• This topic has 37 replies, 26 voices, and was last updated 1 day ago by Ewan.
Viewing 38 posts - 1 through 38 (of 38 total)
  • Anyone own a underpinned house
  • Premier Icon Ewan
    Free Member

    Hi all, me and the mrs are about ready to commit hari kari over house hunting. We finally think we have found ‘the one’ as it were. Ticks all the boxes…. however….

    Just before we left, I was commenting to my mate who was offering a third pair of eyes about where they’d cut down a big weeping willow. The agents ears pricked up and I said to him, the normal reason why people cut down weeping willows is subsidence. And he said, yes there was subsidence but the house was underpinned and the tree removed.

    So i was thinking, fine, problem removed and the damage has been fixed. But having looked into the insurance side of things, it looks like it can be a bit of a nightmare. Apparently all the relevant certificates etc are available for the work which was done in late 2018 or 2019 (this is based on finding an old listing on zoopla that said sold STC on it, but according to the land registry it never actually sold – presumably as the subsidence was found in the survey – the pictures on the listing had the big weeping willow in it).

    So does anyone own a house that has been underpinned? Is insurance a nightmare? Should we just run away? (quite reluctant to run away as it ticks all of the boxes and not many others have).

    It’s on for the same price as it was in 2018. So i guess they’ve factored the subsidence into it’s value.

    Premier Icon holdsteady
    Full Member

    I don’t live in one but I agonised over whether to buy one or not as that house was perfect in every other respect .. then I thought to myself “if it’s causing me to think twice, how difficult will it be to sell if I decide to move“ and I also discovered several others buyers had been dissuaded by the underpinning and it had been on the market for far longer than estate agent had told us.

    Premier Icon lesgrandepotato
    Full Member

    At the right price I don’t see a problem. It’s been fixed you’ve got the certs. As long as you are in for a long haul so the next buyer doesn’t have to deal with it as recent history I reckon you’ll be fine.

    Premier Icon ayjaydoubleyou
    Free Member

    I can’t comment on the selling or the insurance aspect.

    But as the structural engineer who specifies the underpinning, I’d have absolutely no issue buying one.

    Buying the house next to the house thats been underpinned though…

    Premier Icon mjsmke
    Free Member

    Mine was underpinned and choice of insurance companies were limited at first. It was underpinned 18 years before I bought it and I found most insurance companies asked if the house has been underpinned in the last 20 years, so now insurance is easy.

    Premier Icon rogermoore
    Full Member

    Yes, our house is underpinned. Done sometime in the late 80s / early 90s apparently, no paperwork whatsoever. Insurance was painful, even the existing insurer of the previous owner (Haliax) wouldn’t give us a new policy. Nearly gave up and someone pointed us in the direction of Legal & General who were a doddle. Biggest pain in the arse is the height reduced in the cellar means I can’t stand upright down there. Like anything do what your comfortable with as you’re the one living with it.
    RM.

    Premier Icon Ewan
    Free Member

    Thanks for the comments so far. We’re pretty depressed by the whole thing – we’ve been looking for ages, found the area we want, and have a baby on the way. Finally thought we’d found something for a sensible price and now the rational part of me is saying walk away why take the risk of it being a problem.

    Also have no idea how to work out what it’s worth. It’s been put on at the middle number on Zoopla and I’ve seen things suggesting underpinned houses are worth less. So we going to offer asking and just get it done, but now I’ve no idea. Ugh.

    Premier Icon i_scoff_cake
    Free Member

    Without knowing more I’d walk about because the failed sale may suggest that something unsavoury was discovered re the underpinning.

    Premier Icon Greybeard
    Full Member

    People, and insurers, are paranoid about subsidence and underpinning. I’m with ayjaydoubleyou, I could have posted his exact words.

    Unfortunately, mortgage providers tend to paranoid as well – check before you go any further.

