Homeowner awarded £500,000 after architect fails to deliver ‘wow factor’

By David Tew, Solicitor

A City banker has successfully sued his architect after a home cinema designed to float above an indoor swimming pool failed to deliver a “wow factor”.

Philip Freeborn was a successful banker and owned a luxurious home. He hired architect Daniel Marca to redesign his pool-house.

They agreed on a cinema screen that would appear in a glass box on legs above the pool.

However, the end result was not as Mr Freeborn and his wife had expected. The cinema room that had been constructed was described as “wonky” and without any “wow factor”.

The couple felt the only course of action they had was to destroy the cinema room and start again.

Mr Freeborn accused Mr Marca of redesigning the cinema without his approval and sued him for £1m, alleging professional negligence.

The court heard that there had been no written brief for the project. Mr Marca claimed that the changes to the design had been approved by Mr Freeborn and his wife.

However, his evidence lacked credibility, and was mainly based on confusing and chaotic notebooks and sketchpads.

The court ruled that Mr Marca pay £500,000 for the destruction of the cinema room and as a refund for the initial job, plus interest, but not for the cost of restoring the swimming pool.

The case highlights the importance of having written agreements when providing services to clients.

These should cover the details of the work to be carried out, the materials to be used and the timescale involved. It may also be helpful to include photos and diagrams to help illustrate the service or product being provided.

The more such matters are covered in detail at the outset, the less likely there will be disagreement and possible legal action further down the line.

For more information on the issues raised in this article or any other aspect of professional negligence claims, please contact David on 01228 516666 or click here to email him direct.

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