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My house is an 80 year-old 3-story with a partially finished cinder block basement. I've owned it for about 10 years, and it came with a pair of french doors that opened from the dining room onto a large backyard deck, neither of which was original to the house (there used to be just a window in the dining room). Because they were old and sagging a little, I hired a contractor to replace the french doors with a glass slider. When he removed the doors, what he found was nothing short of a nightmare.

Long story short, whoever installed this deck did not put any flashing material between the deck and the house, so water has been getting trapped in between and slowly rotting the foundation framing along the back wall for at least 20 years he said. It was so bad that he had to remove about 4 feet of subfloor and replace 3 of the joists.

On the contractor's advice I demolished that deck, and sure enough, the water damage can clearly be seen all along the back wall of the house. There is a crack in the cinder block foundation that runs all the way down to the ground. There's no way water hasn't been getting in there.

The amount of damage is clearly much older than my residence here, and was not picked up by the inspector when we bought the place. Shockingly, there have been no indicators that this was happening. The dining room floor was not spongy at all. He verified that the top floor has not shifted or sagged, and there are no mysterious cracks upstairs As far as he could tell, the drywall in the basement looks and feels fine (although I shudder to think what I'll find if I remove it). I haven't noticed any musty smells when it rains. He said that if it were not for the sheer 1940's military grade over-engineering of this house, it would have collapsed. He might have been exaggerating, but it was really bad.

The contractor advised me against notifying my insurance company to even explore the feasibility of a claim. He says that they will likely deny it because it's an improper maintenance issue. They'll say the damage should have been noticed long ago and I failed to mitigate it. He also said that foundation damage is a huge red flag that will be a permanent part of this house's record and would cause my rates to significantly increase and might possibly make it harder to sell in the future. I tend to believe him, since he's done good work for me in the past and has always been straight with me. And the amount of damage is probably beyond his scope of work anyway.

Is the contractor correct? Is this something insurance would cover?

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    Ask your insurance company. I agree they will probably deny it State Farm has denied claims when a roof that collapsed massive snow storm and the denial , because commercial equipment was under the roof (not in the section that collapsed). But this question can not be answered here we do not have your policy.
    – Ed Beal
    Apr 26 at 22:43
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    I’m voting to close this question because it is more of a policy / legal issue.
    – Ed Beal
    Apr 26 at 22:44
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    Any damage that takes place over a long time will be difficult to get an insurance company to cover. Even when the homeowner has no clue it has been occurring. Two recent cases fir my customers were a drain line in a kitchen wall that slowly leaked and rotted the floor under cabinets. And a Freon line in a wall cavity,improperly insulated that caused mold and water damage to wall and floor. No help at all. But if a water pipe busts and causes 10 times the damage they will pay.
    – Kris
    Apr 26 at 23:03
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    In many states you'd be obligated to disclose this to a buyer
    – JACK
    Apr 26 at 23:10
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    You may have some legal remedies. You might consult an attorney specializing in this area of practice.
    – jwh20
    Apr 27 at 11:54
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My insurance agent neighbor tells me the rule of thumb is if it’s something that occurs instantly, then it’s covered. It it occurs over time, then it’s not covered.

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  • Exactly the experience I have had
    – Kris
    Apr 26 at 23:04
  • True, unless the cause is explicitly excluded in the policy.
    – SteveSh
    Apr 26 at 23:58

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