suing engineer - how long does it take

Discussion in 'Askaboutlaw' started by Maryb50, May 15, 2017.

  1. Maryb50

    Maryb50 Registered User

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    Engineer designed renovation project, new extension, attic conversion - now supports not enough - parts of the house unsafe - remedy work 65k. How long would it normally take to sue engineer. New Engineer and QS on project? Can an engineer face any criminal charges for a building that is unsafe?
     
  2. Leo

    Leo Moderator

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    Unfortunately this is one of those how long is a piece of string type questions that no one here will really be able to answer. It really could be weeks, months, or years depending on the facts of the case and how vigorously they are defended.

    Take advice from your solicitor on how to move forward and ensure someone competent fully reviews and records all deficiencies in the work carried out to date before you recommence work on the site.
     
  3. cremeegg

    cremeegg Frequent Poster

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    While I agree with Leo about it being like a piece of string, even the shortest piece of string is likely to take years and not weeks or months, if you sue.
     
  4. Maryb50

    Maryb50 Registered User

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    Hi! There is no other option but to so - the amount of remedial work is 65k, and the original engineer refuses to give Cert of Compliance - actually it is only an Opinion on Compliance after 12k in fees! Apparently, I need this as house is worthless without it. Is there another course of action besides suing??? One of the issues is that the engineer used a stud wall as a load bearing wall.
     
  5. cremeegg

    cremeegg Frequent Poster

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    For commercial construction contracts there are two separate processes available, mediation and arbitration.

    Mediation is a fairly simple process, each side has to agree, you hire an independent expert and they give their opinion, on the merits of the dispute. It is not expensive, you just pay the mediator a fee for his time.

    Arbitration is much more formal process. In many ways more expensive that court.

    Did you use some type of standard contract to engage the engineer, it may say what process should be used in the event of a dispute.

    In practice it is almost impossible to litigate a construction contract for €65k. I know its an engineer you are dealing with not a builder, but the same issues apply. For €650,000 it may be worth going to the high court, for €6.5k you might get it dealt with by a solicitor. But barristers fees will blow away €65k in a very short time.

    This kind of thing is almost impossible to prove. He will say that there is adequate support from elsewhere, and unless it has fallen down, how can you prove he is wrong.
     
  6. Maryb50

    Maryb50 Registered User

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    Creme egg, thanks for your reply, but what do you mean, it's not worth litigating for 65k, it's a lot of money. Re the ceiling it's cracking. There are other issues - he used velux windows at a flat pitch when they were supposed to be used at 14 degrees and not below, and apparently they will leak over time because of this. Also, he refuses to supply us with an Opinion on Compliance - so what can be done here, it makes my house unsaleable.
     
  7. TLO

    TLO Frequent Poster

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    This guy sounds more like a chancer than an engineer.
     
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  8. Leo

    Leo Moderator

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    Indeed.

    Maryb50, how did you find this engineer, what vetting did you carry out, and what contract did you put in place to cover this work?
     
  9. Maryb50

    Maryb50 Registered User

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    Hi! Leo, I was actually recommended him by a friend who lives nearby - not a very close friend, but somebody I would bump into through other friends - she had a large extension done and used him, and was happy. Having said that when she was told about what happened to me, I think she is worried what might be lurking beneath her house also.

    The contract was for design, drawings, tendering, supervision - 7 visits and opinion on compliance and various certs including radon, foundations, structural - he has actually given us a cert of opinion on compliance with Part A Buidling Regulations, but then this has happened. He made a mistake in the planning also and we had to go for retention. Yet he says he has been in business for 14 years and is a member of IEI.
     
  10. Mrs Vimes

    Mrs Vimes Frequent Poster

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    Have you contacted IEI to ask whether they can help you?
     
  11. cremeegg

    cremeegg Frequent Poster

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    Of course it is but you might have to go to the high court and the fees could easily get into the 10s of thousands.

    Even if you won you might not be able to enforce any award, and have to pay your own costs. Does he have professional indemnity insurance.


    That may not be as damming as you think, are they more than settlement cracks.

    You have not suffered an actual loss here, the fact that they were fitted outside the manufacturers instructions is not itself going to win you any court case. Is there a latent defects period in the contract.


    Contacting IEI or threatening to is a good suggestion. You could also threaten to contact his insurers, if he has any.
     
  12. Maryb50

    Maryb50 Registered User

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    Hi! Creme Egg and Mrs. Vines, yes I have contacted IEI, and they are investigating, i.e. there is an investigation in progress, but they can't compel him to do the work. My solicitor is going to ask re his indemnity insurance. When I questioned him before and said that I understood from IEI that he was only an associate engineer and could not sign off on things - half way through the build, he said he could sign of as he had PI.

    Creme Egg - as you seen to know a lot about these issues - are windows fitted outside the manufacturers instructions a compliance issue.

    He has already given me an Opinion on Cert of Compliance for the structure - is this now fake. How will I get a Cert of Compliance for the house, otherwise it is worthless?

    Also, both a Chartered Surveyor and a Chartered Engineer have stated that they feel the house needs a second steel beam and extra supports in attic - is this not relevant in any Court case.

    Re. Court Case - my solicitor is thinking of going to Circuit Court.
     
  13. cremeegg

    cremeegg Frequent Poster

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    I cannot give you a definitive answer, but I wouldn't think so.

    No, its not fake.

    What they "feel" is irrelevant. If they are willing to issue you a written opinion to that effect and perhaps give evidence in court, then obviously that is important.

    Well the fees at circuit court are less than at the high court, but they can still be significant and no matter how cross you are about the situation, you can never be certain of the outcome in a court case.

    You seem to be doing the right things, going to IEI, checking his insurance. Remember that the threat of action can sometimes be more powerful than actually taking action.

    If you report him to his insurers, they will make a provision against a claim, that will have repercussions for him. It might be an idea, if you can establish who his insurers are, to write to him and say that unless he does xyz, you will be formally putting his insurers on notice of a claim.
     
  14. DirectDevil

    DirectDevil Frequent Poster

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    Just a view on how I would go about this if I was in OP's situation.

    Firstly, you need engineering evidence to deal with the issue of the original deficiencies. In other words, you need a consulting engineer to evaluate the actual structure and the designs or advices of the first engineer. Any solicitor who specialises in litigation relating to professional negligence would know what to do and who to retain. This is not really a job for a general practice solicitor.

    Next, you assess the engineering evidence to see if there is a stateable case to be made out against the original engineer. Your solicitor will be looking to see if your evidence can reach the required standard of proof for a court which would be the balance of probabilities.

    In relation to quantum, the value of the case will be more than €65,000 when all elements are included. This case would be at the lower range of the High Court jurisdiction or it could be taken in the Circuit Court where the upper limit of jurisdiction is €75,000. I think that it is possible for both parties to a Circuit Court case to agree a higher jurisdiction. This case would be based on breach of contract and negligence.

    This case does not have to go to a hearing. I would be getting my solicitors to deal with the engineer's professional indemnity insurers as they are the real money behind any decision on how this will be resolved.
     
  15. SirMille

    SirMille Frequent Poster

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    OP, please post detailed photos of the issues, this thread is useless without pics.
     
  16. Leo

    Leo Moderator

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    That would be a bad idea with legal action pending. Pictures won't help the OP answer the primary question.
     
  17. SirMille

    SirMille Frequent Poster

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    I did not know that.