Downstairs chimney breasts removed but upstairs ones remain.....(8 Posts)
We are currently buying a house which has the ground floor chimney breasts removed but left the upstairs ones. But this was done pre 1988 which is when the current vendor bought it. The Homebuyers survey says there aren't any visible signs of distress and it's been fine for the whole of the time since the current vendor has owned it.
We are keen to exchange soon...is it worth pursuing this and ask for a structural engineer to have a look?
I'm a structural engineer
Normally I'd say get it checked out but if it was done over 25 years ago with no sign of issue or movement then I'd be inclined to say it's probably OK.
You're unlikely to be able to check anything without invasive works, which the vendor won't be keen on prior to exchange (contrary to popular belief a pre purchase structural survey is not always carried out by a structural engineer and is almost always done by visual inspection which won't necessarily reveal much). I'd get in there, and if there's any movement (growing cracks etc) then deal with it at the time. You could ask for an indemnity policy from the vendor but they're unlikely to be keen as it wasn't them who did the work.
Is there any way of finding out how the upstairs chimney has been supported? Is there a steel anywhere? There's a he'll of a lot of weight in a chimney and personally I'd want to know how it was all staying up! So yes, I'd pursue it. We had our chimney taken out all the way up a few months ago and it needed structural engineer and building regs. If it was done without building regs get your solicitor to sort out indemnity insurance too.
We still had to pay for indemnity insurance when we sold last year for work that was done before we bought the house. It was for build over agreement for a drain that may have gone under the tiny extension. Cost us £600 but our buyers wouldn't exchange til we did it.
We had this with the same timescales. We got a structural engineer to quote about the costs of putting it right, mentioned this to the vendor who then knocked it off the price.
you could browse the local authority website and see if there is any evidence the work was done with Building Control approval and inspection. I am guessing not as the previous buyers should have done the same.
If you, or the adjacent neighbour, remove another chimneybreast, or knock through two rooms, instability may increase.
Next time you are going to redecorate downstairs (as it will involve knocking off plaster) would be a good time to look and see, and if necessary add steelwork. You could have a look under the floor in the upstairs rooms for clues. I am in favour of removing disused chimneystacks, starting at the top and going down into the loft. Mostly it reduces maintenance costs and rainwater leaks, but it does also take a lot of weight away.
Thanks for the replies...really appreciate it.
I guess what we are worried about it is that the vendor might refuse to pay out for a structural engineer to investigate it as she thinks that as it's been fine for over 27yrs it's unlikely to be a problem. We are already paying more than asking price for this house...sealed bids which we won...so we are up to our limits to what we can spend further.
Also the vendor could say she'll go with somebody else who bid for the house.
DH thinks it's not worth annoying the vendor but I want piece of mind really.
I guess it depends on the market in the area in which you are buying but I think you are unrealistic to think the vendor will pay for your structural survey. If i was buying this house i too would want an answer about the structure changes but I would have factored that into my initial offer. Did you not notice the alterations when you viewed? Perhaps they were brought to your attention in a homebuyers survey? Is it the surveyor's comments making you so anxious?
I have to admit that if it was my house i would tell my buyer that this was something that needed to be addressed at the buyer's own cost and inconvenience. I would definitely not be willing to open up bits of the house that had been fine for nearly 30 years when there were a multitude of buyers was waiting.
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