurring problem and his comments about needing to lift up the siding to see the issue. keep a detailed log of all communications to provide your attorney or E&O carrier. His issue is with the seller’s coverup and failure to disclose.

Thanks Roy. My Intro is awfully slim right now, so I’m going to add this. Thanks!

Thanks Chuck! I’m going to try and keep most communication through email. I’m sure this could become a “he said she said” debate pretty quickly.