Solicitor didn't tell us extension wasn't signed off

(13 Posts)
Teakind Fri 12-Aug-16 17:55:44

Hello,

We bought a house last year and currently have builders in and they have noticed some structurally unsafe work that was completed by the previous owners. It's a sizeable extension and they have spoken to the council who have told us that the work was never signed off. This was never mentioned to us by the solicitor when we purchased the house and he said everything was in order with the extension. The previous owners also told us it was signed off.

Does anyone know if we have a case against the solicitor or previous owners for not disclosing this?

Thanks in advance for any help

IceMaiden73 Fri 12-Aug-16 23:20:50

What are you going to sue them for?

What is your loss because of this?

Are there costs / fines for it not being signed off?

DelphiniumBlue Fri 12-Aug-16 23:30:32

You would expect to see a Building Regulations certificate, and this should have been highlighted by the surveyor in the survey. If it was obviously unsafe this should have been flagged up in the survey.
However, if the solicitor picked up that there was no Building regs certificate, they may ( should) have taken out insurance to cover this.
Your first step is to read the report which your solicitor will have sent you, and check the survey. Then you can think about your options. Check out the Sellers Information form too ( might have a different name now) - there should be questions asking about work/permissions/certificates.
Written responses will normally override verbal assurances, so check the paperwork first.

Teakind Sat 13-Aug-16 00:40:40

Hello, thanks for the replies and help.

We are looking at about £15,000 to make the building structurally sound and to have it signed off by the Council. I've called the Council and they confirmed the original work wasn't signed off but they did visit the site. I do have an email from my solicitor telling me it was though.

On the sellers information form, the previous owners also ticked 'no' when asked to confirm if any of the previous work was unfinished and when asked to provide copies building regs they said they had lost the documents (hence me asking the Solicitor to confirm that he had seen everything was in order from his searches).

As the problem is with the joists used, the surveyor wouldn't have seen it as he didn't look under the floor boards. I didn't know that a surveyor should look for building regs sign off though so that is interesting.

It's an expensive mess but we wouldn't have proceeded with the purchase if we had known this, or would at least have factored it in the price. We need to get this fixed because it isn't safe.

Also, I presume a Solicitor should make you aware if there are building regs missing? I would have thought that would be a major flag.

wowfudge Sat 13-Aug-16 08:02:35

You've misunderstood about the surveyor. All that would happen there would be that the survey would say something along the lines of, 'the extension was constructed in XXXX. You should check that the extension conformed to the building regulations at the time.' That's just general surveyor backside covering. They don't check for you.

LIZS Sat 13-Aug-16 08:09:18

Did you get an indemnity policy instead perhaps. Are buildings control actually enforcing you to do the work or is it that it would n't meet current regs but may have done so at the time.

Teakind Sat 13-Aug-16 14:40:29

No indemnity insurance unfortunately as we thought everything had been done properly. We want to turn one of the upstairs rooms in to a bathroom but have been told the joists they have put it are sub standard and wouldn't support the weight of a bath.

No they aren't forcing us too do it but i think it needs fixing for safety and when we come to resell it.

It just seems very wrong for the solicitor to firsy not notice if work wasn't signed off and to tell us it was when it wasn't.

Thanks for all your help

DelphiniumBlue Sat 13-Aug-16 18:52:14

Looks like the vendors have actually lied - you say that that they said the building regs cert had been lost, rather than not granted. If this is the case, then you could sue them.
Might be worth reverting to the solicitor - why did they say everything was in order with the extension?Maybe there's some protection there that you don't know about. Solicitors are normally pretty cautious about that kind of thing. How long ago was the work done?

CatherineDeB Sat 13-Aug-16 19:00:24

I would go back to the Solicitor pronto, or phone CAB first if you want to.

It is their job to check these things and obtain certificates of completion.

You should be looking to receive compensation for the remedial works from them, they messed up if you have got an email confirming all was ok.

If you were a cash buyer and the solicitor had told you that building regs hadn't been signed off and you chose to take a view that would be your look out.

But you didn't, the solicitor made a costly error, they have insurance against professional errors.

0hCrepe Sat 20-Aug-16 11:53:52

Dh was a conveyancing solicitor and says they should have got copies from the council if the vendors had lost their certificates. Yes go back to the solicitor, they definitely should have picked up on it. You can sue.

Teakind Sat 20-Aug-16 12:19:49

Thank you. He says he would have got them so will get back to me. It's going to be tricky to find them considering they don't exist!

Oh crepe do you know if they have a responsibility to inform us of missing building regs?

0hCrepe Sat 20-Aug-16 12:54:49

Yes they do. Did you get a report from him or see him before you signed the contract? Normally solicitor goes through all paperwork or gives a report before you sign.
If they don't show the docs and you want to sue them you can do so using another solicitor or go to the SRA. Wait to see what he comes back with first though.

namechangedtoday15 Sun 21-Aug-16 17:44:17

Just one thing to check - when you say you have an email asking whether the searches were all okay and the solicitor said yes, I think they may have been referring to local searches (drains / land searches / mining perhaps). Checking for building regs is, admittedly, something a solicitor should have checked but it isn't a "search" as such. So I'd be careful about suggesting the solicitor lied unless they specifically told you that they had got the building regs info when they hadn't.

Also - if you had the seller's property information firm where the vendors said they'd lost the building reg docs, you should have pushed for copies and further details before completion. Even if you thought your solicitor suggested that it was okay (on the basis you misunderstood perhaps what clear searches meant) did you not ask for copies of the documents before you proceeded?

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