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Private Houses

Client: Film Director
Situation: A seafront award-winning private house was beset by problems of water ingress: through the external glazing and walling, through the ground and through the roof. We conducted an extensive review of the design and construction, including opening up certain areas of the building, in order to arrive at an understanding of the routes and causes of water ingress. Several tests were undertaken in the presence of experts for other parties in the dispute.
Action: Our investigations included tanking, stainless steel framed glazing systems, under floor heating, contiguous piled retaining wall construction and Caltite construction, and other roofing and water proofing.
Result: The case went to trial in Ireland and settled shortly after the commencement of the trial.


Client: Architect/PI insurer
Situation: Following flooding, a homeowner claimed that the design of his house was fundamentally flawed, due to errors by the architect, and that the house would have to be rebuilt.Analysis of the testing and research work carried out by the architect in the course of the design.
Action: Advice provided on architect’s performance of his duties in relation to site investigations and testing.
Result: Claim settled at pre-action stage.


Client: Solicitors for owners
Situation: The houses are situated on a sloping site, with the swimming pools at basement level, with their roofs providing garden terraces at the rear of the existing houses.   After the first winter in service, rainwater penetration and condensation from the cold roof construction caused damp patches to appear on the swimming pool ceiling, which worsened and lead to partial ceiling collapse.The primary defects were an inadequate waterproof membrane to the terrace, inadequate drainage of the waterproof membrane and the lack of an adequate vapour barrier below the structural deck.
Action: Probyn Miers was appointed as architect to identify and analyse the defects and to consider alternative strategies for remedial works, including inverted roofs and pressurised roofs, and their respective advantages and disadvantages.
Result: The case was settled by negotiation with the architect.


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.  Probyn Miers 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 was appointed as architect to identify and analyse the defects and to consider alternative strategies for remedial works, including inverted roofs and pressurised roofs, and their respective advantages and disadvantages.
Result: The case settled before trial.



Client: Solicitor for house owner
Situation: The owner of a historic house retained an architect to produce sets of drawings for planning and listed building applications to renovate the house and its associated outbuildings.  The owner considered that the fees subsequently invoiced by the architect were excessive in relation to the work performed and the advancement achieved through the RIBA work stages.
Action: Probyn Miers examined the architect’s drawings, invoices and related material with a view to assessing the quality and advancement of the work, and its status in relation to the fees charged.  Probyn Miers found that whilst the work had largely advanced to the stage claimed by the architect, there were significant anomalies concerning work which the architect retrospectively claimed to be additional to the fee agreement.  There was also a lack of sufficient or timely clarity concerning the provisional valuation of building work upon which the architect had based its fee percentage.
Result: The house owner was thereby provided with information useful for reaching a fair settlement with the architect.


Client: Homeowners
Situation: Conversion and extension of an existing building to form a new dwelling was halted when it was discovered that the works could not be constructed in accordance with the Planning Permission design.  Probyn Miers opinion was required in response to an expert report produced on behalf of the architect responsible for the design.
Action: Probyn Miers produced a report for litigation.
Result: Probyn Miers provided an expert opinion on the matters in dispute.


Client: Solicitors for architect and PI insurers
Situation: The property was extended including construction of a deep basement with the basement accessed via specialist lift.  The client was unhappy with the operation of the lift.  Remedial works were not successful and the lift was replaced.  The client brought proceedings against the architect as the consultant involved in dealing with the specialist lift manufacturer.
Action: Probyn Miers was appointed to give expert opinion on the architect’s liability when a specialist subcontractor is appointed with responsibility for design as well as manufacture and installation.  This was at the time of the judgement in Cooperative Group Limited v John Allen Associates Limited [2010], dealing with this issue.  Probyn Miers’ view was that the architect had a duty to advise about procurement and was vulnerable unless there was a direct contractual relationship between the client and the specialist.
Result: The matter was settled at mediation.


Client: Solicitor – property owner.
Situation: The Property owner purchased a flat on the ground floor of the property shortly after it was completed in 2006. After a period of time damp appeared in the kitchen, the external wall, the entrance hall and bathroom and in the bedroom. The damp gradually developed to the point where the flat became uninhabitable.
Action: Prpbyn Miers carried out a site inspection and prepared a preliminary report. The report concluded that the damp might be the result of one major failure of the building fabric in the kitchen area, or the result of separate failures in each of the affected areas. Further the report proposed two courses of action to establish the source, or sources of the problems.

Probyn Miers suggested that investigation should be carried out by a competent contractor acting under the instructions of the managing agents and provided the client with a suggested draft of a letter to them.

Result: No further action was required from Probyn Miers

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