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Chimney on a first floor.

(22 Posts)
Lianis Sat 27-May-17 13:49:23

We live in a Victorian house, and we do have a chimney and fireplace in third bedroom on a first floor. There is no chimney in the kitchen underneath of this bedroom. (Kitchen and bedroom above is in like extension of main house). There is no chimney sticking out of the roof. We do believe, that years ago, fireplaces were disconnected and chimney in the kitchen was dismantled alongside of a major house refurbishment including a new gas central heating system. Currently we are selling our house. During recent survey we were asked about this matter. We do not have any information and not quite sure, what to do next. Buyers are concerned, that chimney may collapse, as it may not be supported. As long as we know there were no construction works in the past 20 years. We do have a lot of paperwork dating back to 1900 but nothing about it.

wowfudge Sat 27-May-17 13:52:18

Your buyers should pay for a structural surveyor to take a look if they aren't reassured by what you have told them.

Lianis Sat 27-May-17 14:09:41

Thank you for reply. I am not quite sure which survey they choose, I think it was a structural survey. we only get that information yesterday evening from EA. Anyway our son who was home at the time of survey said the guy only tapped walls, checked windows etc I don't know how to check if there is a supporting beam without demolishing bedroom floor or kitchen ceiling. I feel they just want to go down with the price 😔

DancingLedge Sat 27-May-17 14:50:33

I spotted a 'missing' bit of chimney in the house I bought.
Different to yours, the chimney was present on ground floor, one half had been taken out on 1st floor, and stack was still there. I did buy the house, but,, First I got a surveyor to look at this.In the loft he could tell there was no steel. He said, yes, buy the house, but don't move in until this chimney has been made safe. Naturally, I negotiated a price reduction.

Your situation, chimney on first floor, no obvious support underneath. Yes, it could have been done properly, using a steel. The first question in my mind is, why? It might have been easier to demolish the first floor chimney, then no steel needed, plus you've gained some space in the bedroom.

Second, no paperwork. Doesn't mean it's been done wrongly, because years ago, fewer of us bothered about bits of paper for even quite significant house work. But, it does mean you can't show it was done correctly.

IMO, you've got two choices if you want to sell this house. Accept that it's going to have to be investigated, and if previous work is not structurally safe, then you're going to have to reduce the price to reflect that.Or get it remedied yourself.

But have the buyers told you what their surveyor has reported to them?
It would be quite in order to ask to see the relevant section of their survey, so that both buyer and seller know what has been said, and with what emphasis.

Bit of pain for you. But, tbh, the likelihood of finding any buyer whos not going to want a full investigation is negligible. And now you know it's a potential issue, you have a legal duty to disclose it to any future buyer.

Did you have a survey when you bought? Because if you did, and you weren't informed of the issue, there may be liability there.

Good luck

DancingLedge Sat 27-May-17 14:59:54

It's a job for a surveyor to find out if there is structural support present or not.

The buyers surveyor is not in a position to start making investigatory holes.

Whether it would be best for the buyers surveyor to return, or for you to pay for a surveyor, depends on whether your buyer is going to proceed.

What is EA saying buyers want to do?

wowfudge Sat 27-May-17 16:23:42

Thinking about this, I've changed my mind and think you should pay for a surveyor to do proper investigative work via the bedroom floor - lifting the carpet and a couple of floorboards is not demolition. The reason you should pay is because there's a potential problem and any potential buyer should want to know whether remedial work is necessary so you should do it to be sure and ensure you can get a sale and, of course, to find out whether it is safe.

If it does need supporting then agree a reduction in the sale price to cover the cost of the work and the buyer can crack on once they are in.

Lianis Sat 27-May-17 18:02:41

We just lifted the carpet and had a look what is under floorboards. There is a large wooden beam underneath of the existing part of the chimney, which comes out from outside wall and ends in the inside wall, throughout the whole room. The beams which are holding the floorboards are perpendicular to that beam. So from my point of view it has been done properly, although it's not metal beam. Don't know if like 50years ago metal beams were in use or not.

