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Is there any recourse if a surveyor misses something?

  • 09-09-2022 11:35am
    Registered Users Posts: 2,760 ✭✭✭

    We're barely in a second hand house which we had surveyed in April. It's a bungalow cottage with a fibreglass flat roof extension. We've no view of the roof without getting up on a ladder. We noticed a small leak at the skylight last week and decided to have a look and when we got up on the roof we could see the covering on the fibreglass on the flat extension was cracked and in spots completely missing.

    We've subsequently had roofers in to look and they're looking for 6k to basically redo the entire thing. From what I can find this is the right approach in this situation (rather than just patching it up). At least this work will come with a 10yr guarantee.

    The roofer claims the surveyor should have spotted this work wasn't done properly and I am wondering if we have any recourse here. I went back and compared the pictures from the survey in April and there is no sign of any damage then so this likely happened during the hot summer. My minimal googling suggests Fibreglass roofing needs space to expand in hot weather to avoid this sort of damage happening but I am unsure if this is something that can be picked up by this sort of survey or not. If we knew there was a problem it could have been taken from the sale price but now we are stuck eating the cost (or at least a huge premium hike if we can claim for the work on insurance).

    The survey wasn't cheap being a good chunk of a grand itself so it wasn't like we cheaped out there either.

    Anyone had something similar in the past?


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,994 ✭✭✭KaneToad

    Did the survey mention the roof at all? Even to say that access wasn't possible.

    Or is it an error of omission altogether that you believe happened?

  • Registered Users Posts: 445 ✭✭HorseSea

    Check the survey terms carefully, they usually have a get out clause somewhere.

    Unfortunately I don't think your home insurance would cover it if it's faulty workmanship and or a gradually operating cause. The subsequent damage from the leak may be covered, again check the terms.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,760 ✭✭✭Toast

    Survey states:

    Taking into account the age of the flat roof coverings, they are in a reasonable condition and are functioning as intended. Roof coverings should be checked regularly and after any periods of high winds or storms for any defects which could affect the water tightness of the roof.

    (note age is approximately 2 years old).

    The liability states it is a visual inspection so I guess the question might be better given to the roofer if the required work needed to allow expansion in the heat would be obvious in a visual inspection. He'd said to me yes they should have picked this up but I don't know if I made it clear to him there was no visible damage back in April. I guess I'll quiz them more when they're doing the resurfacing.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,511 ✭✭✭Fitz II

    Surveys are usually full of small print and get out of jail clauses, any finding has the proviso its a visual inspection no liability etc. What can you expect that for 300 euro some fellow takes liability for the condition of your house?.....expect a survey to be tens of thousands if you want that sort of comeback. Yes surveys are of minimal use really unless there is something obvious.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,456 ✭✭✭the_pen_turner

    im confused. you are saying that the pics show no damage but your also saying that the survey should have seen it.

    sounds like the issue happened after the survey

    if its genuinly 2 years old then it should be possible to sand it and put another layer over the top rather than stripping it and redoing the whole lot. iv heard it from a few fiberglass installers that is one of the main benifits of fiberglass.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,760 ✭✭✭Toast

    What I have been told is a properly installed fibreglass flat roof should have room to expand as part of its installation to prevent the cracking occurring. What is not clear to me is if that "room to expand" is something a visual inspection will catch or if its somehow internal. The roofer was basically saying the surveyor was at fault but I don't think I made it clear to him that there was no visible damage when it was done so I need to get more information to confirm if they should have been able to figure out the lack of proper installation visually or not.

    To be clear the damage most certainly has occurred since the survey.. what I am wondering is if it was obvious that it would occur had the survey been done correctly and if so if I can at least claim the price of the survey back if not. Most likely not but I wanted to make sure I am not missing anything (and also to have some ammunition to throw back at several other people I know who are full of ideas on how I should be bashing the door down of the surveyors).

    re: fibreglass from how it was described to me the roofers are pulling it down to "the boards" as part of the work. Googling cracking fibreglass and from what I can find doing it properly with the room for expansion needs to be redone rather than just respraying the top coating or it will happen again so I don't believe they are taking me for a ride but if anyone has info to say otherwise I'm all ears. They said they could do a respray only but with no guarantee it won't crack again. I need the piece of mind honestly.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,456 ✭✭✭the_pen_turner

    fair enough. if its not fitted corectly then another layer wont work longterm

    i dont know that much about fiberglass. its been done on a few jobs we roofed but that was valleys and tops of flat dormers.

    how do they leave expansion . is it that the edges go up under slates or have a lead flashing down over it rather than be fiberglassed in around everything making it ridged.

    generally surveys are visual only and they cant open or lift things to get a better look. hard to know how liable the surveyer is

    as a solution to your problem. could you leave the fiberglass there and put rubber over it. a lot of your cost is removing and disposing the old roof and then putting on new osb.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,760 ✭✭✭Toast

    Thanks. I'll see if rubber is an option. I'd have to check but pretty sure the fiberglass is in around everything making it rigid. Half the pitch roof before the extension is covered in it and it goes up against a neighbours extension on one side.

