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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 25358
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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Where can I get expert legal advice on NHBC cover / claim management? I

Resolved Question:

Where can I get expert legal advice on NHBC cover / claim management?
I live near Belfadt and would be keen to meet with an appropriate advisor.
Sam
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 10 years experience. May I ask how old your property is please?What issue(s) has arisen and how old was the property at the time it / they arose?Did you report the issue(s) immediately in writing?Finally what difficulties are you having with the insurer?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The property is just over 10 years old and the claim was raised/reported in writing to NHBC before the warranty expired.

The house is a detached bungalow and the issue is one regarding the kitchen floor, which is showing signs of settlement manifesting in cracks and broke tiles; and up to 20mm settlement. NHBC have monitored the settling for over 18 months and agreed their is a claim.

I have myself had a contractor remove 2 floor tiles and a small area of floor screed. This has indicated that the screed is cracked and (where it was exposed) only 50mm thick, it should be > 65mm. The full settlement is a combination of floor slab settlement (say 6-7 mm), insulation compression (say 6-7mm) and screed failure (say 6-7mm), thus totaling up to 20mm overall. The main issue is the screed.

The NHBC have offered a cash settlement of approx. £3,000 to lift the tiles, lay a self leveling screed and then new tiles. I am not content with this as it only repairs the cosmetic damage, not the broken screed.

I myself am a chartered structural engineer and have been corresponding directly with NHBC. As they have refused to go beyond cosmetic repair, I now need professional advice on NHBC's liability in order to relay to them there obligations, thus strengthing my case for investigation and rectification of the underlying structural problem.

My opinion is that although settlement has pretty much ceased (NHBC monitored just over 1mm settlement over an 18 month period), the repairs they suggest will allow any new tiles to fail in the future.

I summary I need professional advice from someone who is familiar with NHBC's obligation and to provide information of what may happen if I go legal. My own impression at this point, is not to "go legal" with solicitors letters but rather put a further letter to them undermining there stance and supporting mine. i.e. My original question of where can I find a local expert - or perhaps you can help?

Comments welcome

Regards
Sam

Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Many thanks for the above. as you will be aware, the NHBC policy cover divides predominantly into two sections-cover afforded during the first two years and cover afforded during years 3 to 10. As you will know, the cover afforded after the first two years drops dramatically to a level of cover which principally covers foundations and structure. Based on the defect you refer to this does retain coverage during the last 8 years of the policy and from what you say NHBC has accepted that you have a claim so there is no need to look at this any further. Rather all that is in question is the amount of the claim.The policy document provides that NHBC will pay "The full Cost if it is more than £1000 Indexed, of putting right any actual physical Damage caused by any Defect" in the qualifying parts of the house - NHBC has accepted the damage is in a part that is still covered. Accordingly you would have a claim for the cost of repair of the actual damage that has occured. This is not restricted to cosmetic damage but all actual damage that has occured. Damage is defined as "physical damage caused to the Home". If you disagree with NHBCs assessment you can in the first instance put your own contrasting assessment to them. clearly you have an advantage here with your particular skill set but in any event, normally one would retain an independent contractor to provide a quotation for remedying the damage in order that you can quantify the amount of the claim. If you are not able to agree with the insurer as to the amount of the claim using the above approach, the first step is to lodge a formal complaint. the insurer must respond to your complaint in line with their complaints procedure and give you a final written response. If you are not satisfied with the response, you have the right to refer your complaint to the financial ombudsman service you can independently review the insurers decision and where they find in your favour, award additional compensation to the value of the claim they consider to be fair. The Ombudsman can be contacted using the following link if you are based in NI:http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/financial-ombudsman-service in terms of your initial enquiry with regards ***** ***** a local advisor, of course this is quite possible but the difficulty you will need to consider is that of the advisors fees. the alternative approach to the above is taking the insurer to court and you may not be able to recover your legal fees even if you are successful. Accordingly, given the value of the claim, you need to carefully balance any legal fees you incur because they could quickly begin to eclipse the value of the claim. The above process allows you to resolve the dispute between you and the insurer without incurring legal costs and therefore is a very good approach to take initially. If you disagree or are not happy with the ombudsman's decision should the matter go that far, then you still have the right to bring a claim in the courts insurers bound by the ombudsman's decision. Providing you can show that there has been further actual damage caused to your property beyond the cosmetic repairs the insurer proposes to pay for the cost of, under the terms of the policy, you have a claim for all actual damage caused. There are a couple of exclusions the insurer could use to mitigate its costs potentially, namely, "Damage caused by shrinkage, thermal movement or movement between different types of materials. Damage which is purely cosmetic, such as minor cracking, spalling or mortar erosion to brickwork, which does not impair the structural stability or weather tightness of the Home or which only affects decorations" You will need to be alert to potential attempts to avoid payment for such minor decorative repairs but notwithstanding that based on what you say you would appear to have grounds to push for a further claim beyond the level they propose. If you wish to see a local lawyer to pursue the cae on your behalf, you could contact the below local firm which specialises in insurance litigation but be sure to keep a careful watch on any costs which as above may not be recoverable. For this reason I would tend to favour self help using the above approaches in the first instance.http://www.murphy-orawe.com/pages/index.asp?title=Contact_us I hope the above is of assistance? If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to click to rate my service to you today or just reply back to let me know if the above is helpful. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me I'd be very grateful
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 25358
Experience: LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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