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Selling Victorian house with (minor) damp issue - WWYD?

(32 Posts)
TheVipperofVipp Mon 27-Jul-15 11:47:00

Accepted offer on our house mid-April (3.5 months ago!). Our buyers are first time buyers and had offer in principle from their high street mortgage lender. Survey came back minor damp issues and £1600 of work to do (unsurprising, classic Victorian property). It has taken this long for said lender to say that the new damp proofing has to have actually happened (including replastering etc), before they will even make the final mortgage decision (!).

A retention I was very prepared for, get the work done before completion would have been OK, but get it done and only then we'll kick-off decision making (and then they might even still decide against) seems very harsh and unusual (is it or AIBU?).

I don't mind the cost at all - it is the stupidly long amount of time this is taking that I am now so frustrated by.

Our buyers say please get the work done. My EA says re-market immediately and get new buyers (but this will surely take time anyway and we won't know mortgage situation of new buyers). DH says tell buyers you have 2 weeks to get a new lender or we re-market. Or I could plunge on and get the work done but this will be a lot of inconvenience and no guarantees that it will actually result in a complete chain! (The sellers of the house we are buying are being patient so far but that can't last forever...).

Very frustrated - WWYD?

CheeseBadger Mon 27-Jul-15 11:52:37

I'm with DH. The lender's being unreasonable and they need to find a new one. Not your problem.

JaniceJoplin Mon 27-Jul-15 11:59:20

Do you agree with the source / cause of the damp? Surely if it's that bad you'd have fixed it whilst living there. Maybe it's an over cautious surveyor they are notorious for misdiagnosing damp and the likes of Kenwoods are largely rip off merchants ime. I think it's worth getting an independent damp surveyor round, ie, someone who doesn't sell the solutions and can just diagnose properly.

PennilynLott Mon 27-Jul-15 12:57:42

I agree with DH. Also all old houses have a bit of damp.

TheVipperofVipp Mon 27-Jul-15 13:00:08

Thanks CheeseBadger (lovely name) - have emailed EA and suggested DH's ultimatum be put to the buyers. I await to hear back.

Ah, yes I agree JaniceJoplin - have lived here for years and zero actual evidence of any damp at all. EA instructed two 'survey for free' damp firms - Kenwood (who yes, came back very expensive, lots of errors in report, lots of clearly unnecessary work - avoid them like the plague!) and these ones where £1600 seemed OK in comparison and as I thought it would get lender to just crack on and confirm offer with a retention seemed alright. But yes, now I wish I had got a third totally independent opinion even if I had to pay for it. Concerned if I go that route now it just adds more time & money and lender may still be sceptical/useless though.

TheVipperofVipp Mon 27-Jul-15 13:02:03

Agree on both counts PennilynLott - I can't believe stance lender is taking considering this should be no surprise withy older property. £1600 is less than 0.5% of total cost of property too - seems total over-reaction.

LIZS Mon 27-Jul-15 13:02:34

Would suspect they are at the top of their budget if the lender is saying this. It is unusual for such a small amount. You may get work done and then find they come back asking for more. Tbh it may be best to remarket and you may find your ftb's position suddenly changes.

TheVipperofVipp Mon 27-Jul-15 13:06:01

Hmmm...DH also says that LIZS (he will love all this mumsnet agreement with him!)... that there must be something else to do with the offer as it is so odd otherwise. Shall speak to EA this afternoon and let you all know...

BlackbirdOnTheWire Mon 27-Jul-15 14:56:09

Where do you live, and where in the property is the damp? We have a Victorian house in London with 'damp issues'... which were fixed in a day by a general builder for £150, after the real problem was diagnosed by a damp specialist who charged us nothing for the callout and earned nothing as a result of his advice - interestingly the problem he diagnosed (round bay windows) was just spotted by our roofer on next door's property. Again, roofer said it would be about £150 to fix, they'd just been quoted £2k by a dampproofing company.

Feel free to PM me if you want the damp specialist's details (not any of the dampprofing companies who wanted £2k!!), because I'd say that if it's easily fixable, tell your buyers 2 weeks, and use those 2 weeks to fix the problem just in case a) a new lender says the same and b) new buyers are put off.

