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Structural movement and high subsidence risk - pull out?

(14 Posts)
NotJustACigar Wed 19-Feb-14 18:57:43

Damn it. We just got our valuation survey back and it says there is evidence of structural moment but that it is likely to be old and appears to be non progressive. So I went on the Landmark envirosearch site and typed in the post code. The subsidence risk came back as high, as did the risk from ground pollution and past land use.

The house is in southport and I found out via googling that there are subsidence hot spots all over town due to an old river in the area. The house is also near a disused landfill that has been turned into a park. Also it is about a quarter mile from a council estate that has had to have remedial work due to subsidence.

We love the house but are going to have to pull out of the purchase, aren't we? We have a full structural survey scheduled. But I'm wondering if its even worth spending the £450 to find out what we already know. No insurer is going to touch this with a bargepole, are they? sad

LondonGirl83 Wed 19-Feb-14 18:59:53

The existing insurer has to cover you-- it may be more expensive though. However, if you can prove no movement for 4 years (evidenced by a professional) you can normally get normal rates again where I live. SE London is all clay soil and the subsidence risk is elevated here too.

lessonsintightropes Wed 19-Feb-14 19:23:57

I didn't know about that site and just had a look at the place we are buying, and it is apparently at high risk of subsidence (also SE London).

What happens if the property comes back ok from survey, we purchase it and subsequently then subsides? Are we fully liable for all the costs, or is the surveyor who did the report for the mortgage company liable? Will home insurance cough up?

Willow33 Wed 19-Feb-14 19:34:58

Personally I wouldn't want the hassle. My friend in North London went thru so much when a property she had for twenty yrs with no problems experienced subsidence. Insurance co were nasty to deal with.

5OBalesofHay Wed 19-Feb-14 20:01:42

Don't panic, its not as scary as it sounds. As long as you can continue the insurance, and the price reflects the issues there's no need to pull out.

Theironfistofarkus Wed 19-Feb-14 20:38:05

Subsidence risk is very common in London. It is vital to make sure you get confirmation from current insurer that they will continue to insure are aware of problem and will cover it. Do that before you exchange.

littlecrystal Wed 19-Feb-14 22:50:59

NotJustACigar I will be honest. I bought my house with evidence of past movement 5 years ago in SE London. Initially continued with the previous insurer (price for 2 bed old terrace was about £40/month building insurance), but after insurance premium gradually moving up to £60+/month, I called around specialist insurers, faxed my survey and got good rate for approx. £40/month last year.
Insurance is a bit of pain to get renewed every year, as you cannot apply for regular insurers, but once is done you forget.. for another year.
Having said that I have been paranoid about cracks in my house and potential subsidence. I think I got 2 new cracks running down the bay window. I also found out that my neighbour's house was underpinned 20 years ago, and she carelessly said "oh, it is still moving, I get lots of cracks". It scares me a lot.
I need to get structural engineer but just too skint and too afraid at the moment!
I understand past movement is quite common, especially in some areas.
If you really like the house and buying long-term, then perhaps not a big problem.
I bought with a doubtful mind and it gives me headache every so often.

By the way, how do you check for high subsidence areas on internet?

Can you please let me know how do you prove that the house has not moved? I would love to know as a bit fed up with specialist insurers (provided my bay window cracks are for other reasons).

NotJustACigar Thu 20-Feb-14 06:35:37

Thanks for the advice so far. I am still so unsure what to do! The house is in Southport in the northwest of England just to be clear though I know this issue is also common in London.

The website to check your postcode for subsidence and other issues is here

puffylovett Thu 20-Feb-14 09:07:56

We have a house with evidence of past movement. I love it and have no problem living here, but my other half worries himself to sleep at night, convinced the gable end wall is going to fall down.

We have no evidence of current or ongoing issues. He is a worrier. And has worked in the building trade all his life (electrician) and so a) a bit of knowledge is often a bad thing and b) imagines the worst at every opportunity!

If you think you can live with the possibility of issues, go for it - but be aware other people may be reluctant to buy it when selling it on, without a full structural engineers report I guess.

littlecrystal Thu 20-Feb-14 09:29:26

puffylovett I am a worrier like your husband!
I just wanted to add if it was a past movement only it probably would not worry me, but in my case it seems to not only past, but also a current movement and that is much worse.

NotJustACigar Fri 21-Feb-14 18:44:24

I'm afraid I'm a worrier, too. But we have at least decided to go for the structural survey and then decide. I explained the issue to the surveyor and he claims to be experienced enough to be able to say whether the movement is subsidence or just historical settlement and that his report will be very clear about which it is.

yummymumtobe Sat 22-Feb-14 08:26:44

We had a house which had been underpinned so we thought that it should be safe. However it started cracking again. Caused us lots of stress and we ended up selling as just couldn't deal with the thought of our house falling down! One thing I would caution is that issues often arise from who has caused the current run of cracking, eg neighbours tree. If its a neighbours tree deemed to be responsible and the neighbour refutes this and won't remove tree, then insurer may not pay out

JackieBrambles Sat 22-Feb-14 08:40:25

Although sometimes removing trees can make things worse as the roots go and then the house moves into the gap left!

Our flat had previous subsidence and the advice was to keep the 'crown' of nearby trees pruned down to control growth of roots but not to remove.

Op your surveyor will be able to tell if movement is 'progressive' (ie a problem),

Our flat/building was underpinned. The insurance company paid. The only hassle with it now is we are tied to same insurance company who did the work and their premiums are high (£900 a year!).

Davidhasselhoffstoecheese Sat 22-Feb-14 14:53:15

Our first house had old movement years ago. It was decorated in the 1930's so was very easy to see. Because it was old movement we didn't really have any problems. Is it worth timing around insurers to get quotes and see what they have to say?

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