Who fixes the problem when the builder is no longer around?

Article by Noel Larkin Published in Irish Times, Property Clinic Section, Dated 9th April 2015

We recently bought a ground- floor apartment from a developer. We soon discovered rainwater was leaking into the livingroom from the patio door and that there was a draft. The builder reset the doors and used a sealant before Christmas, but it didn’t fix the issue.

After lying on the floor, we realised a rubber trim was missing from one of the doors, creating a gap allowing the rain and wind to come in. We tried to get a replacement seal but have been told it is unique to the door supplier. The builder promised to repair it but we are still waiting.

We have been told the door supplier has gone out of business. In the meantime, our floor is being damaged.

We don’t believe this is covered by Homebond, so what are our options? Replacing the doors and claiming the cost from the builder?

A The legacy of the previously uncontrolled building industry and resultant leaks, drafts, damp patches and defects are the bane of many people’s lives. The fact that there appears to be no recourse to anyone, despite insurance bonds and guarantee schemes, only adds to the misery for many hard-pressed home owners, many of whom bought at the top of the market.

This problem will get worse unless you mitigate your loss. With building defects and particularly water penetration, the old proverb of a stitch in time saves nine rings true. You need to act fast in this case as failure to do so will lead to more pronounced damage and possibly loss of your floor coverings.

It appears to me that you will be unable to compel the builder to act quickly and you will be unlikely to recover any meaningful costs from him. The cost of pursuing him would be considerably more than the actual cost of repair. You would also need a detailed report on the doors to start this process.

Full replacement of the doors sounds extreme. The gap you mention appears to exist on one door leaf only. It appears that a proprietary seal or gasket is missing from the door. The chances of obtaining a replacement are remote, as the manufacturer is gone out of business.

You should employ a tradesperson to carry out a localised repair at the base of the door in question. A compressible illmod tape or similar should be inserted on to the bottom threshold frame. This should seal the gap when the doors are closed.

These adhesive tapes are used in window and door installations where a small gap exists in the joints between elements and water, and draft-proofing is required.

This should prevent drafts and ingress of wind-driven rain. The tape may need to be replaced more regularly than a proprietary gasket, but it should offer an immediate, albeit temporary solution.

The cost of this type of repair should not be significant and should prevent more substantial damage and cost. You can then continue to follow up with the developer as he may have “spares” for the door system in question. Noel Larkin is a chartered building surveyor and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) Building Surveying Professional Group