Hardwood Floor Cupping, Mold and Mildew leads to Lawsuit

Hardwood Floor Cupping, Mold and Mildew leads to Lawsuit

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Home inspectors do a great job of inspecting houses and commercial building, but problems may arise when expensive floor covering such as hardwood floors are not inspected to determine if they were properly installed or they’re being subject to excessive moisture and possible failure.

I came across an unfortunate, but interesting lawsuit related to a solid wood floor that began cupping within two weeks of the new owner moving in. The house was inspected by a professional home inspector, however; flooring is just not their forte.

This lawsuit illustrates the need for hiring a professional flooring inspector for hardwood flooring, expensive laminate or vinyl flooring and carpet. Because this issue appeared so soon after the buyer moved in, a qualified wood flooring inspector would have detected a moisture problem, saving the buyer the cost of replacing the floor and litigating the case.

The problems began when the seller filed a claim for “warpage” of the wood flooring with their homeowners insurance in 2000; the claim was declined. The seller hired a contractor who found the wood floors were damaged due to rot. The Seller followed their contractors recommendations to repair the damage and replace the hardwood flooring. When the repairs were complete, they put the house up for sale. The seller’s disclosure statement (to the buyer) stated the hardwood floors were replaced due to “poor mill work”.

The buyer hired a home inspector but no issues were observed with the hardwood flooring. Of course a home inspector will observe the hardwood flooring and note obvious issues, but the issues were missed because the home inspector is not educated or equipped for flooring inspection, and in all fairness, flooring inspectors are equally unqualified for home inspections.

Within two weeks after moving into the house the buyer notices the floors cupping. The buyer asks the seller if they experienced any moisture problems, the seller replies they had not.

The buyer eventually seeks restitution for repair/replacement of the wood floor, alleging the seller obtained $540,000 from the sale of the house under false pretenses, false representation and/or fraud. In the interim, the seller filed for bankruptcy. The wood flooring case is heard in bankruptcy court, and after a week-long trial, the court determines the house had a defect (which existed at the time of sale) due to improper ventilation of crawlspace causing the wood floors to cup and mold to spread. Lawsuit details “Sigillito v Hollander”….

The moral of this story: A thorough inspection by a well qualified wood flooring inspector doesn’t come cheap, but it does provide peace of mind and far outweighs tens of thousands of dollars in litigation costs.

More to come….,
Linda Lockwood
Statewide Floor Covering Inspection Service
609-660-1717

Certified Flooring Inspector- NOFMA and NWFA Certified
New Jersey-New York- Eastern Pennsylvania

   

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