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Do you know the cost of repair please?
No...not the exact amount. We did try to get an estimate from a brick repointing company...but they came and we haven't received a quote from them despite chasing it up. At the time, a sum of between £13 - £15K. But Bellway mentioned an amount of £20K during one of our meetings.
Have you had any independent survey's done please?
Yes...we had an expert witness survey which cost a lot of money and I am hesistant to use his services again as he charges an hourly rate of £150.00. His survey report stated that "Generally, it seems as though the mortar mix on the pointing around the property varies considerably. Much of the pointing seems to be very soft and is washing away when it rains. This is easily scraped away with a thumb nail and in my opinion, is not adequate and will have a very limited life. I believe the majority of the building will require repointing and the loose mortar pointing should be scraped out and repointed as required. The majority of the right hand flank elevation is likely to require repointing along with large sections of the rear elevation and sections of the front elevation. I do have concerns that if only part of the property is repointed this will be patchy and you will get differentiation in colours across the mortar which will look unsightly. Where the property is repointed, ideally this would be done with a sulphate resisting cement."
You need to write and set out your losses and request a refund within 14 days or say you will go to Court within 14 days. You should make sure you send this recorded delivery and keep a copy.
If they do not fix the problem or pay you then you can issue proceedings in the County Court. You can either do this online at: www.moneyclaim.gov.uk or by completing form N1 http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/courtfinder/forms/n001-eng.pdf and take it to your local County Court.
The Court will then issue a claim which a copy will be sent to the Defendant who will have a limited time to defend it, if not you can enter Judgment and enforce.
If the matter is defended it will be set down for a trial. If the claim is for £10,000 or less it will be a small claim and you will not need representation.
But as I understand it the value may be over £10,000 in which case you would need representation for the trial
The surveyor reports obtained could be used as evidence in Court proceedingss
Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?
Yes...The builder/developer (Bellway Homes Ltd) have retained the services of their own expert witness. He is an expert in bricks and mortar. An investigation was carried out by this person on the bricks and the repointed mortar. According to his findings, the property does not require any further repointing. His findings state that the sulphate attack is caused by excess sulphates in the bricks which were defective due to a problem in the manufacturer's factory. These bricks have been used by both Bellway Homes and other developers and all the properties built with these bricks have the same problems. Our issue is that our property was repointed with exactly the same mortar that was used to build the property originally since we were one of the first ones to be repointed when the problem first came to light. They hired their expert witness after we bought our properties and repointed the remaining properties in the development with sulphate resisting mortar. Therefore, our properties are still being affected by the sulfates whilst the other properties are not any more. The NHBC representative even said to me during our meeting with Bellway that he sees no reason why our properties should be repointed again. He said that in any future court proceedings, the judge would ask his opinion as the NHBC representative dealing with the case and in 99% of cases, they would take his opinion into account when making their judgement. So...you can see, I am very hesitant to proceed any further if I am already being told that I have a very little chance of winning the case.
You can instruct your own surveyor to give a second opinion
the cost may be a few hundred £ - but at least then you would know either way what the problem is.
Does that clarify the position for you?
I think so. Would it be helpful to have a second survey by a different surveyor.!
Then you know for sure either way
If it supports the original survey then you know at least where you stand.
Thank you...I will go ahead with another new survey. We have another meeting with NHBC this coming Tuesday and hope we have some resolution to this problem. It has now been going on for a year.
Yes I can understand it is frustrating.
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