If you are considering buying a property, you may be concerned about hidden defects as opposed to visible ones. But how do you protect yourself from unseen construction defects when you buy your property? How do you resolve a dispute about a hidden defect in a house?
Difference between hidden and visible defects
Imagine that you and your family are looking for a new home. You walk into the open house from a beautiful surface location, but you see a large crack in the living room wall and a slope in the floor, indicative of water damage below.
All of these defects are fairly obvious to the average buyer. They are called “visible defects”: problems that are visible to the naked eye. The seller may have already set the offer at the lowest price, to account for the fact that the buyer will have to make major repairs. Apparent defects can be easily identified. At the time of closing, the seller is not liable because the recipient has taken possession with full knowledge of the defect.
Hidden defects” are of much greater concern to buyers. Hidden defects are problems with the property that are not visible to the naked eye and are present at the time of purchase. Unlike patent defects, latent defects generally cannot be identified without expert construction, architectural or engineering expertise. If they are not reported at the time of the sale contract, or even if they were unknown to the former owner, he or she is required to undertake work to repair them after written notification.
The seller may include a warranty for hidden defects in the contract clause. The use of an agency or a pre-purchase survey can reduce the potential for a hidden defect to come to light after a property purchase.
Hiring a specialist
The real estate agent has the obligation to inform and advise the future owner in case of hidden defects. He must of course carefully study the property for sale. Thus, the agent points out to his interlocutor reservations concerning the qualitative aspects of the building and advises him to contact a specialist. On the other hand, the agent is not responsible for elements that are not known to him or her and that cannot be detected by anyone else. The purchase of a property through a specialized establishment guarantees, to a high percentage, the non-existence of hidden defects.
You can also rely on a pre-purchase real estate expertise. It allows you to detect major defects and to secure your real estate transactions. It includes the state of
The building’s structural work
Of the roof
Of the load-bearing structure…
The professional can alert you in case of anomaly or in the contrary case to reassure you before the acquisition. The cost of this type of work naturally depends on the size and location of the property.
Seek the help of a lawyer
If you are unable to resolve your dispute amicably, you should decide to take legal action to obtain damages if there is no warranty against hidden defects.
Keep in mind that a hearing can be expensive. Lawyers often charge hundreds of dollars per hour and are even more expensive in larger cities. A trial is also uncertain; there is no guarantee that the judge or jury will believe your “side” of the story. Finally, litigation takes a long time. You’ll likely have to sit through depositions, sort through documents and deal with procedural hurdles before you can get to court. In short, if it’s cheaper to fix the defect yourself than to pursue it in court, you may want to avoid trial.