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What happens if the structural engineer has made a mistake?

(8 Posts)
cakeforbrains Mon 22-Feb-10 20:57:35

We are in the middle of building a two storey extension. Our plans were drawn up by an architect then we enagaged a structural engineer to work out what was needed in terms of RSJ's. Part of the design is that the current kitchen and dining room plus the extension will become a large, open plan kitchen/dining family room. The builders are nearly finished upstairs and due to start work knocking through downstairs this week.

Over the weekend we had a leaking pipe and so had to pull up lots of the upstairs floorboards. Leak sorted, but in the process we discovered that the wall between the current kitchen and dining room (which is due to be demolished) is actually solid brick, with the floor joists resting on it, and therefore is structural shock. The structural engineer did not notice that this wall was structural, and so hasn't included any RSJ's for this.

Our builder has spoken to the structural engineer, who is coming out on Weds to have another look. But DH and I are absolutely devasted - obviously we will need another RSJ, which is going to add more time, cost and disruption to the project

So ... has anyone else been in this situation?? Who takes responsibility for this?? Will the structural engineer expect further payment for the additional work (I'd be really annoyed to have to pay further for his incompentence)?

cakeforbrains Mon 22-Feb-10 21:35:41


cakeforbrains Tue 23-Feb-10 14:47:11

hopeful bump?!

minipie Tue 23-Feb-10 15:12:06

I've never been in this position but can explain the position from a legal point of view.

Assuming he was negligent in not spotting the supporting wall until now (which depends on how obvious it should have been), then he should be paying any extra costs you have suffered as a result of only finding out at this late stage that you need an extra RSJ.

For example, if your architect is going to need to re-design some plans (whereas if he'd known at the start about the RSJ he could have incorporated this into the first design) then any re-design fee should be covered by the engineer.

Similarly if you have builders hanging around doing nothing waiting for the new RSJ and having to be paid in the meantime (whereas if the engineer had spotted it the RSJ would have been ordered in advance so no waiting) then likewise that should be covered.

Just to be clear, you can't make him cover ALL the costs of having the RSJ, as you would have needed one even if he'd spotted it initially. You can only claim for the EXTRA costs that you've incurred as a result of him spotting it LATE.

Hope that makes sense!

From a practical perspective I would suggest you write a letter to his firm setting out the extra costs you have had as a result of him failing to spot this till now, and ask for their proposals. I would expect them to make you some sort of offer.

minxpinx Tue 23-Feb-10 17:01:22

I am a structual engineer and what minipie says all sounds fair. He should have made sure that the wall was not load bearing before saying it was ok to remove. Any claim you make will be dealt with by his insurance firm, so you need to be very clear about what you are claiming for.

It shouldn't really add more than a few days work as the beams are very quick to get hold of.

It is possible that the wall isn't load bearing and the joist above are big enough to span the distance anyway. See what he says when he come out.

Good luck and I hope that it is sorted out quickly.

cakeforbrains Tue 23-Feb-10 19:52:26

Thanks so much Minipie and Minipinx for your replies. It's a relief to hear that hopefully sorting out a new RSJ will not take too long. We are pretty sure that the wall is load bearing, as there are two seperate joists meeting on top of this wall.

I fear that we will not get very far with any claim against the structural engineer as everything is difficult to quantify. Our builders are also doing some work on garden walls etc which we'd asked them to leave to the end of the job, but will now be brought forward to keep them busy. But it will make the process of knocking through more disruptive than planned, take out the kitchen for longer, the DCs are fed up with the disruption and will now have to put up with it for longer, it reduces the chance of the house being ready for DS2's 1st birthday, that sort of thing. Impossible to put a price on cancelling a 1st birthday party.

cakeforbrains Tue 23-Feb-10 19:53:17

But at least it sounds like I can resist paying any further fees to the structural engineer. That is a good thing.

Emmers72 Fri 10-Mar-17 13:00:54

Hi - I realise this thread is a bit old but i also have a question.

I am in the process of building a small orangery and my exisiitng back load bearing wall is to be knocked down to create a more open plan lounge. The strucutral engineer has failed to notice that my house is Timber framed, this has resulted in delays to work and also an additional £2k invoice from my builder for additional works, to get around the problem of the timber frame, so that the new extension can be attached to the load bearing wall and the current downstairs wall seperating the new organgery and exisiting lounge can be knocked down
My question is - should the strucurual engineer have noticed/known or researched that the house is timber framed.


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