- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 20 Oct 2014
Betterment is an improvement that adds the value to a property or facility. Betterment is a topic of particular relevance to defective building works and involves consideration of both measure of damages and mitigation.
Generally, if repair works are carried out to a higher standard than was necessary, the betterment will be deducted from any damages claimed. However, if the claimant had no choice other than to carry out the works in that way, then no deduction will be made.
In Harbutts Plasticine Limited v Wayne Tank & Pump Co Limited (1970), the court held that the plaintiffs were not required to give credit under the heading of betterment merely because they had replaced an old building with a new one of modern design.
Widgery LJ stated:
'The plaintiffs rebuilt their factory to a substantially different design, and if this had involved expenditure beyond the costs of replacing the old, the difference might not have been recoverable, but there is no suggestion of this here. Nor do I accept that the plaintiffs must give credit under the heading of "betterment" for the fact that their new factory is modern in design and material. To do so would be the equivalent of forcing the plaintiffs to invest their money in the modernising of their plant which might be highly inconvenient for them.’
In Governors of the Hospital for Sick Children and Another v McLaughlin and Harvey Plc and Others (1987) the issue of unnecessary expenditure was approached from the point of view of mitigation. The defendants endeavoured to argue that despite the plaintiffs' reliance on expert opinion the plaintiffs had not acted reasonably in selecting their repair scheme. The court rejected the defendants' argument (see also Skandia Property (UK) and Another v. Thames Water Utilities Ltd.)
NB Betterment can also be a consideration for leases, where work to repair dilapidations at the end of a lease is priced, or the reduction in the value of a property as a result of dilapidations is assessed. See Dilapidations for more information.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
Do you understand the different types of stone and which ones you should use where?
Why a wellbeing strategy is vital for property managers.
An ECA briefing for members about the commercial implications of leaving the EU.
A crucial moment on any project - and fraught with danger.
The performance gap from a Northern Ireland perspective.
Book review: Buildings of protestant nonconformity.
Design and testing for health and wellbeing - free download from BRE.
Retention in construction contracts.
Campaign for the reform of cash retentions.
The key points for the construction industry and BSRIA's response.
How to make roads safer: the debate continues.