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Buying an underpinned house

(19 Posts)
user1480284134 Sun 27-Nov-16 22:23:58

We're in the process of buying a house in St Thomas in Exeter. The neighbourhood suffered a flooding in the 1960's and as a result many of the houses suffered subsidence which is widely known. We asked the vendors whether the house has been underpinned as we know some in the area are, they said they were not aware. Two months into the purchase it became clear the house was underpinned. We are concerned about insurability as it turns out most insurers won't insure, and we are also worried that the market value of the property is lower than what it would have been if the house wasn't underpinned. The vendors don't seem to appreciate any of these concerns and are pushing to exchange as soon as possible. We've already incurred costs and don't want to lose this money but equally if the market value is not the same anymore we're risking potentially a much bigger loss if we buy at the price agreed previously.

In your experience if it's an area where subsidence has occurred, would prospective buyers be OK with underpinning? We certainly aren't and are quite worried. I would appreciate your thoughts.. Thanks.

RedHelenB Mon 28-Nov-16 16:07:02

I think you would be limiting your potential pool of buyers so I would walk away unless the house price reflects the underpinning.

PestoSwimissimos Mon 28-Nov-16 16:11:56

DH was a structural engineer and dealt with subsidence a lot, it is not recommended.

Step away now!

user1480284134 Tue 29-Nov-16 22:34:16

PestoSwimissimos, thanks. Do you mean underpinning doesn't ensure the house will be fine if he ground moves again..?

3amEternal Tue 29-Nov-16 22:38:19

My DH structural engineer and feels underpinned houses generally problem is solved. We have lots near us due to clay soil and Victorian rubbish foundations. Worry more about the ones not yet underpinned. The only issue is insurance is higher after so you need specialist to get lowest premium.

5OBalesofHay Tue 29-Nov-16 22:39:14

You need to be able to take over the current insurance at a reasonable price and be sure it will cover future risk

You are paying less for taking on some risk. I'd be more worried by possibility of flooding again

flupcake Tue 29-Nov-16 22:56:13

Our house is underpinned, as was our previous property, as are our neighbour's properties. However it is very common in the area we live in due to clay soil and lots of period properties without deep enough foundations. We accepted that it was inevitable if we wanted to live here, unless we went for new build which we didn't want. The insurance is a slight faff as we had to take on the existing insurance. It doesn't really affect house prices here because so many properties are underpinned! But it would depend on the area I think.

Meloncoley2 Wed 30-Nov-16 16:39:28

See if the vendors current insurance would be able to pass to you.

I am surprised that they don't know if it had been underpinned though.

lunchboxtroubles Thu 01-Dec-16 12:16:49

Ours is underpinned. You need a full structural survey - we got one and the surveyor was happy to put in writing that the house hadn't moved, 20 years after the underpinning. With that, we were able to move insurers though we are with a specialist company and it is pricey. We have two large trees in the garden and it is a condition of the insurance that they have to be cut every two years.

Have you had a full structural survey?

Cary2012 Thu 01-Dec-16 20:27:00

We had an underpinned house years ago. The full structural survey recommended a structural engineer's report and I think it cost about £300, but this was 18 years ago, The Engineer did a very thorough job and said there had been no movement or cracking since it had been underpinned 10 years previously.

Because it was underpinned it was a lot cheaper than equivalent properties. But you reap what you sow, we sold for less than we hoped, because of the underpinning. And we paid high for insurance.

lunchboxtroubles Fri 02-Dec-16 11:05:40

The vendors insurance have to cover you, unless there is anything about you that is risky eg you've been refused cover in the past. They aren't allowed to refuse.

user1480284134 Sat 03-Dec-16 19:50:00

Thanks all very much for sharing your experience.

We didn't have a full structural survey as at the time the information about the underpinning wasn't available so we just got a homebuyer report.

We unfortunately can't take over the existing insurance as the insurer wasn't aware of the underpinning and now wouldn't be obliged to continue. We can insurance elsewhere but it'd be more expensive and I think we should get a reduction in the price for that.

Cary2012, you mention you paid less but also sold at a lower price - overall did you have to reduce by more than what you saved on the purchase? How much of a discount would you expect to get on a house worth about £210k?

Does everyone expect to pay less and by how much? Thoughts welcome.

lunchboxtroubles Mon 05-Dec-16 16:32:46

Presumably you've done a full structural survey now? What does it say?

lunchboxtroubles Mon 05-Dec-16 16:33:23

In particular what does it say about risk of further subsidence?

PippaFawcett Mon 05-Dec-16 16:37:13

You need a full survey now, of course the buyers are pushing you to exchange!

Get a survey and then take it from there.

lunchboxtroubles Tue 06-Dec-16 19:53:51

^ The vendors don't seem to appreciate any of these concerns and are pushing to exchange as soon as possible.^

Are you really as naive as you sound?

Of course the vendors appreciate the concerns, that's why they want you to take these concerns off their hands by exchanging!

user1480284134 Wed 07-Dec-16 18:59:32

With regard to subsidence, it was previously caused by flooding in the entire area so if this was to happen again of course the house would be at risk. In this case the underpinning might actually help although I'm not an expert.

We won't commission a new survey now as it's too late in the process and the vendor doesn't want any more reports done... understandably. The surveyor had concluded that even though there were signs of subsidence occurred previously, it didn't appear to be progressive or ongoing. This was also noted in the bank's valuation report. So we weren't blind to the subsidence that had taken place in the past, this is common in St. Thomas, but no one can guarantee it won't happen in the future. Which is why we need insurance, but since the premiums are higher, we feel that we should get a price reduction.

I'm not sure how much of a concern the underpinning would be to other buyers in this particular area -- St Thomas, so I was looking to understand if it was less worrying than if this was the only underpinned house in the entire neighborhood. We're worried that we'll lose money when we re-sell so wanted to get your view.

Many thanks for all your comments so far!

lunchboxtroubles Wed 07-Dec-16 19:30:56

We won't commission a new survey now as it's too late in the process and the vendor doesn't want any more reports done

Vendor must be rubbing their hands in glee at finding a muppet who will buy an underpinned house without a structural survey. Are you mad OP? Walk away if you don't want to do a survey. Alternatively, I happen to own 75% of tower Bridge - would you like to buy it off me?

lunchboxtroubles Tue 13-Dec-16 22:09:52

What did you do OP?

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