Insurance company unwilling to pay

out for claims based on building

contractors opinion of own work!


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Insurance company problems

We have recently been called into a very strange case where the insurance company had agreed to and carried out work, via a building contractor, some redecoration following water damage into a property, which from our understanding they were more than happy to do. However, it is the quality of this work that is now at issue, as we find is often the case.

The problem with the quality of work

The quality of work in this instance relates to the decoration standards, part of which is wallpapered to the stair area, so a difficult area to wallpaper we would agree. However, the paper literally does not meet and there are what would best be described as pin stripped lines vertically down the wall. This certainly is not ideal.

Insurance company's view of the solution

The insurance company have asked the building contractor / decorator to return and comment on the standard of workmanship. They duly have returned and advised the occupant that the problem does not relate to their workmanship but relates to dampness, which is an interesting comment.

Let us tell you a bit more about the work carried out

In summary, the work carried out was to redecorate the landing area, which includes both paintwork and papering of the stairs area, which anyone that has tried to decorate in these areas knows it is difficult at best. Therefore, we do have some sympathy with anyone trying to carry out such work. Just to emphasise the point, the landing is on the first floor.

Our investigation was for dampness

When we are brought into such cases we carry out a very thorough and impartial investigation.

Agree to disagree

The insurance company and the householder have agreed to disagree on the problems; the insurer being advised by their own builder (who carried out the work) that there is a dampness problem, and the owner believing there isn't.

The owner suggested a way forward would be to have an independent surveyor carry out a survey and report on the dispute and if correct proceed with the work and pay the surveyor's fees. The insurance company agreed with this.

Open mind open ears

When we carry out a report for a dispute we keep a very open mind as to what could be the cause of the problem and carry out a structured report on it.

What is in the report?

The reports are all tailor made, however they do have certain elements included in them:

  We start all of these with looking for a common sense solution.

A synopsis of the problems; very much similar to what you have read above.

A summary of construction, which can be very important.

A summary of accommodation and facilities. Again, this can be important.

A time line.

This looks at how the property has developed and been altered and amended over the years since the original construction date. We would add we find the time line very useful in bringing out facts and information that wouldn't otherwise come to light.


This is about four to five pages in length, depending upon what we think is appropriate. We find that the owner filling out details again may bring to light some issues, it certainly focuses the mind of the owner on the property

Our inspection involves a visual inspection

A close up inspection using digital binoculars / cameras (x 16 zoom) and, as the old Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors advert used to say about building surveyors, we use all our senses; sight, hearing, smell, etc. Smell may seem a strange one, but after many years as a surveyor you can literally smell dampness and taste it in the back of your throat!

We also, in the case of dampness, use electronic resistance meters (and we are well aware of the limitations of these before anyone mentions that).

A lot of common sense.

Case in point

In this particular case the checks were established if there was any dampness coming from the top of the property, where we checked to establish whether there was any dampness coming from the bottom of the property or coming through the walls of the property. We also looked at the quality of workmanship that had been carried out and we also have a conclusion, plus what we term a conclusion on reflection, which is giving any further details in the final draft of the report when we have had time to think over the matter and discuss it with everyone, etc.

Many may say that this should be an initial conclusion, but we have found that if we have a conclusion upon reflection then it allows you to develop an idea or change your mind, which makes for a better reading of the report when you understand fully how the surveyor has thought through the problem.

You may find these articles of interest:


How, in our experience, insurance companies deal with cracks in properties

Insurance Claim

Insurance Claim Against Surveyors

Specific Defects Reports


If you truly do want an independent expert opinion from a surveyor with regard to surveys, building surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects report, structural surveys, home buyers reports or any other property matters please contact 0800 298 5424 for a surveyor to give you a call back.

If you have a commercial leasehold or freehold then you may wish to look at our dilapidations website at and for Disputes go to our Disputes Help site .

We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have put is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).

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