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Buachaill, Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 11581
Experience:  Barrister 17 years experience
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We have bought a recently renovated property in May 2018.

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Hi, we have bought a recently renovated property in May 2018. Last week we had a survey completed and found we have dry rot. This has stared in the cellar, which was blocked off by the building company we purchased the property from. The survey report states that the dry rot has been caused by no ventilation in the cellar once the door was blocked off. There are no vents. It also identifies lack of drainage has caused some water to get into the property. The property has a professional consultant certificate in place for 6 years. The building company state they are not liable. There is £25000 worth of damage/ repair. Do we have a case against them?
Assistant: What steps have you taken so far? Have you prepared or filed any paperwork?
Customer: No
Assistant: Where is the property located?
Customer: Sunderland
Assistant: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: No

Hello, and thank you for your question. I am your Expert and I will provide the answer you require.

1. I regret to say that in these circumstances, you cannot sue the building company who did the renovation work and from whom you purchased the property in 2018. This is because every contract for sale of property operates on the principle of caveat emptor or Buyer Beware. So, this means that you must satisfy yourself as to any defects in any property you are purchasing before you purchase the property. Otherwise, you have to take the property as it is, without any comeback against the person you are purchasing from. So, for this reason, you will not be able to sue the building company you purchased the property from, even if the dry rot might have originated in the decision to close the door to the cellar, as the onus was on you to ascertain this defect before you purchased the property.

2. However, the person you can sue and against whom you will most likely have a good cause of action is the surveyor who surveyed the property on your behalf when you purchased the property in May 2018. Essentially, the survey you had carried out to determine the state of the property ought to have brought out this dry rot and highlighted it before you purchased the property. Accordingly, you can sue the surveyor for professional negligence if his or her surveyor's report failed to highlight dry rot in May 2018 when you purchased the property. Additionally, if you had an architect's report, the architect ought to have highlighted dry rot as well. Each of these professional people will carry professional indemnity insurance so you will have a policy of indemnity to make the claim against and not just the individual concerned.

3. So, you need to check the professional reports which were commissioned upon the purchase of the property in May 2018. Then you should see a solicitor about issuing legal proceedings against whichever surveyor/architect failed to highlight the dry rot in their report. Normally what happens is the professional indemnity insurer steps in and settles the claim without legal proceedings being necessary. This is how you will recoup the £25k you will have to spend putting the dry rot right.

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Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Would that be the same as a converted property? This was the original council offices which has been converted into residential dwellings. My understanding was that the professional consultants certificate made the architect liable for 6 years?

5. Dear Kim, part of any sale transaction is that the purchaser gets a surveyor's report to see that the property will continue to stand up and is structurally sound. It makes no difference if this is a converted property or a newly build. A surveyor's report is normally required not only to satisfy the purchaser but also to satisfy the lender who is advancing monies under a mortgage. The liability of the surveyor would continue after the sale. Obviously, if the architects professional consultants certificate made the architect liable for six years, you are still within the time limit to take a claim against the architect, if an architect was employed on the sale transfer. The rules are the same for all buildings, whether a converted property or not.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Thank you. We do have both the survey information and the architects do will take this forward. Thank you for your help.Kim

6. You are welcome! Be sure to Rate the answer to complete the process with the website.

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