TheVipperofVipp Mon 27-Jul-15 17:24:31

Thanks Blackbird, will PM you as in South East, though damp isn't on a round bay window.

EA has asked buyers to get in touch with a financial adviser to discuss other lending options asap, but he's yet to hear back from buyers this afternoon. Hmmm...

JoeOLondon Tue 28-Jul-15 10:39:28

Kenwood lie! Real issue with electronic damp detectors check out the authoritative independent advice from the historic building org SPAB:https://www.spab.org.uk/advice/technical-qas/technical-qa-20-rising-damp/

TheElementsSong Tue 28-Jul-15 11:54:10

We had this when selling our (Edwardian) flat, the buyer had a "damp survey" which, surprisingly found some damp in the bay window using, yes, an electronic damp detector. We had never noticed a problem in all the years we lived there hmm. We agreed a £1K reduction to keep the buyer happy - it wasn't the money that annoyed us, being a small % of the overall price, just the sheer unnecessariness (is that a word?) of it.

LikeASoulWithoutAMind Tue 28-Jul-15 17:58:05

Hmm has the lender definitely said this? Or is the buyer just trying to push you to sort it?

I'd also be wary of specialist damp firms. They tend to find damp. wink

DelBoyImNot Thu 30-Jul-15 19:41:57

Blackbird may I pm you for the damp specialist? We are in process of buying a Victorian house in London while letting out our Victorian flat (conversion) so damp galore.

Sorry to hijack Vipper, for what it's worth I agree with DH and everyone there must be more to it from lender's perspective, when we bought this place there was evidence of damp and we just negotiated the cost of works off price. Of course the works (bloody Kenwood) were largely useless but no issue with mortgage at all

Sleepybeanbump Thu 30-Jul-15 20:00:03

Jeez, what an overreeaction from lender and buyers.

I would suspect that they are making it up that lender insisting. It seems very unusual. Or their offer with lender is terribly borderline and precarious. Or their lender will be a PITA further down the line. All of which ring alarm bells. Which lender is it?

I'm also confused as to why the EA instructed damp specialists? What is the EA doing being involved at this level?

Agree re Kenwood. Had misfortune of dealing with them after our current house came back with minor damp issues in survey during purchase. Said damp had apparently already been fixed by Kenwood. They came back to do a report and, miraculously, found that the damp they had fixed had not returned (despite surveyor and our general builder both spotting it), so they would not be accepting a claim for it under their warranty. Even more miraculously, at the same time they happened to discover two other bits of 'damp' that apparently required fixing at vast expense.

Unsurprisingly, both our builder and surveyor were unable to find either of them! They are TOTAL cowboys and I would reject any info that came to me from buyers that had any connection with Kenwood or their ilk.

Needless to say we bought house anyway and had damp quickly and cheaply fixed by general builder. Find me a Victorian house that doesn't need routine remedial damp work! Slate DPCs fail with age. Agree tell buyers to calm down.

Lucy61 Thu 30-Jul-15 21:11:29

Blackbird, out of interest, what was causing the damp around the bay window? We've just moved into a house with damp issues. When we had a survey, the bank placed a retention of £5000 due to damp. Since we moved in, we noticed that damaged guttering is causing rain water to fall on the wall around the bay, possibly causing the damp. Thinking maybe if we fix the guttering it will be solved- £5000 is a lot of money!

BlackbirdOnTheWire Fri 31-Jul-15 08:38:26

Just seen there were more messages on the thread. I'm happy to recommend the specialist, just don't want to be banned from MN for advertising, especially as the company's nothing to do with me! Ah well, if this goes up in a puff of smoke, we'll know we aren't allowed positive recommendations! We had Ray from London and Brighton Waterproofing Company (he IS the company - one man band). lbwaterproofing.co.uk. He was recommended to us.

Lucy61 - our roofer was asked by our neighbour to clear out their gutters whilst working in our house. He did so but pointed out that they have cracks in the mortar where the bays join the flat elevations - said it was very common in Victorian properties and a common source of damp, especially with blocked gutters. Sure enough, neighbour said "oh, we do have damp patches on the inside walls there". Roofer said that it just needed repointing, was around £100-150 of work, rather than being a "damp issue" needing thousands...

