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  • FIRST POST
    • Cliveclive13
    • By Cliveclive13 14th May 18, 2:08 PM
    • 4Posts
    • 0Thanks
    Cliveclive13
    Take a builder to court?
    • #1
    • 14th May 18, 2:08 PM
    Take a builder to court? 14th May 18 at 2:08 PM
    Hello all

    I'm looking for advice on the next step to take.

    For background, we moved in to a new build flat in London about a year ago. We've been very happy in the flat except for one issue relating to the build. The builder is one of the big ones.

    We noticed this problem almost immediately and have been chasing the builder about it since. The builder made an attempt to fix the problem, which didn't work. We called in the NHBC, who said the builder needed to do more. Another attempt was made, which has helped, but we think there is still an unacceptable problem. We had the NHBC in again, who say things are now done to standard, so they won't take any further action.

    As far as I can see, we now have two options:

    1) Start proceedings against the builder. I have some experience of legal proceedings, so I think I have a basic grasp of how this might go. For this choice, I'd like to contact some solicitors to get an idea of initial costs, if we have any likelihood of success etc. Does anyone know how I might be able to find some good solicitors to get some estimates from? It's not clear to me how we can find people who would have experience of this kind of situation.

    2) Accept things as they are. The problem in question is presently not unbearable in terms of day to day living in flat, so this would definitely be the more simple option. However, we will likely be looking to move in two or three years, and my worry is that our problem might make the flat more difficult to sell or force us to reduce the price if it were noticed by a potential buyer. Do we have to bring our problem to a potential buyers attention if we stop at this point? (due to the nature of the problem, it's not necessarily something that would be noticed until you spent some time in the flat - i.e. only after you bought it)

    The choice here obviously depends somewhat on the costs involved (hence the needs for estimates) but clearly if this is a problem that would cause someone to drop an offer by tens of thousands of pounds if they know about it, then it may be worth spending some amount of money to get things fixed depending on the chances of success.

    Any thoughts welcome. I'm being vague about the details, but let me know if any further specifics would help.

    Thanks
Page 1
    • walwyn1978
    • By walwyn1978 14th May 18, 2:51 PM
    • 535 Posts
    • 498 Thanks
    walwyn1978
    • #2
    • 14th May 18, 2:51 PM
    • #2
    • 14th May 18, 2:51 PM
    Okay, I think we need to know a bit more about the problem before anyone can help...
    • theartfullodger
    • By theartfullodger 14th May 18, 3:04 PM
    • 9,907 Posts
    • 13,478 Thanks
    theartfullodger
    • #3
    • 14th May 18, 3:04 PM
    • #3
    • 14th May 18, 3:04 PM
    Give us a clue about what roughly the problem is and roughly what it would cost to fix.

    Have you written to builder about this? Have you followed their complaints process, to the very end?
    • Cliveclive13
    • By Cliveclive13 14th May 18, 3:26 PM
    • 4 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Cliveclive13
    • #4
    • 14th May 18, 3:26 PM
    • #4
    • 14th May 18, 3:26 PM
    Hi Walwyn


    It's a intermittent noise issue related to piping running through the flat. Attempts to fix so far have involved adding noise insulation.


    We think the route of the piping is flawed and needs to be modified to eliminate the noise. Whether we're right or not is something we'd presumably have to pay a consultant for an opinion on, but that's all part of the risk calculation.


    Do you have specific info in mind? I'm trying to avoid posting specific details but I'm happy to PM more details to someone if that would be helpful
    • Cliveclive13
    • By Cliveclive13 14th May 18, 3:31 PM
    • 4 Posts
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    Cliveclive13
    • #5
    • 14th May 18, 3:31 PM
    • #5
    • 14th May 18, 3:31 PM
    We've followed the builders complaints procedure and moved on to the NHBC complaint when that failed.
    • Jane_B
    • By Jane_B 14th May 18, 3:43 PM
    • 90 Posts
    • 34 Thanks
    Jane_B
    • #6
    • 14th May 18, 3:43 PM
    • #6
    • 14th May 18, 3:43 PM
    The key issue here is that NHBC have now decided the builder has done enough, so therefore any issues you continue to experience you will have to find a solution for yourself.

    Whether its annoying or not the builder has now brought the property up to standard, that's their job done.
    • plumberpaig
    • By plumberpaig 14th May 18, 4:46 PM
    • 47 Posts
    • 16 Thanks
    plumberpaig
    • #7
    • 14th May 18, 4:46 PM
    • #7
    • 14th May 18, 4:46 PM
    It looks like your best bet would be to get back on to NHBC unless you haven't already exhausted their complaints procedure and let them know you aren't happy and want to escalate the complaint to the next stage.

