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Lack of Building Regs - Indemnity or under-pin?

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  • Lack of Building Regs - Indemnity or under-pin?

    Hi,

    I have had a small amount of building work done to support a bay window - footings and 12 courses of bricks to support the window itself.

    Although I had planning permission granted for this, and work was completed in December 2011, it came to light in summer 2012 that the builder had not applied for Building Regs. I went for retrospective regs and we found that the footings the builder put in are too shallow for today's standards.

    The footings of the bay window sit on the existing house footings and appear perfectly sound, there has been no movement in the 18 or so months they have been in place, and the foorings for the bay are more substantial than those of the house itself (1970's semi)!

    Having spoken with Building Regulation on this subject and the original builder, I am presented with 2 options:
    - Underpin the window
    - As it has not moved, leave it in situ (as it has been fine during the recent wettest winter on record)

    If I were to go with the latter option, is this something I could get covered with an indemnity in years to come? I have no plans to move for another 5/6years.

    Thanks.

  • #2
    Re: Lack of Building Regs - Indemnity or under-pin?

    You may be able to get an indemnity policy once the work is 12 months old but you will have to tell the insurer that you have contacted the Council. This could mean that you will find some insurers will not cover you or will want a letter form the Council saying they will take no action. (If you have such a letter there is little point in getting a policy!).

    A few Councils have apractic eof not taking enforcement acgtion but leaving a note on searcheds tot he effect that they are aaware of work whicvh may not comply witht he reguasltions, leaving you ina sort of limbo, sot hat this firghtnes a buyere when you sell, leaving you with little option but tio underpin.

    Remember that these policies only cover enforcement action which becomes less and less likely as time goes on. After 2 years the Council would have to seek an injunction in t he civil courts requiring the work undone - this would be such a wind up for them and attract bad publicity that they are highly unlikely to do it.

    A few potential buyers will worry about the risk of this - unnecessarily in my view - but some people are risk averse to a ridiculous extent.

    For most people the real issue will be whether structural damage is likely - this isn't covered by the policies - but becomes less likely as the years go by.

    Maybe the best thing is to wait until you sell and sell what happens and then try to get a policy at that time - if you haven't had any contact with the Building Inspectors in the meantime this is more likely to be possible then.
    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: Lack of Building Regs - Indemnity or under-pin?

      Hi Richard,

      Thank you for replying. I found your touch-typing a little confusing, so have gone through your response and re-spaced the words. There is one word (in red) that I could not work out, could you tell me what it is, please.

      -------
      You may be able to get an indemnity policy once the work is 12 months old but you will have to tell the insurer that you have contacted the Council. This could mean that you will find some insurers will not cover you or will want a letter form the Council saying they will take no action. (If you have such a letter there is little point in getting a policy!).

      A few Councils have a practice of not taking enforcement action but leaving a note on searches to the effect that they are aware of work which may not comply with the regulations, leaving you in a sort of limbo, so that this firghtnes a buyer when you sell, leaving you with little option but to underpin.

      Remember that these policies only cover enforcement action which becomes less and less likely as time goes on. After 2 years the Council would have to seek an injunction in the civil courts requiring the work undone - this would be such a wind up for them and attract bad publicity that they are highly unlikely to do it.

      A few potential buyers will worry about the risk of this - unnecessarily in my view - but some people are risk averse to a ridiculous extent.

      For most people the real issue will be whether structural damage is likely - this isn't covered by the policies - but becomes less likely as the years go by.

      Maybe the best thing is to wait until you sell and see what happens and then try to get a policy at that time - if you haven't had any contact with the Building Inspectors in the meantime this is more likely to be possible then.

      --------

      The council have told me verbally last July they have no plans to take action, and to be honest I'd rather not pursue them for written confirmation for this, if I am better placed cutting communication.

      The work will be 2 years old in December of this year.


      Thanks.

      Comment

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