Help please - survey doom and gloom(22 Posts)
Had our survey back today on the property we're buying. I know surveyors are the Cassandras of the property world and are put on this earth to spread alarm and despondency, but there do seem to be some quite serious issues with the house. We'd taken for granted that we'd need to do a fair bit of work - new kitchen, bathroom, replastering probably, and we wanted to do an extension. But he's raised some things that sound quite big and scary, as follows:
Chimney stacks: defects including cracked chimney pots, defective brickwork pointing and damp penetration. Pots could collapse in high winds risking personal injury. Repair is now required.
Roof: main roof tiles may have been laid to a pitch which is too shallow to allow the roof to be fully weathertight and there is moss. Evidence of mould on rafters; main roof void not sufficiently ventilated or insulated.
External walls: The rendered wall surfaces are in poor condition with widespread cracking and loss key. Complete re-rendering may be necessary.
There are a number of cracks in the external walls, probably due to settlement. Structural repairs are now required. Dampness was detected at low level to the main walls. Walls of solid masonry are below the standard of thermal insulation of cavity walls and heat loss can be quite high.
Subfloor ventilation is restricted. There will be an ongoing risk of rot within the subfloor void.
Windows: rot and damp penetration detected
Front door: has become distorted in conjunction with settlement of the flank wall. The door has been cut down to suit the distorted door opening. Repairs are now required.
Ceilings: cracked and not level. Joints are undersized; ceiling could collapse if they are overloaded.
Internal walls: a potentially load-bearing wall has been removed. Need to check Building Control. Damp detected at low level, DPC appears to have failed. Flank wall is damp, associated with failure of external render.
Floors: evidence of mice infestation under stairs. Wooden floors show significant settlement and distortion. Evidence of wood-boring beetle throughout. Concrete floor requires relevelling. Inadequate ventilation under wooden floors.
Fuse board is dated: earthing and bonding not in accordance with modern safety standards. Defects and deficiencies in electrical installation – may require complete rewire.
Heating: defects to heating system including radiator damage.
Rear garden boundary wall: fractured and leaning significantly.
Sorry that's so long! Any thoughts of how we should proceed? Options are:
1. Walk away
2. Get quotes for fixing the above and adjust our offer - if we do this, should we deduct the total cost of the work from the agreed price, or 50% or what?
3. Something else??
It's a Victorian house so I'd expect there to be a few issues with it but all this is a bit alarming!
Do you have the option of calling the surveyor to talk through the report?
He/she might be more measured on the phone (they tend to be doom and gloom on paper to cover themselves, iyswim) and aclso can explain which bits of this are normal for any victorian house and which are not.
Also frankly a lot of this is so vague that it doesn't mean much unless you can get more detail eg "defects to heating system" could mean anything!
So, I would try to have a chat with the surveyor - ideally soon before they forget what they saw...
Bear in mind that any issues that are pretty normal for any victorian house (or any unmodernised victorian house) are likely to have been factored into the price already.
Thank you - yes, giving him a call (he is a man, am not being sexist!) is a great idea. We will definitely do that.
moss on roof, rewire, heating replacement - probably to be expected. But the 'repair now required' is pretty definite, it normally says 'plan for repair in the future'.
You need to know what you are taking on and to have the budget to fix it!
If you want the house and are prepared to have the work done then I think you should get an idea of the costs and deduct 150% of the budget from your offer to allow for more problems to be found along the way and the inconvenience of it all. To be honest, I'm kind of surprised you didn't notice things such as the cracked render, rotten windows and leaning wall. And I have said it often but it is worth repeating, if someone hasn't bothered replacing their kitchen, bathroom and their walls look like they need replastering, you can be pretty sure that the wiring and heating will need work as well...
Thanks specialsubject. There were a good few things that were flagged up as needing repair in future too! We were planning on new boiler, refurbish the windows etc anyway; it's the structural stuff that's a bit concerning. We do have a decent budget for work but if it's going to cost eg £10k to sort the external walls we'd need that to come off the purchase price really.
Is there anything there that looks particularly
expensive serious? How much does rewiring cost?
X-post lala, thank you too.
DP did notice the crack - in fact it was the first thing he saw about the bloody house Our offer was on the low side but we were kind of assuming that we would see what came up in the survey and then adjust if there was major work to be done apart from the obvious, fun stuff like new kitchen etc.
So do we get a builder in to quote on the basis of the survey, or what?
Surveyor hasn't down valued it but has recommended we reduce the purchase price, which seems a bit contradictory.
Rewiring depends on where you live about £5k I should think, plus you may need to move out to get it done quickly as you need to empty out most of the house IME!
Random we are in London. Renting at the moment so plan was to get everything done before we move in.
The surveyor is basically saying that the house is worth what you've offered (ie, he's not going to tell the bank not to offer you a mortgage or demand a retention) but the work means you have a bit of leverage over the vendor.
The cost of a rewire will depend on the size of the house, how many sockets you want etc and local labour costs (are you in the South East or the North East?).
I suppose if you already noticed cracks etc then the vendor will argue that your offer was on the basis that the house needed modernising. The thing that would worry me in the list of stuff your surveyor has made is the potentially rotten rafters in the roof and the damp throughout the rest of the house which could mean joists and other structural components need replacing. That (and the rewire) mean a huge upheaval and, unless the house is big enough for you to do the work in phases, you will have to rent for a few weeks while these really messy jobs are taken care of.
