Reader Question: I bought a house a year ago with some permitted room additions. However, the flipper replaced the electrical box from 100 amp to 200 amp non-permitted. This work was not disclosed to me or caught in the homeowner’s inspection. So now, I have been experiencing electrical issues at my house. The utility company discovered that my home’s transmission capacity is inadequate. And, it’s the wrong breaker box. Now, I am facing significant rewiring as well as permit fees. Whom can I hold responsible?
Monty’s Answer: A review of your documents will help determine the answer to your question. One basic form is the seller’s condition report. Was the electrical permit disclosed in that document? If the electrical service is on a pole, the inspector should have caught it unless his contract excluded it. Consider undertaking the task of obtaining several estimates as to the total cost of the work will be? How do you know it was the flipper that upgraded the electrical? When you first moved in, did you experience electrical issues? Does the inspection contract say about a guarantee? Did the flipper or the agent order the inspection up-front? A bit of detective work may help identify the culprits. Here is a link to an article about home inspections that may be helpful.
Your situation will be simple to explain when you have the remediation costs and finished your detective work. An old sage once said, “never get into a fight you can’t win.” Take your work for a legal opinion on the chance of recovery. For example, if it took 20 hours of your time and $1,000 in expenses to get a judgment for $1,000, is it worth it?
Here is a link to an article titled “How to find a good real estate attorney.” At this point, you are looking for an attorney’s opinion as to your argument’s strength. And what will be invested in terms of time and money to win compensation for your loss. Also, what are the chances of winning a judgment but never collecting it? Once you have an opinion you trust, consider this process:
- Decide to chalk this experience up to a good education and move on.
- Consider approaching the target(s) with a specific demand to test their resolve. They face similar considerations as yours. It is less costly to try to negotiate an agreement.
- Another consideration is mediation. Here is a link that explains meditation you may find helpful. Some courts will not take a case unless the parties have attempted mediation or will order mediation when the court has satisfied itself; it understands the case’s circumstances. In mediation, all parties must agree to the mediator’s conclusion before undertaking the process.
- Go to the small claims court. If the cost to repair is not high enough, you may end up there.
- Engage and attorney to send a demand letter to the likely defendants, which is a common tactic before filing a lawsuit.