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oh bugger - is this a deal breaker?

24 replies

unavailable · 15/05/2009 23:46

We have put offer in on house that is grade 2 listed. Now the survey shows that replacement windows at the back of the propety were not agreed with planning/conservation officer.

I still love the house but cant be storing up trouble for the future.

Does anyone have similar experience, and what was the outcome?

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bellabelly · 15/05/2009 23:56

If the windows are at the back of the property (so not visible from the street) it's unlikely that the planning authority would pursue th ematter, I'd have thought. I would ring round and get some quotes for how much proper replacement windows (ie, that satisfy the Grade 2 listed criteria)would cost. Then negotiate with the vendors - you could ask them to drop the price by that amount or you could agree to pay half towards it?

wilbur · 16/05/2009 00:03

My in-laws bought a listed house that had had non-approved repairs to the roof (Georgian) and something else (can't remember what). They got an indemnity from the owners and an agreement from English Heritage that they didn't have to change the repairs, but that if they needed to do work on the roof in the future that it would have to go back to the correct Georgian stuff. Talk to English Heritage and see what they can do - if you big up your commitment to keeping the building in good order, they may be helpful.

GrendelsMum · 16/05/2009 21:40

EH don't deal with Grade II listed houses - it would be the local conservation officer you'd need to deal with. There's a range of things they might ask you to do, from leaving it as is, to returning it to how it was at the point of listing.

The best thing to do would be to re-post this on Period where there are a number of Conservation Officers who post, as well as a huge range of very knowledgeable period home owners.

I'd also recommend going on a SPAB homeowners' weekend course as quickly as you can, as this really covers the essentials of maintaining an old house that otherwise you have no way of knowing.


KathyBrown · 17/05/2009 15:33

They could apply for retrospective planning permision, that's what most people do and get

MadameCastafiore · 17/05/2009 15:40

I would doubt very much that you would get agreement from the Listings Officer whether they are on the back or front of the house - we have had a few and most are not the easiest people to deal with - what I would do is contact them - ask them what they would probably decide that you had to do and then get a quote for it and decrease your offer by said amount.

If you are anywhere near North Essex we have a fab carpenter and joiner who has made quite a few windows for us which were very good quality and not too expensive.

Oh and you will have a hell of a job getting a signal from Sky eithet - you are not allowed dishes attached to houses - ours is on our barn but it almost became a deal breaker for DH not having Sky Sports and the kids who were missing their fix of CBeebies.

unavailable · 17/05/2009 16:24

Thanks for all the advice.
We will need this issue resolved or we wont proceed - but any other prospective buyer is likely to take the same view, so I hope the vendors agree.

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GrendelsMum · 17/05/2009 18:59

If you tread carefully with the COs, there may be wiggle room here - strictly speaking, you should be putting back exactly what was in at the time of the listing, but there may be the opportunity to negotiate for something slightly different if it's in keeping with the house. e.g. Originally there was a sliding casement, someone replaced it with a metal window, the house got listed, the current owners replaced the metal window with uPVC double glazing - you ought to replace with metal window, but this would be the sort of case where talking to the CO in a tactful way about what they would really like might result in you being able to put back a lovely sliding casement.

In my experience, COs are really happy to work with reasonably well-informed home owners - if you explain that you want to do something sensible and why, they will agree like a shot. They can also be a wonderful source of free ideas and recommendations for builders and tradesment.

KathyBrown · 17/05/2009 19:45

We have actual experience of this, when we bought a grade 2 listed house the previous owners had done an entire extension without planning permision and moved the staircase, now we had visions of having to put it all back and rip the kitchen down.
What actually happened was as there were no records of when the work was done and nobody knew who had done it (hint hint) retrospective planning permission was granted and that was that, a lot of worry and stress over nothing.
It'll be fine.

unavailable · 21/05/2009 11:05

I'm really fed up. Have just heard via solicitors that the vendors have confirmed they have no permission for windows but are not prepared to negotiate on price at all. They are not prepared to let the conservation officer come around. End of discussion.

We have wasted over a thousand on solicitors fees and surveys, and now it looks as if we will have to move into rented.

I am having horrid thoughts of wanting revenge.

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GrendelsMum · 22/05/2009 08:02

That's easy enough :-)

You just phone up the conservation officers, tell them the house you're 'thinking of buying', explain that the owners have confirmed they don't have permission for the windows, give them the link to the estate agents photo of the replacement windows so they can see them for themselves, and ask them whether they'd insist on the windows being replaced.

Then you follow up with a letter in writing with full quote from the vendors about the changes being done without permission, and the photos of how it looks now. Cue COs taking action now, rather than with the next owner.

It's probably worth doing, just to stop someone else getting hit by the same problem after they've coughed up loads for the survey.

Have you checked the listing on the EH site? The missing windows might even be described within the listing.

noddyholder · 22/05/2009 08:08

Unless the windows are hideous and in bad repair I would get the owners to get an indemnity and just go with it.How long have they been there?Don't contact anyone yet as this will make indemnity impossible.Agree that rear windows not as important.We put french doors at the rear of a conservation area property and nothing was said in the survey at all but to be fair it wasn't listed.

