Build flaw in new apartment lead to flood and denials?

by Readers Question

14:54 PM, 30th November 2016
About 2 years ago

Build flaw in new apartment lead to flood and denials?

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Build flaw in new apartment lead to flood and denials?

We have recently had a BTL unit suffer severe water damage from an incorrectly installed toilet filling valve, which was cross threaded so over time it was inevitable it was going to leak, and the soldered joints in the brass piping in the bathroom walls had separated as they were not fully fluxed when first installed. responsibility

During the past 5 years we have owned the apartment (it was bought brand new and off plan) the leaks from these construction flaws pooled in the walling and, the subsequent complete separation of the brass water pipes led to a minor flood beneath the bedroom floors from the bathroom. Photos from the plumber clearly show the massive mould that built up over time behind the walls and box which encloses the valve and brass water piping.

The cost of pulling apart the bathroom walls to effect the necessary plumbing corrections and the replacement of wooden floors and carpeting, let alone the plumber’s bill is all for my account according to the insurance company, who manage the development, as the matter is an internal one.

They are totally disinterested in the fact that the damage originated from initial shoddy building work and would not have been noticed as the pipework and valve are hidden from view behind the bathroom walls.

Could anyone advise me on a way forward with regards to a construction flaw and my status re claiming against building insurance or the developer.

Please be aware that I am not a UK resident and reside in South Africa.

Dale



Comments

Neil Patterson

14:59 PM, 30th November 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi Dale,

I am not sure what you mean by "your account" ?

A leasehold apartment block will have one block insurance policy to cover the whole building for defects and damage. This is not a policy individually in your name, but under the freeholders.

Do you mean the insurance company is paying but somehow charging you an excess or are you footing the bill out of your own pocket?

If the later I would definitely fight this under the building guarantee certificate and the insurance company by complaining to the Ombudsman.

DALE ROBERTS

15:19 PM, 30th November 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Neil Patterson" at "30/11/2016 - 14:59":

The Leasehold Management Company, handling the block insurance cover of the building for all the Freeholders, state that they are not responsible for insurance claims within my unit. The fact that the leakage originated within a wall in my unit, due to a build construct, apparently falls outside the cover they offer. They insist that all costs for the damage that ensued within my property is for my personal account. They have repudiated any rights to a claim I insist I should have. They have further advised that I should contact the original builder instead of them (sic).
I feel this is a construction defect and should be dealt with by the building insurance notwithstanding the fact that the leak originated within my unit.

Neil Patterson

15:58 PM, 30th November 2016
About 2 years ago

That sounds like passing the buck to me.

I would contact the management company and freeholders again and insist on seeing the building certificate guarantee and the block insurance policy.

Also please see the Leasehold Advisory Service >> https://www.lease-advice.org/

DALE ROBERTS

16:03 PM, 30th November 2016
About 2 years ago

Thank you Neil.
I have no intention of NOT fighting this and your advice is most helpful.

Paul Fay

21:54 PM, 30th November 2016
About 2 years ago

In contract the builder is responsible for rectifying all this damage. It's a contract under seal which has a longer limitation period - 12 years v 6 for simple contracts. You also have a claim against the insurer assuming that they insure the building. Unless there is trace and access cover on the policy you would be liable for the cost of repairing the pipe along with any access costs and associated making good.

If the insurer pays the claim they should recover their costs and your uninsured losses from the builder.

DALE ROBERTS

7:54 AM, 1st December 2016
About 2 years ago

Thank you Paul. That is very helpful.

Steven Burman

9:43 AM, 1st December 2016
About 2 years ago

Dale, if you purchased the flat off-plan 5 years ago it should have come with a 10 year guarantee underwritted by one of the major providers (NHBC or Premier Guarantee would be my guess). What you have described is known as a 'latent defect' and the managing agent should be pursuing the original developer under the terms of the guarantee.

Mike W

10:10 AM, 1st December 2016
About 2 years ago

A family member experienced a similar issue which was slightly different but is worth mentioning. Again a new build but problem became evident after 2 years. This is a very common problem in blocks of flats according to the insurance assessor.
In this case the leak occurred in a neighbour's flat and the water spread under the floor. A tide mark up to approx 1 meter was clear evidence of the problem throughout both of the the flats and common areas. Both flats/common areas were repaired by the insurer. Buildings insurance normally includes flood (the definition of which includes escape of water internally) but recently some insurers have put in clauses requiring the builder to have undertaken pressure testing.....
Then there is the NHBC (or equivalent) insurance certificate covering building defects. Watch the time limits and need to notify promptly. There are specialist companies which can represent you. They assess the situation and deal with the insurers and project manage the repair. I would strongly advise using them. Its like a little village. They all know one another and more importantly they know all the 'rules' and regulations. Both flats had to be gutted at a cost of circa £70,000 each. Both paid by insurer including cost of 6 months alternative accommodation......
If the insurance company denies liability take legal advice from the lease advisory service, Which? legal (all relatively free or cheap) and involve the ombudsman.
I think the insurers are trying it on.

DALE ROBERTS

11:15 AM, 1st December 2016
About 2 years ago

Thank you all.
Presently both the block insurers and the managing agent are ignoring my requests for clarification regarding latent defects and what my legal standing is.
I have requested the block insurers to provide me with the specific clause which permits them to repudiate my potential claim and they have merely referred me to the Developers who built the apartment block.
I assume they are collectively trying to frustrate me into submission!

Steven Burman

11:29 AM, 1st December 2016
About 2 years ago

Dale, it certainly seems as if they are attempting to frustrate you. NHBC and Premier Guarantee normally issue an information pack to the first purchaser of a new build property. It may be worth contacting them directly and bypassing the managing agent/building insurer/developer.

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