tmd was instructed by solicitors on behalf of insurers in respect of the almost total loss of three town centre, terraced buildings, each comprising retail ground floor and first floor storage/ancillary accommodation and constructed some sixteen years earlier.

The central building had been the source of the fire which had rapidly spread to the two adjacent buildings. The adequacy of the fire separation was in question and of particular concern was the fact that the centre building had recently been the subject of a pre-acquisition survey by a local firm of chartered surveyors.

Following a review of documents held by the local authority, photographs of the building during the fire and a detailed inspection of the damaged buildings, we were able to establish that the detailing of the flat roofed back additions was inadequate and allowed the passage of flame and smoke between the three buildings. We were also able to confirm whether or not this would not have been readily apparent during a structural survey.

As these areas had been enclosed and the defect would not have been apparent without significant opening up of the structure we considered that the pre-acquisition survey had not been negligent, as at the time of the surveyor’s inspection, the defect would not have been apparent and there was no “trail” suggesting that there should be a more invasive examination of the concealed structure.