Last week I talked about problems with RICS surveys. This week I’ll discuss why you shouldn’t always trust a Building Inspector to spot any problems with workmanship. I recently finished work for a very nice family who have an outstanding court case against their builders. It involves some of the worst transgressions of building regs I have ever seen. A small sample:
The waste pipe from a new toilet went uphill. The contents of the bowl just swirled round and round.
There was no vent pipe fitted, so a constant stench of sewer gas backflowed through the toilet.
The dishwasher waste pipe was sealed to the soil pipe. This can cause siphoning of foul water into the machine, or blow-backs of foul water into sanitary-ware. An open standpipe should be used. These three problems presented significant health hazards.
The stop tap had been boarded over, rendering it useless.
There were two steps of vastly differing height. At 262mm the bottom step was 42mm higher than the 220 mm permitted by Building Regs. The bottom step was 196mm, a difference of 66mm to the other step, presenting a trip hazard.
There were several slabs of loft insulation missing, and fibreglass had been dragged away, completely exposing plasterboard ceilings. The remaining insulation was not the 140mm required for closed-cell rigid phenolic foams but only 70mm. Fibreglass should have been 270mm but was only 100mm, crushed to 50mm in places.
A rainwater pipe sent water cascading with some force into the neighbour’s garden, to their dismay.
This is just a small sample of the more serious issues. There was also the recent case of a friend’s flat with a ‘leaking roof’. On investigation I found the loft wringing wet and every surface covered in green mold, with water dripping onto the ceiling below. Why? All the fans vented directly into the loft! It wasn’t a leak but condensation. Yet Building Control had signed both these jobs off as satisfactory. Some building inspectors are brilliant. They are often young and keen, wanting to make a difference. But after years of being brow-beaten by stroppy developers and corner-cutting builders, unsurprisingly they get burn-out. But you as owner pay quite high fees for BC so are entitled to a decent service.
The only ways around this problem are to become familiar with building regs yourself so that you can spot corners being cut. Or hire a project-manager to do it for you (expensive and some are better than others). Or (easiest) use a good team of builders who you can trust. See my blog here and here about finding and retaining good tradesmen.
Next week I’ll discuss ways to make outside décor last much longer.