Thanks again, this is all v helpful. So we need to have a chat with the surveyor, get a builder round to have a look (??) and then go back to the EA with a revised offer?
sounds like a plan.
new roof: thousands for a start. And as you are in London all prices will be higher.
The wood throughout the house has signs of damp and the whole house has signs of beetle. This is quite an annoying thing!
That reads to me as the house needs all wood to be stripped back to wood, damp issues resolved and wood treated for beetle. The stripping back is very messy and quite expensive if it means getting rid of carpets etc. Ideally every bit of wood needs treating or you risk reinfestation. The last damp house I brought we skipped skirting and door trims because infestation and damp was so bad.
Damp issues means probably external repointing, major roof overhaul and felt, tiles relaying. Ventilation issues resolving.
If you cure the damp, treat the infestation and heat the house you should stop future reinfestation.
Yikes. Okay, so I know this is almost impossible to answer but what would be a reasonable amount to knock off the price? Will the surveyor be able to give us an indication?
And what about the mice? Is that a job for DCat?
Things like the joists being undersized, roof, render, removal of load bearing wall, structural repair to wall, replacement of roof etc sound like v big expensive jobs to me, and crucial too. Re-wiring is expensive and it would be mad to do the place up without re-wiring because if you re-wire in the near future lots of re-plastering would have to be done again.
This sounds like a proper survey, not a valuation, but on receipt of a survey like that I am sure the mortgage co would only lend on the basis that a stipulated schedule of works was carried out within a short time frame. i.e put conditions on the mortgage.
I've bought 4 houses now - 3 of them Victorian, and when I saw your thread title I thought 'oh, yes, it will be the usual list of 'damp in the cellar' (Victorian houses were not built to have dry cellars) 'lead pipes' (now coated on the inside with limescale so v slight risk, and none if you run the taps for a while before pouring yourself a glass of water) etc. But your list - I would be daunted and would consider it to be a re-development project, really. But worth showing the report to a good builder and asking for an opinion and estimate.
I wouldn't trust a surveyors estimation because they're not hands on getting quotes every day. They're really good at knowing market value and the reduction in value due to defects, all useful info, but that isn't the same as the actual building costs.
its local builders you'd be dealing with and if you break down all the jobs a builder can give you a better broken down estimate. Add 20% (its always needed).
I'd get a damp and beetle expert in to do a proper damp and infestation report. They could advise the level of strip back you'd need and suggest appropriate damp treatments. I've used timberwise in the past, not in London though and other companies are around that do similar stuff so you can haggle a bit. You may want them to look for rot at the same time, whole house beetle infestation implies long term damp which likely means rot - wet or dry!
It is all a bit scary and can be overwhelming, so break it down. Don't forget to allow for extra months rental in your renegotiations.
Thanks so much, you are all v helpful. So is there a chance the mortgage co will amend their offer even though he says the value is okay?
And what's the best way of finding a builder to quote?
Is this a homebuyer's report or a proper buildings survey? There is quite a lot there...I would get a full buildings survey based on the cracks and settlement comments if this was just a homebuyer's report. Also surprised the surveyor didn't recommend a buildings if this was HB...
Our house is a 1930's (rendered) semi and had a few issues, but nothing major flagged up thankfully. We don't have the time or inclination to want to do massive updating/renovations so we would have pulled out if our survey came back anything like the above. Not all surveys come back atrocious. Our house has the potential to suffer from damp and there was a dehumidifier in the master bedroom, there are vents in most rooms, some air bricks albeit not as many as I'd like. Our roof isn't lined and has a few slipped tiles, our electrics weren't up to date and there are a few cracks in the render but the surveyor himself wrote into the report that he believes them to be superficial and he had no concerns re settlement etc at all and could find no damp in external walls, so they don't all make everything doom and gloom.
You'll be looking at a few hundred quid to get the gas and water bonded to the electrics. We had to pay for that, it isn't a requirement to get it done unless you need other electrical work doing, then it has to be brought up to standard, so I would be surprised if they would fit you with a new fuse board etc without doing the bonding and other bits. It sounds like you need an array of quotes really.
Depending on the area you are in and how fast property moves, that might give you an idea of if the seller is likely to negotiate based on this. Do they know the house is knackered and was it priced to reflect that? Round here, no one budges. You're lucky to get less than asking price, regardless of what issues might flag up later on.
It really depends on what the property is priced as. If you are in an expensive area, with good quality houses and your particular house is cheaper than the others on the locality then the price may already reflect the condition.
Think about how much the work will cost and then how much a well presented property would sell for.
It sounds like the general state of the property should have been obvious from viewing so any negogiation really depends on whether there is something that was not obvious, how the value compares to similar properties in the area in good condition and also factoring in how much other interest there has been in the property, how much you want it and how keen they are to sell.
The house is worth what someone is prepared to pay for it! Good luck!!
Thanks again. Waiting for the surveyor to get back to us then we'll see about getting some quotes.
Individually some of those jobs aren't particularly expensive but together they will add up to thousands of pounds.
We've had new air vents put in our roof for example and I can't remember exactly how much we paid but it was hundreds rather than thousands. Although that will depend on the height of your house as we didn't need scaffolding which adds to the costs.
We've also replaced floor joists in a downstairs room and had new air bricks fitted. Again, this was hundreds of pounds.
The issues with the roof, electrics and the load bearing wall are the ones that could really cost you.
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