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Advice on actions - Damage by construction vibration to personal property

Advice on actions - Damage by construction vibration to personal property

Old Apr 12th 2019, 8:45 pm
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Default Advice on actions - Damage by construction vibration to personal property

Hello everyone,
I have been reading your forum's discussions for some time and it looks that I would need some advise and experts' opinion on the situation we are in right now.
We live in our own apartment in Budapest enjoying our semi-retirement time.
After returning from one of our trips within Europe, we found out that builders of building next to our apartment building managed to cause substantial damage to one of the walls in our bedroom to the extend that building blocks of the wall moved inside of the room for few cm.

Damages are quite severe. Not sure if anyone had any experiences like this, but would like to hear what you think should be our actions in such situation in addition to contacting builders who caused such damage. We moved to Hungary from North America and are not quite familiar with rules and laws of how people deal with situations of damages to personal real estate property caused by vibration of building construction. Would appreciate you sharing your knowledge and expertise
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Old Apr 12th 2019, 8:48 pm
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Default Re: Advice on actions - Damage by construction vibration to personal property

Have you spoken to your Common Representative?
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Old Apr 12th 2019, 8:52 pm
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Default Re: Advice on actions - Damage by construction vibration to personal property

Yes we notified them and builders' representatives visited us to review damages. This room is not livable now due to our safety concern. Builders admit that these damages were caused by their actions. However, we would like to know how people deal with such situations from various aspects
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Old Apr 12th 2019, 9:00 pm
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Default Re: Advice on actions - Damage by construction vibration to personal property

Originally Posted by dream2931
Yes we notified them and builders' representatives visited us to review damages. This room is not livable now due to our safety concern. Builders admit that these damages were caused by their actions. However, we would like to know how people deal with such situations from various aspects
Ok, so not sure exactly what you now mean by "deal with". The exterior walls belong to the "house" and the "house" via the CR must action remedial works & any compensation that may be appropriate.
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Old Apr 13th 2019, 12:55 am
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Default Re: Advice on actions - Damage by construction vibration to personal property

How do you define substantial damage? IMO a couple of blocks moved and cracked plaster would not be 'substantial' however 1m2 of moved blocks is getting there. Whilst it is a dividing wall between 2 flats, is the wall structural in which case any works done should have had sign off (by a structural engineer) if there was works involving the structure. If the wall was being re plastered then IMO this would not need sign off. Do you know what works were being done to occasion the damage?

How good is your Hungarian? It will be important that there is no misunderstanding. First I would say that everything has to be in writing, if you have a meeting then follow this up with written minutes sent registered recorded delivery. Take photos of the damage for you records. If it is more than a couple of bricks moved and cracked plaster then ask the Common Representative to get an independent assessment. If you are asked to pay for this you are unlikely to be able to recover this cost.

The builders (unless it is a very large firm) are unlikely to have insurance but it is probably worth asking them. Also check the insurance policy for the building and ask to see the insurance policy for the neighbouring building as there is often 3rd party insurance that may cover this.

Even if the builders seem friendly saying 'don't worry - we will be around next week to fix it' you can not afford to let the repair slip even a day from when they say. There is a tendency here to let such things drag on and from the builders point of view it is easier to ignore phone calls and texts than to spend the time and money resolving the issue.

The law and court system here is not very good and cases can take years - even for an apparently simple case and you rarely get costs. Legally you will only be entitled to repairs to put the wall back into the same situation as before the damage e.g any redecorating will only be for the repaired area or the whole wall if you are lucky, but not the whole room - even if the paint doesn't match. If you have to spend time out in a hotel then you will have to prove that this was unavoidable and I expect you will have a fight on your hands to recover the costs. There will be no chance to get damages for disturbance or loss of comfort from a court - they just don't award such things.