  • Registered Users Posts: 14 ecjjaian

    Surveyors can certainly be held liable if negligence can be shown, hence why they have professional indemnity insurance. I know a solicitor who is currently working on a case against a surveyor for similar. The main question, as stated by the OP, is whether or not it can be proven that the surveyor should have been able to spot this in a visual inspection or not.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,456 ✭✭✭the_pen_turner

    what do you mean the pitched roof is covered in it. it it fiberglassed over the slates or tiles

    have you a pic. i could do with a goood laugh

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  • Registered Users Posts: 19 ticktickboom

    Surveyors make a visual inspection only, they technically can't even lift a bit of carpet to check if there's wood or tile underneath! If there was no sign of this damage at the time of survey, how on earth do you expect they should have spotted it? Certainly if there were no signs of leak and damage internally and the roof wasn't accessible, there's been no oversight on the part of the Surveyor.

    Your issue should really be with the roof fitter, who, as you have stated, has incorrectly installed the roof material. It should also be with the original engineer who the vendor (by planning law) would have employed to sign off of on the finished construction process for the extension. That is, unless that never happened and a certificate of compliance with building regulations was never issued and never asked for at sale, which would be an oversight from your solicitor.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,184 ✭✭✭Furze99

    Flat roofs are generally trouble, sooner or later. We had one - a bathroom extension, was happy enough to eventually knock it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,511 ✭✭✭Fitz II

    Ah yeah, Solicitors can work on whatever they want doesn't mean they have a case. Its all hearsay at this stage, the surveyor will say he could not see it and thats thats really and its likely thet he didnt see anything at the time, cause like whats the problem putting in in his report, he was not selling the place. Time for the OP put on big boy pants and realize home ownership comes with risks and liabilities. Not everything bad that happens is somebody elses fault, and time for everyone else to stop pandering to that world view.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,760 ✭✭✭Toast

    I have pics but I'm not interested in doxing myself. It's done the same as this (random photo from a roofing site). I'd imagine boards are put on the slates and then it is fibreglassed.

    My expectation was that the surveyor couldn't have spotted it. The roofer seemed to think otherwise. I am unsure what could possibly be a tell tale sign for this externally. The roofer seemed to not have a particularly good view of surveyors in general or maybe he was just presenting a bogeyman for the bad news he was about to deliver that wasn't him. I'll check those things you mentioned with the solicitor thanks.

    I am fully aware of what is involved in owning a home and I am going to pay the money. You've made some amazing assumptions that I am a wailing manchild looking for some exit from responsibility as opposed to someone doing some due diligence in making sure I am not unnecessarily reaching into my "Big boy pants" pockets. The only world view getting expressed here is yours and you seem to have some unrelated grievances with other people you jumped at the opportunity to air even when the relevance was nil.

    Thanks to the people who had useful responses and were able to say it isn't going to be worthwhile pursuing without being obnoxious about it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,456 ✭✭✭the_pen_turner

    are you sure there are slates under it.

    i understand the doxing consern. could you draw a rough sketch of the crosssection and where its leaking

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,760 ✭✭✭Toast

    The only leak is at a skylight on the flat portion and a slight one at the frame at that. That leak was what made us go up and have a look and that's when we saw all the cracking that had occurred. I have no idea what is under the fibreglass on the pitch roof but that part is actually fine and not cracking. There is no active leaking from the damage but the roofer reckoned at the moment the "boards were taking the water" and that if left as is they'd start leaking and then need replacing which was a bigger job.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,511 ✭✭✭Fitz II

    I am guessing that the surveyor didnt get up on a ladder (no surveyor does) and if you read the survey that will be stated something like...."the roof appears in good condition given that is was an internal and ground level external examination and further inspection is recommended by a professional roofer if there are any signs of leakage not seen at survey".

    The title of the thread is "is there any recourse if a surveyor misses something" and the answer is they didn't miss anything within the limits of a survey and you have no recourse. So my amazing assumption is that you feel its the surveyors responsibility and want them to pay to fix your roof. The simple answer is its not and the wont. I have no grievances with anyone here, only some bewilderment at the concept that you would consider your mortgage survey some sort of home bond.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,456 ✭✭✭the_pen_turner

    what king of skylight is it . is the leak on the high side or lowside . how is the water diverted around.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,760 ✭✭✭Toast

    The surveyor included photos from the roof so at the very least they went up a ladder. Recourse might be a refund on the price of the survey if it wasn't done correctly but my belief going into this was no there wouldn't be. I was asking the question as confirmation that that was the case not because I assumed that I was going to get a free roof repair out of it. Friends and relatives I talked to about this were all very adamant that I should somehow be expecting something from the surveyor for this and now in addition to me saying "no I don't think so" I can say "Fitz II from agrees with me!".

    It's a sealed raised frame skylight on top of the flat roof. Leak seams to be on the low side but because of the way the glass sits in it it could be just that's where the water is presenting internally and it might be coming in somewhere else and channelling there. I assume the water diverts around the frame as the flat roof has a mild slant to the gutter. I appreciate your interest in this but I guess the skylight leak is incidental as it was just the reason we got up and looked at the roof.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 11,099 ✭✭✭✭B.A._Baracus

    Having read the thread I get that being stung with the cost 6k to fix isn't nice. But I know what you are really asking op - can I sue the surveyor so he can cough it up.... the answer is no.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,760 ✭✭✭Toast

    Honestly I was hoping they'd pay off my mortgage for me.

    ( I better edit this and point out this is a joke before I come back to 20 more posts at people outraged that I think this was on the cards for some reason... ).