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Question DetailsAsked on 8/11/2017

Do you cover house "flipping" situations?

I purchased a home not realizing it was a flip house. There are many code violations, poor workership, cheap materials, etc. He never pulled a permit so it was never inspected by the city to determine if it was habitable. Most repairs were concealed. After 5 years I am still finding problems. I asked if the city would perform an inspection and if violations were found, what would happen. They replied that I would be cited and ordered to pay for necessary repairs
Where do I start?.

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1 Answer


City was right - as current owner, YOU would get the violation citations and have to fix them. Hopefully they did not know your name or address, because if they do you might be getting a call about why you do not have a permit for the work done - though if this was over 5 years ago likely to cocur only in a city where the permits are priced as a revenue source, not as a nominal direct cost coverage measure.

Though if the flopper was living in the house at the time, may not have legally had to get permits - many or most areas have a license/permit exemption for residents working on their own place. Helpful for DIY'ers, not so much for protection of subsequent buyers.

However - city inspections, except in a very few major cities, do not address "habitability" other than in gross terms (like if it is grossly apparent it is uninhabitable to the point they call the health department or such), so poor workmanship, cheap/low quality materials, etc would not have been addressed anyway. Generally, they are looking only for code compliance, so inspection by the city would likely not have noted much of what you object to.

Other than the code violations issue (and generally, if the work was mostly repairs rather than upgrades they may not have had to meet current code anyway, only what wss in existence when the house was originally built, so a lot of what you are seeing as deficient may be more a result of excessively high expectations on your part that normal flipper spruce-up would not meet. Also, the general standard or workmanship these days, especially on resale remodels, is possibly a LOT lower than you expect - a lot of the things you see being done by the run of the mill contractor these days, and certainly by many of the cheapest and unlicensed ones, is downright depressing.

After 5 years I am afraid your chances of any recovery are about zip even if the statute of limitations for this sort of issue in your area happens to be more than the usual 3 years. Personally, I would not even waste the money talking to an attorney, which might have been a solution immediately after the purchase IF the seller failed to disclose issues to you. However, even then your recourse would likely have been minimal - because unless he KNEW there were problems you would normally not have recourse, as long as he did not KNOW the repairs/violations did not meet code or were substandard. And unless he did them himself, he likely would not have even known he was looking at violations, and may well have selected the contractor on the basis of lowest cost or even told him to go with the cheapest fixes possible.

So sorry - sounds like you are out of luck, and without knowing it bought yourself a fixer upper. Look at the positive side - think of all the things you will learn to do, and if you have kids how home-handy they will become helping you. And look on the bright side - all the fixing up to do will keep you out of the bars and cut down on your broadband bill for web browsing or downloading movies or gaming or such.

I am curious - though you say many or most of these issues were concealed - did you have a certified Home Inspector do a home inspection during the purchase period ? If as bad as you say, that should normally have popped up some red flags or at least comments about the low quality of the upgrades or rehab.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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