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Seller lying about load bearing walls

(11 Posts)
TheLittleMe Mon 02-May-16 09:55:33

Hello, looking for a bit of advice.

We bought our house 2 years ago, from a builder who had originally bought it from the council. While he had been living there for 30 years, the builder had removed one of the internal kitchen walls to make a kitchen diner. When we bought the house the seller wrote in response to a query from my solicitor that there were no building regs for removing the wall as it was not load bearing.

Fast forward to now, there are cracks around where the wall used to be. What looks like an rsj is there - I am wondering whether it actually was a load bearing wall. I have a trustworthy builder coming to look at it next week, he will be able to tell me if the wall was load bearing.

If the wall was load bearing and the seller lied (I have it in writing that he said it was not load bearing) what can I do about this? Could I get him to pay for retrospective building regs? I am concerned it may affect the value of my house when we come to sell it, or that I may be forced to get building regs?

FishWithABicycle Mon 02-May-16 10:08:08

If he had been living there for 30 years it is entirely possible that there were no building regs in force when the changes were made. We have an ex-council home where a load-bearing wall was removed and an rsj put in before the building regs were written, but the person who did it knew his stuff and we have no cracks or other issues.

I doubt you can make the seller pay for anything now, but likewise you can't be forced to get it to building regs if the work really was done before the regs applied.

If you paid for a full survey and the surveyor didn't warn you this could be an issue then you may have redress against the surveyor.

Of course regardless of regulations you should nevertheless get the cracks looked at and perhaps have remedial work done to strengthen key structures - but I think the costs will be down to you.

TheLittleMe Mon 02-May-16 10:17:10

Sorry, meant to have put that the changes were made in 2001...

Surely if he lied he has to be held accountable?

MrsFlorrick Mon 02-May-16 23:50:45

As part of the sellers declaration he has declared that he did not make a
Structural Alteration. And now it appears that he did and there is a possible issue with the alteration.

First things to do is to contact your local building control (number on councils website). Explain the issue and get them to come and take a look.

Get a structural engineer to come and make an assessment of what needs to be remedied and likely costs (you may need separate quotes for this).

Then contact your solicitor who handled the purchase on your behalf.

The seller will be liable if he misrepresented facts regarding structural alterations. However it could take quite a lot of time and effort to actually get any money out of him.

The important thing is to make sure the alteration has been made safely and to the appropriate standard.

thisisbloodyridiculous Tue 03-May-16 06:34:10

Did you have a survey done?

TheLittleMe Tue 03-May-16 17:47:58

Thanks Mrs, really helpful.

No I didn't have a survey done. He declared the wall was not load bearing, and I accepted that as truth.

wowfudge Tue 03-May-16 21:05:19

Hmm - a structural engineer rather than a builder will be able to assess whether the current RSJ is sufficient. I know it's too late now, but why would you not have a survey carried out when it's such a major purchase?

FishWithABicycle Wed 04-May-16 07:47:25

If this was just a verbal exchange then you have no proof that he lied. You have no proof that you even asked him about it. You will not get him to pay anything. Getting a survey done is the normal way to protect yourself against this kind of thing. You chose not to protect yourself. It was very naiive but hopefully you have learned from this experience not to trust the verbal assurance of a vendor when you stand to lose thousands of pounds if their statement is incorrect.

JapanNextYear Wed 04-May-16 07:51:36

fish she's got it in writing that he lied.

TheLittleMe Wed 04-May-16 19:53:13

I have the lie in writing.

I didn't get a full structural. It is an ex council house and I was a first time buyer on a budget! I would get one in future.

Just wondering what the point of the property info forms is, if you can lie on it?

Moving15 Wed 04-May-16 22:49:17

Are you sure that the information on the form relates to the wall that has been replaced by an rsj? At what point did you realise there was an rsj? An rsj is there because it is a load bearing support.

I think it would be very difficult to prove he deliberately deceived you. It wasn't his responsibility to satisfy you everything is in order, it was yours, which is why you shoud appoint professionals such as surveyors and solicitors to tease these issues out.
The cost of saving money on a survey back then is you end up dealing with unexpected costs now. You did what you needed to do at the time but I don't think you are helping your situation by trying to pin the blame on a long gone vendor.

It isn't necessarily serious but if you are really thinking there are movement related cracks I think you should be contacting your buildings insurance who will appoint a structural surveyor to investigate the issue.

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