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Structural Problems, who should share liability?

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  • Structural Problems, who should share liability?

    Hi

    I would really appreciate some advice on our problem, about which we are at our wits' end.

    3 Years ago we bought our first house (built 1928), all appeared well. Some cracks appeared shortly thereafter in the lounge. An engineer (sent by the insurance company) thought that the extension to the back of the house (built 1983 and recorded in Homebuyers survey), and this was not bonded properly. A builder sorted this out for us this year, and straightened the floor which was sloping as well.

    But, a similar same problem has appeared in the kitchen (part of the same extension to read of house), with a significant slope in the floor to a corner, and the floor in the bathroom directly above the kitchen has a sloping floor.
    Several builders have suggested that the extension is moving (down) and underpinning may be required. We haven't done a building survey as that would require removing most of the kitchen, and we want to work out what the best way of doing this is. We found out yesterday that the Council have no record of the extension being approved and so they are not responsible for any structural problems......

    1. Should the original surveyor have picked up on this? no obvious problems to us when we made the offer.
    2. Should the solicitor undertaking conveyancing checked that the extension was legal (date of extension mentioned in survey) ?
    3. Should our home insurance be the main port of call ?
    4. Should we get a builder to remove kitchen floor/worktop and appliances, get a building surveyor in to inform us appropriately and then pursue the responsible party - with no kitchen to live from with a baby...?
    5. Should we get a solicitor to pursue this?

    I don't know how best to deal with this really stressful problem, and would appreciate any advice

    Thanks

  • #2
    Re: Structural Problems, who should share liability?

    Answers to your questions:
    1: It seems the surveyor did point out the existence of the extension. If there were then no cracks or other signs, I cannot see how s/he could have predicted future problems
    2: In a word, "Yes"
    3: Initially, yes - it depends on the cause. If the cause is landslip, heave or subsidence, then it should be covered. If it is defective foundations or building, probably not covered. However, certainly worth investigating
    4: First, contact your insurers
    5: First, contact your insurers (and you may have suitable legal expenses cover, as well as cover for damage)
    This is based on my experience as a conveyancing solicitor in England, but I do not accept liability for information I give in this forum

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    • #3
      Re: Structural Problems, who should share liability?

      Dear Justin,

      Thank you, this is really helpful. We will try the insurers.

      Just wondering, if it is that the likely cause of the problem is defective workmanship, and the solicitors doing the convenyancing did not check that the extension was not approved by the council, how liable are they?

      Regards
      Last edited by Inov; 05-11-2010, 04:32 PM. Reason: Error

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      • #4
        Re: Structural Problems, who should share liability?

        They would be liable for their negligence, but there would be issues over the amount of compensation. If you have appropriate cover under your house insurance, the insurers might well claim against them. However, the important thing for you is to get the problem sorted - it doesn't matter to you whether the insurers or the solicitrors ultimately pay, as long as you don't ;-)
        This is based on my experience as a conveyancing solicitor in England, but I do not accept liability for information I give in this forum

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