This might sound pessimistic but this has been my experience here (including the court system) but here's hoping the builders accept their liability and do the repairs quickly and without chasing.
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Old Apr 13th 2019, 2:07 am
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Default Re: Advice on actions - Damage by construction vibration to personal property

If you are asked to pay for this you are unlikely to be able to recover this cost.
I have to disagree with that Peter. The house should pay & at least attempt to recover the cost from the third party. That is my experience.
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Old Apr 13th 2019, 7:18 am
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Default Re: Advice on actions - Damage by construction vibration to personal property

Originally Posted by Expatrick
Ok, so not sure exactly what you now mean by "deal with". The exterior walls belong to the "house" and the "house" via the CR must action remedial works & any compensation that may be appropriate.
Thank you for your reply, Expatrick. We indeed contacted our house management company and construction company, but it looks that house kind of left everything to construction company building house next to ours to deal with us. Not sure if we should reach out to actual owners of building being built next to ours...
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Old Apr 13th 2019, 7:22 am
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Default Re: Advice on actions - Damage by construction vibration to personal property

Originally Posted by dream2931
Thank you for your reply, Expatrick. We indeed contacted our house management company and construction company, but it looks that house kind of left everything to construction company building house next to ours to deal with us. Not sure if we should reach out to actual owners of building being built next to ours...
Personally I would not accept that situation. The CR should take responsibility for progressing this on behalf of not just you, but the House as a whole. How well do you know your neighbours? Can you elicit their support? BTW how many apartments in your block?
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Old Apr 13th 2019, 7:33 am
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Default Re: Advice on actions - Damage by construction vibration to personal property

Originally Posted by Peter_in_Hungary
How do you define substantial damage? IMO a couple of blocks moved and cracked plaster would not be 'substantial' however 1m2 of moved blocks is getting there. Whilst it is a dividing wall between 2 flats, is the wall structural in which case any works done should have had sign off (by a structural engineer) if there was works involving the structure. If the wall was being re plastered then IMO this would not need sign off. Do you know what works were being done to occasion the damage?

How good is your Hungarian? It will be important that there is no misunderstanding. First I would say that everything has to be in writing, if you have a meeting then follow this up with written minutes sent registered recorded delivery. Take photos of the damage for you records. If it is more than a couple of bricks moved and cracked plaster then ask the Common Representative to get an independent assessment. If you are asked to pay for this you are unlikely to be able to recover this cost.

The builders (unless it is a very large firm) are unlikely to have insurance but it is probably worth asking them. Also check the insurance policy for the building and ask to see the insurance policy for the neighbouring building as there is often 3rd party insurance that may cover this.

Even if the builders seem friendly saying 'don't worry - we will be around next week to fix it' you can not afford to let the repair slip even a day from when they say. There is a tendency here to let such things drag on and from the builders point of view it is easier to ignore phone calls and texts than to spend the time and money resolving the issue.

The law and court system here is not very good and cases can take years - even for an apparently simple case and you rarely get costs. Legally you will only be entitled to repairs to put the wall back into the same situation as before the damage e.g any redecorating will only be for the repaired area or the whole wall if you are lucky, but not the whole room - even if the paint doesn't match. If you have to spend time out in a hotel then you will have to prove that this was unavoidable and I expect you will have a fight on your hands to recover the costs. There will be no chance to get damages for disturbance or loss of comfort from a court - they just don't award such things.

This might sound pessimistic but this has been my experience here (including the court system) but here's hoping the builders accept their liability and do the repairs quickly and without chasing.
Thank you for your message, Peter. I noticed from reading this forum that you always have some valuable comments for people to consider.
Well, we do believe that damage to the wall is substantial, it is not just movement of few blocks. This is exterior wall of our building and cracks went all over it. Wall even moved inside for few cm.
Challenge for us is to figure out proper way of dealing with it, getting wall repaired but it should be done according to construction standards, solid and safe. Builders' company brought in structural engineer to do assessment (not sure if we should request for independent one). We just received assessment letter from that engineer basically stating that during construction of exterior concrete wall of new building blocks in the wall of our building have been moved. He suggested 2 solutions to builders -
1. rebuild our wall leaving 3 lower rows of blocks as is, plastering and painting
2. retaining the deformed blocks, gluing, securing and building over it insulated prefabricated masonry, gelling and painting
This whole situation of course creating for us a lot of inconvenience and concern. Our Hungarian is "work in progress"
This room is not livable, all furniture was moved to another one and now we could not use that second room either. A lot of hassle and we even do not know how long it all will be dragged..
Reading your message, we are thinking about way which will actually give us results in the reasonable time frame...
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Old Apr 13th 2019, 7:37 am
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Default Re: Advice on actions - Damage by construction vibration to personal property