    Then hope that they send someone out again who, this time, agrees with you.

    http://www.nhbc.co.uk/NHBCPublications/LiteratureLibrary/ClaimsandGuidanceNotes/filedownload,23962,en.pdf

    Edited to add:
    The builder's defense, in court, would be that the NHBC are happy and have stated the work is to current standards. I am not sure how anyone can argue with that, unfortunately for you.
    • AdrianC
    • By AdrianC 14th May 18, 5:07 PM
    • 19,043 Posts
    • 17,444 Thanks
    AdrianC
    • #8
    • 14th May 18, 5:07 PM
    • #8
    • 14th May 18, 5:07 PM
    We noticed this problem almost immediately and have been chasing the builder about it since. The builder made an attempt to fix the problem, which didn't work. We called in the NHBC, who said the builder needed to do more. Another attempt was made, which has helped, but we think there is still an unacceptable problem. We had the NHBC in again, who say things are now done to standard, so they won't take any further action.
    Originally posted by Cliveclive13
    That is not going to help you one bit if you do take the legal route. As soon as the builder stands up and says "But NHBC say this is to standard, and here's their confirmation", that's it. Case over.



    As far as I can see, we now have two options:

    1) Start proceedings against the builder.
    2) Accept things as they are.
    3) If this is a pipe in your flat, rather than part of the building's shared infrastructure, then get it fixed yourself.
    • eddddy
    • By eddddy 14th May 18, 7:03 PM
    • 7,168 Posts
    • 7,125 Thanks
    eddddy
    • #9
    • 14th May 18, 7:03 PM
    • #9
    • 14th May 18, 7:03 PM
    So...
    • presumably you have a two year builder's warranty, and you are trying to claim under this warranty, but...
    • the builder and NHBC are saying there is no problem, and/or the problem is outside the scope of the warranty

    If you want to persue this, I would do the following...
    • Instruct an RICS accredited buildings surveyor to investigate the problem.
    • If the surveyor agrees there is a problem which should be covered by the warranty, forward a copy of the surveyor's report to the builder
    • If the builder disagrees with the surveyor's report and still refuses to fix the problem, you'll need to think about paying another builder to fix the problem, and claiming the cost back from the original builder. Probably in the small claims court and using the surveyor's report as evidence.
    • AnotherJoe
    • By AnotherJoe 14th May 18, 7:07 PM
    • 11,403 Posts
    • 13,173 Thanks
    AnotherJoe
    It looks like your best bet would be to get back on to NHBC unless you haven't already exhausted their complaints procedure and let them know you aren't happy and want to escalate the complaint to the next stage.

    Then hope that they send someone out again who, this time, agrees with you.

    http://www.nhbc.co.uk/NHBCPublications/LiteratureLibrary/ClaimsandGuidanceNotes/filedownload,23962,en.pdf

    Edited to add:
    The builder's defense, in court, would be that the NHBC are happy and have stated the work is to current standards. I am not sure how anyone can argue with that, unfortunately for you.
    Originally posted by plumberpaig
    I had a similar problem though not noise related where NHBC said ut was up to standard and I had to push very hard to get them to change their minds. So I woudl focus on that. My experience was that NHBC seemed to be more an organisation for builders than consumers.
    • Thrugelmir
    • By Thrugelmir 14th May 18, 7:11 PM
    • 60,967 Posts
    • 54,172 Thanks
    Thrugelmir
    We think the route of the piping is flawed and needs to be modified to eliminate the noise. Whether we're right or not is something we'd presumably have to pay a consultant for an opinion on, but that's all part of the risk calculation.

    Originally posted by Cliveclive13
    You'll need something more than your personal opinion to take a case to court let alone win one.
    Financial disasters happen when the last person who can remember what went wrong last time has left the building.
    • Cliveclive13
    • By Cliveclive13 14th May 18, 7:48 PM
    • 4 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Cliveclive13
    Hello all again

    Thank you for the various replies.

    That is not going to help you one bit if you do take the legal route. As soon as the builder stands up and says "But NHBC say this is to standard, and here's their confirmation", that's it. Case over.

    3) If this is a pipe in your flat, rather than part of the building's shared infrastructure, then get it fixed yourself.
    Originally posted by AdrianC
    The piping is in boxing in our flat but services other flats, so I believe is part of the communal building i.e. not work we can just have done ourselves. It's a soil pipe.

    So...
    • presumably you have a two year builder's warranty, and you are trying to claim under this warranty, but...
    • the builder and NHBC are saying there is no problem, and/or the problem is outside the scope of the warranty

    If you want to persue this, I would do the following...
    • Instruct an RICS accredited buildings surveyor to investigate the problem.
    • If the surveyor agrees there is a problem which should be covered by the warranty, forward a copy of the surveyor's report to the builder
    • If the builder disagrees with the surveyor's report and still refuses to fix the problem, you'll need to think about paying another builder to fix the problem, and claiming the cost back from the original builder. Probably in the small claims court and using the surveyor's report as evidence.
    Originally posted by eddddy
    Thank you for this - this is helpful.

    I had a similar problem though not noise related where NHBC said ut was up to standard and I had to push very hard to get them to change their minds. So I woudl focus on that. My experience was that NHBC seemed to be more an organisation for builders than consumers.
    Originally posted by AnotherJoe
    How did you get them to come out again? The letter I've received (which matches the guidance in the leaflet) suggests that arbitration is the next step if we disagree with the findings and that they suggest you get legal advice before proceeding with that.
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