Case study of a successful compensation claim made because a Homebuyers survey missed asbestos
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Our client instructed a surveyor to carry out a Homebuyers survey on a property he wished to purchase. The surveyor carried out an inspection and submitted his Homebuyers survey report. It made reference to Artex on the ceilings and the presence of plasterboard, but the report gave no indication that they posed a problem. Nor was any recommendation made for further investigations to be carried out at the property. Accordingly our client proceeded with his purchase.
Having moved in he commenced some building works. This led him to discover that the walls were in fact made of asbestos cement and that many of the rooms in the house had asbestos both in the ceilings and in the walls. By the time this was discovered the asbestos had been disturbed. As a result our client and his family had to vacate the premises immediately.
We agreed to pursue a compensation claim on a No Win, No Fee basis based on the allegation that the Homebuyers survey missed asbestos.
The surveyor argued that by referencing the possibility of asbestos in his report this was sufficient warning of the existence of asbestos in the property. Furthermore, he said that he could not have ascertained whether the walls contained asbestos of not.
This defence was rejected by us. Even the most superficial inspection of the walls by a competant surveyor would have given an indication of their likely composition. Furthermore RICS guidelines are specific in that a surveyor must positively identify the risk of asbestos and recommend that it be investigated by an asbestos specialist if the surveyor is not qualified to investigate it themselves.
The case ultimately settled out of court with out client receiving a satisfactory level of compensation for the losses suffered by him.