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Mislead by surveyor


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Hi, I'm not sure I'm on the right subforum so my apologies if so.

I am asking for advice about a survey report that was done when I bought my house back in 2003, at the time the sinking floors came up and I had to havea specialist report done as there was concern that it could be Sulphate Heave. A company came in to do a visual report and advised us that it was not the case and that it was simply cosmetic, due to this reprt I decided that I would still proceed with the sale as It would be an expensive job to level it off. However, I put my house up for sale this year and when I finally had an offer, the buyers survey brought up the same problem ( we had levelled it ourselves and laid laminate flooring but it gave slightly at the doorway to the kitchen and this is why it came up again). I then had to pat for another reprt on the floor as they would not accept the original one and they also wanted a sample testing 9 which meant we had to take up some of the floor!!) The sample report came back that would Sulphate Heave would be possible if it was to get wet and that in todays market it would prevent sale of the house, obviously I would not of bought the house if this was advised when i bought it as it would cost thousands. I had the report done the second time with the same company so they will be aware of the contradictary reports they've done, I have not heard from them regarding it. I am wnting to know if I have any chance of claiming against them as there is no way i can afford to fix this and it doesn't look like I can sell my house without. Any advice is appreciated.

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Professional Negligence maybe but i would suspect that a visual report might be difficult to hold anyone liable too.


Did you pay for the service / report they carried out when they stated the issue was cosmetic? Have you got a report from them stating this is the case?


If the above happened then i would assume a Duty of Care could be established. It would then be the case that you would have to prove that the Duty of Care has been breached and you have suffered loss as a result - this appears to be the easy bit judging from your post.



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The initial 'budget' report would have been OK, but the risk would remain yours if it turned out that a later chemical report (instead of visial only) contradicted it. Your opportunity to challenge if they did both chemical tests and had conflicting results, THEN you would have a fair chance of getting them called to account but sadly, not otherwise.

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You ought to be able to rely on the advice given from a professional especially if you are paying for it. If the floor was in a state as described then surely a professional surveyor would suggest further investigation required.


If the advice given is clearly documented and it has subsequently failed i would think a claim under Tort of negligence is possible. I guess that is why firms that do these kind of surveys have huge cover on Professional Negligence Insurance.


A quick google search would come up with endless results of law firms who deal with such claims - they would be best point of contact for the original poster to advise if he has a claim. Their initial advise would be free and maybe they also run Conditional Fee Agreements (No Win, No Fee)

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You get what you pay for. You paid for a visual inspection, which they will state was done competently, and is accurate most of the time. It requires a chemical test (which you DIDN'T pay for) to be conclusive. With this in mind, they may be minded under goodwill to give a refund, but they most certainly will not be liable to you for compensation.


Unless the inspector had X-Ray eyes as standard, I douby how you could make the claim that the surveyor 'should have known' there was a problem without investigating further. Their argument will most likely be based on you got what you asked for, a visual inspection, no more and no less.

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good news for everyone new case just been in high court....this means immediate action against WS and ALLSOPS go for it guys

United Kingdom

  • October 13 2010 On 8 October 2010 the High Court gave a second judgment in Scullion v Bank of Scotlandlink3.gif Plc (2010). The claim arose from a negligent valuation of residential property and is unusual, insofar as the claimant here was not the mortgagee but the borrower. It is also likely to be of interestlink3.gif to insurers as, potentially, it widens the extent and scope of the duty owed by valuers to buy-to-let purchasers.

    The first judgment on liability was given in March 2010. In it Richard Snowdon QC (sitting as a High Court judge) held that the principle in Smith v Bush imposes a duty of care to the purchaser of residential property at the lower end of the market upon the valuer instructed by the lender and should apply also to buy-to-let purchasers of similar property. This second judgment deals with issues of causation, quantum and contributory negligence.


    The claimant was a self-employed builder who decided to enter the buy-to-let market. In October 2002 he purchased a flat in Cobham, Surrey for £299,800. His intention was to let the flat for an amount which would enable him to pay the mortgage and outgoings and to obtain some extra income. In due course, he also hoped to make a capital profit from selling the flat.

    Colleys (the valuation service of BoS) were retained to value the flat by the mortgagee, Mortgages plc. Subsequently, they advised that the market value of the flat was £352,950, whilst the rental value was £2,000 pcm.

