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A Home Insurance Question

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ted hughes07/01/2017 19:09:07
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466 forum posts

Not about modeling, but there is a lot of knowledge on this forum.

I'm having my house refurbed following a fire.

The conservatory was completely destroyed.

The builders have noticed the original conservatory base was un-suitable as it had inadequate damp-proofing. The base will need to be broken up and rebuilt.

The insurance company have said it is not their problem as was pre-existing.

The builders are saying it is pointless them putting a new conservatory on the existing base.

I don't have the £5k to build a new base.

How will the impasse be resolved, do you think?

Edited By ted hughes on 07/01/2017 19:09:42

onetenor07/01/2017 19:22:08
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1900 forum posts

Suggest an injection DPC maybe

Piers Bowlan07/01/2017 19:34:19
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I am sorry to hear about your fire Ted, very distressing and something I fear as my house is mostly wood!

Have you considered getting a surveyor or structural engineer in rather than take your builders word for it. Is the base sound even if it does need a DPC. Might be possible to put a DPC in without starting from scratch if you see what I mean. How many square metres are we talking about?

kc07/01/2017 19:43:00
6050 forum posts
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If it wasn't a problem before why should it be in future?

5000 pounds seems huge. Get estimates for that item alone from other relaible ( small ) builders.

cymaz07/01/2017 19:47:11
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8728 forum posts
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Take it to the insurance ombudsman?? You might argue that if they are willing to pay for the conservatory it must be built to building regulations. They might wriggle but just don't take "no" for an answer.

I had a sewer drain subside. With only an internal camera inspection ( which showed nothing- I was there at the time and looked at the pictures myself), the insurance company told me that it was laid incorrectly and they wouldn't pay. It was not until I produced the building certificate issued by the council building control department that proved the drain was installed properly they paid up.

Tenancity is your friend.

ben goodfellow 107/01/2017 19:47:47
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1069 forum posts
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put a dpc on top of the slab which is already there , then kingspan /cellotex on top ....... builders are very good at making easy jobs sound hard and expensive ....

Percy Verance07/01/2017 20:27:35
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Sounds to me as though the builder has got wind of this being an insurance job, and he's trying to maximize his earnings/profit......

Five grand for a base sounds adventurously optimistic to me.......... Two or three hundred quid for a load of ready mix, plus a sheet of heavy black plastic Visqueen sheeting and a couple of hours to lay/tamp it down?

ted hughes07/01/2017 20:30:11
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466 forum posts

I should have said originally, I want the existing slab broken up, as I want an extension rather than a conservatory and some drainage needs moving.

Also, don't feel sad for me- we were preparing to redo the bathroom and kitchen, now the builders a doing a beautiful job of both, far better than we could have afforded!

I just wondered what the outcome will be- will the insurers stand firm and possibly allow a sub-standard base be used?

ted hughes07/01/2017 20:33:13
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466 forum posts

Percy, everyone has got wind of this being an insurance job- surveyors, loss adjuster, it's a bit of a farce. The more they all squeeze out, the more will be spent on me, as well.

I don't mind, as I say, I'm having some great work done!

Percy Verance07/01/2017 20:39:45
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Ah right Ted, that changes things a bit. It's probably reasonable to assume that although the existing base was probably good enough for the conservatory, it may not be up to the standards required for an extension Ted. Moving drains isn't exactly without it's challenges either Ted, and can be fairly labour intensive.

I hope you do get things sorted Ted...... Ben's suggestion sounds workable, although it may raise the level of the floor a bit. I did something similar about 20 years ago in an extension I had built on a previous house. I began with a solid concrete floor with a DPC, and on that I fixed 50mm square wooden batons two feet apart. I then added 50mm polystyrene sheeting between the batons, and finished off with chipboard flooring boards (the type used in lofts). 

 

 

 

Edited By Percy Verance on 07/01/2017 20:56:29

Piers Bowlan07/01/2017 20:42:35
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I can't see the insurance company paying to move drains just because you have the opportunity to build an extension. As far as the base is concerned it probably depends on how good at negotiation you are, or how tenacious.

Edited By Piers Bowlan on 07/01/2017 20:46:56

Edited By Piers Bowlan on 07/01/2017 20:54:42

Allan Bennett07/01/2017 21:11:27
1555 forum posts
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Posted by ted hughes on 07/01/2017 20:30:11:

I should have said originally, I want the existing slab broken up, as I want an extension rather than a conservatory and some drainage needs moving.

....

It is my understanding that the insurers are only obliged to pay you to get back to where you were before the fire. When your conservatory was originally built it possibly didn't have to comply with most building regs because it was deemed to be a temporary structure, not for permanent habitation. I believe that's still the situation for conservatories less than a certain size so, to upgrade the slab to a suitable standard for a permanent extension instead of a conservatory is not the insurer's problem.

ben goodfellow 107/01/2017 21:31:14
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1069 forum posts
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no planning or BR , under 30sqm . 70% glass , independant heating or trvs. external grade doors between it and house and over a meter from a boundary , and few other rules . thats what it was .. but planning has laxed a little bit of late..... i think you are pushing it a bit expecting them to pay for an extension . if you dont full fill all the regs for no planning or br , you are lucky there paying anything at all

Percy Verance07/01/2017 22:12:59
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Having just notified my local planning authority of my intention to build an extension under the Permitted Development Scheme, which allows you to extend up to 4 metres from a rear wall on a detached property (as mine is), and up to 8 metres in length. A semi-detached property is permitted to have a slightly smaller extension. As I understand it Building Regs still apply. Although no plans need be submitted, you are required to submit a detailed description of the proposal.