EvenBetaDad · 22/05/2009 08:54

unavailable - there is nothng to stop you still 'agreeing' to the original accepted offer price and then an hour before you are due to sign contracts just tell the vendors you want a lower price as you have reconsidered the issue of the windows or you will walk away. The fact is that the market is dropping all the time and has probably droped 3 - 4% since you first looked at the house.

There is nothing illegal in walking aay just before contract signing and in fact there is nothing to stop the vendors 'agreeing' a price and then getting another buyer and walking away from you at the last minute.

Until the contract is signed there is nothing binding on either party.

clam · 23/05/2009 16:57

Never fails to amaze me, the attitude of some people out there.
They've got a buyer in the bag who is keen to proceed. They have an arguably serious problem with their house which is likely to scupper not only this sale but any subsequent offer, yet they will not negotiate on price?

They're mad. If you're sure that you're going to write off the grand and pull out, then yes, I think I would call the conservation people.

clam · 23/05/2009 16:58

Oh, and I'd also be wondering what else it is that they're clearly scared of the CO discovering if he comes round. In addition to the windows, I mean.

unavailable · 23/05/2009 19:00

All the way through this process, we have been given the very strong impression that the vendors (or their EA) feel they are doing us a huge favour by accepting our offer to buy their house! I was accused of "not following protocol" and time wasting early on and they have never taken the house off the market.(EA said "its not the way we do things up here" as if it was a different country rather than county.)

We contacted the EA on Thursday to ask if they were prepared to do anything to try to resolve the issue of the "illegal" windows (we would be prepared to be look at a variety of options)but they just havent responded. I rang the EA this morning and was told the only two people who able to speak with me are not in until Tuesday. Maybe there is a north /south divide regarding the property market, as they just dont seem that fussed about getting a sale whereas our EA is keen as mustard to keep things on track with our sale.

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clam · 23/05/2009 19:03

Walk away!

unavailable · 23/05/2009 19:30

Yes - We have very reluctantly come to that conclusion Clam.

I just dont get it tho'. If they werent happy with the offer, they didnt have to accept.

I'd love to know their reasoning.

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lalalonglegs · 23/05/2009 19:59

They probably do think they are doing you a favour - some people regard listed status as having cachet rather than being a pita. Rent, watch prices fall, develop a Yorkshire accent so that the EAs can understand what you are saying and find something better.

EvenBetaDad · 23/05/2009 20:04

Unavailable - I do now remember your earlier thread about this. I have met a lot of vendors just like this with listed properties. Its like they think they are doing you a favour by allowing you to buy their house.

Don't tell me, let me guess, late middle aged or elderly couple who have barely put a penny into the property in years, with a huge amount of decorating/rennovation work required, but ever so slightly grand and precious about it. Deeply offended you will not offer the asking price and actually not really bothered about moving unless you pay off their debts, buy them a retirement cottage and give them a nice pension. Estate agent a little bit frightened of the vendor. Am I close?

Walk away. Let them stew. It is not the only house for sale. If the Estate Agent is bothered he will talk them round.

frogmarsh · 23/05/2009 20:30

Oooh, we are in a similar situation except we are the guilty party with illegal windows and i should emphasis our house is not listed but we are in a conservation area.

Our windows were rotten so we replaced them - like for like wooden frame double glazed - had no idea we would need planning or building regs. Obviously this came up when we sold the house, buyers got nervous and we were worried we would lose the sale. Solicitor sorted out indemnity insurance (which we paid for) and we agreed to set aside a small amount for the buyers to sort it after they had moved in. Problem solved. The insurance pays out if the council find out about the new windows and try and enforce any changes, it covers all costs if this (unlikely) event were ever to happen.

If you love the house then don't immediately give up, talk to your solicitor and see what they can suggest.

unavailable · 06/06/2009 21:14

Its me again.

I wish we'd taken your advice EvenBetaDad.

After several days of stewing, when we thought we would have to pull out as they were so intransigent about the "illegal" windows, they informed us (via EA) that they would replace them and get them approved by conservation officer. Hurrah! they have seen sense, we think.

Fast forward to today - EA tells us they have withdrawn the house from the market. ("I am a bit miffed" she says?!) Apparently, it is for "personal reasons", but no elaboration on this.

I may be getting this out of proportion, and am just reacting badly because of disappointment but given what has gone before, I am very sceptical.

If I had to withdraw at a late date, I think I would feel I should give the prospective buyers an explanation. In them not doing so, and with the history of the attempted sale, I cant help but feel there is something underhand going on.

Sales fall though all the time, I know, so please give me some words of wisdom to help me get some perspective here.

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lalalonglegs · 06/06/2009 21:25

They are twats, if you had bought the house I am sure you would have uncovered a lot of botched work (much of it without LBC) and it would have been hellish. They have behaved like tools from the beginning so, while you might think you deserve an explanation, I think it is very unlikely you will ever get one - they sound like the sort of people who will be blaming you for the whole sorry saga.

You have my sympathies but the only thing to do is to mark it down to experience and know what to look for next time you fall in love with a listed house.

lalalonglegs · 06/06/2009 21:27

In terms of why they did it, my guess is that having promised to replace the windows, they realised how much/how long it would take to have them done properly and either decided against it or to remarket the house once it was done at a higher price.

unavailable · 06/06/2009 21:30

Thanks lala. I certainly have learnt a lesson. I liked the house so much that I ignored the warning signs. I wont do it again.

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