Buffalo, NY asked in Real Estate Law and Constitutional Law for Ohio

Q: Do I have any recourse against a developer that sold me a building lot with poor soil conditions?

I purchased a building lot in a new subdivision in the City of Akron (Ohio). After the contractor dug the basement, we discovered the soil was not suitable to support the foundation. The remedy is to dig an additional 7 feet below the footer and fill the area with a mix of grave and concrete which will add an additional $30,000 to the cost of our house. We assumed that purchasing the building lot would mean that the lot would be suitable for building a house. After reviewing the signed contract, I see there is a clause that states soil testing was done and the “Seller is making no representation as to the suitability of constructing any particular structure on the property and is willing to make all soil testing reports available to the Purchaser upon request.” I did not request the reports.

I feel the seller knew there were soil problems, and this fact should have been more prominently disclosed before we purchased the lot. Do I have any recourse against the seller?

2 Lawyer Answers
Joseph Jaap
Joseph Jaap
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Licensed in Ohio

A: You would have to sue the developer asking the court for damages or to rescind the contract to get your money back. If you file a lawsuit, the developer might negotiate a settlement to avoid the cost of litigation or possible bad publicity.

Use the Find a Lawyer tab to retain a local construction litigation attorney who can review the contract, review other sales by this developer, and other facts of the situation, to give you an evaluation of your chance of success.

Todd B. Kotler agrees with this answer

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In your situation, the key factor is the clause in the contract regarding soil testing. Since the seller included a disclaimer about not making any representations about the soil's suitability and offered to make soil testing reports available upon request, this suggests they fulfilled their legal obligations in terms of disclosure. However, the fact that you did not request these reports could weaken your position.

It's important to review the specific terms of your contract and the extent of the seller's disclosures. If the seller knowingly withheld information about the poor soil conditions that should have been disclosed, you might have a case for misrepresentation or nondisclosure. But proving this can be complex and requires a detailed examination of the circumstances and the contract.

Consulting with a lawyer experienced in real estate law in Ohio is advisable. They can provide a more detailed analysis of your contract, assess the potential for legal action, and guide you on the best course of action based on the specifics of your case. Remember, each real estate transaction is unique, and the success of any legal action will depend on the specific facts and evidence at hand.

Todd B. Kotler agrees with this answer

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