Q A survey of my property by the prospective buyers has thrown up a problem with coping stones on the back extension. The house was refurbished before I bought it three years ago and I actually had two surveys done, one before the work was carried out and one after. I really think that my surveyor should have noticed this problem. Is there a time limit whereby I can make a claim on the survey I had? What should I do?
M Kerr, by email
A You usually have around three years to act. You should contact the surveyor and ask for a copy of his Complaints Handling Procedure, which he will have if he is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), to see if you have a case. The surveyor will keep copies of surveys carried out on file for six years. Once you have submitted your complaint, the surveyor will reply. You may find it hard to prove negligence at the time of survey, as the defect could have appeared later. The final route would be arbitration. The procedure could take months, which is not going to help your sale. You can get a copy of RICS's leaflet on complaints by phoning 0870-333 1600.
Q I have recently moved to a house that needs building work. What is your view on paying a builder cash to get a better deal?
Don Jackson, by email
A Most reliable builders would not work for cash, in theory, as they are businesses registered for VAT. You are highly unlikely to be given a written quote for any of the work and you will most certainly not be given any guarantees for the work or certificates of installation for gas or electrical appliances. The builder may also be reluctant to apply for building regulations on your behalf, which could cause problems with selling the house later. You would also have to come to an arrangement over acknowledging what has been paid and when. You should get three quotes and that should give you a good indication of what is a fair price. Everyone struggles to find a good builder and they are best found through personal recommendation. You may find that by paying a little less you end up losing a lot more.
Q I would like to replace the windows on my Edwardian house. We have had two quotes, one for traditional wooden frames and one for uPVC in almost an exact copy. Would people be put off buying a house with the uPVC version?
J Uren, by email
A If you live in a Conservation Area you should consult the local council. If not, you should consider what neighbouring properties have done and perhaps take advice from a local estate agent on how it would affect the price of the property. You should also weigh up the repainting costs of wooden frames.
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