Water leak in 6 week old van what are my options rights for repairing or replacing?

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Aug 2, 2020
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Hi all,
We took the van back today to the dealer (48 hours since damage) and we have given a letter stating all the facts of incident including images of all the lying water around the floor and cupboards.
We also in this have detailed all of our concerns of underlying issues that could possibly be untraceable as not visible from the outside and that we don't feel they eradicate all of these potential problems. It is for this reason we would like to reject the caravan.
After getting to the dealer they sent out the workshop manager and engineer who after we explained our concerns to told us then we shouldn't have bought a caravan if we didn't expect problems! We sharply asked for the director!
The director has said he cannot say weather they can replace it with a new van as his business partner is not there.. As far as a replacement goes for him it is not an option. But will have a discussion and would put together a compensation package along the lines of: fuel costs, two years servicing and we could also claim whatever holiday costs we will loose whilst the van is dried and fixed.

We have had to leave the van with them as they have to repair the van for resale weather we accept it or not. And it is looking like we will have to have to give them the chance to repair to "as new" condition before we can say we reject it down to not knowing full extent of damage or any other conditions that don't comply with CRA . Also failing a successful replacement, time could be a major factor in protecting the wood that has had water contact should we accept the repair.

They are getting back to us on Wednesday with a detail of repair times and full compensation package. However they have said that if it is only flooring that needs replacing in their opinion, and that no cupboards or panels need replacing which they are insisting all look fine and in their experience would not be an issue? They can dry it and will push for returning to us on the 21st august (17days)after. If panels are needed and the availability isn't there it can be months. There is a drawer under the sofa that was holding an inch of water in it they have confirmed that will need replacing but is unlikely it will be there for 21st. They have also said they would replace the seat cushions.

Thanks everyone for all the prompt advice.. it has been very helpful.
I think next step will be insurance advice as we have paid for a "no repair replace for new policy". obviously we wouldn't claim on our insurance but maybe they can be of assistance.

Thanks again
Chris
 
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Mar 14, 2005
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It seems things have moved forward. That is at least progress.

They are talking about a repair and compensation, Don't agree to accept this offer without making it absolutely clear its on the proviso the repair is fully satisfactory to you. Set out some clear performance indicators, such as no visible water staining on any internal wood work, No evidence of swollen wood becasue its been damp, no ripples in the floor coverings etc when the works have been completed. You are entitled to a repair that returns the caravan to the same condition as if the problem had not arisen, and that should be your bench mark.

You have not made it clear to us if you have sought professional legal advice, If you haven't I strongly advise that you do, as if the dealer doesn't play straight with you becasue of the value of the caravan exceeding £10K you can't pursue this claim through the Small Claims Court.

Just in case you aren't already doing this, keep meticulous notes on who you speak to and what is said, when and where. If possible communicate in writing, so there is no possibility of error.
 
Jun 20, 2005
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A step in the right direction Chris.
However replacing an entire caravan floor to brand new condition is a massive major task! See the various videos on how caravans are constructed.
IMO it is now essential to talk to your caravan insurers about the entire matter, copying them in with everything.
Whilst I haven’t seen your policy wording I know mine covers this very eventuality. Your Insurers may well have a liability here and they do need to know what is going on. In fact it is possible their own expert engineers may declare the caravan a constructive total loss and replace it with new. Under the rules of subrogation they will then seek reimbursement from the Dealer without further worry for you. Also it will still be worth seeking advice under the legal expenses section of your policy (if you have it).
If the matter goes to the County Court they will instruct Solicitors to protect your interests.
There is also the factor of “Depreciation in material value” because of the damage and potential subsequent repair. I believe as and when you come to sell the caravan you may have to declare this incident.

Finally if you agree to go down the repair route I would instruct a qualified Caravan Engineer to carry out a pre and post repair survey.
best of luck.
DD
 
Jul 18, 2017
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It seems things have moved forward. That is at least progress.

They are talking about a repair and compensation, Don't agree to accept this offer without making it absolutely clear its on the proviso the repair is fully satisfactory to you. Set out some clear performance indicators, such as no visible water staining on any internal wood work, No evidence of swollen wood becasue its been damp, no ripples in the floor coverings etc when the works have been completed. You are entitled to a repair that returns the caravan to the same condition as if the problem had not arisen, and that should be your bench mark.

You have not made it clear to us if you have sought professional legal advice, If you haven't I strongly advise that you do, as if the dealer doesn't play straight with you becasue of the value of the caravan exceeding £10K you can't pursue this claim through the Small Claims Court.

