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Asbestos on the property - Surveyors Listed it as slate


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Hi all, 

 

We bought a property in 2017 and on the property there is an outhouse that I was using to do some work in. 

 

In February 2020 we had high winds and it dislodged a couple of tiles and water got it, we had a roofer come round and he said to me "you realise this is all asbestos," I didn't. 

 

We looked back at the buyer report and it had the outside roof listed as slate and no mention of asbestos, so we lodged a complaint with the surveyors. 

 

They picked up the complaint but due to COVID they shortly after closed the office, about a week ago they attended the property and took some pictures and said they would be in touch shortly. 

 

Today I got an email basically saying its not their problem as we have some terms in your report to hide behind, (attached the reply to the post,) but as a goodwill gesture we will make out a payment of £200, to me that says they liable but don't want to admit it. 

 

After learning the characteristics of asbestos and along with roofers who have been in the trade for a number of years you can tell its asbestos by looking at the roof and clearly not slate. 

 

Our main argument with them is that we wouldn't have paid the asking price due to the cost of removing it or we would have avoided the property completely. 

 

What would my next steps be?

 

Thanks 

Screenshot_20200715-091038_Adobe Acrobat.jpg

20200715_091156.jpg

 

 

Screenshot_20200715-091038_Adobe Acrobat.jpg

20200715_091156.jpg

Sorry double posted for some reason. 

 

20200715_091220.jpg

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Thanks, for some reason it posted the main part twice, probably my phone. 

 

The only reason why this has become an issue was we wanted to reroof the outhouse since moving in as all the tiles are curling up and it's just a bit of a mess all round and had we known / suspected it be asbestos meaning an additional cost to remove we would have lowered our offer to cover it. 

 

After I asked for some time to seek some legal advise / research they emailed back saying that their good will gesture will only be offered until the 24th of June. 

 

Whilst they say they don't test for asbestos they surely should know what asbestos looks like and is characteristics to tell the buyer it "could" be asbestos and that would of allowed us to request it be tested. 

 

Then so the fact it was listed as a completely different material I would consider them liable, they can't use the excuse they didn't check the roof as their email to me yesterday states the following. 

 

"The inspection notes taken at the property in 2017 by Mrs Williamson show no evidence of any issues with the outbuilding and confirm that the roof was partially obscured by moss. As stated in your report, at the time of inspection, three years ago, the outhouse was in a satisfactory state of repair."

 

To have seen the moss and confirm it was in a satisfactory state of repair they must have been able to see the top of the roof and all the tiles. 

 

Having a look online I found someone with a similar issue and they ended up having to go to the ombudsman but it was found in their favour. 

 

"The main issue of your complaint is that after moving into your property you discovered that the internal garage roof was made from asbestos boards. You consider that ...(removed)... should have identified this within the Building Survey completed prior to your purchasing the property.

You purchased the property on 11 September 2015 after the completion of the Building Survey on 1 July 2015. It was only at this time that you identified that the garage ceiling was made up of boards containing asbestos. You consider that had this been identified within the Building Survey, you could have taken action to test this prior to completing the purchase of the property."

 

Sorry for all the text but just trying to give as much information as possible. 

 

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please post up your JPG pictures posted directly to screen as one multipage PDF so we can zoom and read them.

 

read our upload guide carefully

 

dx

 

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

 

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

 

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

 

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

 

 

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Can the two pictures be read OK? Just my scanner is not playing ball. The letter was sent in PDF format so I have uploaded that one. Cheers

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if you can click and read them so can we

 

dx

 

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

 

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

 

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

 

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

can you describe the outhouse properly,

is it a lean to? a stand alone shed?

an integral part of the building?

 

Asbestos is fine as long as you leave it alone but repairing is now impossible so you are looking at replacement.

Depending on the condition of the tiles this can be straightforward removal and bagging with disposal at an approved site or it can be a nightmare with specialist contractors needed to remove

 

so start off by asking a reputable builder how they would approach the job and how much.

You can then put this to the surveyors.

 

How far you will get will depend on your instructions, if it was a full survey they should have spotted it and will be liable regardless of what they say. if it was a survey for valuation purposes then they will have given an overall opinion on the state of the property and what it is worth so a mortgage provider is happy they aren't going to lose a fortune if you do a runner.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Heya, 

 

Sorry for the delayed reply. 

 

Its a free standing brick outhouse away from the main property. 

 

We paid for the middle homebuyers report not the basic valuation one but not the top end one. 

 

I asked for an update to my last email and their reply was essentially ignoring my email and saying you missed out on the £200 goodwill offer but we will extend it and that's all we are saying. 

