House with history of subsidence

(40 Posts)
3ormorecharacters Tue 15-Sep-20 21:54:30

DH and I viewed a house today which we really liked. When doing his research online, DH noticed that in the satellite photos there is a big willow tree in the front garden which is no longer there. He knows that willow trees can cause subsidence if too close to a house. He mentioned this to the estate agent, who confirmed that that is indeed what happened. It has been fixed in the last couple of years and is all documented.

Doing some digging on Zoopla, it seems that the house was put on the market in 2018 and sold STC, presumably the survey picked up the subsidence and the sale fell through. The house has been rented since then. It is now on the market at the same price as in 2018, so I guess they've factored it in to the asking price.

Having done some research and asked a solicitor friend of a friend, it seems like this is potentially a dealbreaker. I initially assumed that as the problem had an easily identifiable cause and has been fixed, it would be fine. But it seems like it could cause serious problems with insurance.

Does anyone have any experience of this? We are so sick of house hunting and just want to find somewhere! 😭

OP’s posts: |
c3pu Tue 15-Sep-20 21:57:26

Has it been underpinned?

TorkTorkBam Tue 15-Sep-20 21:58:37

Talk to your mortgage company. They will be the stumbling block.

3ormorecharacters Tue 15-Sep-20 22:03:34

Yes it has been underpinned, not sure whether partially or fully

OP’s posts: |
Batshitbeautycosmeticsltd Tue 15-Sep-20 22:05:36

I would never buy that place in a million years.

CherryPavlova Tue 15-Sep-20 22:16:15

Our holiday cottage is on a cliff that has had subsidence in the past. The whole area is underpinned and has had structural support from government across a wide stretch of residential seafront area. Despite ongoing local authority support and annual surveys, nobody can get Morton any of the neighbouring properties. It’s cash sales only.
I wouldn’t buy a house with known subsidence as our main home.

Trampauline Tue 15-Sep-20 22:42:50

If it has been underpinned then the problem has been fixed. Better than buying a house where you later discover there is subsidence. They should be able to provide the documents for the work. It would have needed building regs approval.

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Lavendersquare Tue 15-Sep-20 22:53:35

I just wanted to put your mind at rest.

We bought a house that had had subsidence 17 years ago. We fell in love with it, then almost pulled out when we found out about the past subsidence. However we engaged a structural engineer to do a full report, it came back very positive, no movement since the underpinning 10 years earlier and the mortgage company were happy to continue. We have never had a problem with house insurance either.

3ormorecharacters Tue 15-Sep-20 22:59:42

@Lavendersquare thank you, good to hear a positive story although as this is still so recent not sure if it will be quite as straightforward for us.

Hopefully not won't be as much of an obstacle as the issue was just caused by a tree rather than anything more structural like being on a cliff. A big part of me is saying we should just steer well clear though... So frustrating, we have buyers ready to go but are just not finding anything we like and when we do there's always a problem 😭

OP’s posts: |
KnobChops Tue 15-Sep-20 23:01:32

Batshitbeautycosmeticsltd

I would never buy that place in a million years.

This makes no sense at all.

It’s underpinned. As long as building work was signed off then the problem is fixed. Lots of houses are underpinned where I live, a combination of clay soil and crap Victorian foundations, I’d 100% rather buy one that was done rather than one that might need doing. Mortgage companies don’t even bat an eyelid unless their surveyor picks up obvious current movement ie big cracks in walls.

purpleme12 Tue 15-Sep-20 23:05:32

It's a misconception that just because a house has had subsidence in the past it will cause big issues with house insurance
Yes the 'big household names' might not be able to offer cover but there are still lots that can and not necessarily with issues either
It depends on so many things like for example how long ago the subs was, if you've got any reports about it, what it was caused by and if that cause has been removed, if it's been underpinned etc etc.
Sometimes depending on the situation there's no extra price increase and no extra terms and conditions even so please don't assume based on it having subs that it will cause issues

Gemma2019 Tue 15-Sep-20 23:08:59

We bought a house once where a tree had grown under the extension and just the extension had needed underpinning a few years previously. We only found out after exchange that it was difficult to get home insurance on the house and was much more expensive than expected. Plus it was a total ball ache when it came to selling the house.

purpleme12 Tue 15-Sep-20 23:10:41

Ps worst case scenario a company will offer cover excluding subs.
Just remember Just because a household name won't touch a property with subs in the past doesn't mean nowhere will cover

SELDNMUM Tue 15-Sep-20 23:25:25

We’re buying a house that was underpinned 30 years ago. The subsidence was caused by a tree which is no longer there.

Axa do insurance if underpinning was more than 10years ago.

