14:18 PM, 18th April 2011, About 10 years ago
A landmark case in the Court of Appeal has removed responsibility from builders and contractors who refurbish or extend homes to make sure their work is not defective.
Judges decided homeowners could only sue builders for work that has gone wrong under the Defective Premises Act 1972 if the property is newly built.
The decision hangs on the interpretation of the phrase “wholly different from the old” home.
The decision was a “wholly new property” had to involve more than a refurbishment, repairs or extension, because any of these would generally leave a property partly new.
The court was hearing the case Jenson and another v Faux.
The facts were that Mr Green purchased a house and carried out an extensive refurbishment, including adding a loft extension, changing the lay out of rooms, extending the kitchen and converting the basement in to living space.
He sold the house to Mr and Mrs Jenson after completing the work.
Mr Faux was the project manager.
After they moved in, the Jensons complained the basement flooded because waterproofing was not properly completed and sued Mr Faux for compensation.
He claimed they could not sue him because the Defective Property Act did not apply to a refurbishment, although the act does offer protection to subsequent purchasers of a property once building work has been completed.
The Technology and Construction Court supported the Jensons’ claim. The case went to appeal.
At the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Longmore said: “There is no doubt a grey area within which it would genuinely be arguable that a dwelling had so changed that it had a different identity from before but works of extension or refurbishment works, to my mind, have to be much more substantial than they were in this case before such a grey area was reached.”
The judge also suggested buyers should consider a survey before purchasing a new home.
The judgment takes away a homeowners right to sue builders for most refurbishment work under the Defective Property Act.
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