A case that The Property Ombudsman was asked to review came from a buyer about two issues raised in the survey. The buyer instructed the surveyor to carry out the building survey report. Two issues were the subject of the complaint.
- The Roof
The buyer said that, following his purchase, two roofing contractors inspected the roof (two months after the date of the survey) and advised that it required completely replacing at a cost around £7,000. He also said that he found condensation in the loft and there was felt missing in the back corner. It appeared that the suggestion of a roof replacement had arisen as a result of the condensation. The buyer said that the survey had not highlighted these issues as he considered it should have done and he wanted the surveyor to cover the costs of a new roof.
The survey reported ‘some degree of staining to the rafters’ but stated that there was no evidence of leaks and the roof timber was dry on inspection. The survey also commented that the stains ‘may be historical and not significant’. The survey noted that internal inspection was restricted due to access but there was no evidence of roof failure that required significant remedial action. Externally, the survey noted the roof was generally intact and serviceable, but repairs were evident as illustrated by the survey. The survey concluded by stating that when buying a property of this age, maintenance work would be required to sustain its condition but at present no significant or immediate action was required.
Both contractors’ quotes indicated water ingress due to porous concrete tiles caused by condensation. The surveyor, during the complaint process, suggested condensation may have occurred as a result of the buyer’s occupancy, but advised the roof was ventilated so it should not be an ongoing issue. Given that the property was empty at the time of the inspection condensation was unlikely to have been present at the time of the survey.
One of the buyer’s concerns was access to the roof space by the surveyor. He said that during complaints correspondence the surveyor admitted they did not enter the roof space and that, had they done so the issue would have been evident. However, the surveyor had actually said that inspection of the roof space was restricted due to access, the survey stating, ‘insulation to the roof space limited inspection of the ceilings, tanks and pipework’. No insulation was moved within the roof space to inspect underneath, and these limitations had been made clear in the terms and conditions of the survey.
The photographs of the roof space indicated that the insulation covered many of the areas where the rafters met the joists. Although not aware specifically where the missing felt was, the buyer had stated this was in the ‘back corner’ which would suggest it had been covered by insulation at the time of the inspection.
The complaint was not supported. The surveyor’s inspection of the property was restricted to a visual survey of issues or the risk of potential issues and this limitation had been set out in the survey. Based on the evidence provided, there was no indication that condensation was present and an ongoing issue which should have been noted on the survey.
- The Flooring
The buyer said that the surveyor spoke to him the day of the inspection to ascertain if he had any specific concerns and he raised the issue of subsidence as he was aware the property was built on a sloping site. The buyer says that the surveyor verbally advised him all floors appeared level and that there was no evidence of movement. However, since moving in to the property, the buyer said it was evident that the floors in the former garage, the kitchen and first floor bathroom were sloping.
In response, the surveyor said that there was no evidence of movement in the main walls of the property to indicate a progressive problem with the floors. They added that that property was over 40 years old and therefore, not all walls and floors were square, but this was not indicative of a risk of damage to the property.
The buyer said that he would have expected these issues to have been detailed in the survey and, had they been, he would have significantly reduced his offer or not offered on the property. He suggested the surveyor purchase the property from him as a resolution to the matter as he considered a loss may be made on a future sale because of the defects described.
The survey stated the ground floor was ‘solid concrete’ and ‘firm and flat’ whereas the first floor was ‘fairly level under foot’. The buyer did not provide any information on the flooring, for example, by how much he considered they were sloping and the repercussions of this or by providing evidence from another surveyor or contractor in relation to this issue.
The Ombudsman could not support the complaint, being unable to establish, on the evidence provided, that this was a matter that should have been noted on the survey.
The complaints were not supported.