As Ben points out, it could indeed be seen as a bonus they're contributing anything........

Yes Allan, insurance companies are (in)famous for avoiding paying for any sort of betterment.

 

Edited By Percy Verance on 07/01/2017 22:30:50

ted hughes07/01/2017 22:30:42
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466 forum posts
Posted by Piers Bowlan on 07/01/2017 20:42:35:

I can't see the insurance company paying to move drains just because you have the opportunity to build an extension. As far as the base is concerned it probably depends on how good at negotiation you are, or how tenacious.

Edited By Piers Bowlan on 07/01/2017 20:46:56

Edited By Piers Bowlan on 07/01/2017 20:54:42

The question is, they have to restore us to the position we were before the fire,i.e. with a conservatory.

Everyone agrees the existing slab is sub-standard either for a conservatory or an extension (the fact I want it broken up is a bit immaterial).

Since, in the restoration work, this substandard base is found, should the insurance company say to the builders: it is not our problem, rebuilt an expensive conservatory on a sub-standard base which will give problems.

Or will they say: okay, it is a problem, but we will rectify it to restore the insurees to their original position.

Or will they say: the insurees must find the money themselves for the refurb to proceed.

I will know the answer in a week or so, I just thought it interesting and wanted opinions, as it might end up costing me several thousands.

I will post the end result.

Martin Harris07/01/2017 23:32:26
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It seems to me that unless the floor was damaged by the fire or the rectification work that the insurance company are under no obligation to improve it. If you choose to have the conservatory rebuilt on the existing base then it is your decision - subsequent structural failings in the new conservatory proved to be due to the inadequate base would not be likely to be covered by your buildings insurance - you were aware of its inadequacy.

The only argument that I can see having any success is if you can get the insurer to admit that they would have covered damage to the conservatory caused by the base failing and re-laid it as part of any repairs. If so, would failure of the damp proofing have been considered to be caused by subsidence or heave? I'd suggest that's somewhere that you don't want to go!

Edited By Martin Harris on 07/01/2017 23:34:30

Mannyroad07/01/2017 23:32:40
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Posted by ben goodfellow 1 on 07/01/2017 21:31:14:

no planning or BR , under 30sqm . 70% glass , independant heating or trvs. external grade doors between it and house and over a meter from a boundary , and few other rules . thats what it was .. but planning has laxed a little bit of late..

Ted, Percy Verance says it pretty much as it is. As the original conservatory probably didn't need building regs, presumably being under 30sqm, seperated from the living areas, etc etc. Many conservatories fall outside the regs and in these cases builders often simply build cheap, and ignore good practice. They often just build the new dwarf walls and pour a new slab directly over the original flags/conc that was once the patio etc. The only dpc that goes in is the one in the walls, not beneath the slab. Not good, but no-ones inspecting because its outside the regs. and the customer often just wants it doing as cheap as possible.

Once plans change and an extension is being considered, which does need building regs, then these issues cause problems. However, that's not the responsibility of your insurance company, as I'm sure you realise, who are contractually only obliged to reinstate to the point immediately pre-fire; less if they have a contractual reason to avoid paying out.. Be careful that your insurance policy doesn't contain contractual small print that releases the insurers from paying out if you don't want to reinstate back to the originally insured development, i.e the conservatory. I wouldn't put it past any insurer to use such contractual clauses to avoid paying out. I'm sure it won't be the case but I'd be wary of changing things until you know for sure, unless you're happy picking up the entire bill.

cymaz08/01/2017 04:42:14
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Posted by ted hughes on 07/01/2017 20:30:11:

I should have said originally, I want the existing slab broken up, as I want an extension rather than a conservatory and some drainage needs moving.

Also, don't feel sad for me- we were preparing to redo the bathroom and kitchen, now the builders a doing a beautiful job of both, far better than we could have afforded!

I just wondered what the outcome will be- will the insurers stand firm and possibly allow a sub-standard base be used?

Sorry Ted, looks like the cheque book will have to come out.

Percy Verance08/01/2017 08:06:58
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8108 forum posts
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That's pretty much it. It's going to cost you Ted............

Martin Harris08/01/2017 11:55:56
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8868 forum posts
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If it's any encouragement, it doesn't always work against the insured though. Some years ago, we erected a new garage for our club tractor and equipment which came with a "domestic" roller shutter door. Members of the less law abiding side of society decided they would like to remove some of our equipment and broke in through the roller shutter. We submitted an insurance claim, getting quotes for straight replacement and an industrial standard version at around twice the cost, expressing a preference to upgrade it - expecting to pay the difference. To our surprise and delight, the insurer said to go ahead and paid the whole cost (minus normal excess) of the claim. We can only think that they saw a benefit to themselves if the door was less vulnerable?

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