Buying a House that has Subsidence ! (1 Viewer)

Jul 18, 2009
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Hi,

We have made an offer on a house (Subject to structural survey).

I am told by the Vendors agent that one has been done previously and there is a report of slight subsidence. The agent does not have access to the report meaning we will have to pay for another.

I am just wondering if Anyone here has any experience of underpinning or could even recommend a Surveyor in the East Cheshire areas.

ET
 
Jun 30, 2011
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I know it’s really expensive underpinning, I would proceed with caution

You need another report as you say, extent of it, will it likely get worse.

The problem I’ve found with house buying surveyor reports is they just cover their own backs.

The electrics look ok but I would recommend getting them checked by a specialist etc, same for each category.
 
Feb 22, 2011
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What age house is it ?
Traditional brick and tile ?
Subsidence is not uncommon, often as a result of mining in the area.
Depends on lot on the symptoms and if there is any indication it's continuing.

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The Coops

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Sep 8, 2019
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Yes, thank you
Check the land maps for salt mining in Cheshire before going any further (Should be available on line from British geographic survey/mining), the subsidence could be due to brine extraction if done by mining there will be some pillars of salt left for roof support, if done by water there will be a massive void, hence the flashes ( Lakes)where there is a collapse. Regarding under pininng, plenty done around the Fylde especially St Annes and Lytham due to the ground problems so a search in that area for a contractor might be of some help for advice and price. Look at the other houses in the area for signs of subsidence and it might help to show if there is a problem in that area
 
Feb 22, 2011
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97 years old, brick and tile roof
Pity you can't get the existing survey report, the vendors solicitor may be able to help if things got that far with previous purchaser ? Did the report cause the sale to fall through ?
It'll probably be good for another 97 years, unlike houses built today, but if course you need to be sure 😃
 
Oct 30, 2016
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On 3rd van so not a total newbie....
As a mortgage broker, I would run a mile....

A house with subsidence will be forever blighted, you will probably find that you will only be able to get insurance through the existing insurer, which may not be cheap.

If you are still serious, you need to get a full structural survey @ £1k? and then get firm quotes for any remedial work, and be prepared for possibly months of upheaval during the repairs.

Think carefully, I assume you are looking because it is cheap? there is always a reason if its cheap.

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Portland

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Oct 31, 2013
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East Cheshire, should be away from the brine streams area, where is the property situated.
We once lived in Thurlwood, our house was old and had little in the way of foundations and used to rise and fall subject to the weather conditions. We still loved it and would move back to the area tomorrow.
 

Kannon Fodda

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If you are buying and it is known to have a subsidence issue, that will be excluded from any insurance policy you can take out. So you are on your own for funding any repairs and would need to have allowed for that in your own pricing for buying the house. Realistically the current owner needs to be claiming on their policy and get it resolved before they sell.

Once a house has had subsidence, it will always have some stigma against it and that will always cause concern with some potential buyers keeping it's value lower than other unaffected property.

Structural movement can be caused by multiple reasons. Diagnosis by a building surveyor or structural engineer may not be conclusive on a single visit other than to assess that the movement appears active. Further investigation is inevitable often needing tests on drains, trial holes around foundations (or more correctly footings with a property that age) and even a period of monitoring. What may be influencing / causing poor ground conditions to be deteriorating (assuming it is a ground problem causing it), leaking pipe or drain, nearby tree, historic mining, or just change in moisture content (drought, etc) on a shrinkable clay type soil? This all takes time to understand, which you won't want to go through as a buyer.

There are two main forms of pre purchase survey available that can suit:
The structural inspection which is specific to the structure and movement, usually done by an engineer, but which would not normally tell you anything about other parts of the property condition such as roof, windows, fittings and services. It should state the extent of the movement, potential cause and likely repair with next steps.
A building survey (now often called a level 3 survey) carried out by a surveyor, which should deal with all parts of the property condition and provide some diagnosis of the extent of the movement, possible causation, and next steps for investigation and repair. The level 3 survey should deal with this, but as some have alluded to, you will find those who try to hide behind caveats and say you need someone else to tell you about the movement. Make sure whoever you engage is aware there is potential movement and you are expecting a detailed report.
The homebuyer (level 2) survey types are not adequate for this property.

