An interior designer is demanding compensation after her neighbours’ basement extension allegedly ruined her £100,000 kitchen and caused it to sink.
Hugh and Reiko Stewart said their Kensington, London, home – which is estimated at around £8.5 million – has been severely damaged and they will have to replace their luxury, Smallbone kitchen.
Reiko, who owns Argyll Design, and her husband, are demanding a compensation pay-out worth £85,950 from their neighbours in Argyll Street.
The ‘excavation works’ have been carried out by international financier Bis Subramanian and partner Laura Vidal-Oregui Subramanian, under their six-bedroom home, worth £10 million, since early 2014.
The Stewarts initially refused to consent but the digging was eventually allowed to proceed on the condition it ‘must not cause unnecessary inconvenience to adjoining owners’.
But they claim the works have caused ‘structural movement’ in their home and has damaged other areas of the house, including causing the kitchen floor to ‘tilt’.
Mr and Mrs Subramanian deny they are liable to give their neighbours a penny and claim the slope in their kitchen was not caused by their work and was there before.
In February 2014, the Subramanians reapplied to the council asking for an extension of the basement depth, along with a sash window and bi-folding door to the rear lower ground floor.
In 2017, each couple appointed a surveyor with both agreeing the alleged damage had been caused by the Subramanians’ digging.Gay rugby player fighting deportation begs for help to end 'limbo'
A third neutral surveyor then ruled they had to pay the Stewarts £85,950 for the damage to their kitchen cabinetwork.
He made the award after concluding their top-end units, which were handmade, could not be taken out then reinstalled to allow the floor to be levelled, but instead had to be replaced.
But the Subramanians’ surveyor withdrew before the award process could be completed and a replacement surveyor took a very different view of the situation.
He claimed the kitchen slope had nothing to do with the extension and Mr Subramanian – former vice president at Morgan Stanley and his partner, refused to pay the £85,950, leading the Stewarts to take them to court.
In July last year, City of London magistrates ruled the money was payable and could be enforced by the Stewarts as a civil debt against their neighbours.Woman and girl sprayed with acid from van in drive-by attack
But the Subramanians challenged the decision in the High Court and Judge Rowena Collins Rice has now found the case in their favour.
Judge Rice said given the new expert evidence, the issue of whether the Subramanians are liable to pay compensation has not yet been resolved.
The dispute will be determined by another neutral surveyor.