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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 12106
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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Both myself and my neighbour are in dispute with our house

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Hi,Both myself and my neighbour are in dispute with our house builders. We have had ongoing issues with our drains for 5 years. We have reported our issues to the NHBC who advised the House builders to repair the faulty drains.We asked for compensation from the house builders because we have been unable to use are gardens for 5 years and also we have been unable to use our upstairs toilets and showers intermittently for the last 5 years.We asked for them to finish the surfaces where the repairs took place in our preferred choice of imprinted concrete instead of tarmac.They offered us £3.5k in cash but we just wanted our driveways finished which would have cost £10k.We want to know if a strongly worded letter from a solicitor would help and what our chances would be in the small claims court to seek compensation.Many thanks

Hello for clarification - and they did repair the drains or didnt?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Hi the initial faults were1) X2 down pipes not connected below ground and as such the rain water was just running through my lawn and caused it to be boggy (still is) for 5 years.
2) The house builders connected my fowl waste to a storm drain (which I think is illegal) and so that was the reason it kept blocking and rising onto my neighbour's driveway via a man hole.They have repaired the drains - but the new rainwater drain has been fitted almost at surface level so we have contacted NHBC again to direct the builders to re-do this work.We have advised the house builders to delay re-tarmacking the driveway until the drains are correctly fitted.We seek compensation for what we have had to endure over the last 5 years. We got 3 quotes and gave them to the house builders. We don't want financial compensation, only our gardens and driveways back (in our preferred finish)Does this clarify everything?Thanks
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Hi - are you still there?

From experience with developers, once you have purchased the property, they won’t even spend 4 pence in putting it right and they will either ignore what they are told to do, ignore your correspondence, spend thousands of pounds arguing as to why something shouldn’t be done or they have no liability. Perhaps I’m being cynical but that’s 25 years experience of newbuild developers. Incidentally, car dealers, especially new car dealers and manufacturers on exactly the same.

By all means try a strongly worded letter from your solicitor and if it comes from all neighbours, so much the better.

However you cannot beat the developer with the stick and if they resolutely refuse to do what you are reasonably asking for, then you are faced with taking them to court.

I think you have a substantial claim here for loss of use/amenity respect of the waterlogged garden.

You have a claim under the provisions of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 because the goods (the house) are not of satisfactory quality because of a whole variety of reasons including the downpipes and the drain.

If you are making a court application you can make an application for specific performance which is a court order to compel them to do the work but it would be more common for the court judge to award a chunk of money in order for you to get the work done yourself.

You talk about driveways in your “preferred finish”. You would obviously only be able to have them redone in the finish as they would have been done when you purchased the property.

Can I clarify anything else for you?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
just to clarify - the only way we can seek compensation through the court, to pay for our "preferred finish" would be for unsatisfactory quality under the provision of goods act.So we let the developers put the work right, re-tarmac the areas where they have carried out repairs and then proceed with court action for the compensation?Just so I am absolutely clear.Many thanks,Marcel.

How does your preferred finish vary from the standard finish?

You are entitled to a building of satisfactory quality and your claim is whatever it costs to put it right.

The developer will either not pay for that or will not do it themselves, you have to take them to court either to make them do it or for the costs of doing it.

If they have done all that and everything looks fantastic and all the drainage works beautifully, and you want compensation for loss of use/amenity, then you have to take the developer to court for that.

Before you go (you can come back at any time), please don’t forget to use the rating service because that gives me credit. It doesn’t just give me a pat on the head! The thread remains open. We can still exchange emails.

Kind regards.


F E Smith and 6 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I've rated you five stars - thanks.The preferred finish varies considerably, we want imprinted concrete as opposed to the standard tarmac. We suggested this to the developers as the ground was being taken up anyway to relay the tarmac as we demanded the whole area be done and not just patched.We thought this a fair and reasonable request by way of compensation given what we have had to endure.I offered the developer to find their own company and they refused so I got three quotes for imprinted concrete of my own.We submitted our preferred choice, who incidently was the middle quote in terms of price.This quote was £10k and they offered £3.5k. I told them that we were not in it for the cash and just wanted our driveways and gardens back in our preferred choice.They have refused to pay the £10kThat is why we think it is best to take them to a small claims court for compensation damages.

Thank you. That’s brilliant.

I have pattern imprinted concrete and I can understand exactly why you want it as opposed to tarmac. However…………

You are not entitled to any finish other than that which was on the property to start although you are entitled to have it done properly. The developer may do a financial deal provided you pay the balance. It’s likely that having it done as pattern imprinted concrete at the developers cost is going to cost more than tarmac and would be seen as “betterment”.

If this all ends up in court, you are going to have to come up with a quote for like-for-like.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
do I go to court to seek a cash settlement for compensation for the loss/amenity of my garden, plus drainage issues of a similar amount (£10k), which would pay for the new driveways and rectify the faults in my boggy garden which the developers won't touch, despite my boggy garden being a direct consequence of their faults.What is the likelihood of us winning in court? and do you think £10k is an unreasonable amount given the circumstances??I believe the maximum a small claims court can award is £10kDo you think the developer would settle out of court once notified of our intentions officially?Sorry for all the questions - we just do not want the developers to wriggle out of this.

There are 2 issues here.

The rectification which is easy to quantify and is therefore classed as Special damages because you can specify them and compensation for loss of amenity which is classed as General damages because you cannot quantify them.

The cost of the rectification is whatever it is.

Compensation for loss of amenity is of figure pulled out of midair based upon all the circumstances.

If you ask for £10,000, the developer is likely to want the matter to referred to the Fast Track so that if your claim is not successful, in whole or part, you would be at risk of having to pay their costs.

You may find that they are more agreeable to settle once you have drafted the proceedings and you say that you have and that coming from a solicitor is likely to focus their minds a little more.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Hi, could you please recommend a reputable solicitor who is based in the Manchester area and who also has experience of similar cases. We just don't want to fall flat on our faces in court.Thanks
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Could you provide a strongly worded letter? If so what would the costs be, along with a brief consultation to discuss a strategy and likelihood of success.

We can’t recommend solicitors just in case the service that you get is not that which you would have expected and it comes down under our toes.

However you can search the Law Society website Find a Solicitor and search by postcode and specialism.

We can only give you the wording of a letter for you to use, we cannot deal with this for you solicitors. We just answer the questions, the site is not used to get clients for solicitors firms. It’s how it was set up.

Before you go (you can come back at any time), please don’t forget to use the rating service because that gives me credit. It doesn’t just give me a pat on the head! The thread remains open. We can still exchange emails.

Kind regards.