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Jamie-Law
Jamie-Law, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Solicitor
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I bought a property Sept 2014. It was only signed off by

Customer Question

I bought a property Sept 2014. It was only signed off by building control a few weeks before I bought it.
It is of straw bale and lime render construction on a timber frame with a thatch roof. It was described as 'a traditionally built and modern farmhouse.., recently constructed from from straw bales and green oak. The house has been finished to a very high standard and has exceptional ecological credentials both in terms of construction and energy efficiency.'
There were no builders guarantees but I was told that the Building Control Certificate would be my guarantee that all work had been finished to building regs. and a safe standard.
I had a survey done but this could not cover the wall structures as they could not be internally inspected so I assumed the building control certificate assured me it had all been built and finished to a reasonable and safe and traditional standard.
Within a week of purchase the vendor sent a plumber to fit 'a safety valve to the heating system that should have been fitted before' we were not told of this in the queries at purchase.
We were told no significant expense was needed in 3 years.
After the valve was fitted when we first used the system to heat the house, water came through the ceiling and the thermal store/ boiler boiled which was dangerous and very frightening .
The plumber came back but couldnt see anything wrong. We got another plumber to sort the system hoping that would be the end of it. However the woodburning stove/boiler never worked properly and eventually the manufacturer came and said it had been fitted with the wrong size flue pipe. The certificate relating to the flue had been filled in with the details of what should have been fitted at insallation, copied from the installers guide but this did not relate to what was actually in place.
Further investigations showed this had been signed by a chimney sweep who claimed he did not know what the house builder/owner had asked him to sign.
On investigation by a HETAS expert the other woodburner was also condemned. There was also no carbon monoxide monitor and we were told we were lucky to have survived.
Both installations had to be removed and new flue added to the range/boiler along with chimney alterations. The other woodburner had to be removed and completely replaced with a new appliance and new flue and a new chimneypot, plasticbuckets were found hidden up the chimney to catch water.it was a second hand one with a back boiler sealed off and no means to safely sweep it. The sweep said he had warned the owner/builder about this when he came to sweep.
Building control said the property should never have been signed off but now we are responsible for it as current owne
We paid about £5000 for all this work and the vendor/builder agreed begrudgingly to give us £2200 saying these were improvements. We were sold what was described as a new house with a working and safe heating system. We could have died. This was not an improvement.
Since then endless problems have arisen. The house has never been warm and the lime wash and some render fell off the first winter. We had the whole house re lime washed and cracks filled in Spring/Summer 2015 by a professional experienced with lime.
Over last winter it was still cold and more cracks opened and larger amounts of plaster fell off. Then damp patches appeared. We got a straw bale specialist who is appauled by what has been done. Describing it as a catalogue of bad practice and not traditional straw bale building at all.
Most of the walls will need rebuilding. We have started to prepare the walls for rebuilding taking photographs all the time of the bad practices. We are now concerned electrics have not been done safely.
We had always wished to build our own home with professional advice,but my husband is blind so we decided that buying a newly built eco house would be the next best thing as he could not cope with the disruption of a building site.
However this is exactly what we are coping with. The putting right of everything within 2 years of purchase is going to cost at least £20000. which we must borrow.
Do we have any grounds to compensation of our repair costs from the builder/vendor.
As a home this is not as described and not fit for the purpose we bought it. We paid £800,000 for the farm which included the house and a cabin and 45 acres and a business. We have run into difficulties with virtually every aspect of what we bought nothing was as it seemed. On one occasion I tried to get some advice from the owner/builder and he just said I should have done my homework. On another occasion asking about the stove & heating system his wife said she never got to grips with it.
Many locals say he knew everything was bodged and just wanted to get rid of it before more delapidations occured. He told me he is a magistrate, but now I have no confidence in the integrity of the property.
***** *****
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 2 months ago.

Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.

What is it you want to achieve please?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I want to know if there are any consumer protection laws that would make it possible for me to get compensation for my rebuilding costs and inconvenience caused.
I would like the builder/owner/vendor to admit that the property was not as described. I would like to know what I should do next to persue thi
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 2 months ago.

You need to write and set out your losses and request a refund of costs and/or compensation within 14 days or say you will go to Court within 14 days. You should make sure you send this signed delivery and keep a copy.

If they do not refund 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://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/hmctsformfinder/n1-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 claim is for £10,000 or less it will be a small claim so you will not need legal representation. Over this value you would need representation for trial.

I imagine your costs are going to be significant so its important to get representation in terms of drafting pleadings and for trial at any early stage.

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I dont think this is a personalised reply. When you say within 14 days, what exactly do you mean. 14 days of what? The house was purchased 13 months ago. Rebuilding started last week and uncovering many more completely bodged unsafe and terrible work at every step. I am intimidated by this man, he has ridden rough shod over the building inspectors and everyone. If I write to him he will tell me I am making it up.The claim to rebuild to a safe and traditional straw bale method will cost in excexx of £20000.
Please can someone read the detail of my email and not reply with a blanket reply about procedure for a retial purchase.
Thank you
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 2 months ago.

14 days of when you send the letter. This is not a blanket reply, but by a real person.

I would however suggest getting a survey done before hand showing the poor works. In the event it goes to Court you will need expert evidence showing the problems.

You would also need to get a number of quotes to quantify your loss. Given its £20,000 I would recommend you get a Solicitor to draft the Court issued pleadings for you.

Does that clarify?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
thank you, ***** ***** phrase you used did not seem to make sense but now I understand exactly what you mean. It is hard to concentrate because the house is literally falling down around me. I have had a survey before the rebuilding commenced and a straw bale building expert is coming again tomorrow to reassess what work is needed now in the light of what has been revealed by the removal of the old rotten straw. We have photographic evidence of everything.
There are very few straw bale experts so I can only get one quote. The actual amount to do the work will be less as I have done the stripping down already myself and that will be deducted from the bill, but the materials will be the same.I have kept receipts.
Shall I approach a solicitor now so that the letter setting out my claim could also be written for me. I do not want to communicate with him directly. If we succeed in getting the money for the rebuilding would it also cover my costs for lawyers fees.
Expert:  Jamie-Law replied 2 months ago.

Yes I would approach a solicitor and have a letter of claim sent, setting out your position.

Does that clarify?

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