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Expert Report in respect of dampness at the boundary of two properties Derby

 

S. Butler BSc (Hon’s) MRICS
 
Claim No:
 
In the County Court of  Leicester
 
 
 
 
 
CPR Part 35 Expert Report by SJM Butler, MRICS
 
 
 
 
Dispute in respect of dampness at           Avenue
 
 
1. Instruction
 
1.1 To prepare an expert report on the single instruction of Mr and Mrs with a
view to resolving a dispute in connection with damp ingress at the adjoining
property 19 Avenue occupied by Mr and Mrs
 
2. Qualifications
 
2.1 I am Steven John Macgregor Butler, a Member of the Royal Institution of
Chartered Surveyor trading as a sole practitioner. I qualified in 1992 and have
in excess of twenty years’ experience of surveying residential properties and
preparing reports on defective workmanship, dampness and drainage issues.
 
3. Background
 
3.1 The properties are adjoining detached houses constructed about 1980 that
appear to have been almost identical when constructed. They form part of a
development of several similar properties. The garage of 19 Avenue is
constructed behind that property and adjacent to the boundary with Number 17
which is to the north of Number 19.
 
3.2 A dispute has arisen as to whether dampness that is claimed to have
manifested in a garage at 19 Avenue has been caused by the neglect of the
defendants or their contractors.
 
3.3 It has apparently been claimed that the dampness is caused by the defendants
constructing a block paved patio in their rear garden that is above the damp
proof course of the adjacent garage at 19 Avenue. It has also been claimed
that a conifer tree, flowerbed and dwarf wall near to the boundary are
contributing to the dampness.
 
4. The Inspection
 
4.1 The properties was inspected at lunchtime of 27th January 2014
 
4.2 Inspection of the rear gardens at the rear of 15 and 17 Avenue suggests that
the rear gardens are constructed at the natural ground level or as left by the
developer when constructed in about 1980. A photograph of the properties is
attached as Appendix 1. The patio at 17 Avenue is apart from drainage
contours approximately flat.
 
4.3 Inspection of the outer face of the wall of the garage at 19 Avenue that is
adjacent to the boundary with number 17 revealed:
 
1. The garage at 19 Avenue has been constructed below the natural
ground level of 15 and 17 Avenue.
 
2. There is an approximately 300mm wide trench between the block
paved patio and flowerbed, and line of the boundary to Number 19. A
dwarf wall projects into the trench but does not touch the wall of the
garage at 19 Avenue. Photographs 2 and 3.
 
 
4
 
3. That the trench is 150mm deeper than the plastic damp proof course of
the garage at 19 Avenue. The trench cannot be any deeper without
destroying what appears to be the foundation of the garage at 19
Avenue.
 
4. That that base of the trench is lower than the floor slab and damp proof
course of the garage was also proved by measurement.
 
5. A block paved patio that has been constructed in the grounds of 17
Avenue has been sloped to ensure that water drains away from the
boundary with 19 Avenue.
 
6. There was no evidence of a mechanism for the block paving and
supporting ground, dwarf wall, flowerbed or conifer tree to transfer
dampness to the adjacent wall of the garage.
 
7. The external face of the brick wall of the garage at 19 Avenue is in a
condition consistent with its age. There is a small amount of lichen
growing consistent with a north facing wall. There is no evidence of
erosion of the pointing or loss of brick faces that would be consistent
with long exposure of a damp wall to frost.
 
4.4 Inspection of the interior of the garage at 19 Avenue revealed.
 
1. That the plastic damp poof course that can be seen to be 150mm above
the base of the trench at 17 Avenue is level with the surface of the
floor in the garage. Photograph 4
 
2. The wall abutting the boundary is in a condition typical of its type and
age. There is no erosion of the pointing consistent with a damp wall
having been exposed to frost over a long period. Photograph 5.
 
3. A small area of paint that has been applied to the surface of the garage
floor has eroded. There is no evidence to link this to dampness of the
wall. There are many other potential possible causes. Photograph 5.
 