    Premier Icon frankconway
    Full Member

    My ex and I bought farm outbuildings to convert; 2 storey barn had been underpinned but attached single storey hadn’t. No other buildings involved.
    Builder said…needs to be done but had no foundations or footings – just built onto compacted subsoil; risk was as as you dug in alternate metre wide bays beneath the first layer of bricks there was no support so potential for (partial) collapse.
    Underpinning was about a metre depth of reinforced concrete.
    Nothing fell down; no problem with insurers – late 90’s and selling on didn’t raise any questions.
    Note ayjaydoubleyou’s comment above…

    But as the structural engineer who specifies the underpinning, I’d have absolutely no issue buying one.

    Buying the house next to the house thats been underpinned though…

    Get a structural engineer to inspect/survey – or walk.

    Premier Icon garage-dweller
    Full Member

    I’ve had one in the past and no issues. This was back in the late 90s.

    My dad was a building inspector, took one look at the engineer’s report and said “don’t worry about it”.

    If the work has been done recently is there not a guarantee or warranty with the works?

    Premier Icon Rockhopper
    Free Member

    If you are having doubts/issues then that’ll apply to a potential buyer when you come to sell it in the future.

    Premier Icon twinw4ll
    Free Member

    My parents, unfortunately underpinning may not be the end of it.
    Are you paying cash or having a large mortgage, what seems like the perfect house now may not be if life throws you a curve ball.
    I was in the building game and I would have considered a house with subsidence if I was paying cash.
    We’re currently trying to sell our perfect forever house which we enthusiastically paid too much for.

    Premier Icon joshvegas
    Free Member

    The problem with trees is the cause subsidence as they dry the local area which shrinks the soil.

    It can go the other way by building a wall near a tree then cutting it down the ground swells as it returns to the general moisture content.

    The walls have been underpinned to stabilise the damage caused by the tree. The tree has been removed therefore no problem won’t return.

    I suspect the horror stories about underpinning occur where the cause of the subsidence is not so easily dealt with, mining and clay soils etc.

    There are alot of very expensive houses in london underpinned to get their super basement in.

    I’d buy it if it was a dream house.

    Premier Icon scamperjenkins
    Free Member

    Almost bought an underpinned house 13 years ago. On the face of it, wasn’t too bad to my untrained eye – a cracked drain had washed a small amount out. The survey mentioned it but gave no indication of the grief it would cause me or to get it looked at by a specialist.

    Long story short, could not get the place insured. The vendor gave me the run around, providing cover insurance details which were either false or had lapsed years ago – I concluded there was no insurance. How would I sell it? There is always another house.

    Premier Icon sandwicheater
    Full Member

    OP, if you’d like me to take a look at insurance for you, i’m in this sector. DM if you want a chat.

    As it’s a fairly recent fix, firstly, insurers would want to know the root cause with written evidence. Check for a structural survey identifying damage and cause. In this case, sounds like the tree but, you want confirmation of this from a qualified surveyor/engineer. Secondly, detailed evidence of the remedial works with information on monitoring periods post repair. Info on warranty for the works and info on who the remedial work was carried out by.

    With all the above, you shouldn’t have a problem getting insurance. It will limit who will offer terms, you’ll likely have a higher subsidence excess to start and, you will be paying over the average as a result for insurance.

    With evidence of the above, i’d be happy to purchase a house with previous subsidence/underpinning.

    Premier Icon Ewan
    Free Member

    Cheers sandwicheater – have sent you an IM

    Premier Icon dc1988
    Free Member

    Surely if you get the right information that it’s been underpinned correctly and there are no ongoing issues then any lingering concerns could be alleviated by getting a good deal on the price. If you assume it’s putting other buyers off then you might have a bargaining tool.

    Premier Icon globalti
    Free Member

    Not underpinned but with a culvert beneath… we have fingers crossed for exchange this week on our house in Lancashire, which is built on a massive concrete bridge over a large brook. We bought it 16 years ago when flooding was less of an issue but now it is in a zone considered likely to flood. Consequently our buyers have had a nightmare with robot inspections, engineer reports and insurance over double what we have been paying for years. I have lived with the stress of living over a brook for 16 years and will be relieved to get shot of it. Luckily we are selling such a beautifully turned out house that our buyer is in love with it and hasn’t given up on buying it. Selling it will remove one more source of stress at a time when I’m suffering generalised anxiety disorder and depression so it will be cause for celebration. One characteristic of GAD is that you tend to catastrophise everything so the waiting has almost finished me off.

