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Old 19.10.2017, 21:54
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Warranty/legal rights on new build chalet

Has any member here had experience with serious defects in a new build chalet? If you have, whilst obviously I wish you hadn't, could you offer any help, or indeed anyone else who has some knowledge to share here.

There is a long story behind this ...... it involves a 4 storey ski in/out chalet purchased about 10 years ago by my brother and sister in law. They don't live in it, the family use it for holidays and skiing, with myself and my husband probably the most frequent visitors. The patio to the side of the main living floor has shown signs of movement over the years and the builder was called back once, who did some remedial work but said it was just settlement. Anyway, the patio continued to move a bit but nothing drastic.

Last winter when brother and sister in law arrived after Christmas to ski, they found water ingress in the basement level (which are habitable rooms). Builder and insurance company were called. Despite persistent nagging, they didn't actually turn up to properly inspect until we arrived to ski in early March! by this time water was dripping into a quite a large part of the basement, with black mould everywhere on 2 walls. Whilst we were there the weather turned extremely warm, like really weirdly warm, which triggered a rapid thaw. We were watching the leak, using different bathrooms for e.g. to figure out what might be causing it and it suddenly stopped - at the same time the snow on the roof on that side of the chalet had melted completely. So obviously the problem was the snow melt water and the pipe from the roof. We told the builder and insurance company this and they came back out but said it wasn't the rain pipe it was a bathroom on the floor above the basement.

They dithered some more, came out again and dug some exploratory holes in the laundry room, then they said they would start digging up the previously mentioned bathroom. We said no, returned and demanded a site meeting with experts in attendance with pipe cameras and dye etc. to test this roof down pipe and sure enough this proved the pipe to be cracked outside underground. They agreed but didn't do anything immediately to divert the pipe, we did this ourselves before returning home, which stopped further water coming in.

The insurance company arranged for the pipe to be dug out to inspect it. They have now indicated that they will cover the repairs to the pipe. They have also intimated that they *may* pay for all the interior work, which is considerable. However, they are suggesting that the below ground external walls of the chalet are not properly tanked, and that had they have been, the water would not have penetrated. They further indicate that if they pay up, there will be no future insurance cover for water ingress, which is very worrying. Now, how on earth you remedy the lack of or inadequate tanking for walls partly two storeys under the ground now is totally beyond my comprehension.

Currently seeking an independent expert to give opinion and appoint a Swiss lawyer to see what we can do. I know people will say that we should have got to this point earlier but it is hard when you are living in a different country. We also didn't realise that the insurance company and builder would act in a way (e.g. so slowly) that would actually cause further damage, thinking it would be in their interests to mitigate their liability - i.e. identifying and stopping the leak early.

Anyway, sorry for rambling on. Grateful for any advice.
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Old 20.10.2017, 00:15
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Re: Warranty/legal rights on new build chalet

I would be surprised if the builder accepted any responsibility without serious coercion. According to the SIA Norm 118 (which is the standard for building contracts) they would be off the hook after 5 years...

I would be delighted for you if someone could find a reason why this is not the case.

Good luck!
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Old 20.10.2017, 11:38
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Re: Warranty/legal rights on new build chalet

Code of obligations art. 371.2 on a "Werkvertrag", the contract type concluded on construction/delivery of a certain product:
"The customer's claims in respect of defects in an immovable work against both the contractor and any architect or engineer who rendered services in connection with such work become time-barred five years after completion of the work."
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Old 20.10.2017, 15:30
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Re: Warranty/legal rights on new build chalet

But the defect, well the sinking was reported within the five years and the builders remedial work didn't solve the problem. It's the subsidence that has caused the pipe to crack in the first place. I appreciate that this didn't raise the issue of the lack of adequate tanking, but how is anyone supposed to find that unless an event such as this occurs.

I guess the independent report will detail how and if the tanking issue can be remedied and then we'll know what we are up against.

Thanks for the replies.
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Old 20.10.2017, 15:41
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Re: Warranty/legal rights on new build chalet

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But the defect, well the sinking was reported within the five years and the builders remedial work didn't solve the problem. It's the subsidence that has caused the pipe to crack in the first place. I appreciate that this didn't raise the issue of the lack of adequate tanking, but how is anyone supposed to find that unless an event such as this occurs.

I guess the independent report will detail how and if the tanking issue can be remedied and then we'll know what we are up against.

Thanks for the replies.
Sinking is a problem with the foundation and has nothing to do with tanking, the tanking got reported years after the 5 year period expired.

And besides everything, if you have a property which you cannot visit regularly have a local doing a once a month walkthrough to check on things.
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Old 20.10.2017, 17:56
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Re: Warranty/legal rights on new build chalet

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Sinking is a problem with the foundation and has nothing to do with tanking, the tanking got reported years after the 5 year period expired.

And besides everything, if you have a property which you cannot visit regularly have a local doing a once a month walkthrough to check on things.
The broken pipe seems to have caused most of the sinking, as it washed away the ground under the patio, causing further damage to the pipe. It would appear that this then created a void for the water to collect in and then migrate into the house because the tanking was insufficient to keep it out. I did already accept that the tanking is outside the notice period. Anyway, we just need to find out what is or isn't possible.

The property is maintained regularly by a local chap. The leak inside wasn't evident to him the week before it was found, although it was very small then. He has been invaluable during this whole process.
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