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Building Regulations

Client: Building insurer
Situation: A dispute arose between a property owner and a building insurer about the scope and level of losses covered by an insurance policy following the discovery of extensive defects in a recently purchased house.  PM was required to provide an opinion on standards achieved in design and workmanship, and to analyse a range of defects and areas of damage.
Action: Probyn Miers produced a report for litigation.
Result: The case settled before trial.


Client: Main contractor
Situation: A dispute arose between a main contractor and a specialist subcontractor over the repeated failure of asphalt waterproofing to the roof of a new build apartment block, with resulting internal damage.  Probyn Miers was required to provide an opinion on the standards of design and workmanship, and to analyse the causes of failure.
Action: Probyn Miers produced a report for adjudication.
Result: The adjudicator’s decision was partly in favour of the subcontractor.


Client: Solicitors for main contractor
Situation: This case concerned fire spread in a supermarket, one of a series of similar fires in the 1990s and early 2000s.  The supermarket was designed in the “Essex Barn” style, characterised by a complex series of adjoining pitched roofs around the perimeter.  The Store was partly destroyed by fire.The fire was caused by welding operations while constructing an extension to the store.  The welding set fire to foam insulation boards within the wall cavity.  The fire travelled to the top of the wall, entered the eaves and then the roof void, and then travelled around the perimeter eaves and roof voids, causing damage totalling £11m.The supermarket served a total claim of approximately £16m against the store´s original architect and contractor, and the contractors for the extension works.
Action: Probyn Miers was appointed to give expert opinion on published guidance regarding compartmentation, cavity barriers and fire-stopping, and whether the design and construction of the store complied with this guidance.Probyn Miers found that the defects that permitted the spread of fire were:
– lack of closure at the top of the external cavity wall;
– insufficient cavity barriers in the roof and eaves voids; and
– inadequate fire-stopping, rendering compartment walls and cavity barriers ineffective.
Result: The action was settled before trial.This fire was well publicised and the construction industry became more aware of the fire risks associated with hot work, as a consequence of this and other similar fires.  Supermarket chains also became more aware of the dangers of fire spread through interconnected roof voids.  There were other similar fires later, with arson a recurrent problem, but the spate of supermarket fires did eventually end and such fires are now a relative rarity.


Client: Property owner through his solicitor.
Situation: The project was a large extension to a detached house on a secluded, heavily wooded site. The additional accommodation included a living room, a guest bedroom suite, a double garage, a gym and a swimming pool with changing and shower facilities. The design was geometrically complex and incorporated several levels to take account of the natural slope of the site.Water ingress was apparent in several locations from the time the building was handed over and occupied. When roof coverings were removed to give access to rectify the leaks it was discovered that further significant deterioration was occurring within the roof construction because of the effects of condensation.In addition damp penetration became apparent in several areas and the property owner discovered that significant voids that had been formed beneath the floors of the store room, the garage and part of the gym, had no provision for natural ventilation.
Action: Probyn Miers carried out a site inspection and prepared a preliminary report. The purpose of the report at this stage is to assist the property owner in settlement discussions and negotiations with the Architect. It concluded that: i), the type of roof construction specified was not suitable for use as part of a swimming pool enclosure, ii), the detailed design of the roof would not prevent condensation or water penetration and would make effective maintenance impracticable, iii), the voids beneath the floors of the store room, the garage and part of the gym had been designed in such a way as to prevent the provision of natural ventilation, iv), the system of land drainage appears to be inadequate, and v), the design did not include an effective means of preventing the ingress of water from the ground.
Result: Awaiting further instructions as of 08 April 2013.


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