This was an appeal from the judgement of JJH Armitage QC against one part of Carr’s counterclaim regarding the roof. CGA Brown Ltd was the builder who carried out works for the defendants (Carr) at their house in Rochdale in 2003. Carr was awarded an on-account balance judgement in their favour for £224.29 plus costs.

CGA agreed to do the work shown on the drawings of the roof prepared by Carr’s architect for the purposes of obtaining building regulation approval. The work included an extension to add two dormer windows to the existing dormer windows set into the sloping part of the roof, and a corresponding extension to the flat roof constructed above these windows. Expert opinion was that the drawings did not provided a very detailed level of information and the annotations provided left a lot of assumptions as to interpretation and decisions on the actual intention.

An annotation stated that the new flat roof was “to align through with the existing arrangement”. Because the actual roof slopes were different to those shown on the drawings, following this instruction meant that the falls on the new roof were unsatisfactory. By the time CGA discovered this problem, it had completed work in accordance with the drawings, and had of its own initiative made a cold joint between the felt covering the existing roof and the felt which they laid to cover the new roof. This joint was later condemned by the expert.

After discovery of the problem, CGA had proposed a solution which involved constructing a slightly pitched roof above the flat roof. Although Carr accepted CGA’s quotation for this modification, it was not carried out. While Carr was waiting for this work to be done, the roof began to leak very badly. Carr called another contractor who carried out an emergency repair and then later re-felted the whole of the flat roof.

The judge held that CGA was liable for the whole of the re-felting works as CGA should have spotted the problem with the drawings and advised Carr of it before they created a roof that was vulnerable to leakage because of the inadequacy of the joint that CGA decided to make.

1 Should Carr be allowed to succeed in the claim that CGA should have spotted the problem with the drawings as this was not pleaded?

2 Should the costs of the re-felting should been awarded as CGA argued:

2.1 it was double recovery; and

2.2 it involved giving Carr a better roof than they had contracted for.