We had a new conservatory installed last year and have now discovered a bat infestation. It seems that they have been entering under a loose roofing tile, but the builder claims he is not responsible. What can we do?
Legally, the builder has an obligation to carry out the installation of the conservatory with reasonable care and skill. So, if you have a written contract with him, you should consider its conditions. If he has not complied with his obligations, then he may be in breach of contract.
But while you would be entitled to recover the cost of repairing any defects, try to reach an amicable solution before taking legal action.
You may also have to obtain an expert’s report to show that the bat infestation is a result of the builder’s faulty workmanship. If the report proves the builder is at fault, then ask him to carry out the necessary remedial work.
The presence of bats is a complicated matter, which must be resolved before any work is carried out to your conservatory. Bats and their roosts are protected under The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is an offence to damage, destroy or obstruct access to any place used by a bat for shelter. This is the case even if the bats are not present. It is also an offence to intentionally kill, cause injury to, handle, possess, sell or buy a bat.
Natural England (naturalengland.org.uk) offers free advice on undertaking building works near bats. A licensed bat inspector will carry out a site survey to assess the situation and provide advice on how to proceed.
If a solution can be agreed, then the work should be undertaken carefully. If no agreement can be reached, and you decide to take legal action, ask a solicitor to discuss your options.