The vendor and estate agent will not have access to the previous survey report and it is not theirs to pass on. They can't hide that the sale fell through for concerns on movement. It may be possible to trace the original purchaser and in turn find the previous surveyor and see if you can get a copy of the report, or a new report, at a discount. But it is rare the previous surveyor will accept any responsibility for the report that was done for a specific client being passed to another, unless the previous surveyor has been directly involved and accepted a further fee.
 

raysalaugh

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In 2019 we were about to buy a house and had a large survey carried out which resulted in finding it had been underpinned on
2 sides, the vendors failed to mention this to us but the estate agents were aware. When we did a bit of research we found the property had been on the market on and off for 7 years. After we pulled out it sold again and that fell through also.
Be careful it could turn into a money pit.
 
Aug 2, 2022
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Re the Survey, make sure it’s a full structural survey carried out by a qualified Chartered Surveyor.
You can ring the RICS ( Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) who can give you a list of them in your area.
When you speak to your chosen Chartered Surveyor explain exactly what your concerns are and ask have they dealt with this before, if they are reasonably local they will know of the risks n a particular area and will have probably come across it on numerous occasions, especially if it is mine related.
Whilst the survey might appear expensive, if they miss something, you know they are carrying Professional indemnity insurance, a requirement of being a Chartered Surveyor.
Do not buy the survey from the vendor, privity of contract means the surveyor will only be acting for his client ie the person who instructed him, not you.

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Apr 9, 2014
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Its nuts as surely if you do get a reliable report then get all the remedial work done (underpinning etc..) then the building should be better and good to go, much more solid than any house in the neighbourhood that has not had any work. But the stigma follows it around, so be prepared for insurance without subsidence cover and reselling becomes an issue as lenders tend to shy away.

Having had a tiny experience of subsidence and tree roots and the subsequent hassles, we would now walk away unless really cheap and property had something special or we wanted to knock down and rebuild perhaps :ROFLMAO:.
 

MisterB

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enough to know i shouldnt touch things i know nothing about ....
underpinning isnt difficult to do, but its getting it approved and signed off by a building surveyor for a future sale that is important and making sure that whatever has caused the subsidence can be remedied.

i wouldnt rely on the sellers report, you need your own, backed by their guarantee.

if its something you really want and the right price AND the report also proposes a remedy within budget (they may also recommend someone to do the work) then i dont see why there should be an issue in buying at the right price, a mortgage company may be prepared to lend subject to the work being carried out, so you may be forced into a bridging loan option, again adding expense.
 
Feb 22, 2011
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Re the Survey, make sure it’s a full structural survey carried out by a qualified Chartered Surveyor.
You can ring the RICS ( Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
Most chartered surveyors would advise a structural engineers report on identified subsidence. It's a bit more specialized than most CS's can advise on.

If it is slight subsidence, long standing and not active, it wouldn't bother me. But obviously you need it investigated.
Many areas of the country have slight subsidence from old mine workings, mine included.
It was built in 1933 and previous owners had remedial work done by the NCB in 1960's and '70's I think.
No further problems or movement, things are a little wonky in places but you have to look hard and I think it gives the house character 👍

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OutTheOffice

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The costs for subsidence repair are often borne by the insurers assuming its insured. However, if you buy it know the subsidence is there it is very likely that your insurer wont cover it, and say rightly, that the damage happened whilst the previous owner was there so its down to their insurer. If I were buying this I would instruct my own surveyor ( do not buy the survey that has been done, if you do and rely on it, you will have no recourse on the surveyor as he did not have a contract with you -- so a false economy) and ask him for his views. If he identifies there is an issue, then I would not buy the house unless the vendor gets it professionally repaired and provides your solicitors with the correct certification). It should not cost the vendor much as they can make an insurance claim, but will hold up the purchase. I would not have an issue buying a house that has been professionally repaired
 
Mar 23, 2012
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We thought about a property once but were put off by reports that it might need underpinning. After it sold evidently a different surveyer said it was fine and 10 years on it still seems ok. If the price is really good and it looks good I'd be tempted to get a second opinion but on the basis that it would be a bit of a gamble.
 