    So think carefully about what happens when you want to sell the house.

    Premier Icon jamesco
    Free Member

    Sister bought a bungalow with planning permission to extend and raise the roof to a house, perfect location good price , cash purchase. When the local planner arrived on site he demanded that it be underpinned due to the clay sub soils, seemed like a ball ache but actually pretty simple , not too expensive and completed in double quick time by her builders, all paperwork in order so good to go. I have to say that I’d be happy to buy an underpinned house after her experience, not too onerous in the end, always assuming the paperwork is good which is surely what a solicitor is paid for before purchase.

    Premier Icon Nobeerinthefridge
    Free Member

    Fingers crossed for you @globalti.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    Hope it works out globalti.

    We repaired ww2 structural damage on our first house in Sheffield.

    Cost £10k, was completed in a week, and you would have no idea the whole gable end had been repaired. They’ve basically bolted that house to the rest of the run of terraces, front to back, side to side, a big area of effectively underpinning with connections to the gert big bolts via plates and hidden i-beams…
    On one hand really basic engineering principle, on another quite impressive. It was done so well, you have to lift floor boards to tell, and a wall shaped like a book spine is now straight and upright as a die – and we know the owners 18 years later and it’s still fine.
    It’s a lot more solid than a house without the reinforcement, guaranteed for 100 years.
    The only downside was we separated house and contents insurance, as a few of the major insurers wouldn’t quote.

    Premier Icon Blackflag
    Full Member

    We had ours underpinned when we renovated it. The only issue we had was that the insurance goes up.

    Premier Icon Ewan
    Free Member

    Update on this… turns out it hasn’t been underpinned! The agent just assumed it had.

    It was part of an insurance claim in 2018/2019 – basically a cyprus hedge and weepingwillow was causing it according to the survey reports i’ve seen. The recommendation was for the willow and hedge to be cut down – this was done and the cracks imemdiately got smaller. On the outside of the property the cracks were raked and remortored. There was some remedial stuff to do on the insde, but they don’t seem to have done this as it was minor and they (the vendor) saw it as a basic redecorating job. Overall this made the claim come to about 3k.

    So I *think* that’s good news. Cause identified and removed, didn’t need underpinning… future management pretty clear (keep the rest of the trees on the property in check according to the report).

    The only possible thing I can see now is that the work may not have been fully completed (as the inside redectorating stuff wasn’t done) and secondly the work may not have been finished in the last 12 months (i read something on the ‘internet’ that mortgage companies generally wanted 12 month after the work – i spoke to nationwide and they just said their surveyor would need to be happy that the building was lendable on – might need a structual report (which we’d get anyway)).

    Thoughts? Need to ideally get an offer in today (!) so we can say tell us by monday, as we have another property that we’re considering (more expensive, not quite as ideal).

    Premier Icon glp1
    Full Member

    Get a full / enhanced structural report on it (possibly getting a trial pit dug to reveal the foundations so they can be commented on) – give the surveyor that does the job all the background history including the old Rightmove images. refer to the trees. ask about the subsidence effects /future effects post removal of tree. get the vendor to provide info on when the tree was removed.

    Ask a boat load more questions – the vendor hasn’t exactly been overly forthcoming with info on the history from what I have briefly read.

    put an offer in – if you still have doubts – use a as bargaining tool at a later date to reduce the price- I did exactly this when the extent of (concealed) damp in a house I was going to buy became evident – sale then fell through as we’d been very thorough in regards to the property history. vendor was underhand to stay the least.

    also as devious as it sounds you could try the bargaining trick right before you are about to exchange contracts and try to knock them down, or really gamble and do it right before completion – the estate agent and solicitors won’t thank you for it – my colleague had exactly this and had to agree to a 5k price reduction or ‘we don’t move today’ was the purchasers lever.

