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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 8445
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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We purchased a new build house 15 months ago from what we

Resolved Question:

We purchased a new build house 15 months ago from what we thought was a reputable builder. There have been issues which go beyond normal snagging ( for instance all bathrooms to be re-tiled due to poor workmanship and the downstairs ceilings having to be opened up and re- fixed as they were not properly secured). The builder sold the property with an NHBC warranty. During extensive plumbing and heating remedial works we found none of the pipes have been lagged in the loft which means the property does not meet the NHBC standard. NHBC seem unconcerned as we are still in the 2 year snagging period and the builder has said they will fix. They are missing the point that we have substantial issues and on this particular issue we consider there has been misrepresentation as the builder sold us a non NHBC compliant house and would appear not to have sufficient internal controls to ensure compliance. We would not have purchased the house without the NHBC warranty. We dare not think what else may non be compliant, the directors of the building company simply refer us to their customer service department and refuse to engage. This is a development of 4 houses and all 4 have this lack of lagging issue and other common issues. If this was a purchase of other goods then with clear misrepresentation we could I believe return the goods, obtain a refund and obtain an award of costs (we have spent a lot of money kitting out our house). Where do we stand legally on this given the directors refuse to engage with us ( we wrote to them and copied this to the executive board of the top group company) but they just keep referring us to customer services who are simply not up to the job as this goes beyond the normal snagging issues which they encounter? What specific legislation would refer to our situation and is there relevant case law in support?
Submitted: 22 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 21 days ago.

How much is it going to cost to put right, everything which the builders are refusing to remedy?

Customer: replied 21 days ago.
This is not a matter of cost. This is about them selling a house with the NHBC warranty when they did not fulfill the requirements to have that certificate. So they told us it was NHBC compliant which it wasn't. They say they will make it compliant but how can we trust them given there may be other issues of which we are not yet aware. Given they have not done this work in the full development would I think indicate insufficient internal checks and procedures to ensure they are providing what they say they are -an NHBC compliant home. The actual plumbing rectification cost is probably around £2,000, the tiling rectification so far must be nearer £15,000 and more to come but this is a £1.2million house so if there are other defects it could get very serious. I need to know legally what is our recourse and is there relevant case law? What is the value of an effective loss of say 18 months of a 10 year NHBC warranty?
Expert:  F E Smith replied 20 days ago.

I’m afraid it is about cost because you need to know the measure of the damage because of this is going to court because neither the builder nor NHBC are prepared to put it right, you are going to need to know exactly how much is going to cost and for that you are going to need a quote (not an estimate because courts want quotes not estimates).

Under the Sale of Goods to Consumer Regulations, goods (the house) must be free from manufacturing defects for 6 years. It’s the same period under the Limitation Act where time runs from the date of discovery of the defect.. Under the Latent Damage Act which links in with the other legislation, there is a 15 year long stop date and if you discover anything after that time, then it’s not actionable.

At the moment, they are also in breach of the Consumer Rights Act (post October 2012) or the Sale of Goods Act ( pre October 2012) for failing to provide goods of satisfactory quality. They are fit for purpose but not satisfactory quality.

You are out of time to reject the property for substantial defects and hence your remedy is compensation/damages and if they wont to put it right, the solution is to get it put right yourself and sue them for the cost.

I will say that what you’re experiencing with new build property is not at all uncommon.

Can I clarify anything arising from this?

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Best wishes.


F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 8445
Experience: I have been practising for 30 years.
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Customer: replied 20 days ago.
Thanks for this - it is helpful and I will rate as requested. On the issue of damage is this on actual costs - we cannot I believe get an additional say 18 months NHBC warranty so we would need to put a value on that assitional warranty so would this be to go to an insurer and obtain insurance cover for building defects for 18 months but valued at whatever price that would be starting in around 8 years time ( and of course not knowing what will happen in the intervening 8 years).

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