Damp has returned and the contractor is refusing to address the problem
I’m now seeking compensation for the €5,000 I paid out in 2007
'Recently, damp returned and despite repeated requests for the company to return and assess the situation, they did not'
I am hoping you can help with the following problem. I had my Dublin redbrick damp-proofed by one of the leading businesses in the trade in 2007. The work was carried out when I had the property rented, and I was abroad and unable to supervise. Recently, damp returned and despite repeated requests for the company to return and assess the situation, they did not. I’ve since undertaken new works – including damp-proofing – and the architect and builder insist that no damp-proofing was done as specified. Given the company’s refusal to return to the property, how should I approach the company now seeking compensation for the €5,000 paid out in 2007.
The first issue to consider is timing to ensure that you are not barred from taking action. I note the works were carried out in 2007, ie approximately 10 years ago. I also note that you have stated that the damp has returned “recently”. Whereas it is fair to say that there is an expectation that damp treatment works would be effective if done properly, you may be restricted from taking action against the damp-proofing contractor by virtue of the passage of time. Normally one has six years in which to commence an action, however this is quite a complex area and you would need to check with your solicitor as to whether or not you still have the opportunity of pursuing the original contractor.
The next thing to consider is how the contractor is pursued. I note that the company have refused to return to the property, however it is important that they be properly pursued, which could initially be verbally, however you would need to have clear evidence/proof of endeavouring to get the contractor back to site and in this respect we would expect that in the event of them refusing or failing to come back to site, that you would then send written requests for them to attend. If they still refuse to attend you should then have a report prepared outlining the problem to include identifying the shortcomings and the remedial works required.
The damp-proof contractor should then have been given the opportunity of responding to that and outlining their proposals as to how the matter might be dealt with. In this respect, clearly the report should be sent to them prior to undertaking the necessary remedial work. I note however that the works have now been carried out and unless you have a very comprehensive report, including photographs clearly identifying the shortcoming and how the original damp proofing contractor failed to adequately address the works, you will have great difficulty in getting a successful recovery in the matter.
Any report that you have prepared will need to be all encompassing and will need to be specific as to what has caused the problem, for example are the shortcomings in the original work carried out, due to continuing /ongoing dampness such as defective drains or leaking wastepipes, etc in which case it would be inevitable that dampness would reappear.
While it is very frustrating and morally wrong to have paid for works which were poorly done in the first place, the cost of pursuing matters of this nature can be high and many rogue companies would work on the basis that an injured party will not go to the expense of pursuing the matter. However if your own experts can provide you with clear unambiguous advice that you do in fact have a case, and in the event that you are barred either due to the passage of time or by virtue of the cost of pursuing the matter, then I would suggest that you consider naming and shaming those responsible, if only to minimise the risk of other unsuspecting parties falling foul of the same contractors. However before doing this, you should send them your expert report, and give them the opportunity of coming to a settlement before taking this action.
Val O’Brien is a chartered building surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie
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