We were looking last week at different aspects of how to make a claim when you have discovered that your dream house may have some faults which have not shown previously in the final construction inspection.
Let me add incidentally that it is quite normal to find that the water pipes might have been correct at the final site inspection but after a few weeks of use is now leaking under the sink, or that a new crack has appear above the entrance door lintel for example.
However more disturbing events may take place later on such as a crack at the floor slab where you can put your hand through or that the property gets inundated with every heavy rain, these are obviously less frequent faults but not impossible that may occur.
What to do?
If the problem has a certain importance, do obtain the opinion and the advice of an independent expert unrelated to the work, this is crucial. While industrial technicians and engineers may provide these services, without trying to be unbiased, I strongly advise to obtain the help of a qualified architect. Only they can assess with rigour the complexity of the defect and its scope, and reporting of what happened to the owner. Cracks in a wall, poor sound-proofing, or seepage of moisture may indicate other more serious problems.
Once defects are discovered in the property and an architect is engaged to assess them, he must prepare a report. This document should at least contain:
A list of failures.
The causes of such defects.
The possible technical solutions.
An indicative budget to fix them out.
You must request the architects to endorse the report with a professional unbiased opinion. In addition to this opinion from the expert, it is recommended that the report it is registered at the Official College of Architects. This procedure, called "visado", it acts as an approval given by an official body to the report as it is supervised by other architects before it is stamped and normally it obtains a greater relevance in case the report has to be presented before a judge. In addition to reassure the owner, he will then know exactly what exactly is the fault in his property, and will prevent him from falling into sterile discussions with the property developer or to accept a cover up of the problem with a cheap and ineffective solution.
What procedure should be followed?
It is not very complicated but you should be rigorous in following up this procedure.
First thing is that everything must be put down in writing and handed over in a bona fide fashion i.e. through a notary or using a bureau fax service. This is done in most local post office. The person in charge at the post office will send a fax to the other party and keep a copy of the content that is sent in case there is a dispute later on the actual content sent.
As in any other claim procedure, evidently documents are crucial, whether there is a willingness from the other party or not. Sometimes we forget this simple fact and the negotiations are changed from the written word to the spoken: you told me that.....No I didn`t.
Next week we will provide more relevant tips on this subject.