Professional Fees in Subsidence Insurance Claims


Architects, surveyors and consulting engineers fees incurred in reinstating subsidence damage are usually insured under the subsidence insurance policy wordings. The amount of fees being limited to the appropriate professional scale (if any);  株式会社西川 地盤沈下 the cover for fees is contained within the sum insured. Reasonable costs incurred in determining the cause of subsidence are normally regarded as part of the reinstatement costs, assuming that the damage is established as having been caused by subsidence, landslip or ground heave. Consequently the cost of trial holes, or in more exceptional cases, a site investigation, will be claimable under a home insurance policy if the damage is related to the operation of an insured peril, whereas it will be the sole responsibility of the building owner in any other case.

Problems can arise in relation to overlapping of professional fees. If, for example, a surveyor or an architect is appointed to deal with the repair of serious subsidence damage, an engineer is frequently appointed to advise on underpinning. The engineer investigates the existing foundations, prepares a scheme including drawings for underpinning, often invites specialists’ tenders for this work and then supervises the underpinning.


In a contract with which Mr Robbucka was concerned, the total contract sum was some £10, 000, of which £8, 000 was expended on underpinning. In cases such as this, it is, in Mr Robbucka’s submission, inequitable for a surveyor or architect to seek to charge the full professional scale fee on all the works, as if the consulting engineer had not been employed, in addition to the engineer’s charges. If both parties charge full-scale fees, the total fees in relation to underpinning can approach 25% of the cost of the works, which is high. If the surveyor or architect does not perform the full duties specified in the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) scales of professional charges, they are clearly not entitled to the full percentage scale fee.

The problem is usually overcome by the surveyor or architect accepting a lower percentage charge, say 3-5% for co-ordinating the underpinning works dealt with by the engineer; the normal surveyor’s or architect’s fee is then charged on other works associated with the repair of the superstructure.

Professional fees are only payable under a subsidence home insurance policy when the building damage is reinstated; therefore if an owner decides not to repair his house, he will not be entitled to claim any fees under his policy.

A new feature has been the developing practice of insurers in funding initial investigations, usually by an appointed loss adjuster with engineering expertise. If a bona fide claim is established, the loss adjuster frequently prepares a scheme for repairs and is involved in contract management during the progress of the works. The subsidence home insurance policy wording remains unchanged and the insured remains entitled to appoint his/her own professional representative and to recover fees necessarily incurred in reinstating damage.

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