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Was the building surveyor negligent?

A client of ours recently moved into their new home and then became aware of a damp problem in one corner of their dining room.  They raised the issue with their surveyor and he said that as there was a sideboard in front of the wall he did not see it.

They then took this issue to the Property Ombudsman who said it was not a valid reason for the surveyor not to notice the damp problem.

Our clients recently called in a damp specialist who carried out a survey and was surprised that the surveyor did not actually notice the damp. This made our clients all the more determined to receive some compensation from the surveyor.

It is important to understand that a surveyor can only be legally liable if it can be shown that he was negligent.  Accordingly our client was considering bringing a legal claim against the surveyor.  However, such claims are very expensive and unless it can be covered by any legal expenses cover on any relevant property insurance policy.

Our advice to our client was to think long and hard about bringing any claim against the surveyor.  One would need to provide two or more experts (one of which would be a property valuer) to prove that the surveyor had been negligent.  The expert valuer would need to prove what the house was worth with the damp and what the value would be without the damage.  The amount of damages will be based on the difference between what our client paid for the property and what it was actually worth with the damp damage. This might be the same as the cost of putting right the damp patch but not necessarily so.