Just in case you aren't already doing this, keep meticulous notes on who you speak to and what is said, when and where. If possible communicate in writing, so there is no possibility of error.
Good advice and I am wondering if the owner has contacted Which Legal Services for advice and if not why not? The problem with this is that once water gets into the chipboard it could be months before any swelling shows. Good point of keeping notes and I am wondering if the OP has put anything in writing to the dealer. A paper trail is a must. Also if the caravan is on finance, have they contacted the finance company?
BTW from personal experience using the "free" legal advice with an insurance policy creates more problems than it resolves as 9 out of 10 times they are not clued up on CRA 2015 which is the mainstay for any claim such as this.
 
May 7, 2012
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Given that this is a simple burst I doubt there is any need for parts from the manufacturer. This will need nothing more than things the dealer will stock so three weeks looks possible.
I have to agree with those who doubt there is any long term damage. This water was clean and should largely have run out of the caravan almost immediately and the rest should have dried out bearing in mind this is summer. The flooded caravan would be a different matter as the floor would have been thoroughly soaked with possibly contaminated water over the period of the flood and that would have ruined the floor and possibly more and be a health risk so far worse.
 
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Jul 18, 2017
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Given that this is a simple burst I doubt there is any need for parts from the manufacturer. This will need nothing more than things the dealer will stock so three weeks looks possible.
I have to agree with those who doubt there is any long term damage. This water was clean and should largely have run out of the caravan almost immediately and the rest should have dried out bearing in mind this is summer. The flooded caravan would be a different matter as the floor would have been thoroughly soaked with possibly contaminated water over the period of the flood and that would have ruined the floor and possibly more and be a health risk so far worse.
We had a simple burst where pipes behind drawers on a 2016 caravan came apart. Caravan was only 2 weeks old at the time. Carpets had to be replaced, but we were unable to tell at the time if panels had been damaged as it was impossible to reach some areas without stripping out panels. Water can sit between panel and floor join and cannot be removed. We could not get to the dealer for another 3 weeks. I would take it very seriously! As you can see from the pictures it flooded underneath 3 cupboards and also the front bunk. Pictures were taken after we had cleared up most of the water at 10pm. We rejected the caravan a couple months later for other reasons.


Water flooding1.jpgWater flooding2.jpgWater flooding5.jpg
 
Nov 6, 2005
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I'm baffled why so much damage has been done - in between our 1st and 2nd trip in our then new Lunar Clubman, I modified the water system to add an inline filter instead of the Truma unit - one of the joints wasn't secured properly and the caravan was flooded at the start of the 2nd trip - most of the water drained away through the gas drop holes and fixed ventilation holes but the carpets got a good soaking - we just removed the carpets which took a couple of days to dry out and wiped the moisture off the floor "lino".

The only damage was to my DIY reputation.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I'm baffled why so much damage has been done - in between our 1st and 2nd trip in our then new Lunar Clubman, I modified the water system to add an inline filter instead of the Truma unit - one of the joints wasn't secured properly and the caravan was flooded at the start of the 2nd trip - most of the water drained away through the gas drop holes and fixed ventilation holes but the carpets got a good soaking - we just removed the carpets which took a couple of days to dry out and wiped the moisture off the floor "lino".

The only damage was to my DIY reputation.
I tend to agree with Roger L:- From the report we have been given, the water was fresh, and becasue the caravan was in use, the problem would have been discovered very quickly.

I'm pretty sure no one would try to use a caravan whilst loose water was sloshing around. It's far more likely there would be some effort to clear up, and consequently the bulk of the spillage would have probably been cleared within and hour or so.

The pipe work and electrics are issues that can be repaired very well and leave no indication there has ever been a problem, but the unknown is if any of the internal panelling or flooring has been irreversibly affected, I don't believe such a short single exposure to water will cause any serious long term strength issues, but there could be staining.

Obviously this is just conjecture, but its not beyond the realms of reality.

In my opinion the OP is quite right to seek a remedy, but I do wonder if the case justifies a full refund without at least one attempt to repair.

In most circumstances I would trust a good repair more so than the original build, as more care and attention will have been given and thus the same fault is less likely to occur. If you changed to a brand new caravan, who knows what problems that might bring to the new owner so sometimes it's better the devil you know.
 
Jun 20, 2005
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Roger and Prof make fair statements.
My concern will be any water trapped between the floor and Lino. I had the same issue three years ago with a leaking tap. The floor whilst dry and sound is stained black as is part of the wall board underneath the wall covering. Could be off putting for a future px or private buyer?
It will be interesting to see the Dealers repair schedule. I’d like all the lino lifted and everything dried.
A professional pre and post survey by an independent engineer.
Some written guarantee on Latent damage and potential depreciation in future market value.
 
