The Role of a Building Surveyor as an Expert Witness
A Building Surveyor can be called to act as expert witness and provide an opinion on a building matter when a dispute arises between a property owner and builder/contractor, that cannot be resolved between the parties and has escalated to legal action.
Building defects might occur as a result of poorly formed new works or inappropriate alterations carried out on a property or defects may have been built into the original structure at the time of construction. For example, defective replacement window installation, undermining of structures or defective workmanship or construction. The disputed value of any work carried out can also lead to conflict between the parties.
Appointments can be made by one or both parties. Where both parties instruct their own Expert Witness Report it is usual to have both experts meet to consider agreeing common ground and for the remaining matters in dispute to be the focus of the respective reports. However, both experts must still act impartially and present an unbiased opinion for use by the Court – a CPR (Court Civil Procedure Rule) 35 compliant report.
Often, the judge will instruct both parties to agree on the appointment of a single expert witness, and may specifically require a Chartered Building Surveyor, to provide an opinion to the Court on the cause of any defect, quality of workmanship or value of work completed. Unless specifically instructed, liability is determined by the Judge.
Typically, Solicitors appointed by one party will appoint a building surveyor on a joint agreed basis; in any event, the expert remains impartial and unbiased, whatever the outcome of his or her investigation; the opinion is expressed in a report for the Court, although both parties receive the same report.
What Does the Surveyor Do?
At PA Surveyors, we will visit the affected property or inspect the contract works, consider evidence provided and relied upon by each party (their Statement of Truth), form an opinion on the matter and provide a Report to the Court outlining the facts of the case; for example, explaining what we’ve seen, and provide an independent view on why the defects have occurred. This report is essential in helping the Judge to determine if there is any liability or wrong-doing by either party and, if so, to what extent.
We also get involved in pre-Court actions where mediation may have taken place between the two disputing parties but they are keen to agree a settlement out of Court.
The majority of expert witness cases we are involved in require just the written report but occasionally we do attend Court Hearings if the case is more complex.
Why Instruct PA Surveyors?
Our principle director, Iain Plant at PA Surveyors, has a breadth of experience within the Surveying profession particularly within Residential Surveying. Iain will be the primary Chartered Surveyor dealing with an Expert Witness case.
We can provide Expert Witness Reports for:
- Home improvement Disputes
- Claims investigation
- Professional negligence of Surveyors, Builders & other construction professionals
- Repair of historic & traditional buildings
- Building Survey disputes
- Building defects
- Personal injury claims related to construction or design
- Residential & commercial surveys
PA Surveyors will provide an impartial inspection and analysis of the disputed subject, to aid the Court in making an appropriate ruling. We will thoroughly review all matters and not jump to conclusions. Our expertise in various areas of Surveying will be utilised to prepare the Expert Report.