Number 4 in a series of articles by Stephen Fox of Ralli Solicitors LLP, relating to cavity wall insulation and the problems connected with it:-
There has been a lot of speculation in relation to the appalling and very very sad events which occurred at the Grenfell Tower in London. May we add our sincere condolences to all concerned who have lost family loved ones and friends. We cannot even begin to appreciate the pain and frustration which they are going through.
We now await sight of the findings of a formal enquiry but we have noted that speculation surrounds the cavity wall insulation on this and other tower block buildings.
Certain claims management companies have been contacting householders currently engaged in trying to make claims either under their CIGA policy of guarantee or through the courts. The claims are based on, poor workmanship and wholly unsuitable cavity wall insulation fitted to their homes. In our earlier bulletins we have discussed issues relating to these claims but here we will look briefly at claims relating to the use of potentially unsuitable fillers which may emit toxic fumes if there is a house fire.
Clearly nobody should be expected to go to bed at night knowing that they and their family are at an increased risk should a fire occur. That alone should be a good enough reason to be able to insist that cavity wall insulation is extracted and replaced to a high standard if the particular filling can be shown to contain the risk of toxic fumes. Blown fibre fillings seem to be under the spotlight at the moment but we expect that other types will also be investigated. The cost of extraction would probably be between £600 and £800 nowadays and additionally there may be a claim for inconvenience and making good the interior and exterior wall. Many will appreciate already that an application to CIGA does not meet with a happy and swift remedy.
But what apart from the claims mentioned above actually flows from using the wrong insulation.
The damp and mould causing so much misery would not naturally follow from the fact that there is an Increased risk because of fumes. These claims relate to the use of any filler which allows damp to travel. Cavity wall insulation may be unsuitable anyway for properties on high ground exposed to winds and driving rain whatever the material. A claim for new windows and the repairing of joists would similarly not be affected by reason of the material being likely to give off toxic fumes if ignited. In other words even if you can prove that the filing was inappropriate and is dangerous and even if a company were to be prosecuted under the Health and Safety Regulations that will not necessarily provide the elusive remedy to the misery which so many have been suffering for so long.
The cost of bringing legal proceedings might exceed the net monies which are recovered. Funders are reluctant to take on this kind of litigation because the numbers are too low for them and Just to issue the court can take up to 5% of the headline figure of your claim. Also there is a risk of your having to pay one or two other parties costs because you have been unable to prove that they are liable and responsible to compensate you.
The purpose of this blog is certainly not to spread doom and gloom but rather to warn the public against some of the claims being made by, cold callers and their associates in order to ‘sign you up’ or take a payment from you. It is not just about what remedy you can pursue but rather about the practicality and net results of what you choose to do if anything. Look at the net benefit and consider who is going to pay out for you to proceed or to meet any adverse costs order made against you.
It is high time that the Government stopped ducking the issues and addressed the problems of CWI with practical help for those affected.