SwedishEdith Sat 27-May-17 18:09:09

I'd just get a building control officer to give it a look. If it was done years ago, it would only need to comply with building regs as they were at the time.

DancingLedge Sat 27-May-17 18:12:01

Well that's good news!

Show this to the buyer's surveyor, and hopefully they'll confirm your view.

Shouldn't take many minutes in the house for their surveyor to give it the once over, and then everyone's happy.

DancingLedge Sat 27-May-17 18:17:07

I disagree with*SwedishEdith*.

Do not invite a building control person in to your house if you don't have to . Ever

Cause if they then say, "should be xy,z ", you're kind of stuck with that verdict.

Also, the work is decades and decades old, they simply wouldn't know what the building regs current at this unknown time should have been.

The issue is, is it safe now. That's a job for a surveyor.

wowfudge Sat 27-May-17 18:17:48

That's good news OP - we have a similar beam supporting an overhang in our kitchen, something to do with the chimney for a range many years ago. There's no need to involve building control - take photos and send them to the EA to pass on.

SwedishEdith Sat 27-May-17 19:26:40

grin @ Dancing. Yes, I think that's probably right from my years of reading threads on here. Trouble, is that same reading means that if I was a buyer I would (possibly) contact the building control. So, I'd want to pre-empt that.

DancingLedge Sat 27-May-17 20:38:23

Having dealt with building control chaps, some are lovely, some almost stupidly pedantic.And once they say, eg these foundations have to go deeper, no contrary opinions will shift them.
As a buyer, I would not seek to involve them.

Only when building/extending, when a). You have to, and b.)they function ,up to a point, as quality control on your builder.

Can't see quite how it would work- someone normally applies for buildings regs sign off, and submits plans.
I've not known them be involved in assessing work done years ago, although I would be interested to hear if someone else has.

Lianis Wed 31-May-17 11:50:36

EA just called to inform us that buyer wants to drop the price 2k, (4 k for removing this chimney in bedroom, but they will share the costs) as they will have to remove the chimney in this bedroom, by the survey it is not safe. They did not contact solicitors because solicitors don't like dealing with this kind of a job.
We are waiting now for our the solicitor to get back to us.

wowfudge Wed 31-May-17 12:03:22

I would push back on this. Ask exactly what their survey says about it. They are being ridiculous. Have they sent any photos you've provided of the supporting beam to their surveyor? You need to speak to your solicitor and let them know what has been requested via the EA. If their solicitor is also acting for the mortgage company their solicitor needs to know and has a duty to ensure proper procedures are being followed. This sounds like they are trying it on - quite possibly due to inexperience and nervousness.

wowfudge Wed 31-May-17 12:03:56

Oh and send the photos to your own solicitor.

Lianis Wed 31-May-17 12:06:15

The buyer is the building company, investor, so not sure about inexperience.

wowfudge Wed 31-May-17 12:11:36

Okay well then they are pushy and I still don't think you should agree to a reduction. Have you sent them photos of the beam?

Kokusai Wed 31-May-17 12:29:21

I don't think you should agree to a reduction - there is no need, there is nothing to remedy as the work was done aaaaaages ago and has got a supporting beam anyway!

MrsPringles Wed 31-May-17 12:50:09

When we bought our house, what is now our bedroom had a humongous built in wardrobe/vanity unit that took up half the room.
We moved in and smashed it all out and that's when we realised that there was a chimney stack behind it but not downstairs in the kitchen, it was all being held up by the bedroom floor. It was so well boxed in that us and the surveyor hadn't seen it.

We had to have a builder in to remove the chimney stack and put a supporting steel beam in the bedroom ceiling. 6k later, that was an expensive thing to fix confused

wowfudge Wed 31-May-17 13:17:52

@MrsPringles - the OP's first floor chimney breast is supported by a wooden beam. It might not be a RSJ, but it is performing the same function. The fact that nothing has come down in the 20 or so years the OP has lived there is testament to this.

Cacofonix Wed 31-May-17 13:24:57

Yes tell them to jog on! The chimney is being supported - evidence: no structural movement in the house since the chimney was removed eleventy million years ago. They are trying their luck.

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