Help! Structural engineer made a mistake. Do I pay?

(3 Posts)
BornInBristol Wed 24-Aug-16 14:32:54

Hi, got some major building work going on the house I just bought. We wanted to remove one wall near the stairs, and so our builders recommended for a structural engineer to come around and write a report to determine the size of the beam needed etc.

Anyway, this guy was in our house for about 10 minutes and billed us £300 plus vat. But then when the builders started taking down the wall they realised the wall is not a structural wall after all. However by now they had ordered the steel, and I also have still have this bill for the structural engineer to pay!

Of course I want to pay people for the work they have done, but it seems kind of unreasonable that I have to pay the structural engineer for a piece of inaccurate information he gave me. My builder says that when walls are brick it can be hard to spot whether it is a structural wall or not, but then a) The builder and structural engineer often work together so I don't know if he is unbiased, and b) isn't it the structural engineer's job to figure out whether a wall is structural or not?!

Also, I think the builders now expect me to pay for this steel, but maybe they should have waited before taking down the wall before they ordered it. Can't they just take it back to the shop, so to speak?

Am generally happy with my builders who are doing a great job, but am unsure about having to pay all this money for work which hasn't been done because it wasn't necessary.

Any advice appreciated!

user1471451802 Thu 25-Aug-16 21:11:57

Check his drawings. If his reports state that the wall is load bearing then you need to contact the engineer and ask him to elaborate on what led to that decision. If he's in a firm, contact his director as well. If he only said he has made the assumption that it is load bearing then it's a 'proceed at your own risk' and you'll be stuck with the bills. You'll probably be able to get scrap value if it's already been cut, but may be able to argue that they should have ensured the wall was load bearing before the order went in and so they ordered it at their own risk.

Stevefromstevenage Thu 25-Aug-16 21:21:08

Normally the reason you don't know if a wall is load bearing or not is because you have not opened up enough to find out. So if you cannot see the direction the floor joists above are spanning you cannot establish whether it is load bearing or not. If this opening up work was not done before the engineer arrived then it is likely they had no clue if the wall was load bearing or not. That work should have been done by the builder in advance of the engineers visit to site and before any support was designed. What exactly happened?

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