An Expert Witness’s Role In A Cavity Wall Claim

How an Expert Witness Can Assist in a Cavity Wall Claim

With the cost of energy rising and the impact of climate change, home insulation has become a primary concern. Cavity walls can make homes warmer and more energy efficient. However, incorrectly fitted cavity walls can result in mould, condensation, dampness, poor heat retention, or damage to the walls in many of these homes. In worst-case scenarios, properties become uninhabitable. In cavity wall negligence claims cases, a Building Survey Expert Witness can provide detailed reports to assist the Court in deciding whether negligence occurred and the quantum of damages to award.

What is a cavity wall?

A cavity wall is two separate walls constructed to form a single wall with a space or ‘cavity’ of four to ten centimetres between them. The walls themselves, which are called ‘leaves’ should be at least ten millimetres thick. Metal ties or links connect the two leaves together, No footings are required for a cavity wall. Instead, it is built on a solid concrete base.

What are the advantages of a cavity wall?

Compared to standard walls, cavity walls provide far better insulation. This is due to the space in between the walls being full of air, thus blocking cold air from the outside from transmitting inside.

The cavity between the leaves should also prevent dampness, reduce weight on a building’s foundations, and are cheaper to construct than normal walls.

building survey expert witness

Why are cavity wall negligence claims increasing and what can a building survey expert witness do?

It has come to light in recent years that many cavity walls were installed incorrectly or the pre-assessment process was done inaccurately, thus sparking the need for an building survey expert witness to support new cases.

The types of cavity wall insulation claims include:

  • The home is not suitable for cavity wall insulation – Walls with a cavity of less than 40mm wide or more than 12 metres high are normally unsuitable for cavity wall insulation, as the insulation will not cover the area as easily, and this can result in cold spots.
  • There are cracks in the walls – if there are any cracks in the property’s external walls, rainwater will penetrate and cause damp inside the home. This is more likely to occur in older properties.
  • Ventilation is restricted – the installer must ensure adequate ventilation is fitted, otherwise, condensation can build up and result in damp and mould.
    Incorrect installation – homeowners should always have their home checked by a surveyor before installing cavity walls to ensure their property is suitable for the work. When installing cavity walls, installers must use the correct type of insulation for the property to ensure cold-bridging (where inadequate or uneven work results in cold spots in the wall).
  • The installation of cavity walls damages the property – this is especially common with bead cavity wall installations, as over-bonded beads can result in cracks in the wall, leading to water seeping into the property.

Not only can negligent installation of cavity walls harm human health, but it can also significantly devalue a property.

Because problems with cavity walls can take several years to come to light, the Court must first examine issues concerning limitation. Most claims are brought for breach of contract and/or negligence; therefore, under the Limitation Act 1980, legal action must commence within six years. Time will run from the date the cavity wall was erected.

How can a Building Survey Expert Witness assist with cavity wall-related claims?

In cavity wall-related cases, expert witnesses assist the Court by providing technical evidence about the extent and cause of the incorrectly installed cavity wall. They will assess the reasons why the wall has failed, prepare a report describing their findings, and provide expert opinions based on their analysis. Their evidence can strengthen the Claimant’s case by providing an authoritative and credible evaluation of the construction of the cavity wall and the long-term implications of its faults. Expert witnesses can also give testimony in Court, presenting their findings and opinions to support the Claimant’s arguments.

In addition, a building survey expert witness can tell the Court the actions required to properly repair the cavity wall so the property meets the required standards. This will ensure that if the Court orders repairs to be made, the Claimant has the information they need make sure those standards are complied with.

How can Expert Court Reports Ltd help?

Expert evidence is crucial in adding weight to a Claimant’s cavity wall claim. At Expert Court Reports, our Building Survey Expert Witnesses, Mr Iftkhar Ahamed and Mr Aftar Hussain can deliver timely, rigorous, evidence-based assessments to Courts and Tribunals. They can also help the Claimant’s Solicitor understand the technical issues surrounding their client’s claim.