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Ask Michael Holly Your Own Question

Michael Holly
Michael Holly, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 6545
Experience:  I have 20 years of experience as a solicitor in litigation and other areas
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I'm from the UK and bought a new house in the at

Customer Question

Hello,
I'm from the UK and bought a new house in the at the end on last year from a teacher at my sons school, The house has a log burner, the people that sold us the house had left the flue in an unsafe way which had come open across the seam of one of the joints (irreparable) where the flue goes through the first floor ( where my 5 year old son and pregnant wife sleep.
We lit a fire (unknowing of the condition of the flue at the time) and could smell smoke, I have had 3 HETAS engineers come round and each one have said that the stove and flue are to be condemned. They were all appalled that it has been left in this state, none of the fitting actually conform to any of the building regulations that are now in place ( the stove was fitted before the building regs were put in place)
There is approx 7meters of flue and there should be a bracket every 1m or so to hold it securely in place. There is not one bracket at all from the stove to the end of the flu that goes through the roof, the only anchoring points are where it goes through the ceilings and through the loft. Saying that because the loft has wooden floor boards the flu needs to be 6 inches minimum away from the aperture in the wood. It is currently less than 1 inch away, again another hazard.
The main concern is the cracked flue, this is in the cupboard in the upstairs 1st floor, when you open the cupboard it is glaringly obvious that there is a big hole in the joint as the flue sections do not align this is leaking carbon monoxide into the bedroom floor of the house.
There are two additional pipes at the back of the flue that originally were used to heat a hot water system, the system had been removed but the pipes were not decommissioned, using the fire could have caused a massive explosion and been an inconceivable health risk (all 3 engineers said the same thing and have had two of them write me a report)
Any stoves that give out over 5kw need to have a ventilation system put in the same room, there is no ventilation system present at all and the stove that is in question is giving out a massive 16kw. Again another thing that does not conform to building regulations.
Although it was stated that the house had a log burner on the particulars The people who sold the house did not mention on the fixtures and fittings forms so my solicitor did not know it existed And therefor did no to do checks for its safety.
You are supposed to have the chimney flue swept at least once a year, the people who sold us the house had it swept and checked by a certified chimney sweep in February 2012, February 2013 and February 2014, There was no checks done in February 2015 and not long after this the house went up for sale.
I took a video walk through before we bought the house and you can see on that video that part of the flue was fitted incorrect (I have never seen a log burner flue so at the time I didn't know anything was wrong as I didn't know what to look for) the video was taken a few days after our offer on the house was accepted.
The cost to put this right is £2500 for a new stove and flue fitted ny a HETAS engineer and conforming to all current building regulations.
Not to mention the fact that we have had to go through the winter with no fire in a house that has very high ceilings!
I believe we are victims of concealment and did not now if there was anything I could look into with regards ***** ***** law?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Many thanks
Rob ***@******.***
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Michael Holly replied 10 months ago.
This is an interesting one.Had the vendors been aware of the defect they are without doubt liable for failing to say so in the prelim enquiries form that vendors have to complete.The difficulty is showing that they were aware of it or could not have failed to be aware of it.For this you would need to show that they used it and that when they did the smoke that poured out of it would leave no reasonable person in any doubt something was wrong with it.I think I would ask a few neighbours just to see whether anything was ever said. Otherwise this could be difficult to prove. You could ask one of the engineers that inspected whether it is possible that had they used it they could not have known and then get your solicitor to ask them the last time they used it.I hope this helps if there are further points please respond and I will be happy to reply.Best wishesMichael
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Hi Michael,
They have already responded saying they did use it, please see below response from sellers..."We used the stove very regularly every winter for the last 5 years, hence the supply of wood beneath the stove. We did not use it as much when the children were small as we were concerned that they would touch the hot stove. We had it cleaned a number of times while it was in use and it was tested on these occasions to ensure that the flue was clear. No issue with the stove/flue was brought to our attention by the chimney cleaners.We successfully utilised the stove for a number of years, and for the avoidance of doubt, we had no reason to suspect that the fitting was either incorrect or unsafe."**
I really need to know how to act on this, I want to reclaim the cost of the new stove and flue as this was 100% concealment,
The cupboard with the defective flue pipe had the sellers clothes in there hanging up when we viewed the property covering up the flue pipe so we would t notice it, when they were packing their boxes they would have certainly noticed the broken flue even if they had not used it.
I will try to attach photo,Please advise me of my options moving forward.Many thanksRob
Expert:  Michael Holly replied 10 months ago.
Dear Rob
Thank you for the photos they make it much clearer to see the issue.
The break does not look fresh and you cannot fail to see it.
I would put together what you have in terms of evidence and threaten to sue them in the small claims section of your local County Court if they fail to pay the cost of repair. Give them 14 days to pay then issue a claim if they do not cough up. You can do this online at the County Court Money Claims Centre. You can print off/ download a guide to making small claims from UK.Gov web site
I would be very surprised if you do not get an offer of settlement if you set out and pursue this matter.
You will not actually be entitled to the cost of a new stove since the one you were buying , that should of worked , was not a new one. The law will seek to put you in the position you would have been in had the vendor been honest with you, which is with a working, safe , second-hand burner. However you can try to claim for a new one and see what happens!
Best regards
Michael
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Hi Michael,
Thank you again for fast response again.
The actual stove has been condemned too so that will also need replacing.
If you can think of anything else that would help my case it would be appreciated as I want to be armed with as much info as possible.Thanks again
Expert:  Michael Holly replied 10 months ago.
You will still have the issue that it was not new to start with.
As I said by all means sue for a new one, just be prepared for that argument!
Best wishes
Michael

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