Ware, MA asked in Real Estate Law for Massachusetts

Q: Are the home inspector or seller responsible?

We had a home inspection and was advised a fireplace we were concerned about only needed to be repointed and capped but no major issues found. Two weeks after moving in a chimney sweep found both fireplaces unusable and unsafe. There is a 9ft crack and major moisture damage and damage from a potential chimney fire. Needs to be completely rebuilt. My question is- would this fall on the home inspector since it was found you can visually see an issue from the outside of the fireplace or the seller? The fireplaces were not usable at any point prior to us moving in so it doesn’t appear to be something they could’ve not known

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1 Lawyer Answer
Christopher Tolley
Christopher Tolley
  • Boston, MA
  • Licensed in Massachusetts

A: A common clause in many P&S agreements states the buyer had an opportunity to inspect the property and are buying it 'as is'. If your P&S had such a clause, you may have a difficult time pursuing the seller. However, if the seller or the broker said anything to you about the chimney or did not speak up when you asked about it, that may change things. If you want to investigate pursuing the seller, you should speak to an attorney and give him/her copies of all your paperwork.

I would review your paperwork with the inspector and consider pursuing him/her. Home inspectors are required to be licensed and carry insurance. The Massachusetts state government website on home inspectors may be helpful: https://www.mass.gov/orgs/board-of-registration-of-home-inspectors

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