 

I have since found out two friends are also having issues with missed issues on their properties one that was in plain sight and is against building regs that could land him a £3000 fine if the water utilities company sees it. 

 

Due to the state of the tiles I really don't want to risk touching them.

 

Thanks

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ask for a quote for their removal.

you say due to the state of the tiles but give no indication as to what that is.

 

You do need to have something specific to wave at them to get any movement and at the moment you dont.

For all they know you could be telling lies just to get a few quid to go travelling with.

 

get proof of asbestos and a quote for removal if the roof is too far gone for repair.

Pictures to show what they shouldn't have missed will also bolster your case.

 

I also note that it was 3 years ago

you have enjoyed the benefit of the roof for that time regardless of what it was made of.

 

An estimate of the age of the roof will also be needed as that will help determine whether they should have been looking for such materials in their survey.

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I have given them independent reports from two roofers that say they are beyond salvageable due to the upward curl on most of them along with a few cracked. 

 

I have given them 3 quotes for removal (I was / am happy to pay for the reroof, but was based on it being slate as I could have taken it down myself.) 

 

They have been out and taken photos themselves of the current roof along with pictures I sent in when we first found out it was asbestos after that was done was when they offered the £200 and they wouldn't comment any further on the matter. 

 

They have asked me to have it tested officially opposed to an visual inspection but each time I ask them will they cover costs if it does come back as asbestos they ignore the question, three times I have asked. 

 

It was 3 years ago but I first raised the complaint at the start of this year. 

 

The age of the roof in question dates back to the 1920s when the house was built, the main building had its original bare Welsh slate roof with limestone mortar. 

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  • 1 month later...

 

Sorry for the text heavy post, we are getting nowhere with them, I need some help deciding our next steps, I have a couple more emails as PDFs that I need to attach below.

 

Dear PIXel_92,

We confirmed in our previous email that our offer would be made available until Friday 14 August 2020.

This offer was presented as a gesture of goodwill based on the information you have provided in support of your claim. Thus far, we have not had sight of a Specialist Report confirming the presence of Asbestos or quotations for the required works.

Since you have not furnished us with any additional information we are unable to provide any further comments on the matter at this time.

If you’re able to provide the requested information we will be happy to review the matter and discuss it further with you.

Kind regards,

Customer Relations

**************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Dear Walker Dunn,
 

I have on two occasions offered to have it tested further than a visual inspection but if it comes back as asbestos you cover the costs, you asked me for the costs involved in getting it tested and you neither agreed to nor declined to cover that cost if it came back as asbestos, again I am happy to have it tested but if it comes back as asbestos to have those costs covered.
 

I have sent communication from a roofer on headed paper confirming they belive it to be asbestos but they aren't registered to remove it.
 

I am happy to get three formal quotes written on paper and provide them, I have spoken to a roofer that deals in asbestos that was here to do another job at the time and he said just going off rough size it would be approximately £2000 to remove the roof and dispose of the asbestos. I will get some quotes over the next week and get back to you with them.
 

Regards

**************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Dear Walker Dunn,

 

Could I please get confirmation regarding if you are going to cover the cost of testing if it does come back as positive before I go ahead with it.
 

I now have 3 quotes for removal of the asbestos too.
 

My solicitors has also forwarded me this to read through, https://www.rics.org/uk/upholding-professional-standards/regulation/how-we-regulate/disciplinary-process/panel-hearings/disciplinary-panel-hearings/walker-dunn-limited-and-colin-walker/.
 

This will be our next step going to the RICS / property ombudsman as we seem to be getting nowhere and it has been going on for some time due to you not answering the above question.
 

If you don't answer it we can get it tested and look at legal action to recover the money at a later date if that's how you want to do it.
 

Regards

**************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

 

 

Dear PIXeL_92


It has been explained to you in previous correspondence that the roof tiles that are the subject of your complaint, at the time of inspection were heavily covered in moss. It is in your agreed terms that the surveyor will not carry out an asbestos survey and is not required to scrape away moss if the surface below is obscured.


The surveyor will carry out only a visual inspection and comment on defects visible at the time of inspection. Roofs can fail at any time particularly in periods of inclement weather. As stated in your report, the surveyor confirmed that the roof was in a satisfactory condition at the time of inspection therefore would not require replacement in the immediate future.


The subject building is a utility building and is not a habitable room of the main property. As previously explained, tiles on an outbuilding of this nature would not affect the property value. You state you would have factored in the cost of removal/replacement into the purchase offer however as advised at the time of inspection the tiles were in a satisfactory condition and you have not sought to replace the tiles in the three years following the date of inspection. This confirms the comments provided by the surveyor.


