For most of us, purchasing a property is the highest value contract we ever enter. In most cases, the professionals we instruct to assist us, for example a surveyor, will carry out their duties correctly. However, on occasion, mistakes can be made and the impact of these can be serious. In such situations it is sensible to consider whether it is possible to pursue a professional negligence claim against that surveyor.

When instructing a surveyor to inspect a property before you purchase it, you will choose what type of survey they are to complete – a valuation, a home buyers report, or a full building survey.

Duty of care

Yet regardless of the type of survey, the basic duty owed to you is the same: to carry out those services at the standard of a reasonably competent surveyor. However, given the different nature of the inspections, a “reasonably competent” surveyor would not be expected to note the same type of issues at a valuation as they would a full building survey.

In general, to succeed with any legal claim against a surveyor, you will need a report from another surveyor stating that the defect would have been noted by a reasonably competent surveyor at the time of the inspection when carrying out the type of inspection the surveyor was instructed to do.

If the there is a defect, but it was not possible to detect it at the time of the inspection, then it is unlikely there would be any viable claim against the surveyor. A claim can however proceed if a reasonably competent surveyor would have advised some form of further investigation and that further investigation would have detailed the defect.

As you would expect, it is a prerequisite for any claim that if you were advised of the defect that you would not have proceeded to purchase for the price you did.

Making a claim

In a claim against a surveyor, it is not possible to directly claim the costs of putting right a defect that they should have advised you of. Instead, you can claim the diminution in value, which is how much less the property is worth because of the defect. Generally, valuation evidence is therefore required to proceed with a claim.

Other losses such as overpaid stamp duty, costs of investigation, and damage for distress and inconvenience can also be claimed. It is not possible to claim a refund of the fees paid to the surveyor, nor is it generally possible to claim the costs associated with purchasing the property.

In cases relating to valuation only, surveyors are however afforded a margin of error in their valuation. The margin of error is +/-5% for standard residential properties but can increase to +/- 10 for one off properties.

At RHL Solicitors, we have extensive experience of professional negligence claims against surveyors and can guide you through the process with clear and easy to understand advice.

Depending on the circumstances of your claim, we may be able to act on behalf of you on a “no win, no fee” basis and we will always help you achieve the very best outcome by tailoring our advice to your own individual needs.

If you are concerned about the result of a contract or works, or need a clear understanding on the meaning of your contract rights, remedies, and liabilities, contact our specialist commercial dispute resolution team who will be more than happy to discuss the matter further.

RHL Solicitors will have no delays or waiting times in advising you on your situation and will be quick to get you the support and care you deserve.