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Hidden defects

It's dramatic to have bought your dream home and be confronted with defects. To detect defects, you can have a building inspection performed.

After buying your dream home, you can be confronted with appliances that don't work, leaks in your house, or worse. Some shortcomings don't even come to light for weeks.

Building inspection

To detect defects, you can have a building inspection performed. A building inspection involves an expert visiting the home and performing an examination. The inspection findings will be stated in a construction report or communicated verbally.

Sometimes the inspection results are a reason to cancel the purchase or to discuss the price again. Please note: the seller will only agree to a price reduction if it concerns defects that he was unaware of and therefore have not been considered when he determined his final price. Pay attention to homes built just after World War II. There was a need to build houses quickly. In their original condition, Sixties homes lacked double glazing and were made with the cheapest materials.

An inspection also ensures that you fulfill your legal duty to investigate. If it comes to litigation after discovering hidden defects, the judge will always ask what you did to inspect the property beforehand.

An inspection gives you an immediate insight into the necessary maintenance in the longer term.

Problems after moving house

It is possible that after purchasing the house, you discover problems that were hidden up until then and were not even discovered during the inspection. We then speak of hidden defects. After all, an inspector cannot see everything and does not break open the whole house to assess constructive parts of the house. After all, no seller will agree to so-called 'destructive testing.'

A seller can avoid mentioning in depth how bad the home is, so ask your questions. After all, sellers must answer these truthfully. They also have a duty of disclosure. They must tell all the essential facts, but it is good to only partially rely on their comments.

Types of hidden defects

Hidden defects come in all shapes and sizes. Common defects include:

  • Leaks
  • Electrical wiring that is not installed correctly.
  • Recurring problems with pests.
  • Woodworms in the construction elements or windows and damp crawl spaces.

You should notify the selling party when identifying a hidden defect, preferably in writing. You need to work it out together, and if that does not work and the defect is severe, going to court is the only option left. Legal expense insurance would be helpful.

Covered hidden defects

Sellers sometimes include a so-called age clause in the deed. That is an emphatic confirmation that the house is old and some defects may be found. A seller who has not lived in the home will also have this included in the deed with a particular non-self-occupancy clause to avoid liability for defects.

Age clauses and non-self-occupancy clauses do not always prevent sellers from the full protection of liability if there are hidden defects.

When is a defect a hidden defect?

This intriguing question is fleshed out over time by court decisions, known as case law. Of course, every case is different, but some generalities can already be mentioned.

For example, the defect must be severe. Thus, a leaking faucet is not a hidden defect. Also, the defect must interfere with the function of the room in which the defect is found.

For example, in a kitchen, you should expect a drain. If it is not there, then it is a severe hidden defect. On the other hand, if the kitchen cabinets do not open properly, the kitchen can still be used normally, and there is no hidden defect. In general, the defect must interfere with any everyday use of the home.

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