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The pipe work and electrics are issues that can be repaired very well and leave no indication there has ever been a problem, but the unknown is if any of the internal panelling or flooring has been irreversibly affected, I don't believe such a short single exposure to water will cause any serious long term strength issues, but there could be staining.

In my opinion the OP is quite right to seek a remedy, but I do wonder if the case justifies a full refund without at least one attempt to repair.
The issue here is if there has been any irreversible unknown damage due to panels being soaked where they join the flor, it is probably impossible to dry out joins quckly and the issues could manifest themselves 2 - 3 years later. Where does that leave the OP. Could he still claim?
The dealer may only do a cursory visual repair and hope for the best. A lot would depend on the extent of the repair i.e. new floor, panels etc as at that point a replacement caravan should be an option or a full refund. including compensation.
As suggested in a number of posts, the OP should be getting proper legal advice from an organisation experienced in consumer issues.
 
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The issue here is if there has been any irreversible unknown damage due to panels being soaked where they join the flor, it is probably impossible to dry out joins quckly and the issues could manifest themselves 2 - 3 years later. Where does that leave the OP. Could he still claim?
The dealer may only do a cursory visual repair and hope for the best. A lot would depend on the extent of the repair i.e. new floor, panels etc as at that point a replacement caravan should be an option or a full refund. including compensation.
As suggested in a number of posts, the OP should be getting proper legal advice from an organisation experienced in consumer issues.
If in number of years on, damage starts to appear, and it can be shown to relate to an imperfect repair, then the CRA can be used for up to 6 years.

Don't forget the seller has one chance to repair, so it should encourage them to do a good job, rather than doing something that might come back to bite them big time further down the line.

I fully support the OP getting legal advice for the reasons discussed in earlier posts, but I seriously doubt that there are any legal experts that are also fully fledged caravan engineers who would be deemed expert enough to specifically advice on how a flood now might impact on the condition of a caravan a few years hence.
 
Jun 20, 2005
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If in number of years on, damage starts to appear, and it can be shown to relate to an imperfect repair, then the CRA can be used for up to 6 years.

Don't forget the seller has one chance to repair, so it should encourage them to do a good job, rather than doing something that might come back to bite them big time further down the line.

I fully support the OP getting legal advice for the reasons discussed in earlier posts, but I seriously doubt that there are any legal experts that are also fully fledged caravan engineers who would be deemed expert enough to specifically advice on how a flood now might impact on the condition of a caravan a few years hence.
Legal experts. Fully agree Prof , hence you need a “Damian “before and after repairs.
Down the line where is the OP if the Dealer goes bust?
 
Jul 18, 2017
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If in number of years on, damage starts to appear, and it can be shown to relate to an imperfect repair, then the CRA can be used for up to 6 years.

Don't forget the seller has one chance to repair, so it should encourage them to do a good job, rather than doing something that might come back to bite them big time further down the line.

I fully support the OP getting legal advice for the reasons discussed in earlier posts, but I seriously doubt that there are any legal experts that are also fully fledged caravan engineers who would be deemed expert enough to specifically advice on how a flood now might impact on the condition of a caravan a few years hence.
For that very reason you would employ an AWS technician to do a report which is what we did.
 
May 7, 2012
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In practice the six year period mentioned by the Prof may actually be longer. The six years (five in Scotland) is for proceedings to be started in England or served in Scotland. Time runs from the date you could reasonably have known of the problem and not the date of the repair although the longer the problem stays hidden, the harder it becomes to prove fault.
Essentially if a caravan gets damp or leaks after a repair, there is no date you have to know about it within, but the date the problem comes to light is it, and the six or five year period runs from then.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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In practice the six year period mentioned by the Prof may actually be longer. The six years (five in Scotland) is for proceedings to be started in England or served in Scotland. Time runs from the date you could reasonably have known of the problem and not the date of the repair although the longer the problem stays hidden, the harder it becomes to prove fault.
Essentially if a caravan gets damp or leaks after a repair, there is no date you have to know about it within, but the date the problem comes to light is it, and the six or five year period runs from then.
Good post. I think that in this case the caravan may have come with the 10 year water ingress warranty however it only applies to permanently sealed joints which are very unlikely to get water ingress anyway. Proving it after the first 6 months is the main obstacle and can be expensive as reports from experts would be required. Probably why most people do not bother and simply trade in the caravan.
 

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