Woman given wrong advice by council over extension will get back nearly £4,000

PUBLISHED: 06:00 07 September 2019 | UPDATED: 08:37 11 September 2019

Great Yarmouth Borough Council was ordered to pay nearly £4,000 to a woman who installed an 'unnecessary' foundation on the advice of one of its officers. Picture: James Bass

Great Yarmouth Borough Council was ordered to pay nearly £4,000 to a woman who installed an 'unnecessary' foundation on the advice of one of its officers. Picture: James Bass

(C) Archant Norfolk 2013

A woman who spent almost £4,000 on an “unnecessary” foundation for an extension to her home because of the wrong advice from a council officer has had an apology - and the money back.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council was told to say sorry and reimburse the woman after she made a complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

The woman, referred to as Mrs X in the ombudsman's report, went to the borough council in February 2018 seeking building regulation approval for a single-storey extension she had planning permission for.

A building control surveyor considered her application and discussed it with the building control manager, before contacting Mrs X's agent and saying ground conditions in her road were "notoriously bad".

The officer said that an specially designed raft foundation - a reinforced concrete slab to spread the extension's load - would be "more appropriate in this scenario".

The council rejected the building plans in April last year and Mrs X paid £3,860 for the raft foundation and extra work.

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A council officer inspected the extension a month later and said the ground where it was being put in appeared to already have "good load bearing capabilities".

Mrs X was unhappy that she had unnecessarily incurred extra cost and complained to the council, which acknowledged the initial officer's phrasing that a raft "shall be more appropriate" could have been better expressed as "may" be more appropriate.

But they said it was advice, based on experience in the area and not a formal requirement.

However, Mrs X complained to the ombudsman, who said the initial officer's comments were "direct and unambiguous" and his comments were not caveated in any way.

The ombudsman said: "Mrs X has followed the council's instructions and incurred the unnecessary expense of a raft foundation.

"The council's requirement that Mrs X build her extension with raft foundations even though the precise ground conditions were unknown amounts to fault causing an injustice."

The council was told to apologise and reimburse the £3,860, which a spokesman said had been done.

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