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England and Wales Court of Appeal (Civil Division) Decisions
You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> England and Wales Court of Appeal (Civil Division) Decisions >> Farrer (Practising As Farrer Huxley Associates) & Anor v Wiles  EWCA Civ 1511 (27 November 2013)
Cite as:  EWCA Civ 1511
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ON APPEAL FROM NORWICH COUNTY COURT
His Honour Judge O'Brien
Claim No: 1UC08120
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
LORD JUSTICE RYDER
LADY JUSTICE SHARP
| (1) NOEL FARRER (practising as FARRER HUXLEY ASSOCIATES)
(2) FARRER HUXLEY ASSOCIATES (a firm)
|- and -
WordWave International Limited
A Merrill Communications Company
165 Fleet Street, London EC4A 2DY
Tel No: 020 7404 1400, Fax No: 020 7831 8838
Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
Mr Justin Althaus (instructed by Cozens-Hardy LLP) for the Respondent
Crown Copyright ©
Lord Justice Rimer :
'The building is in reasonable condition however works carried out for its conversion to a dwelling have left some structural elements and in particular the suspended timber floors and the roof structure in a below standard condition. General maintenance and standard of finishes is very good.'
He recommended that works be undertaken to strengthen the second floor structure and radical works to the roof to correct the 'racking' or leaning over. He suggested consideration be given to a complete roof replacement.
Ms Wiles's claim and the judge's judgment
'46. Mr Paterson's principal conclusions were that the structural fabric of the property had deteriorated as a consequence of the works undertaken under the design and supervision of [Mr Farrer] and that [Ms Wiles] has wasted money in carrying out renovation works before addressing the structural problems. In his 2010 report he calculated the damages in respect of the property attributable to [Mr Farrer] as £38,351.'
'47. Mr Isaacs' opinion is that the property is not a defective building, the renovation works have not harmed it structurally and accordingly [Ms Wiles] has suffered no damage.'
'80 … I wish to make it clear that I find no satisfactory evidence that anything done in the works of 2002-3 weakened or damaged the property. Most of the problems considered in this case were identified in Mr Stanton's report in 2002. So far as the roof is concerned, Mr Stanton said that the structural defect was long standing and unlikely to be progressive. Mr Paterson had no evidence by way of mensuration that the racking had worsened since 2002. Although he thought it had worsened, he could not be sure of this. I accept [Mr Farrer's] submission that the works of 2002-3 did not cause or exacerbate structural damage to the property.
81. There is no evidence that the removal of internal walls caused any structural damage to the property. Firstly, there is no evidence of progressive damage since 2003. Secondly, the walls removed, although they have had some bracing effect on the ceiling or floor above were by no means what would normally be regarded as structural walls. The structure was supported by the external walls.'
'84. … [Ms Wiles] submits that the structural engineer would have advised that preliminary works were carried out to safeguard the structural integrity of the property and ensured that the works complied with Building Regulations. [Mr Farrer's] case is that no such preliminary works were required because the property was not a defective building. This proposition depends solely upon the evidence of his expert building surveyor, Mr Isaacs.'
'93. It is clear to me that on a balance of probability any competent building engineer instructed to report on the property in 2002 would have reached the conclusion that Mr Bolderson reached in 2007 in respect of works required to the structure before refurbishment.
94. … I reject [Mr Farrer's] submission that the property is not and was not defective and that there are and were no structural defects to be remedied either now or in 2002. … I cannot accept [Mr Isaacs'] opinion that the agreed racking of the roof does not constitute a defect. This is an opinion which flies in the face of all the above evidence. The fact that evidently the roof has not collapsed since 2002 does not mean that it is not at risk of imminent collapse.
95. I am further satisfied that the second floor structure, even as strengthened by Mr Barton, is inadequate and defective and requires further structural work as identified by Mr Bolderson and Mr Paterson. When the building was originally constructed as a stable or agricultural building the ceiling beams for the 1st floor were more than 5 feet apart. No doubt this was adequate to support a ceiling which did not have a load bearing floor above it. The insertion of intervening beams by Mr Barton reduced this to about 800mm (2ft 8 inches). Modern Building Regulations require floor joists to be no more than 400 mm apart. Mr Paterson said that they should be no more than 600 mm apart. I cannot accept Mr Isaacs' view that floor joists 800 mm apart are adequate to support a load bearing living room floor.
96. On the evidence overall, I cannot believe that any engineer advising a potential purchaser would give any other advice than that these structural works are required to remedy the defects in the property. I am satisfied that the property was defective.
97. I am further satisfied by [Ms Wiles's] evidence that she would have accepted such advice and required the structural problems to be remedied before spending money on renovating the property.'
'105. … They are shown on a Schedule of Loss put in at the end of the trial with computations agreed subject to liability. The extra costs today of correcting defects is £17,515.23 for the roof; £7,624.49 for the second floor structure; £1,000 for the first floor area; £450 for damp proofing; and £3,750 for professional fees; a total of £30,337.72 to which VAT will to be added [which was £6,117.54, thus making the total of £36,455.26, being element (a) referred to in paragraph 2 above].'
'(d) Furthermore the removal of the transom walls at first floor level which supported the second floor structure has worsened the situation causing a weakening of the overall structure and encouraging roof thrust, racking and roof spread.
Whilst these works would have been simpler at the time of refurbishment the condition has now been worsened due to the lack of support to the roof structure. Therefore in order to efficiently carry out these works the roof covering will need to be removed in places. Due to the roof covering being asbestos slate, this then means total removal of the covering.
(e) The scaffolding is required as part of the remedial works to rectify the roof and problems associated. Scaffolding would not be required had adequate works been carried and specified initially.'
Lord Justice Ryder :
Lady Justice Sharp :