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Very Frustrated By Issues With Mains Gas Pipe And Renovation Gone Wrong

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48 replies to this topic

#41 KenT



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Posted 29 January 2016 - 07:36 AM

View PostAliG, on 29 January 2016 - 05:30 AM, said:

Just to emphasise what Jeremy has said which is pretty much spot on.

I think you have to figure out exactly what you are claiming for.

What would have happened if you had been given better advice by the surveyor. Would you never have proceeded, or would you have proceeded with a different design.

It sounds like you would have proceeded with a different design and the claim now would be for the costs of getting from where you are now to where you would have been. Generally a legal claim is designed to make you whole, not better off than you would have been before you started. For example, if the correct work would have cost £20,000, you have already spent £10,000 and it costs £2,000 to rip out the wasted work then the surveyor could be held liable for the £12,000 wasted, but not for the fact that the correct work would always have cost more as you would always have had to pay for that.

In the first instance I would have something drawn up to this effect and put it to your surveyor offering him the chance to come up with a remedy that puts you back in the correct position. The thought of having to pay out on this may sharpen his mind.

If you do go through a lawyer, try and find someone skilled in this kind of case. Just as you have had issues with your surveyor, in my experience lawyers are quite prone to wasting your time and money with poor advice!

Hi AliG,

Yes, I would have changed the design. All we are talking about is a lack of 35cm of head space on the stairs so all we would have needed to do (I assume) is to move slightly the two flitch beams which form the opening. It would have been simple and easy to do at the structural stage and all it needed was one person to say 'Hang on a minute!'

I'm definitely not here to be better off, I just want it completed. I have a one month old daughther and one set of Grandparents camped out in the sitting room where we currently are. :-) The plan was to have completed this and moved before the birth.

My plan is, as you say, to follow Jeremy's advice. I've written to the surveyor asking him to put the works on hold while we take stock, but for the main contractor to complete the windows leaving the site secure and weatherproof. I then plan to pull together mainly emails that document his lack of advice. I have three vaulations for staged payments but I'm thinking it might be better to find a Quantity Surveyor to give me an actual figure of what has been spent and more importantly the cost of un-doing things.
I'll then suggest a meet to discuss. I would definitely prefer to avoid a lawyer!

#42 KenT



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Posted 29 January 2016 - 07:50 AM

View PostTriassic, on 29 January 2016 - 07:28 AM, said:

There appears to be two ways out if this mess, move the stairs or move the pipe.

You have a number of suggestions regarding a way forward with the stairs.

Regarding moving the pipe, all we have is everyone quoting the 'regulations', suggestions that the DNO is a law unto themselves and this is an opportunity to get you to pay to upgrade their old, yet still serviceable, ,pipe work. I'm still not sure what regulation covers this and do wonder if the gas company are just being an Arse!

Hi Triassic,

It would definitely be easier to move the pipe, all we are talking about is moving it 30-40 cms horizontally and we would be sorted. However, nobody is willing to do it so I'm assuming there is a reg somewhere. Nat Grid have been in an and said no. Our surveyor has (apparently) contacted a number of independent companies who have declined to quote and only one has come to site for a look and has quoted for a complete replacement as well.

#43 ferdinand


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Posted 29 January 2016 - 09:46 AM

I don't think anyone has suggested that your check your insurance policy for the build provides legal costs cover and/or advice. Does it?

The same goes for your domestic insurance and credit cards etc, and professional associations plus Trades unions etc.


#44 bassanclan


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Posted 29 January 2016 - 05:46 PM

When the National Grid man came on site you should have slipped him £20 and explain that you needed the pipe moving. The pipe would have "got damaged" during "normal living activities" i.e you were hanging something from the celing and accidentally put a screw through the pipe.
Then an emergency repair man would be sent out who would happily add the extra 30cm of pipe for £20 in his back pocket.
A similar situation is how I avoided a £5400 fee to move a gas pipe

#45 jsharris


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Posted 29 January 2016 - 06:59 PM

View Postbassanclan, on 29 January 2016 - 05:46 PM, said:

When the National Grid man came on site you should have slipped him £20 and explain that you needed the pipe moving. The pipe would have "got damaged" during "normal living activities" i.e you were hanging something from the celing and accidentally put a screw through the pipe.
Then an emergency repair man would be sent out who would happily add the extra 30cm of pipe for £20 in his back pocket.
A similar situation is how I avoided a £5400 fee to move a gas pipe

Daft as it sounds, I had an Openreach engineer tell me that this was the only way to get a cable moved. The advice was for the digger to "accidentally" pull the overhead cable down. We had already laid the free issue underground telephone cable and fitted the cast iron boxes at the base of the poles. As soon as the cable had been "accidentally" broken we were to ring a number and an emergency repair team would come out. They did, within about 40 mins of the call, took one look at the job, saw straight away that they'd been set up and said "This is one of (name of engineer)s jobs, isn't it?". The problem there wasn't the cost, it was just that there is such a low priority on moving cables that they will, effectively, never get moved unless you create an emergency.

#46 KenT



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Posted 30 January 2016 - 08:22 PM

Well as an update my surveyor has terminated his contract, letter received by email yesterday.

"We write in response to your recent email correspondence.

As regards the issue relating to the gas pipe, although we are professional Building Surveyors we are not Gas Engineers and therefore are not able to define whether a pipe is a mains pipe feeding a number of units or a domestic pipe feeding a single unit particularly with the use of such old pipework. In the same vain we cannot be expected to ascertain how many flats the subject pipe may affect and the related cost to move the pipe.

