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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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We bought a barn conversion in sep 13, the previous owners

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We bought a barn conversion in sep 13, the previous owners converted it themselves ie self build. Paid asking price, building survey picked nothing conspicuous up. Drains have been blocking since we moved in. Unblocked4 times. Got insurance company out. Engineer stated poor workmanship was the cause, insurance won't pay out. Do we cave a case under latent defects act? 7 years had elapsed. Apparently a portion of the 22m drain run has sunk due to not enough pea shingle underneath and incorrect fall. Obviously gotten worse over time. Thing is it's right under the house, which has flagstone floor and underfloor heating. Please help? Thank you
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Hi.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
When was the work done?
How much is it going to cost to fix the job?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Think the work was carries out in 2006, completion certificate is dated aug-07. The drain company state just over 3k to fix the portion of the run, but that does not include replacing the floor etc.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Should also point out the brother of the previous owner lives next door, was originally going to be one property but they split it and lived separately all legally done, but opens the issue of fall out with neighbours. Should be get in touch with them first
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Thanks.
Provided this work was done for you and not for a previous owner, then you have a claim. You have a claim in contract and you can argue that the six-year under the Limitation Act does not start to run until the date of knowledge which is now subject to the long stop date of 15 years and of course under the provisions of the Latent Damage Act.
As long as the amount that you are claiming is under £10,000 this will be dealt with in the Small Claims Court and if it is dealt with in the Small Claims Court then generally no costs are payable by the loser to the winner. However I must mention that in the matter gets particularly complicated particularly with regard to the evidence/facts and the law the judge will sometimes move it from the small claims court to the fast track and then legal costs would be payable.
If the company that did the work is no longer in business then you have no option but to do the job yourself and pay for it yourself.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Jo
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Yes please, I should say that the owner did the work themselves and not an external contractor. The inherited or bought the plot, converted it themselves lived in it from 2006 to 2013 when we bought it. I do t believe they paid any contractor to do any works. Thanks you
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
If they did the work themselves, that makes it extremely difficult for you to bring a claim because in these circumstances, caveat emptor applies, buyer beware.
If you bought the property off a really incompetent do it yourselfer, then you purchase the property warts and all provided it was not represented as being all good and that they did not misrepresent it in any of the replies to enquiries.
These are the standard enquiries which would have been asked at the time (they have is changed a little more recently but not greatly) and you will see that none of them would cover this kind of problem even if the sellers had a blocked drains before selling.
http://www.kingprior.co.uk/resources/downloads/PDF/PIF%20forms.pdf
This would not be covered in any of the standard enquiries and even if you had a full structural engineers survey, it is most unlikely that it would extend to CCTV inspection of the drains.
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