4. That the garage is very full with stored materials which could increase
the risk of condensation due to the stored materials preventing proper
ventilation.
 
5. Conclusion
 
5.1 There appears to have been an inherent failure when designing and
constructing the garage at 19 Avenue to allow for it abutting the higher
ground level of 17 Avenue.
 
5.2 It would have been readily foreseeable that there could be a risk of damp
penetration particularly if the natural water table changed or nature of the use
of the ground at 17 Avenue changed.
 
 
 
5
5.3 The construction of the trench at 17 Avenue now makes the transfer of
dampness from that property to 19 Hoylake Avenue impossible.
 
5.4 Inspection reveals that there has been no damage to the wall of the garage at 19
Hoylake Avenue and there can thus have been no compensable loss.
 
5.5 There is no evidence to relate the loss of the masonry paint on the floor surface
to any dampness of the wall.
 
Statement of Truth
 
This report is prepared in accordance with the Royal Institution of Chartered
Surveyors Expert Witness Practice Statement.
 
I, Steven John MacGregor Butler, declare that:
 
i. I understand that my duty in providing written reports and giving
evidence is to help the Court, and that this duty overrides any
obligation to the party who has engaged me, or the party who has
paid or is liable to pay me. I confirm that I have complied with
this duty and will continue to comply with this duty.
 
ii. I confirm that I have made clear which facts and matters referred
to in this report are within my own knowledge and which are not.
Those that are within my own knowledge I confirm to be true.
The opinions I have expressed represent my true and complete
professional opinions on the matters to which they refer.
 
iii. I have endeavoured to include in my report those matters which I
have knowledge of or which I have been made aware that might
adversely affect the validity of my opinion. I have clearly stated
any qualifications to my opinion.
 
iv. I confirm that I am aware of the requirements of Civil Procedures
Rule 35, Practice Direction 35, of the Civil Justice Protocol for
the Instruction of Expert to Give Evidence in Civil Claims and the
Practice Direction on Pre-Action Conduct.
 
v. This report has been prepared in accordance with the Code of
Practice for Experts.
 
vi. I have indicated the sources of all information I have used.
 
vii. I have not, without forming an independent view, included or
excluded anything which has been suggested to me by others (in
particular my instructing lawyers).
 
 
6
viii. I will notify those instructing me immediately and confirm in
writing if for any reason my existing report requires any
correction of qualification.
 
ix. I understand that:
 
a. my report, subject to any corrections before swearing as to its
correctness, will form the evidence be given under oath or
affirmation.
 
b. I may be cross-examined on my report by a cross-examiner
assisted by an expert.
 
c. I am likely to be the subject of public adverse criticism by the
Judge if the Judge concludes that I have not taken reasonable
care in trying to meet the standards set out above.
 
x. I confirm that I have not entered into any arrangements where the
amount or payment of my fees is in any way dependant upon the
outcome of the case.
 
 
Signed Dated
 
SJM Butler 27th January 2014
 
 
Appendix 1 Photographs
 
 Ground Levels
 
Photograph 1 Ground levels at 15 and 17 Avenue.
 
Trench 
 
 
Photograph 2 The trench adjacent to the block paved patio at 17 Avenue.
Also shows that there has been no damage to the brickwork of 19 Avenue.
Base of trench is below floor slab of garage at 19 Avenue.
 
 
 
Photograph 3 The trench adjacent to the flower bed at 17 Avenue. Measurement proved it
to be lower than the damp poof course and slab of the garage at 19 Avenue. There is no
evidence of damage to the brickwork of the garage. Note the gap at the end of the dwarf wall.
 
Damp poof course 
 
Photograph 4 The plastic damp poof course of the garage at 19 Avenue the outer edge of which is
150mm above the level of the trench at 17 Avenue.
 
 
 
Photograph 5. A general view of the brickwork in the garage at 19 Avenue showing it to be in good
condition.

 

 

RICS Surveyors Expert Report in respect of dampness at the boundary of two properties Derby