Oct 18, 2022
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Common cause of subsidence is drainage problems washing away material around the foundations. Sort the drainage issue and the problem goes away.
 
Mar 23, 2012
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Common cause of subsidence is drainage problems washing away material around the foundations. Sort the drainage issue and the problem goes away.
Thats what happened near here

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Silver-Fox

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Re the Survey, make sure it’s a full structural survey carried out by a qualified Chartered Surveyor.

Even they get it wrong.

We looked at buying a detached two storey house that needed renovating.

There were cracks coming from the lintels particularly the first flooor.

The vendor had a survey done as the issues had obviously raised before.
I had a look at the survey and said the cracks were superficial and only in the old plaster work.

I went back for another look and took a piece of stiff wire to check out the cracks.

Yep you guessed it, the wire went straight in and touched the inside of the outer skin 🙄
 
Sep 3, 2012
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Have you checked wirh the neighbours to see if they have any issues or are aware of local mining ,salt or coal.
Have a good look round the property yourself ,are any bricks cracked through, are there major cracks inside the building ,ie around windows ,doors ,stairs etc.
How old is the property, if old it may have settled and defects may be old and there is no further movement. Underpinning is expensive as its labour intensive with lots of concrete and excavation work.
But if the property is cheap enough?
 
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DuxDeluxe

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If you are buying and it is known to have a subsidence issue, that will be excluded from any insurance policy you can take out. So you are on your own for funding any repairs and would need to have allowed for that in your own pricing for buying the house. Realistically the current owner needs to be claiming on their policy and get it resolved before they sell.

Once a house has had subsidence, it will always have some stigma against it and that will always cause concern with some potential buyers keeping it's value lower than other unaffected property.

Structural movement can be caused by multiple reasons. Diagnosis by a building surveyor or structural engineer may not be conclusive on a single visit other than to assess that the movement appears active. Further investigation is inevitable often needing tests on drains, trial holes around foundations (or more correctly footings with a property that age) and even a period of monitoring. What may be influencing / causing poor ground conditions to be deteriorating (assuming it is a ground problem causing it), leaking pipe or drain, nearby tree, historic mining, or just change in moisture content (drought, etc) on a shrinkable clay type soil? This all takes time to understand, which you won't want to go through as a buyer.

There are two main forms of pre purchase survey available that can suit:
The structural inspection which is specific to the structure and movement, usually done by an engineer, but which would not normally tell you anything about other parts of the property condition such as roof, windows, fittings and services. It should state the extent of the movement, potential cause and likely repair with next steps.
A building survey (now often called a level 3 survey) carried out by a surveyor, which should deal with all parts of the property condition and provide some diagnosis of the extent of the movement, possible causation, and next steps for investigation and repair. The level 3 survey should deal with this, but as some have alluded to, you will find those who try to hide behind caveats and say you need someone else to tell you about the movement. Make sure whoever you engage is aware there is potential movement and you are expecting a detailed report.
The homebuyer (level 2) survey types are not adequate for this property.

The vendor and estate agent will not have access to the previous survey report and it is not theirs to pass on. They can't hide that the sale fell through for concerns on movement. It may be possible to trace the original purchaser and in turn find the previous surveyor and see if you can get a copy of the report, or a new report, at a discount. But it is rare the previous surveyor will accept any responsibility for the report that was done for a specific client being passed to another, unless the previous surveyor has been directly involved and accepted a further fee.
Supreme advice from an expert. You are a star, Rob.

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