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SolicitorRM, Solicitor
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Experience:  Director and Principal Solicitor. UK
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This is a question regarding a construction defect - a

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This is a question regarding a construction defect - a problem with our underfloor heating. Specifically, I would like advice on the limitation period for me to bring a claim.I am hoping it either expires 6 years from the practical completion of the building firm's involvement in our project, in July 2015, so I still have time to make a claim.Or could it be 6 years from the discovery of the mistake (which was only a week ago). Is this allowed for in section 32 of the limitation act? 'Section 32 of the Limitation Act provides that ... where ... (c) the action is for relief from the consequences of a mistake; the period of limitation shall not begin to run until the plaintiff has discovered the fraud, concealment or mistake (as the case may be) or could with reasonable diligence have discovered it'. Or The Latent Damage Act 1986 which amended the Limitation Act and inserted section 14A which provides for a longer limitation period running from the date of knowledge?Or is it 6 years from when the work on the underfloor heating was actually carried out which would have been between July 2014 and Feb 2015? In which case, if I am out of time, can I still make any claim?In case the background to this underfloor heating problem is relevant - the situation is a little bit complicated:Our building contract: In 2014 we had our house renovated by a building firm called Project 1 Design and Build. We had a homeowners JCT contract with them. They are still trading very successfully in our local area and I believe they are likely to have all risks insurance though I have not seen evidence of it. About six months into our project (during which time the underfloor heating was installed by Project 1) there was a financial dispute between the Project 1 and the workers on site who had not been paid for long periods - this was nothing to do with us as we had paid all invoices promptly. The workers on site all left. The building firm never managed to get another full team on-site but some work did continue at a very slow pace (the site was often empty). The project limped on for another six months and eventually, the building firm wrote to me suggesting that they withdraw from the project in July 2015. At this stage, most of the work, including the under-floor heating, had been completed and the remaining work was completed by hiring individual tradespeople directly.The discovery of the mistake: Two weeks ago we hired an energy consultant to carry out an audit of our house because our gas consumption is very high (and very expensive). He concluded that the way the underfloor heating system had been installed was the main problem - both due to poor design and poor construction - both of which were the responsibility of Project 1.The specifics of the defect: Project 1 did not install the underfloor heating system in accordance with our architects plans or in accordance with our JCT contract.Our JCT contract specified that they were to install a concrete beam and block subfloor but instead they put in a timber sub-floor without telling us which caused considerable disagreement at the time. They did this because they wanted to use the timber joists that were already on-site, left by the previous builders, and save money on materials. We were very unhappy that they had not put in a beam and block subfloor as contracted and to pacify us, at the time of the dispute, they wrote to me to say that any costs arising from the incorrect sub-floor type would be covered by Project 1.Extra costs arose fairly quickly which Project 1 did cover: Extra steelwork to support the timber subfloor and, crucially, a layer of cement board above the joists which was needed because the timber joists had also been fitted in the wrong direction and the quality of the screed was too poor to support the floorboards. Unfortunately, the energy consultant has just told us that this layer of cement board is one of the key factors in the underfloor heating not working properly.The energy consultant has told us that the method of underfloor heating used is not compatible with a timber subfloor (they should have used a spreader plate system, not a wet screed system). He has recommended that the floorboards and cementboard be removed and a new system be installed. I estimate the cost of this to be in excess of £20,000. I am keen to make a claim for these costs against Project 1. Do you think I am still able to do this?

Good morning. Welcome to just answer. I am a solicitor and have reviewed your question. With construction claims limitation is not so straight forward to calculate. You can argue that it is a latent defect in which case it would be from date of discovery. If the underfloor heating presented with problems straight from completion then you with out the 6 years from then. If in doubt you want to file anyway before July 2021 to protect your position. Issue fee will be 5% of £20000. Any clarification please do not hesitate to send your follow up question, I am glad to guide you further. All the best

Customer: replied 9 days ago.
Thanks. Does 'completion' date from the time when they wrote to me finally withdrawing from the project in July 2015? Or from the dates when the work was carried out (between July 2014 and Feb 2015)? Thanks, Nicki
Customer: replied 9 days ago.
PS Does it matter that the 'practical completion' was so messy and they never finished the overall project (though they did finish all the work on the underfloor heating which is the subject of the claim)?

It would be completion of the underfloor heating if it was usable before practical completion.

Customer: replied 9 days ago.
we were not resident in the property before practical completion so the underfloor heating not being used at that point and we could not have known about the defects at that point - what does that mean?
Customer: replied 9 days ago.
would filing before July 2015 'protect our position' in this case? Or is it already too late?

That would be your counter argument then should they plead Limitation. Your particulars of claim should be clear on when you see the cause of action starting and I would say practical completion when you would have tested it and if it showed fault, alternatively when the advice was given to you following the inspection if the defect is a latent defect that could not have been identified earlier. I believe JA has sent you an offer for a call, it may be more efficient to speak and cover everything on the call as I am not always going to be able to reply instantly when I respond to other customers.

SolicitorRM and 4 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 9 days ago.
Hi I've booked the phone call - landline (which is better) is(###) ###-####3282 - my mobile is***********-

Hi I will call you now, I believe our numbers do not show, or if they do it would be some random number not necessarily mine.