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Issues not picked up by surveyor

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  • Issues not picked up by surveyor

    I wonder if somebody could please help.

    We recently purchased a property and paid for a Building Survey, by one of the largest surveyors in the UK. Since the purchase of the property we have found three issues. These were:

    1) A fireplace in the living room, installed by the vendors in 2005, was not installed by a HETAS engineer and instead by the vendors father. We have found out that the Oak lintel is too close to the wood burner, that the hearth is not of the correct size (9" instead of 12") and that building regs was never signed off. Furthermore, there is no flue, and the mortar in the chimney is crumbling and therefore using it would be unsafe. It does not comply to current building regulations.

    2) That the integral garage door is not a fire door (according to two local builders). It does not comply to current building regulations.

    3) Our drains were blocked when we moved in, due to the roots from a tree growing down into the drains. We have found out from the nextdoor neighbour that the previous vendors had this themselves during the past 18 months.

    The surveyor made reference to the existence of the wood burner and that the vendors used it regularly, but no other mention. He made no mention of the door leading through to the garage. He stated that the drain cover could not be lifted, due to the decking beam above it preventing it from being lifted (this is not the case, the beam is close but there is more than enough room to lift the cover had he actually tried, and also there is another drain with a concrete lid he could have lifted no more than 15 feet away from this metal drain cover).

    I have challenged this with the surveyors who sent another surveyor round to take photos and I have had a response from their Director this evening, stating that they are not negligible because (paraphrasing here):

    'The log burner complies to the building regulations in place in the year which it was installed, 2005 (we provided this informaton to them on the second visit, but the original surveyor had no idea what year the fireplace was installed). And that they didn't need to inform us of any breach to current building regulations'. They also stated that Oak is not combustible and that it is heat shielded. From the three Hetas engineers we have had visit, we have been told that Oak is considered combustible (you burn Oak on a woodburner, after all) and that it is not heat shielded. It has had tin tacked to it, which I am told would only increase the intensity of the heat to the Oak lintel, not act as a heat shield at all.

    'The door is a fire door and while it does not comply to current building regulations, it would comply to building regs when it was built in the 80's'. Again local builders ensure us it is not a fire door, and they have stated that it should have been highlighted that no intumescent strips or auto-closers were present.

    Thirdly he stated that he could 'understand why it would appear impossible to lift the cover' from the photo taken by their surveyor on the second visit. The fact is that it is possible to lift the cover, which a two second effort of bending down and lifting proves, and that there is another inspection chamber merely feet away from this one that had no such visible obstruction.

    I am very surprised that they seem to think it adequate that they do not need to highlight any issues to current building regulations (this is stated multiple times in their letter) due to the fact that all of the work complied with the building regs at time of fitting. However they had no actual proof of when the works had happened other than the vendors say so (and in the instance of the fireplace, they never asked) and surely, having paid for such an expensive report, they should be pointing out issues that don't meet with current building regulations, should they not?

    I am now in the process of taking this to the Ombudsman but would appreciate advice on here before I do so.

  • #2
    Re: Issues not picked up by surveyor

    I certainly would not expect a surveyor to advise about whether building works meet current building regulations in every case.

    There are two questions that are important about Building Regulations:

    1.Are we likely to face enforcement action? - Usually this is very unlikely unless the work is very recent.

    2. Is it safe, are there any problems with it? A surveyor has to use his judgement as to whether he explains details of changes in the regulations. Is he supposed to go round a 100 year old house pointing every single respect in which its construction does not meet modern regulations? Of course not.
    RICHARD WEBSTERwww.rwco.co.uk
    As a conveyancing solicitor I want to be helpful (England/Wales only) but can't accept liability for this.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Issues not picked up by surveyor

      Originally posted by Richard Webster View Post
      I certainly would not expect a surveyor to advise about whether building works meet current building regulations in every case.

      There are two questions that are important about Building Regulations:

      1.Are we likely to face enforcement action? - Usually this is very unlikely unless the work is very recent.

      2. Is it safe, are there any problems with it? A surveyor has to use his judgement as to whether he explains details of changes in the regulations. Is he supposed to go round a 100 year old house pointing every single respect in which its construction does not meet modern regulations? Of course not.
      If a solid fuel stove had combustible material near the solid fuel stove (oak lintel), did not have heat shielding (a tin sheet is not, and has never, been considered heat shielding), that there was no sign of the HETAS plate in the property (which their should be), that a hearth was not of current adequate size and where the glass of the solid fuel stove was jet black, indicating that the stove was not drawing properly and therefore not installed properly, should that not enter the mind of the surveyor that maybe, just maybe, their might be a problem as to whether it ever met building regulations (which it hasn't).

      Or that an integral garage doorisn't a fire door and therefore doesn't meet building regulations, and is a safety issue?

      If surveyors are allowed to overlook those types of issues, they don't deserve to have a profession in my opinion.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Issues not picked up by surveyor

        I agree that the issues you mention appear to be genuine safety points and so should have been flagged up regardless of whether or not the regulations were complied with at the time the work was done.
        RICHARD WEBSTERwww.rwco.co.uk
        As a conveyancing solicitor I want to be helpful (England/Wales only) but can't accept liability for this.

        Comment

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