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Architects, Construction Professionals & Builder Negligence Claims

Many people and businesses can feel out of their depth when they run into a building contract dispute. You may find that the professionals blame each other for the poor workmanship or the professional negligence that has resulted in you having a poorly constructed building that is not fit for purpose.

Whether you are an individual or business, such property problems can cause you considerable stress, inconvenience and have a significant financial impact.

You may end up going round in circles not knowing who is to blame and more importantly not knowing how the problem is going to be fixed. This is where the right legal advice and support can help – from assessing if you have been the victim of professional negligence to assisting you in dealing with insurers, builders, architects, surveyors and tradesmen, and seeking damages for breach of contract and professional negligence.  Individuals are also afforded protections by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 which requires services to be provided with reasonable skill and care. The sale of goods and supply of services to individuals are both covered by the terms of the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

Sometimes it may only take a single letter to get the issues resolved and on other occasions you may need to raise court proceedings or look to alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation to bring matters to a successful conclusion.

Types of building professionals

Depending on your building project, there may be various construction professionals and trades involved. Each has responsibility for different parts of the job and may be liable if they fail to carry out work to the standard of an ordinary professional acting with ordinary skill and care.

Architects can have the responsibility not only of designing the structure to be built but also the supervision of the build to ensure UK building standards are adhered to throughout the build. Architects have their own professional bodies, such as the Royal Institute of British Architecture (RIBA), and they are obliged to adhere to their professional body’s code of conduct.

If an architect has failed to design the structure or supervise the build to the standard expected of an architect acting with ordinary skill and care then you may have a claim for breach of contract and professional negligence if you have suffered losses as a result.

A builder should be supplied with a plan and a schedule of works specifying the quality of materials to be used and the works to be completed. They should be able to construct the build to the standard of a tradesman acting with ordinary skill and care and if they fail to meet that standard then they may be liable in negligence and for breach of contract if you have suffered losses as a result.

The role of the structural engineer is to calculate the loads that the architect’s design will require to ensure that the structure will be stable and that it can support the weights and forces that it will be subjected to. There can be large losses suffered if a building’s foundations are not properly calculated for the ground that they are built on, causing sinking of the building and damage.

If there are latent defects found in a building that are not due to bad building work but poor structural engineering then you may have a claim against the structural engineer.

Surveyors are usually employed to assess the condition and value of a property. If the surveyor has overvalued a property and you have relied on their opinion to your detriment then you may have a claim in professional negligence against the surveyor.

You may have instructed a surveyor to carry out a full inspection of a property and the report stated that the property was of sound construction and had no faults.  However, if you then discovered the property was suffering from major structural faults that the surveyor ought to have noticed then you may have grounds for a professional negligence claim against the surveyor for the losses you have incurred as a result.

Surveyors carry out a wide range of functions in relation to property projects and management, from locating new tenants, negotiating rent-reviews and assessing dilapidations to managing the recovery of rent for commercial buildings and dealing with repairs. You may have relied on a surveyor to carry out these tasks for you to your detriment. In that case you may have grounds for a professional negligence case.

Many tradesmen, such as electricians, plumbers and heating engineers, have to work to statutory regulations, a code of practice or industry standards of work. If they fail to comply with those standards then you may have grounds for a claim against them.

Take for example the situation where a plumbing/heating engineering company installed a central heating system for you. Upon completion, the system was not fit for purpose because it did not supply enough hot water to the radiators. In this case the company may be liable to you for damages to put the matter right. This might involve replacement of the whole system including a new boiler.

Individuals are also protected by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 in relation to the supply of goods and services, and our team will be able to advise you upon the appropriate route for your claim.

Potential Issues

While every building project or property improvement can have its headaches, things can go wrong where you may have grounds for a professional negligence claim, such as the examples given below. Each case depends on whether the professional involved owed you a duty of care. If they are in breach of that duty of care then you may be able to sue the professional responsible for the build:

If your building contract was a design and build contract and it provided specific details with regard to the quality of materials to be used and the builder has not complied with the contract then you may have a claim for breach of contract, professional negligence and damages. You could also seek specific implement of the contract, where the court can order the builder to build what was contracted for.  

You may have grounds for a claim if the building is unsafe or defective.

Take for example the following situation: you have had an extension added to your property and the builder has now left the site and handed the property over to you. The staircase has not been properly attached to the building and is coming away from the wall. You cannot use the extension until the staircase is fixed.

If the build was supervised by the architect and they have issued a completion certificate then you may have a claim against the architect. However, the builder should be asked to rectify matters and if they do not do so then you will have a claim against the builder for the cost of putting matters right.

How can Thorntons help?

Thorntons Professional Negligence Solicitors are on hand to help you resolve your building dispute, with our considerable experience enabling us to find the best approach for you and your situation. We may be able to resolve the case quickly for you with a straightforward letter of claim or, depending on the circumstances, we might need to consider court action or using alternative dispute resolution including mediation and arbitration.

At what can be a very stressful time for you and your family or your business, you want the assurance of a safe pair of hands that will take on the burden and turn matters around as quickly and efficiently as possible. Our team is experienced at handling complex dispute cases and, as Thorntons is a full service firm, they can also draw on specialist expertise from across the firm as needed for your case.

Call us on 03330 430 350 or complete our enquiry form and we will contact you. Our Professional Negligence Solicitors will discuss your situation with you, answer any questions you have and advise you if you may have grounds for a claim for professional negligence and what losses may be recoverable, and how that may be funded. If you then want to go ahead, we will start the claims process for you straight away. Our discussion will be confidential and you are under no obligation to make a claim.