Q&A - Surveyor we engaged failed to pick up defects on house we purchased. What should we do?

Q:    Despite asking for our house purchase to be rushed through to take advantage of the COVID stamp duty holiday, we took the time to get a full structural survey done as we were cash buyers with no lender’s survey being done. Now we are in the property and a builder engaged to do some alterations has found several defects the surveyor should have picked up. Among these is a manhole that has been concreted over, severe damp in two ground floor rooms, rot to a couple of roof joists and a ‘missing’ soil vent pipe. How should we go about trying to get some compensation from the surveyor, who we were told was RICS qualified?

A:     The surveyor appears to have been negligent in the duty of care he had to you. If the surveyor was employed by a firm, you should in the first instance ask for a copy of their complaints procedure and make a formal complaint in line with what is laid out. If the surveyor was freelance, you can go through the RICS arbitration scheme, but be aware that this is effectively a ‘self-regulating’ system. Before making any moves at all, ask your builder for a written report of his findings and photographs to back up the defects that the surveyor failed to include in his report. Evidence of negligence is vital to your success in gaining compensation.

You should however take heart from the fact that most claims against surveyors are settled by their insurers before any case gets to court, because of the cost of litigation. The amount of compensation you might expect is the difference between what you paid for the property and its value had the defects been known about. Further, the individual surveyor or firm of surveyors will probably be keen to preserve their reputation, so a letter from a solicitor, accompanied by evidence, may be sufficient to gain you recompense.

Article March 2021

This question has been answered by James Denton, a Solicitor with GHP Legal.  If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients.  In accordance with government guidelines, most of our lawyers are currently working remotely which means you may not now receive a response as promptly as you may expect. Please kindly bear with us and we will respond as soon as we are able.

Where possible, we ask that you communicate with us by phone or email. If you have a new enquiry, please use the ‘Contact us’ form on the website or call Oswestry 01691 659194 or Wrexham 01978 291456. As a firm, you will appreciate that we are still extremely busy, and whilst our colleagues are well equipped to work remotely, due to current circumstances work may be interrupted – however cases are still ongoing and will be prioritised by urgency and need. Stay safe and thank you for your support.

James Denton

James Denton


Solicitor in our Civil Litigation team in the Oswestry and Wrexham offices.