Contractor brings High Court writ saying WSP failed to identify electrical defects in luxury London apartments

Pearce Construction is suing consulting engineers WSP Buildings for £2.5m in a dispute over defective electrical work on 118 luxury apartments in central London.

Pearce accuses WSP of failing to realise that electrical work carried out by subcontractor IBS on the development at Shad Thames on the south side of Tower Bridge contained many defects.

The writ says the overall state of the electrical installations at the properties, part of which was a warehouse conversion, was dangerous and the best solution was to rewire it all.

Pearce claims that WSP should have appreciated the defects and scrutinised the works more closely. It also claims that WSP breached its terms of engagement by failing to use the reasonable care and skill demanded of a competent consultant.

The faults were discovered in April 2000 after a flood in one of the buildings, which meant earlier construction work had to be redone by Reeskail, a subcontractor engaged by Pearce after IBS went into receivership in January of that year.

In its report about the electrical work Reeskail found a number of defects including the use of plastic connector blocks, undersized wiring conductors, inadequate protection of cables and cables that had been damaged by construction work.

The report stated: “Generally the standard of workmanship throughout the areas inspected was poor, and the standard of the installations unsatisfactory.

Generally the standard of workmanship was poor and the installations unsatisfactory

Reeskail report on electrical works

“Acceptable cable routes were not adhered to. Little effort has been made to provide mechanical protection for the cables.”

The High Court writ issued by Pearce states that in 1999 WSP had inspected some of IBS’s work and identified snagging but made no reference to the defects later identified by Reeskail.

Pearce claims remedial work costs of £1,564,236.94 and other costs amounting to £949,347.08, plus interest.

The scheme, which was developed by Nicholson Estates, part of the Crest Nicholson Group, and designed by architect BUJ, involved the refurbishment of a number of listed warehouses and new-build construction at Butlers, Grinders and Operators Wharfs.

Pearce’s contract sum for the works was about £11.5m and the subcontract for electrical, mechanical, public health services and associated works was awarded to IBS for £1.5m.

Neither Pearce nor WSP was prepared to comment on the dispute.