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Plumbing Advice needed - Legal

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  1. #1
    Apprentice (new member)
    Join Date
    Mar 2008

    Default Plumbing Advice needed - Legal

    Not sure if this is the right forum, but here goes.....

    Over the last year we have had a couple of blockages in the ensuite of a house we purchased new about 7.5 years ago. Bit of plunging and issue disappears - issue put down to someone being a bit over zealous with the toilet paper.

    On Good Friday, the issue reappeared, with a vengance, complete backup, floor flooded, shower covered literally in you know what.

    Plumber came in (emergency service - you can guess the costs), he tried with a bigger plunger, no luck, finally resorting to the Water Jet. That cleared it.

    Then straight after Easter, backed up again, but thankfully not as severe (e.g. we heard the gurgling sound in the drains early).

    Plumber came out again, jetted the pipes, cleared, and then stuck a camera down, showing roots. He showed outside where he expected the roots to be (based on the location of the camera head).

    Anyhow to bring this to a head, dug down to get to pipes, and found, what was not expected, the pipes to the ensuite, were not correctly joined. We are not talking about a crack here, but two pieces of pipe that were butted together with no glue and no collar. The clay was forming the missing part of the pipe. Naturally this has been leaking water (plus whatever else), and the roots have headed for this gap in the pipe.

    The questions I have are
    1) Whether someone else has been through this???
    2) I know warranty runs out at 7 years, but this appears to be negligence, not just a problem that occurred due to a contact glue that has eroded, or a shift in soil.
    2) Do I have any legal recourse, again due to negligence??? Isn't this covered under the many inspections that take place when the place is being built

    The place was built by a well known name. I am already out of pocket by $1200, if I hadn't dug the hole myself, I would have been up for another $3000 (actual written quotes). I read somewhere that while warranty only covers 7 years, you have upto 10 years to make a claim regarding other issues???

    Any help would be appreciated.....



  2. #2
    Senior Member DavidG's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Conder, ACT


    See a solicitor.
    For the best results I use -

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008


    too often these days, that inspections arent even paid and organised. Not to mention the inspector is only interested in point of connections, the rest if the full onus of the contractor. Have you tried to contact the building company? the sydney water inspector for your area?

  4. #4
    Son of a Handyman jmk89's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Lindfield N.S.W.



    You may be in luck. My recollection is that the limitation period (6 not 7 years) runs from when you should, with reasonable diligence been able to find the damage (or something like that). That would indicate that the time of the first blockage shoud have been when you investigated more thoroughly and the 6 years started then.

    It may well be that you can sue in negligence. Although I am a lawyer, I specialise in corporate matters, so I think that you should go to a solicitor who does building claims and give him or her all the facts. BTW I don't think it is the kind of claim my firm does....

    Perhaps you shoudl start with a polite but firm letter to the builder from you. If they agree to cover the cost of rectification then or at least a decent % of it, that may be a better result than litigation. (BTW if you get a "piss off" response, then maybe you should use the Current Affair/Today Tonight threat before going to court....)

    Good luck


    When a thing's done, it's done, and if it's not done right, do it differently next time - Arthur Ransome

  5. #5
    Mr Sexy Beast dazzler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Northern Rivers NSW


    Out of pocket $1200 forget a solicitor, you are just adding to the pain.

    Go and meet with the owner/manager of the company. Tell them what has happened in person. Show them the photos you took of the problem. Tell them that you are happy with the house other than this and you dont want this to prevent building with them again.

    Dont get angry, just voice your concern and request reinbursement of your out of pocket costs.

    If they say no you could do one of two things IMO

    1. Move on, life is short
    2. List the matter before the small claims court yourself. This normally does not cost you and you dont need a solicitor.

    good luck
    I just love sheepies!

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2007


    I agree with dazzler. I was friends with a lawyer some years ago, he worked for a firm that acted for a well known builder. He mentioned one day that the builder defended every claim of negligence right or wrong simply to keep their name clean. The builder knew his stuff and this sort of thing didn't come along every week but at the end of the day you're only as good as the person you employ/contract

  7. #7
    Golden Member GraemeCook's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    At $250 per hour it won't take long for any legal bills to exceed your plumbing costs.

    As you have now fixed the problem and probably destroyed the evidence of negligence then you may have a very difficult time proving your case to the satisfaction of a court.

    I suggest that you follow Dazzler and Familyguy's advice - try a super nice reasoned approach to the builder and you might get lucky. Otherwise its just another of life's experiences. Cut your losses.

    I'd be wary of publicly accusing the builder of negligence - if you cannot legally prove negligence then you could be guilty of slander, and the builder may be willing to invest considerably in legal costs to protect his reputation.

    Good Luck


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