ComtesseDeSpair Wed 16-Sep-20 00:06:34

There’s a huge difference between subsidence because you live near a cliff face or above a mine and subsidence caused by tree roots or soil types. If you really like the house, get a structural survey. My house was diagnosed as having had historical structural movement - basically subsidence. We’re in a part of London largely built on clay soil where it’s really common and as long as there’s no evidence of significant ongoing movement and / or underpinning has taken place, it isn’t considered an issue. I’ve been able to mortgage and get insurance without any problems.

Itsokthanks Wed 16-Sep-20 00:13:46

We bought a house that had historical subsidence. We've lived here 15 years and not had any further issues.
Get a survey done and go from there.

Anordinarymum Wed 16-Sep-20 00:17:05

I live in a cul de sac. There are eight detached houses on our street. The houses were built on farmland. I have seen water seeping out of driveways on other streets.

The house next door to me was put up for sale by the owner who moved out to a retirement flat.

Lots of people viewed it but nobody bought. it stayed empty for a long time and then suddenly it was bought cheaply by a property company who rent it out.

One of my neighbours told me he viewed it before he bought his house further down the street. The reason he walked away was because of subsidence.

It's the only one on the street with this problem. I suspect there may be a stream running directly under it.

Seems like it is a deal breaker

KnobChops Wed 16-Sep-20 05:21:39

Anordinarymum

I live in a cul de sac. There are eight detached houses on our street. The houses were built on farmland. I have seen water seeping out of driveways on other streets.

The house next door to me was put up for sale by the owner who moved out to a retirement flat.

Lots of people viewed it but nobody bought. it stayed empty for a long time and then suddenly it was bought cheaply by a property company who rent it out.

One of my neighbours told me he viewed it before he bought his house further down the street. The reason he walked away was because of subsidence.

It's the only one on the street with this problem. I suspect there may be a stream running directly under it.

Seems like it is a deal breaker

This sounds like ongoing issues rather than a house that has been previously underpinned and therefore fixed.

Lightsabre Wed 16-Sep-20 05:30:54

Depends on whether you're happy to take on the risk surely. Ring around for insurance quotes once you have some more information. If subsidence is excluded then definitely walk away. Even if it is included, really scrutinise the paperwork and wording. You will almost definitely have problems reselling. I'd keep looking personally.

KnobChops Wed 16-Sep-20 07:11:14

Lightsabre

Depends on whether you're happy to take on the risk surely. Ring around for insurance quotes once you have some more information. If subsidence is excluded then definitely walk away. Even if it is included, really scrutinise the paperwork and wording. You will almost definitely have problems reselling. I'd keep looking personally.

I’m sorry I’m going to have to keep challenging this. The subsidence was caused by a tree that has now been removed. The property was underpinned (ie fixed). If this is all the story then there is no reason for that house to move again. The foundations are fixed.

Op I would do a bit more digging, the sellers should have all the paperwork from the time, the structural survey that will list the issues in depth, the solution needed and the building work sign off. They can also tell you their buildings insurance costs inc any future subsidence excess and you can take that over if you’re happy with the numbers. If not there are other providers who will quote you and the financial advisor at the estate agents can find these for you.

wufti Wed 16-Sep-20 07:40:40

agree with Knobchops. request more information about the underpinning and whether any ongoing monitoring was recommended in the report and whether it was carried out. ask for info re insurance costs and whether the insurer would be happy to continue cover.
we bought an old house (1912) with "movement" visible - a cracked lintel over a door and some cracking on pebbledash. our house is on clay and has traditionally shallow foundations as was the building method at the time. Dry summer make the clay shrink/very wet seasons lead to clay expanding. nothing major. we have shopped around for insurance and always managed to reduce cost and get cover (most insurance creep up over time). currently insured with NFU (which recommendation) which worked really well as the local office know the area and could confidently say, clay ground, typical of the area, no major change in last x years.
appreciate it is slightly different to your situation but it the houses ticks all other boxes - and you plan to be there some time - then the insurance problem can be overcome. Just expect to pay a bit more in insurance than a brand new house and budget accordingly.

WhoWouldHaveThoughtThat Wed 16-Sep-20 08:14:52

Maybe two years is no long enough to see if the problem has been completely resolved. There could be further settlement...

WhoWouldHaveThoughtThat Wed 16-Sep-20 08:15:53

Bit of Scottish slipped in my post there - 'no long' = 'not long'

OverTheRainbow88 Wed 16-Sep-20 08:18:14

I would avoid at all costs, especially if you haven’t even started spending money on it, like having a survey etc

YellowNotRed Wed 16-Sep-20 08:40:07

I'd do some online buildings and contents insurance quotes to see what the premiums come out as to make sure they're not ridiculous, but it absolutely wouldn't put me off buying a house that had previous subsidence as long as it had been fixed and the cause of the problem removed. smile

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