Our own bay problem was slightly different - Ray told us over the phone that damp patches in walls under bay windows is usually penetrating damp, that the wall construction there is often single brick rather than double, and that he'd be looking for cracks in the window sills/walls and between the frame and the sills/walls. That's exactly what he found. Our general builder repaired it, I took photos during the process and basically the seal round the window frame had failed, allowing water to penetrate. The old mortar round the bricks was soaking wet immediately under the sill but dry at the foot (so as Ray said, obvs not rising damp, and the DPC proposed by the other companies at £2-2.5k wouldn't have solved the problem). Once our builder had taken off the plaster on the inside, and had a poke at the seal outside, it was so obvious...

We did have another patch of damp on an external wall which bears the brunt of the wind and the rain; Ray said this was condensation damp due to a cabinet. He said he could do something I've now forgotten, or install a ventilation grille into the floor underneath the cabinet... Or we could move the cabinet to a less cold corner! We did the latter and haven't had a problem since grin

SmellTheGlove Fri 31-Jul-15 11:35:46

I can also recommend an independent damp surveyor (chartered surveyor) , they are based in Putney but he travels all over Greater London. He has done 2 damp surveys for me, not because of any mortgage requirements but because I wanted to know exactly what damp issues there might be in both the property I was selling and the one I was buying. His name is Keith Gardner and if you Google his you'll find a lot of positive reviews! He charges about £220 for an hour or so survey and a very comprehensive report.
I'm quite an expert in damp now thanks to Keith!

Lucy61 Fri 31-Jul-15 12:27:24

Thanks, Blackbird. You might have saved us £5000!

DelBoyImNot Fri 31-Jul-15 22:27:56

Thanks Blackbird and Smell - I shall look at both those companies and hopefully finally get a comprehensive answer for patches of damp in our lower ground basement floor

TheVipperofVipp Mon 03-Aug-15 10:15:19

Morning all. Bit of an update: As of Friday of last week the lender (Halifax) had said yes with a £2K retention after being escalated to managers etc, and we were starting to talk moving dates. As of this morning the buyers have basically said they're pulling out sadangrysad. I fear as many of you have said they must have other issues of some sort going on and while I think Halifax have been inefficient and rather rubbish, that was probably masking our buyers not actually being committed to the sale all along. We are probably going to have to re-market. We are second in a chain of 5, chances of holding the chain together now are very slim. I am gutted. I am also going to get independent damp survey from Ray and/or Keith so we nip this in the bud with any future buyer. But I just can't believe the overreaction, the wasted time etc - everyone knows you get this with Victorian houses surely, it's pretty much par for the course isn't it?! Oh well, I am off for a weep into my morning coffee and just have to say thank you for all the very helpful responses and good luck to others in this position.

DelBoyImNot Mon 03-Aug-15 15:33:33

Sorry to hear that Vipper, good idea to get the independent survey at least you might speed up the sale process with the next vendors. Fingers crossed for your chain flowers

TheVipperofVipp Mon 03-Aug-15 17:24:50

Thank you! We have one of the companies mentioned on this thread booked in for tomorrow afternoon. I am really interested in what he has to say. If the problem is even more limited than we first thought we might just be able to hold the chain together. Seems our buyers are still interested in completing but have another party who is helping them with deposit funds and they are the ones that need convincing (knew there was something else - this has only just come to light). I think if/when we get through all this I am going to start a thread 'things I wish I knew when I started selling my Victorian property...' - there is so much I would have done differently including first thing, spend 200 quid on an independent damp report!

TheVipperofVipp Wed 05-Aug-15 00:36:53

For info - The new independent damp report was done today. We have NO DAMP. We have one leaky gutter and a bit of built up rubble behind a joist. I am livid with the 'free' damp survey companies. NEVER USE A DAMP SURVEY COMPANY THAT ALSO SELLS DAMP PROOFING! NEVER!!! Lesson learnt. New report sent to buyers. We'll see. Will remarket if they don't see sense now...

DelphiniumBlue Wed 05-Aug-15 00:54:45

Vipper, it might be best to remarket anyway, don't wait for the buyer to make up their minds, pr you could be no further forward in 2 weeks time. Remarketing will not prevent them from exchanging if they want to, in fact it will concentrate their minds. If you get another offer, at that point you can pull the contract back from the first buyer.

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