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Getting the fear about housebuying after dreadful survey

(12 Posts)
Kernowgal Sun 26-Jul-15 11:50:21

I recently pulled out of a house purchase after the survey and searches revealed some horrors:

Complete roof replacement (including trusses, chimney stack)
Woodworm everywhere
New front room floor required
Historic movement to front of house
Possible pitch fibre pipe running under house
Mine workings underneath
Flying freehold over part of next door's living room
Right of way over front garden for next door's access
Dodgy party wall
Rising damp in various places

Obviously I knew the roof needed work and I was aware that there was damp, but the rest was an eye-opener. I've lost close to £1k after survey and legal fees and I really can't afford to go through this again. I am really worried that any house of a similar age (late 1800s, classic for this area) that I look at is going to reveal the same sort of problems and I'll have to pull out again.

Of course I could just go for a much newer house but then I have to forgo a decent-sized garden, which is one of my non-negotiables. I am also wary of early- to mid-1900s houses because of the use of Mundic block round here during that period.

If anything, the survey has taught me to take a really good look around but a lot of the above are things I can't easily spot or know about unless I start trawling mining maps (which actually is something I'm considering doing).

Can anyone tell me their happy stories of pulling out after a disastrous survey and then finding the home of their dreams???

DelphiniumBlue Sun 26-Jul-15 12:01:30

You can spot some of the potential issues yourself if you know what to look for, for example the flying freehold ( does part of the building project over next door?) Consider how neighbours access their property - could it be across land belonging to the property? Ask questions when you view, ask what problems the sellers have had with the building and the neighbours, take a builder/surveyor with you for a second look- it might be worth paying for this.
You mention checking the old mining plans - that is a great idea, as this is something that affects whole streets/ areas. The more information you have, the better decisions you can make.

Kernowgal Sun 26-Jul-15 12:18:38

Unfortunately it was tenanted when I was looking around and so the tenants had no idea about rights of way. Getting info out of the seller (or at least his solicitors) was like getting blood out of a stone. Also the EA was worse than useless and took forever to respond to my initial questions, if he responded at all.

The flying freehold was very small so not very obvious (although now I will always look out for one!) but because the roof needed replacing it could have caused issues with the neighbours, as their roof was also in poor repair.

This is where the whole housebuying process does my head in. From a buyer's point of view it would be helpful if sellers were upfront about all of these things (rights of way, flying freehold) from the start. The house is now back on the market and obviously the particulars make no mention of any of the things my survey found, so any new buyer is going to spend £££ on a survey only to find all the same things pop up. I can't help thinking it would help sellers too because buyers would be properly informed and less likely to pull out of a sale. OK it might mean your house appeals to fewer people but you know they're genuinely interested.

Rangirl Sun 26-Jul-15 12:39:48

Interestingly this is the kind of problem the new Home report system in Scotland is supposed to help with

To some extent a property of the age you are looking for is always going to have some problems

Better to have spent a £1k and walked away than bought it and found 10s of £1000s on problems you did not know about
A good local surveyor can often help as they will know the local area well and should be able to give you the heads up on a bad property without you incurring the expense about

Rangirl Sun 26-Jul-15 12:40:23

Sorry expense of a survey

Kernowgal Sun 26-Jul-15 12:45:23

Oh yes, I was expecting to have to spend money on the roof and the rising damp, that's fine - the property was at the low end of my budget. It was just all the other things combined (plus location problems such as busy road, limited parking nearby) that made the potential costs unjustifiable.

It has been a very steep learning curve. But yes, better to have lost the £1k now. I've just got to trust that not all places will be like this.

RaphaellaTheSpanishWaterDog Sun 26-Jul-15 12:58:14

The house is now back on the market and obviously the particulars make no mention of of any of the things my survey found, so any new buyer is going to spend £££ on a survey only to find all the same things pop up.

No consolation to you OP, but I thought that it was now a legal requirement for EAs to be upfront about any previous sales that have fallen through and the reasons for this, ie dodgy survey results? Could be wrong though......

Kernowgal Sun 26-Jul-15 13:14:19

Interesting. I know they (and vendors) have to answer truthfully if you ask them a direct yes or no question about something, eg if there have been problems with the neighbours, but I don't know if they have to give specifics.

The EA was irate when I said I was pulling out due to the survey, calling the surveyor an idiot and incompetent and saying how he'd caused lots of sales to fall through by being overly picky. He could probably have been accused of slander for his comments but he certainly didn't endear himself to me after his little rant, and it's made me wary about having to deal with him again should a suitable property come up through them. At the end of the day the surveyor is independent; an estate agent definitely isn't.

Kernowgal Sun 26-Jul-15 13:17:51

Yep, you're right:

www.independent.co.uk/property/house-and-home/property/estate-agents-forced-to-break-code-of-silence-on-defects-8546870.html

www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/property/house-prices/10864514/Failed-property-survey-Now-sellers-must-disclose-all.html

marmaladeatkinz Sun 26-Jul-15 13:18:43

I don't have much experience/knowledge of this. But I have an interesting anecdote

A friend of mine was selling his house. He had bought it a few years earlier as a dooer upper. His life changed and he was leaving the area. In the time he had the house he had a new roof installed and new electrics. The first potential buyer had a survey which said electrics and roof needed to be replaced confused

Is it worth a conversation with the seller?

Kernowgal Sun 26-Jul-15 13:26:57

No, not on this occasion. If it had just been the roof, or the drains, or something else, then fine. But the sheer number of things that needed doing, plus all the negatives such as flying freehold, position on a main road, lack of parking etc just added up into a big flashing sign saying RUN AWAY. Plus the party wall needed to be tested for mundic and the estate agent flat out refused, saying there was no chance it could have been mundic. Well, with a 100% retention on the mortgage until the wall was proven to not be mundic, I couldn't do anything anyway. I would love to be a fly on the wall when a potential buyer goes round, to see if any of this gets mentioned.

sianihedgehog Sun 26-Jul-15 19:00:28

Yep, the EA must tell other buyers why previous sales have fallen through. I've had them tell me while viewing houses several times now - even when the agency hasn't otherwise been particularly honest, and even when I'd have thought the faults were obvious (structural movement).

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