You have previously stated that the roof became damaged due to high winds and the roofing specialist you instructed to replace the broken tiles made you aware of the possibility that the tiles may contain asbestos. However, you have not yet had the tiles tested to confirm the presence of asbestos. Our surveyor revisited your property and confirmed that you have had the damaged roof tiles replaced. A roof that contains asbestos will only become a health and safety risk if it is disturbed and it therefore seems odd that the roofing contractor was happy to replace the tiles if in fact asbestos was present.


We understand that raising a complaint and progressing to legal action as you have suggested you wish to do can be a lengthy drawn-out and expensive process with no guarantee of success. If necessary, we will notify our legal team to address this matter on our behalf however, we are happy to attempt to settle this matter in advance to avoid prolonged communications and extending this matter for many more months.


In an effort to conclude this matter to the satisfaction of all parties, we shall increase our goodwill offer to £500 in full and final settlement of this matter.
This offer will be available until Thursday 27 August 2020. There will be no further offers made after this date.
I look forward to your response.
Yours sincerely,
Walker Dunn MRICS

 

******************************************************************************************************************************************************************

 

Dear Walker Dunn,

 

Apologies on the delayed reply unfortunately I had to attend to some personal matters that left me unable to reply to emails.

 

A few points I want to make regarding your previous letter.

 

You mention at the time of the inspection that the surface of the tiles was covered in moss and obscured the view of the tiles, we however have pictures from when we moved in showing this was not the case, whilst there is moss on the tiles it in no way obscured to the point that the material would have been assessed incorrectly and you can also see the curling of the edges to a large amount of the tiles and this is a characteristic of asbestos.

 

You state in the report that the roof was in satisfactory condition, however, if the roof was indeed slate that your report indicated this would have been correct however the curled edges of asbestos tiles indicate that they are fatigued and need replacing and that is not satisfactory condition, again the material was not identified correctly at the time of the report.

 

As for this point "You state you would have factored in the cost of removal/replacement into the purchase offer however as advised at the time of inspection the tiles were in a satisfactory condition and you have not sought to replace the tiles in the three years following the date of inspection. This confirms the comments provided by the surveyor."

 

We had put away money to have this done, at the time as it was deemed slate in your report we didn't prioritise this as a repair, as you know the roof of the main property was in an awful state and was leaking into the bedroom this took priority along with having all the plumbing in the bathroom replaced as we discovered it was stuffed with kitchen roll under the bath to hide a set of leaking pipes that eventually made its way into the kitchen. We then also had a passing in the family that took us away from the local area for around a month and then my partners dad became homeless due to a gas explosion that destroyed his property so we had to accommodate him for a year and half so most work we had planned got put on hold.

This doesn't confirm your comments in your report, this just allows you to assume it did as it wasn't done straight away however this was not the case. We have all the paperwork and invoices to show the above work was done to the main property along with pictures along with all the details surrounding the gas explosion.

 

We don't agree that part of a building being a habitable room of the main property makes a difference in our case, of course any structure on a property would affect the properties overall value when offers are being made as you make your offer based on the overall property and if you wanted to use the outbuilding for a specific reason you would be more inclined to go for a property that dose have an outbuilding over one that doesn't or if you want another example one with a swimming pool selling for a higher amount as that is considered a premium.

 

You then say "You have previously stated that the roof became damaged due to high winds and the roofing specialist you instructed to replace the broken tiles made you aware of the possibility that the tiles may contain asbestos. However, you have not yet had the tiles tested to confirm the presence of asbestos."

 

We had the roofer come and take a look instructing him that we wanted two slate tiles replacing due to us believing at the time the roof was slate based on your report, he then mentioned from a simple visual inspection that they are in fact asbestos. He said he could replace them with two slate tiles but we would have dispose of the two slipped asbestos ones safely as he wasn't licensed to do so, they were removed in a safe manor to avoid cracking them due to how brittle they were.

 

We have at several times offered to have them tested for you if you would cover the costs of testing if they are in fact asbestos tiles but this simple question has still remained un answered, so for this reason we have now booked a test and this will be added to the costs we will be pursing if and when we are forced to go down the legal route along with all legal cost and the cost of disposal and replacement of the roof, as mentioned before I just wanted the disposal costs covered, but our solicitor has now advised us we should be entitled to have the full costs awarded so we are left in the same place financially along with the roof material matching the report.

