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Buachaill
Buachaill, Barrister
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10174
Experience:  Barrister 17 years experience
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I engaged a structural engineer to produce calcs for my house

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I engaged a structural engineer to produce calcs for my house extension. He did not visit the property but performed a desk top review of architect drawings. His calcs have the main support steel beam for the house attached to a wall that clearly juts out (like a chimney breast might albeit smaller). The wall in question was a ventilation shaft shared with my house / next door. Builders informed me that if they follow his instructions & calcs the house would eventually collapse as the ventilation shaft is hollow and would not support the steel beam. I had to pay £2000 for an engineer to perform new calcs and for additional steels to solve the problem. Original engineer position is (not verbatim but sentiment) - "these things happen, you can never know all the issues and you should carry a contingency to cover hidden defects" - my position - I could agree with him if he had placed the steel against a flat wall which was found to be hollow - however the wall clearly juts out and I believe he has a duty of care to either visit or ask the architect to look again before placing the main support against it - walls do not jut out as a design feature, it is typically for a reason and he should have checked that given what he intended for the wall. I would like to claim against his indemnity insurance for my losses he says he is unwilling - my question - what are my chances of winning and what do I need to do

Buachaill :

1. You can certainly sue the structural engineer for professional negligence for the design and calculations for your house extension, as they were performed in a careless manner and were not such that a reasonably competent structural engineer would do. You can recover the £2,000 you had to pay for a new engineer to do a fresh series of calcs and for any associated damages you suffered. It was careless to put the main support against a ventilation shaft and the onus was on the structural engineer to satisfy himself that all was in order with the design he prepared. This he did not do and as a result he can be successfully sued in negligence for the losses you have suffered. You chances of winning are excellent and you should get a solicitor to sue on your behalf if the structural engineer will not accept liability for the careless work he carried out.

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