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Party Wall Surveyor fixed fees for Notices and Awards
Party Wall Awards fixed fee £570.00- Notices £60 per Notice
Expert reports for cracked tiling, screeds and under floor heating defects
Fixed fees for survey reports on defective building work
Thermal Imaging fault/leak tracing on under floor heating
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Apart from general building disputes I specialise in cracked screeds and floor tiles particularly where under-floor heating has been incorporated. If you have noticed cracks in a recently installed natural stone or porcelain floor, the chances are you have just inherited a fairly expensive problem to cure. Typically, floor tiles will have to be removed and then the screed repaired before installing new tiles. As an example, costs of repairing a 100m² floor with limestone tiles could be in the region of £20-25,000. All this could have been easily avoided with some thought at the design stage, correct choice of materials and following the numerous sources of guidance that are readily available.
You could call a solicitor as soon as you see a crack but they specialise in law and not cracks. So the first few letters they send and several hundred pounds of costs will be to let the other party know that you think you have a claim against them. Not until the other side deny the claim will your solicitor instruct an expert to inspect the cracks and carry out a report to see if you actually do have a legitimate claim. I think it is best to know what you are dealing with first before you fire off letters in the opposite direction and that is the benefit in speaking to me first. I can determine if you actually have a problem due to sub-standard work and then decide with you the best course of action.
Floors can crack due a number of reasons but more often than not it is due to shrinkage of the cement based screed. Shrinkage cracks of minute proportions will crack rigid floor tiles fixed to the screed. Shrinkage cracks in screeds would not present such a massive problem if un-bonded floor coverings, such as carpet, were chosen so it therefore important to design a floor system from the top down. The most common fault is the lack of movement joints in the screed that allow shrinkage to be controlled to acceptable levels so that it will not damage the tiles. It is also imperative that the screed is allowed to dry sufficiently before final coverings are laid. The swing towards under-floor heating has led to the increase in cracked floors not only because of poor compaction around the heating elements but also the greater potential from thermal movement, aside the fact that often the heating is incorrectly commissioned after the floor tiles have been laid.
Because of the potential cost of dealing with cracked floors it is essential that you obtain the correct advice from early on and as soon as you notice any cracks. Choosing a surveyor at random will in my experience just add to your costs later on down the line because it requires experience to make sure that your claim is correctly documented and handled. Do not expect the party at fault to just roll over and admit liability; there are quite often insurance companies to deal with as well as solicitors and surveyors appointed by them. I am experienced in not only examining and reporting on cracked floors and associated defects but also dealing with the other party and their professional advisors and representatives. You will then be in the best position to receive compensation for your floor failure
The unique service that I offer includes a comprehensive examination of the floor and an in-depth report that will conclude the faults and who in my opinion is to blame. You will be advised along the way and your claim steered in the right direction so that you are compensated or the floor is replaced as soon as possible and of course to make sure the same does not happen to your replacement floor.
By the time you have discovered cracking it is probably the case that all finishing's have been fitted such as skirting boards, doors and even kitchens. These may well need to be removed and the affected rooms redecorated afterwards. You can see how claims like this can be huge.
To complicate matters, there are usually a number of different
people or trades involved in the floor construction from the Architects or designer to the heating engineer, screed layer and tiler. Knowing who is responsible for what involves careful consideration of the contract documents and the chain of command. It could be the case that each person has neglected to undertake their own part correctly in which case there could be a claim against multiple parties.This will become more apparent once further destructive investigations take place although sometimes it is fairly obvious from a first non-destructive inspection.
Cracking is not always due to drying shrinkage but to other causes such as overloading. Just as natural stone and porcelain crack if they are stretched, likewise they do not like being bent. So again it becomes important to design from the top down making sure that loadings from kitchen island units and the tiles themselves are taken into account when the sub floor is designed. When laying tiles on timber-suspended floors special precautions need to be taken not only to make sure the floor is not bouncy but also that the timber surface is suitable to take the tiles that you intend to bond to to. Tile adhesive and timber are not natural companions and even when using adhesives that state they can be used with timber, special care has to taken.