Originally Posted by Expatrick
Personally I would not accept that situation. The CR should take responsibility for progressing this on behalf of not just you, but the House as a whole. How well do you know your neighbours? Can you elicit their support? BTW how many apartments in your block?
So you recommend to contact our house rep and management company to deal with it on our behalf? We do not know our neighbours and barely see them. Our apartment building has over 70 apartments
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Old Apr 13th 2019, 7:40 am
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Default Re: Advice on actions - Damage by construction vibration to personal property

Originally Posted by dream2931
So you recommend to contact our house rep and management company to deal with it on our behalf? We do not know our neighbours and barely see them. Our apartment building has over 70 apartments
Absolutely! Press the CR!

Ok, with 70 owners it will be difficult to mobilise sufficient neighbours to compel the CR but, frankly, that should not be necessary anyway.
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Old Apr 13th 2019, 7:40 am
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Default Re: Advice on actions - Damage by construction vibration to personal property

Just to give you some idea about extend of damages...



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Old Apr 13th 2019, 7:44 am
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Default Re: Advice on actions - Damage by construction vibration to personal property

Originally Posted by dream2931
Just to give you some idea about extend of damages...



You certainly have cause for concern!

This is an external wall, so it is the communal property of the House and, as I say, the CR is obliged to resolve this issue.
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Old Apr 13th 2019, 7:56 pm
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Default Re: Advice on actions - Damage by construction vibration to personal property

I would agree with Expatrick the CR should be resolving this problem. I also think that the CR ought to be reporting this event to the local council building authority.

Is the building where the work was being done companion with your block in that they have the same infrastructure and the same CR ?

Whilst Expatrick stated ' The house should pay & at least attempt to recover the cost from the third party.' with which I would agree, often the CR is an employee of the management company and as such will be charged with minimizing expenditure and so may ask you to pay for the independent assessment - and if you do I would maintain my statement that you are unlikely to be able to recover your costs.

I would suggest an independent structural engineers (SE) report as being the only way to get an unbiased opinion. Whilst SEs are part of a professional body and as such have standards and liabilities the fact that 'he who pays the piper'............ can't be over looked. But the CR should sort this out. Was the damage due to bad building practice or an unforeseeable event - determination of which could define where the liability falls.

Because it is a block of flats I would suggest that any repairs need approval because it will be a structural repair and as such will need to have building regs approval and I would suggest done under the supervision of an SE

Getting other residents on side will be difficult - until the damage affects their flats.....fact of life I'm afraid. Are the adjacent flats affected?

Structural works - especially to flats - will need approval by an SE and sign off by the building authority, was this done and were the methods laid down followed? If the SE laid down work methods and the damage occurred whilst following the methods then the SE may have liability. And SEs have professional liability insurance.

If you do building works that need planning and building regs. consent then there has to be a 'responsible person' (epités felelős) appointed who is supposed to over see the works to ensure that the works are carried out to standard. (UK equivalent of the building inspector). This professional is paid for by the person doing the works and usually recommended by the building firm and such professionals usually only work with firms they know because they don't want the liability from firms they don't trust. Liability may also attach here. Building works involving consents also have to keep an official diary of the work which now I believe has to be filled in on line and would be available for inspection by the authorities. Was this 'responsible person' the one who recommended the remedial works? If so he will be biased towards the building firm and will be wanting to minimize the repair costs and (his) liability.

I hope your CR is sympathetic and stepping up to this job.
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Old Apr 13th 2019, 8:57 pm
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Default Re: Advice on actions - Damage by construction vibration to personal property

OP - do you have a copy of the house constitution (Articles of Association) - & if so have you had it translated?
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