    After some initial difficulty, the claimant eventually managed to let the flat in April 2003, although the rent achieved was only £1,050 pcm. However, as he was unable to cover his overheads, the claimant sold the flat in May 2006 for £270,000. Of this sum, the claimant paid £260,000 to the mortgagee, leaving an outstanding balance of around £71,000.

    The claim

    The claimant alleged that both of the valuations provided by Colleys were negligent. As regards the market valuation, he alleged that he was entitled to damages of £30,000 (the difference between the actual value of the flat (£300,000) and the price achieved upon disposal (£270,000)), such loss being reasonably foreseeable. As regards the rental valuation, he alleged that but for the advice given he would not have entered into the transaction. Accordingly, he claimed to be entitled to all payments and expenses in relation the purchase and subsequent rental.

    The judgment

    Giving judgment, Richard Snowden QC held that:

    • A duty of care was owed to the claimant by Colleys in tort.
    • Colleys had breached that duty of care in respect of both valuations.
    • Colleys knew that the claimant would rely on both valuations to decided whether or not to purchase the flat.
    • SAAMCO principles applied, such that the claimant could recover only those losses which were a consequence of the valuations being wrong.
    • The claimant could not therefore recover damages of £30,000, caused by a deterioration in the property market.
    • The scope of the duty owed by Colleys to the claimant was not necessarily limited by the scope of their duty to the mortgagee.
    • The claimant suffered no loss as a result of the market valuation, as he in fact paid less than the market value of the flat.
    • The claimant could not recover his costs of purchasing the flat or the first payment of mortgage interest, those liabilities not being attributable to Colleys' negligence.
    • Broadly, the claimant could recover the amount of his overheads (including his mortgage interest payments and general letting expenses), less the rental income he received.
    • The claimant himself did nothing to cause or contributelink3.gif to his losses.

    Further and importantly, he held that:

    • In circumstances where the claimant had acknowledged his outstanding debt to his mortgagee, there were no grounds to reduce the damages payable to the claimant on the grounds that no such liability existed; and
    • the claimant could not be compelled to use his damages in a particular way.


    This decision is likely to be of interest to valuers and their insurers as:

    • It appears to extend the duty of care in tort enunciated in Smith v Bush (1990) 2 AC 605, owed by valuers to residential purchasers, to commercial buy-to-let investors.
    • It fails to draw any distinction between the duties owed by a valuer in relation to rental valuation and capital valuations, notwithstanding that the valuer has no control over rental receipts or their use.
    • It confirms that valuers (and in turn their insurers) may be held liability for losses sustained by buy-to-let investors, over and above those of any mortgagee.
    • It is a reminder that, generally, a borrower will not be compelled to apply any damages to discharge an outstanding debt to his mortgagee.

    While the time to lodge an appeal against this decision has yet to expire, in its current form, this decision risks promoting yet further claims against valuers, who have already sustained a vigorous attack by lenders. However, in similar such cases by borrowers, it may be possible to distinguish this decision where there is evidence to show that the borrower is a large scale investor to whom no duty was owed. As part of any negotiated settlement and to avoid the risk of a subsequent claim by any lender, it may also be possible to agree terms for payment of all or part of the settlement sum to the lender direct.

  • http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/welcome-consumer-forums/107001-how-do-i-dummies.html





    Advice & opinions given by patrickq1 are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional

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    I know the OP and will provide further info.

    Where the OP lives this is a common problem with 1000's of houses which were built in the 40's 50's and 60's, i know i live in one where sulphate heave was a problem, floors completely removed and replaced around 20 years ago when the council renovated 100's of houses, including the houses on the estate where her house is, even after this the floors have sunk again, something to do with the ground they are built on apparently.

    When she viewed the house we noted the floors, we specifically asked the surveyor to check it out, his report said it was not a problem, "purely cosmetic historical settlement", much the same as the house i live in we thought. She still has both reports.

    If she had known there was a risk, however small, she would have had a full test done, (I would have made sure, i remember how big a job it is to repair) at the expence of the seller, if she had found out the risk then the negotiations would have refelcted this. She trusted the surveyors conclusions, she bought based on his conclusions.

    Hope this helps

    Rbs £114 + contractual at 29.84% I won total=£125 no laughing it's a win

    Don't moan about it DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT :D

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