As Architects and Building Surveyors with decades of experience and sector specialisms in the building industry, we are best placed to act as an independent Expert to support clients and the wider consultant teams, as well as to assess and advise on disputes involving building defects. Few other professionals are as well placed to “get under the skin” of the intricate and complex process of creating a building.

Our Expert Witness works include recent experience for assisting clients with Healthcare Buildings, Specific Building Construction and Cladding Elements or Defects, Education, Heritage and Conservation and Sustainability, provided by our team of six full time experts and supplemented with specialist knowledge from Mark Elton, Jonathan Cerowski and Nigel Marcoolyn.

We are in the unique position to provide such insight with an understanding of the very convoluted and subtle design processes while also fluent in the multitude of building regulations, legislation and contract law.

Make sure that you instruct the right expert or you may cause yourself:

  • Unnecessary expense
  • Get the wrong advice that doesn’t help your case
  • Employ someone who is inexperienced in the CPR 35 rules.

Cowan Architects combine the weight of building experience with a knowledge of legal process so that we can help with:

  • Opening up new avenues of thought and changing the direction of a case;
  • Provide the correct advice to counter the other expert.
  • Providing a strong consistent argument backed up by experience and legislation which does not stray from the experts area of expertise.
Assess Building Defects
Structural defects


The apportioning of blame can be a weighty process with numerous interested parties battling it out to prove that it was someone else’s fault. Not only can the costs run into millions, but if a building defect has led to a loss of life, the moral obligation to corporate responsibility.

For structural defects discovered years after completion, contractors and consultants carry a legal responsibility towards the owner to rectify the problem and the proof of liability required can be a lengthy process. Due to the number of different parties involved, often sharing responsibilities, it can be very difficult to prove negligence.

Assignment of contracts, changing building ownership and the transient nature of previously involved consultants all need clarity and transparency.


Depending upon the building’s use and age, differing legislation such as building regulations, planning and other current directives, could have applied to its design. The path of contractual responsibility, given the myriad of construction contracts and changing responsibilities that occur from planning through to construction and onto ownership, is often not clear.

As architects, we are usually, and uniquely, involved in all these processes which make us the obvious choice to act as Expert Witnesses.

Depending on what is being built, each element of the Building Regulations could be applied differently according to the building’s need. Extensive understanding and knowledge of these is an essential tool in the Building Defects Expert’s bag.

Building Regulation Defects

The developers are ultimately exposed most to the cost of defects and the buck stops with the client, particularly as far as the Health & Safety Executive is concerned. But there are so many different parties involved that it is an architect who has a more holistic view of the whole building process.


This entails visiting claimants in their homes, assessing their current and future housing needs together with the adaptations needed to make their current or future home fully accessible.


As Expert Witnesses we prepare reports in respect of the accommodation needs of people who have suffered injury or trauma and who are seeking compensation through the Courts.


We believe that understanding the individual’s disability requirements from an accommodation perspective is key to providing a home tailored to the Client’s specific needs.