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Help! Storms, penetrating damp & insurance

(15 Posts)
woozlebear Tue 11-Feb-14 09:06:02

We moved into new house last August. Edwardian semi. had full structural done. No issues or suggested maintenance raised relating to outside walls. Three people - surveyor, damp company and our builder - went round entire house with damp meter after small patch if rising damp found downstairs - slate dpc failing, v standard, got it fixed, fine. Whole of upstairs given all clear.

After the first few storms huge damp patches started appearing on one bedroom wall. Panic, call builder. He says penetrating damp caused by storm. He - as surveyor did - declares outside to look fine from ground. Nothing we could have done. Equally he's not surprised as he's seeing so many similar cases. Our side wall is v unsheltered and gets full brunt of sw wind. Rain is literally being driven in.

He says we need to repoint anything that looks remotely dodgy when inspected closely, and, most importantly, paint entire outside with some brick waterproofing thing. This is going to cost us about 4k, incl. scaffolding. This is not including the cost of redecorating inside. Not questioning builder, we've known him for years and I'd trust him with my life.

Anyway, we call insurance. Tell all. Fine, fine. Should be covered, except for waterproofing bit (they only pay to return it to original state) we'll send round an assessor. Assessor says there's no evidence that it's storm damage. He classes it as routine maintenance and says we can't claim either outside repair or inside redecorating.

Pleas and explanations about survey showing no issues, damp readings before storms clearly showing it has lasted 100 years of normal weather with no probs fell on deaf ears.

Wtf? What can I do?? It's now going to cost us a LOT more as in the past week the same problem has spread along the whole outside wall and is affecting all 3 upstairs rooms. Can we appeal? Anyone else got similar experience?

Sorry for length. Didn't want to drip feed.

RedHelenB Tue 11-Feb-14 10:10:16

I would think that if repointing is required that is down to general wear & tear rather than storm damage - sorry! But it's definitely worth appealing.

woozlebear Tue 11-Feb-14 10:20:29

I see that logic, but it seems to be a funny sort of situation where no one would look at the wall and say it needed reprinting. It seems to be that all you can really do to try to stop it is repoint where it seems to be coming in, and then waterproof it. Were it not for the storms, repointing would never be suggested.

MummytoMog Tue 11-Feb-14 10:33:52

Appeal. Keep pushing at them, call up your original surveyor and ask his opinion (it's in his interest not to have his original survey proved wrong), write a sternly worded letter including your original damp survey, a timeline of the house build, damp surveys, building works you carried out, storms and then penetrating damp. And don't forget to mention that you will be referring this to the ombudsman.

At the moment there is a distinct possibility that they are turning you down in the hope you go away meekly. They will be doing that with rather a lot of people because the storms will have cost them a fortune. If you go away meekly, you won't get anything out of them. If you keep pushing, you still might not, but equally you might.

specialsubject Tue 11-Feb-14 10:34:49

how high have you escalated this with the insurers? The job of the assessor is to fend off claims, especially at the moment when there will be so many coming in.

woozlebear Tue 11-Feb-14 10:44:49

I see that logic, but it seems to be a funny sort of situation where no one would look at the wall and say it needed reprinting. It seems to be that all you can really do to try to stop it is repoint where it seems to be coming in, and then waterproof it. Were it not for the storms, repointing would never be suggested.

woozlebear Tue 11-Feb-14 10:44:52

I see that logic, but it seems to be a funny sort of situation where no one would look at the wall and say it needed reprinting. It seems to be that all you can really do to try to stop it is repoint where it seems to be coming in, and then waterproof it. Were it not for the storms, repointing would never be suggested.

woozlebear Tue 11-Feb-14 10:45:32

Fecking phone confused

woozlebear Tue 11-Feb-14 10:52:38

Yeah, I've been thinking much the same. They're prob being as unhelpful as poss to anyone who's not actually wading around in 2 feet of standing water.

DH is at home today and is going to call them to try to get the whole thing reconsidered from scratch on basis it's now 3 times worse since they saw it. I'm hoping that it'll be a lot harder for them to say its routine maintenance now the problem is affecting the entire outside rather than one patch, all if which is clearly in good condition.

He's also going to ask about appeal process.

woozlebear Tue 11-Feb-14 17:13:53

Aaargh. Insurer says they don't have the full assessor's report, just a summary which says "repudiated on site". Helpful.

- customer service will chase for full report from assessors and call us back tomorrow or Friday

- If it's coming in elsewhere now, they said that may well indicate a maintenance/pointing problem highlighted by the storm (can't win!). Funny, cos in my head the fact that the ENTIRE house, which is in perfectly good nick according to builder and surveyor is now riddled with penetrating damp, would seem to suggest it's thanks to being pelted with driving rain and gales for months on end, not lack of maintenance. A couple of isolated patches might be easier to pass off as a maintenance issue. Funny how they use the same thing to claim total opposite hmm

- we explained that now builders have been able to look more closely, they've been unable to see any obvious pre-existing damage so pointing is probably not at fault

- we've re-iterated recent survey and no damp found.... they are unmoved.

- If, after hearing back and being unhappy with the outcome, we can start the formal complaint procedure and get a second opinion.

What I'm worried about now - and what I think DH didn't think to ask, ggrrrr - is whether we can start getting work done before second opinion. I would think not, as once it's been repointed they can't see what it looked like, but I don't think we can afford to wait. It's getting worse every day, it seems we're unlikely to win, and every new bit that gets in will cost us more in internal replastering.

RedHelenB Tue 11-Feb-14 18:52:48

But to me as a layman storm damage would be tiles blowing off a roof or a tree falling & damaging your roof & then letting rain in rather than the original side of your house not withstanding water in the first place iyswim.

Ledkr Tue 11-Feb-14 18:57:29

We have this exact problem op. tbh I didn't even think about claiming on insurance, it's just wear and tear IMHO

OliviaBenson Tue 11-Feb-14 20:25:53

Be really careful about any kind of waterproofing- old buildings are meant to breathe, you could actually cause damp. Also repointing should be in lime mortar, for the same reason.

TunipTheUnconquerable Tue 11-Feb-14 20:51:08

I was going to say the same Olivia. My house has a damp problem that is caused by waterproof masonry paint which was painted on to stop water penetrating through the brickwork on an exposed wall in bad weather and means that the water wicked up by the walls can't get out again.
However if she has a functioning dpc it's different, isn't it?

neepsandtatties Wed 12-Feb-14 09:03:24

We had a similar problem - the driving rain in storms caused our chimney to leak into loft and bedroom. Our insurance company were more accomodating though - we just needed to send the builders' quotes and photos. They are contributing �1000 towards a �3000 cost. I was surprised that you have to negotiate - I assumed it would be all or nothing.

Hope you get it sorted.

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