 

Our next step would be to have the test results come back, and send those tests results if they come back as positive with the invoice and three quotes for removal of asbestos to yourselves to decide if you want to cover those costs or if you wish to continue with legal proceedings and as mentioned before if we have to issue legal proceedings we will be asking for all costs to be covered and a complaint to the RICS and Ombudsman will also be issued.

 

Unfortunately at this point we are rejecting your £500 settlement but if you decided you wanted to settle it without facing any potential legal action or complaint we would settle for the sum of £2000 and that will be the matter resolved, we believe this to be a fair amount as the testing has now cost us £150 and the mid range quote has come in at £1900.

 

Regards

 

Robert Atkins

 

******************************************************************************************************************************************************************

 

Dear PIXeL_92


I refer to your email sent on 7th September. I am disappointed and dismayed that you have decided to not accept our very reasonable offer. We have now notified our legal team in preparation should you decide to proceed along the legal route.


You have told us you are receiving legal advice, therefore I am sure that your solicitor will have explained to you that in matters of alleged negligence, if the court finds in your favour, they can only make an award on the basis of diminution of value and not the cost of repairs.

 

Therefore to quantify the diminution in value you would need to obtain a report from another surveying firm that identifies the value of your property three years ago with a slate roof to the outbuilding and the value of the property three years ago with an asbestos roof to the outbuilding. To do this effectively, the surveyor would have to identify comparable properties in the area with and without such roofs to be able to justify his findings. This would be no easy task.

 

To further complicate matters, the guidelines set out for the court are that they only award losses based upon diminution of value that exceed 5% of the property value, which is considered a reasonable margin of error for surveyor to work within. In this instance therefore, you would be required to identify a loss in excess of £6,000. This figure does not include your legal costs.


Because this is a claim for alleged negligence and not for a debt, it is not a matter that can be dealt with by the Small Claims Court, it would have to be heard by a higher court. This would mean we would then be able to claim the costs of our barrister, solicitor and any experts for however many days the hearing lasts, plus you would have your own costs, if you were unable to prove your claim. Once you submit a claim, you are unable to then back out without incurring costs.

I hope you find this advice helpful and I am sure that if you present this letter to your solicitor, he will be able to verify whether the above information is correct.
We will await your response on how you intend to proceed.


Yours sincerely,
Colin Walker MRICS

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Sorry Pixel_92, having read the information, I think I am may in agreement with  Walker Gunn.

 

Not sure about your argument  that somehow Walker Gunn are responsible for testing the roof material and paying you a sum of money if it were asbestos.  

 

Think to move this forward, you will need to have a positive asbestos test  result report and  then look to gain opinion from an independent surveyor, that there has been an error, which has caused you a loss, which would could have been avoided, had the surveyor exercised the level of professional competence that was required. 

 

if you are claiming against the surveyors professional indemnity insurance, it is usually their Insurance company that would deal with this on behalf of the surveyor.  

 

There is the RICS dispute resolution service

 

https://www.rics.org/uk/products/dispute-resolution-service/

 

Can this be used ?

We could do with some help from you.

PLEASE HELP US TO KEEP THIS SITE RUNNING EVERY POUND DONATED WILL HELP US TO KEEP HELPING OTHERS

 

 Have we helped you ...?         Please Donate button to the Consumer Action Group

 

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The argument I have with them is the fact they listed the outhouse roof as slate opposed to the correct material being asbestos. 

 

We have now have a positive result from a lab test that we ended up paying for, I was asking them to cover the cost of the tests if it came back as asbestos as they where the ones asking us too do it but every reply from them that question was always ignored. 

 

When we bought the property the shed roof whilst water tight wasn't in the best condition as the edges of the tiles had started to curl up so we had planned to replace the roof thinking it would just be slate removal and a new roof as they stated that it was a slate roof. 

 

When we come to get a quote for it whilst the roofer was replacing a tile that slipped he was the one that mentioned it was asbestos and due to that we have had quotes for £1600-£2000 to remove it. If it was slate I was going to tear it off myself. 

 

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Read the terms of the survey report, as normally there is some wording about the scope of what the surveyor can do, what they cannot do etc.

 

I used to deal with surveyor reports and issues when dealing with Buildings Insurance issues.  From what I remember of many cases, unless the customer paid for a full home buyers survey which included looking at every aspect, the surveyor may not be expected to have looked at the roofing material, particularly if not accessible or covered in moss.

 

May be worth using the RICS resolution service if this is open to you to use. Taking this to Court, if you don't have definite proof of the surveyor not providing the professional service outlined in the contract, may be a mistake.

 

 

 

We could do with some help from you.

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 Have we helped you ...?         Please Donate button to the Consumer Action Group

 

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