Regarding the fire curtain, XY has confirmed that AZ advised that the arrangement you proposed was not acceptable. A wholly reasonable low impact solution has been put to you to solve the issue however you seem unwilling to accept it.

Throughout the process you have continually given the contractor direct instructions despite us advising you of the contractual procedure not to do so and have therefore prevented us from properly managing the project. This point was clearly stated at the pre-contract meeting and repeatedly through the contract.

Furthermore we have been bombarded with emails from you on a daily basis requesting information and should we not respond within 24 to 48 hours you have complained that we are not fulfilling our duties. This level of communication is both unnecessary and an unreasonable draw on our time in consideration to the role we have agreed to fulfil. This said to date we have, in good will, dealt with your queries in a timely manner.

We find the tone and contents of your latest emails offensive and defamatory; consequently we find our role as Contract Administrator untenable and hereby terminate our appointment as formerly agreed in our letter referenced AA/SS/DD1."

Comments from me:

Paragraph 1 - I don't really understand this one as I would have thought as my surveyor this is exactly the kind of thing he should have been doing.

Paragraph 2 - This results from documented bad advice on fire safety and the need for a lobby on the ground floor to protect the fire exit to the communal stairs. He spoke to building control and they agreed a fire curtain would be acceptable across the communal door. He agreed without discussion that they would install it free of charge which I took as an admission of guilt.

His solution across the door seemed complicated, moving the door forward, splaying the inside of the frame etc. I suggested after seeing stuff on line that we could re-instate part of a stud wall and then have the fire curtain close across the staircase. He was reluctant to put this forward to building control. I insisted and a few days later he informed me that building control had said no to my idea. I asked for the email confirming this, and was informed it was just a telephone conversation. I thought this odd as the solution seemed pretty standard on line. I then contacted building control and asked the lady to confirm my surveyor had discussed my idea with her. She confirmed he had not and had only ever discussed his idea across the door and confirmed that my idea was actually acceptable. My trust in him took a bit of a blow at this point.

Paragraph 3 - I'm not sure what he is referring to here as there are no examples and I can't think of anything that I never copied him on when emailing the contractor direct with queries or requests.

Paragraph 4 - Well, I work in an IT services industry and not resposnding for 48 hours to client emails, even to just acknowledge them, would not endear me to the client. I didn't even get a read receipt on any emails so had no idea if he was even reading them and when the project is falling behind I was expecting action not silence. Maybe I was expecting to much. From the start of the project to date the average weekly emails sent was 9.4 and in the last month as the situation on the project got progressively behind this rose to 14. These averages include responses to emails from the surveyor regarding queries, meeting requests etc. Is that level bombarding I dont know.

Paragraph 5 - My emails did lay down what I had expected on him and what I had not got in terms of professionalism and advice. This obviously hit a nerve and he has spat the dummy, so to speak. He also neglects to state his role of Project Management in addition to Contract Administrator, which as it was pretty non-existent is not surprising.

So what now?
  • I've spoken with the contractor and we are meeting on Wednesday to talk about how to progress the project to completion
  • I have not responed to the surveyor
  • Do I now just go straight to RICS with a document similar to what I would have taken to the surveyor, and lodge a complaint
  • I've asked the contractor to estimate the value of wasted work and how much it is going to cost to rectify. Would this be good enough or should I still look for a quantity surveyor to do this?

If there is something else I should consider then please let me know.

Edited by KenT, 30 January 2016 - 08:24 PM.

#47 Nickfromwales


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Posted 30 January 2016 - 09:03 PM

Firstly, you'll probably need more than one estimate of reparations works.
Secondly, it seems they're failing to recognise their entire professional capacity in any way, shape or form which reeks of 'wriggling off the hook' to me. I think you now need an independent contract 'specialised' solicitor to pick apart the arrangement between yourselves to decipher with whom the responsibility to rectify lays.
Paragraph 1 is nonsense. They're simply not extending their replies to encompass anything which will make them liable, so your going to have to present them with something to challenge them in order for them to respond more specifically, and only at that point will the layers start peeling away to expose the absolute facts. Those facts will form the basis of any further complaint.
I think their sh1tting themselves tbh, and terminating their contract means nothing whatsoever. If there are any outstanding obligations which they have failed to provide, and this goes in your favour, you'll ba able to chase them for that also.
Regards, nick.

#48 PeterW


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Posted 30 January 2016 - 09:39 PM

They are within their rights to terminate their contract however....

Up to that point they are liable for any decisions or work done, and can't go and hide !

RICS publish their ethics and standards - this lot made me smile given what you're saying..!


#49 KenT



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Posted 23 February 2016 - 11:52 AM

Hi All,

Just as an update we're not getting anywhere with the surveyor and it now approaching a formal compliant to RICS. I'll let you know how we get on.

We have also also been looking at our options, which are basically don't move the pipe and rip everything out as the required changes would leave the main bedroom and landing to small, or move the pipe and we can leave everything as it is.

We are obviously looking at the latter but Nat Grid is not and option due to scale, time and price.

We had one company say they could do the work but have let us down. So can I ask it anyone knows of anyone who is qualified to work on mains gas pipe alterations, works in the SE, is available ASAP and is looking for some private work. We would need to keep the service live to the other flats while the change is made so gas riders would be needed to bridge the affected area.

Please private message me if you are willing to share any contacts.