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Judges Varying Opinions - Small Claims Case - Roofing Contractor

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  • Judges Varying Opinions - Small Claims Case - Roofing Contractor


    I am the main director, designated on-site manager, of a residential block of flats.
    In 2017, I obtained a quote from a roofing contractor to renew the roofing to an existing block of 12 garages following a site survey carried out by the firm’s managing director.
    I considered he should have identified any potential problems relating to the location (trees), structure (deflection), drainage goods, etc, allowing for a contingency should it be required.
    Prior correspondence from the company confirmed that an inspection of the existing structure would be carried out following the removal of the existing roofing.
    The quote accepted, the work was carried out with a12 months guarantee.
    OK in summer, but 6 months later in winter, garages leaking, timber wall plate & anti-condensation membrane soaked, water running down the rear walls internally and ponding on the floor.
    The initial cause was analysed by the contractor’s MD to be a dilapidated, blocked & overflowing rainwater gutter.
    The parties verbally initially agreed to remove the gutter and replace with a purpose-made deflector flashing (only waste ground at the rear of the garages).
    However, further investigation revealed that the manufacturer's installation recommendations (min pitch of 4 degrees) and other accepted good practice installation considerations (roofing sheets laid into wind, anti-condensation material not removed or sealed, no ventilation, no joist protection) had not been adhered to.
    In 2018, I contacted the NFRC and obtained a chartered surveyor’s report.
    Both agreed the ACM was the main problem, stating the external 50m should have been removed prior to installation in line with good practice.
    The contractor did not remove (due to practical difficulties) and applied a sealant that did not solve the problem.
    The NFRC arranged a further inspection & report, not independent, but an NFRC member roofer, stating the gutter should be replaced.
    Over the past 4 years, the contractor has made 4 offers to carry out minimal works of sealing & fixing a flashing -
    all rejected because they do not come with any assurance of success or guarantee should the problem reappear.

    Present Situation
    An estimate to remove and re-instate the roofing was obtained.
    A claim for £10,000 was issued in April 2020 to remove and re-instate the roofing correctly.
    A mediation hearing in August was unsuccessful.
    In October, a judge allocated the case to the Small Claims Track for a preliminary hearing this February (delayed to March) to explain additional directions:
    1. Appointment of a joint independent expert.
    2. ‘Scott schedules’ on the alleged defects.
    In the telephone hearing, another 2nd judge, saying he had read some documentation, considered that without the gutter, it would be difficult for the case to succeed.
    I wanted to comment but was not given an opportunity.
    The judge suggested the contractor prepare a specification of the work that (I presume in the contractor's opinion) would be required to eliminate the ingress of water.
    I presume the work would be at no cost to the residents (as were the previous offers made by the contractor).
    I presume the work would have to include the provision of a new gutter, previously discounted by both parties due to blockages, etc (garages situated under large trees with heavy leaf fall).
    The Order stated:
    1. The proceedings are stayed until 4pm 29 June 2021.
    2. By 29 June, if neither party has requested further directions from the Court, the claim will be deemed settled.
    1. Both the NFRC and the surveyor had agreed that the external anti-condensation material applied to the underside of the roofing sheets should have been removed, if not prior, definitely after installation.
    2. The ingress of water was not caused by the absence of a gutter nor resolution reliant upon its replacement. The problem was evident before the gutter was removed. A deflector flashing is required to deflect water away from the rear wall of the garages.
    3. The 1st judge appeared to have grasped the situation in requiring a single joint expert to evaluate the cause(s) of the problem in order to reach a conclusion fair to both parties.
    4. The 2nd judge appears not to have fully grasped the situation, overruling the 1st judge.

    I am frustrated that my attempts to rectify the problems experienced by the residents in my block are being hindered by the opinion of the 2nd judge.
    ​​​​​​​Is there any recourse in my writing to the Court to request reconsideration of the matter, possibly reversing the present order in favour of the order made by the 1st judge?
    Tags: None

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