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Surveyor says completion certificate incorrect. Anyone experience of this?

(12 Posts)
Duckstar Thu 30-Jul-15 13:32:14

Buying an old property which has had a large extension put on in 2010. Over 3 floors. Surveyor has come back and said access to 2nd floor bedroom does not meet building regs (insufficient head height); however, there is a completion certificate. Surveyor says it's incorrect.

Vendors (who didn't do work, bought property 3 years ago) say original staircase so doesnt have to comply.

Surveyors says he would be surprised if original 2nd floor was more then an attic and as such access should have been changed to comply with building regs. He says unless we can get proof that it was habitable space he stands by opinion. He also says completion certificate should have said something to confirm this point in any event.

He says 2 options. (1) we buy but at risk when we sell purchaser flags up issue and our house is devalued. We also may have problems with mortgage and insurance. We are "on notice" of problem. (2) we get building control out and get them to address problem. Risk we have with this is they potentially say they made a mistake and therefore got to be remedied.

Option 2 is not a risk to us, but it is to our vendors. Who may say, no, we won't get them out, we will put back on market (although they run risk this is flagged up again. Although they had full structural survey in 2012) and this was not highlighted to them.

Anyone in a similar experience? I think I'm going to have to go with option 2. Say they need to get building control in. They may refuse, and then we will have to back out. Which would be painful, as spent quite a lot of money already and we love house!

Duckstar Thu 30-Jul-15 13:33:32

Indemnity insurance not an option as surveyor has flagged up issue. Also not policy for defective completion certificate.

Lelivre Thu 30-Jul-15 15:24:41

Could it have met rules at that time? I would be tempted to call and speak to the building control inspector to help me to decide upon next steps; here I find them easy to get had of and very helpful.

RaphaellaTheSpanishWaterDog Thu 30-Jul-15 18:16:54

Building regs requirements for seem to change quite frequently, so as Lelivre says perhaps the conversion met the regs at the time?

Our last house - a non-listed Georgian village house over three storeys - had two attic bedroom and a box room that had been added in the 1950s, pre building regs and would certainly not meet today's requirements. Our architect (2012) and our buyers ' surveyor/lender in 2014 raised no issues with compliance.

When are the vendors saying this 'original' staircase dates from, OP?

Duckstar Thu 30-Jul-15 19:08:47

Original part of the house is 1700s. Surveyor accepts staircase to 1st floor is ok as it's "original"; however, 2nd flight he is saying although "original" should have been brought up to building regs when extension done. He says room in attic would not have been "habitable" pre-extension (in his opinion, no real evidence just basing this on house type) and as such should have been brought up to standard when extension done.

There was an architect for extension, it got planning permission and completion certificate. Vendors had structural survey done - no issues raised. Just my surveyor.

I would like to say just forget it he most likely is wrong, but can't because of mortgage/insurance complications. We are still on notice of a problem.

Duckstar Thu 30-Jul-15 19:09:35

I am going to give building control a call in morning and see what they say.

brumeye Thu 30-Jul-15 19:14:57

Before you contact building control... Is indemnity insurance definitely off table just because a surveyor is aware of the issue?

When we were investigating this kind of thing for our purchase a few years ago, I thought it was only a problem if the relevant authority (ie building control in this case) had been made aware - and if this is the case I wouldn't be telling them until I'd exhausted all other options.

Possible I misunderstood at the time though.

LIZS Thu 30-Jul-15 19:23:07

That was my understanding too brumeye. Our loft didn't have a certificate even though the house was built with it and the staircase, which did have a certificate, was installed afterwards.

Kitsmummy Thu 30-Jul-15 19:26:31

I don't really understand why attic would have been uninhabitable pre extension? We had an old attic room with original stairs (obviously not to current regs) and it was perfectly habitable.

With a proper completion certificate I'd be happy to proceed, I suspect your surveyor may be being a bit too enthusiastic

Duckstar Thu 30-Jul-15 19:39:33

You can get indemnity insurance for lack of building regs/planning etc and it's right you can't get if building control know of issue, because insurance is to protect if they do investigate and enforce. So rather then being a possibility it's certainity! They also will void policy if you inform building control.

In our case investigated and can't find a policy for incorrect completion certificate. In addition, I don't think mortgage company/insurers would accept an indemnity policy for this problem.

neepsandtatties Sat 01-Aug-15 11:56:44

Re indemnity insurance. If you speak directly to an underwriter at your chosen insurers then you can get indemnity for pretty much any eventuality; their job is to assess the risk and provide a quote accordingly e.g. part of our garden is not on our deeds. We managed to get indemnity that will cover us if we are ever challenged (like standard indemnity insurance) and also has a clause that will cover us, even if we notify Land Registry/the farmer and start an adverse possession route to get the land registered.

So if you were minded (not saying you should be, but if you were), I'm sure you could get indemnity insurance for the situation you are in.

Duckstar Wed 05-Aug-15 15:15:37

Thanks for all the help. My solicitor is useless - does not understand what is going on. Will investigate an indemnity insurance as that would be easiest option.

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