If you are renovating your property under the guidance of an Architect or builder it is likely that you have left these design considerations to them. After all, they are the experts that you have employed to make sure that the job is carried out to a proficient standard. Unless you have given instructions to lay tiles in a particular manner, they would normally be responsible for the failure of the floor from these causes. Although it is compulsory for Architects to have Professional Indemnity insurance to cover claims flowing from design faults, most builders will not have this type of insurance even though they are unwittingly designing elements of the building or, providing advice. For this reason it is important to seek professional help to make sure that your claim for faulty work is best dealt with.
Other common problems that I find are the incorrect fixing of tiles. Floor tiles in particular need to be fixed on a solid bed of adhesive or they have the potential to crack or come loose. This is down to the competency of the tiler and it should be remembered that tradesmen generally cannot take out insurance for work carried out to a poor standard. You are then left with a claim against the company or person and can only hope that they have the financial backing to take care of such a claim. Unless you stand over the tiler you may not be aware that a problem exists until tiles start to crack or come loose and and a tile is then lifted to show ribs of adhesive that have not been compressed.
Other tile problems are more basic such as poor alignment of joints or excessive lipping between tile surfaces which are workmanship problems that should not exist if the tiler has even the most basic of training.
So when it comes to cracked screeds, cracked tiles, under floor heating faults, leaks or just plain poor workmanship I can help. There is no point rushing to a solicitor until you have established what the problem is and the extent of repair work. There are specific ways to deal with the different people involved and no doubt you will need help with that.
Construction and restoration work can lead to disputes; customers become unhappy, contractors lose patience and before long problems are growing. Of course builders have day to day experience whereas their customers may never have had a house built, renovated or a basement conversion carried out – they soon feel out of their depth and vulnerable. You need a resolution to your building dispute fast.
Quite often either the client or the builder has a knee jerk reaction and does something that later will prejudice their claim against the other party. Maybe the the builder packs up his tools and walks off or the client instructs the builder to leave or even just stops paying him. The chances are that if there is any form of written contract, doing that is the wrong thing to do. Even without a written contract, it is likely to be the wrong thing to do.
Courts do not want their time clogged up unnecessarily with disputes that could have been sorted out without entering into expensive and time consuming litigation and they consider litigation as the last resort. To help prevent this, both parties are required to comply with a set of rules issued by the justice department called the Practice Direction- Pre-Action Conduct. Failure to comply wit the practice directions could result in sanctions from the court such as having to pay the other parties cost even if you win your case.
Whether you should involve a solicitor at the start will depend on the complexity of your case. More often than not for domestic building disputes I would suggest that this is not necessary until such a point that it is inevitable you are going to have to start proceedings and the claim is over £10,000. Under this figure and the case will likely be heard in the small claims track of the County Court where solicitors costs cannot generally be recovered even if you win. That being the case instructing solicitors would be disproportionate to to the claim and costs you will never get back, wasted costs in other words
With this in mind the best solution is effective communication with your builder or alternatively your client. Your builder will argue the work is good and you will not agree. The only way to break the stalemate is to find a compromise or prove your case.
The options to you are to use a company such as mine that deals specifically with domestic building dispute cases or a solicitor that has no experience of building extensions but will at a cost outsource another company with experience to go and inspect your problem.
What my Client’s say
What my Client’s say
What my Client’s Say
What my Client’s Say
What my Client’s Say
A 65mm screed can take over two and half months to dry in good drying conditions of 20°C and 65% relative humidity. With no heating on in winter months the chances of a screed drying within this time is unlikely.
Before laying floor tiles on a newly installed screed for the first time, it is vital to make sure that the screed is sufficiently dry. If you do not then you stand a good chance of tiles cracking and de-bonding as the screed later dries and shrinks.
Testing for moisture with an electronic conductivity or ‘damp meter’ is not a suitable way to check the screed. Testing should be carried out with reference to the BS 8203:2001+A1:2009 using a humidity box to measure the equilibrium relative humidity.
Alternatively an uncoupling membrane can be used such as Schluter Ditra that is installed between the tiles and screed and not only allows tiling on a green screed but also helps prevent stress cracking of the tiles.
In all cases contact Richard G Johnson ACIOB Dip Eng Law (Open) for helpful friendly advice.
* This low cost service is suitable and available only for domestic works of a straightforward nature such as loft conversions and extensions and not for more complicated works such as basements. The service includes for acting as Agreed surveyor.
** A Schedule of Condition is not mandatory under the Act but it is advisable so that that any claims of damage during or after the work can be resolved easily.