Negligence Claims against Architects, Surveyors & Builders


Negligence Claims against Architects, Surveyors & Building Contractors

Given the expense of putting defects right poor design, supervision or building work by any professional at any stage of the building process can have serious financial consequences for the individual or organisation funding the building work.

For this reason it is possible to pursue a claim for compensation against anyone who, through negligence, contributes to the construction of a structure which is unsafe or unfit for purpose.

Negligence claims against surveyors

For the same reason if you are buying a property it is essential that any important defects that might affect the price at which you are purchasing the property or indeed your decision to buy the property at all are discovered by your surveyor before you exchange contracts. That way there is still time to pull out of the sale or renegotiate the price. If your surveyor breaches his duty of care then you will be left either having to fund the costs of rectifying the defect yourself or with a property worth substantially less than you paid for it. Again therefore it may be possible to claim compensation against a surveyor who through their negligence causes such a loss. Of course the exact scope of any duty of care will depend upon what type of survey you commissioned e.g. the duties are different between a valuation conducted for the lender and a full structural survey.

Negligence claims against builders

Building work needs to be safe and completed to comply with building regulations and other standards but the financial pressures can lead to corners being cut and historically there has always been a lot of cowboys in the building trade.

The best way to avoid poor building work is to do some research before hiring a builder – get a couple of references from previous customers or architects and surveyors and go have a look at their previous work.

The law says that negligence claims can be made against builders if the work is not:

  • Completed with reasonable care and skill
  • Finished within a reasonable amount of time (if no completion date specified)
  • Carried out at a reasonable cost (if no price specified)
  • Completed using appropriate materials which are fit for their purpose and as they were described.

In order to prove negligence it is usual to obtain a report from an architect or structural engineer describing the defects and estimating the costs of putting them right. Such report may also value the property subject to the defects as opposed to what you actually paid for it. It may be necessary to obtain estimates and quotes from other builders to enable this valuation to be established.

Any customer who is the victim of a negligent builder may also be entitled to compensation. It is unwise to accept offers to repair from the same builder if you have lost faith in him and in any event it is better to go through a solicitor as such offers could be held to be in final settlement of any claim when in fact the repair does not work. It is crucial therefore to protect your legal rights that you do not settle large claims of this type without taking legal advice first.