    Premier Icon retro83
    Free Member

    3K is nothing for a subsidence claim, the damage must have been miniscule. I’ve just had subsidence fixed on my house (not underpinned) that was caused by my neighbour’s oak tree and the claim was around £100K all in.

    The problem is that even though the tree is gone and the issue resolved, ticking the “has this property ever suffered from subsidence” box on Meerkat etc makes all the usual options disappear. My insurance is now £900 with a massive excess and no extras, whereas it was only £220 for all the bells and whistles including cover for the bikes etc (same company).

    I’m told it will drop in time. I think that if you get a good enough deal on the property to negate the above then it’s not an issue.

    Premier Icon Ewan
    Free Member

    Get a full / enhanced structural report on it (possibly getting a trial pit dug to reveal the foundations so they can be commented on) – give the surveyor that does the job all the background history including the old Rightmove images. refer to the trees. ask about the subsidence effects /future effects post removal of tree. get the vendor to provide info on when the tree was removed.

    Ask a boat load more questions – the vendor hasn’t exactly been overly forthcoming with info on the history from what I have briefly read.

    Actually, I think the vendor has been pretty good – I possibly didn’t make that as clear when i explained things. The only thing they’ve not done, is been upfront either in the rightmove ad (which i can kind of understand) or getting the agent to bring it up straight away. As soon as i started asking questions about the missing tree the agent was pretty upfront, i asked for the documentation day before yesterday and it was in my inbox this morning (minus a document he’s still looking for, but i thought this promptness and openness was a good sign).

    Vendor has also supplied me with information on their existing insurance – basically jumped 150 quid after the year of the claim (to about 550 quid a year).

    At the moment, we’re planning on offering asking. Mainly because we’re so fed up with house hunting, and just want to get it over. It’s under budget, the price it was offered on was already slightly cheap so…

    Premier Icon rockthreegozy
    Full Member

    Go for it, if everything else is right it sounds like a smaller risk to take and every house can have (unknown) problems lurking so at least this is out in the open.

    Premier Icon Ewan
    Free Member

    Offer in with deadline. Will unclench on Monday!

    Premier Icon Ewan
    Free Member

    Well offer accepted… i’m sure the survey stage will be entertaining.

    Premier Icon retro83
    Free Member

    Ewan
    Free Member

    Well offer accepted… i’m sure the survey stage will be entertaining.

    Congrats! Interested to see what the survey highlights

    Premier Icon Ewan
    Free Member

    Thanks! – will put a update on here in due course.

    Premier Icon dovebiker
    Full Member

    Lived in one for 27 years – Detached house built in 1902 on an area that is basically sand and clay. All the houses of that age had been done locally – the worst part was the 1970 extension that was built from blocks that expanded and contracted so much the plaster was cracked. The worst aspect was the uninsulated solid concrete floor was cold – if doing it again I’d have insulation and UFH installed

    Premier Icon furryaardvark
    Free Member

    Tell me about trees too close to house – need to be trimmed in stages to avoid sudden soaking of the soil and structural damage ?????????????

    Premier Icon Ewan
    Free Member

    If the tree is newer than the house then ‘according to my book’ the heave (the swelling of the soil) won’t be worse than the original position of the ground, so in theory the foundations will go close to back to where they were to start with. If it’s older than the house you probably need to worry more.

    Book is https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Has_Your_House_Got_Cracks.html?id=lql5TR3Gj0YC&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button&redir_esc=y

    Premier Icon mrmonkfinger
    Free Member

    How close can a willow tree be to a building without risking subsidence problems?

    Our dipstick* neighbours have one they are hell bent on allowing to develop to full height.

    * I’m being polite, so no chance of actual communication or them reducing/removing it.

    Premier Icon Ewan
    Free Member

    I believe not that close – willow are pretty thirsty things. What type of soil do you have? From what I read the roots can spread out 2-3 times the height of the tree.

    I have the arbocultural report from the property in the OP. The willow in question was 13m high, boreholes down to 4m were taken, both at 10m-15m from the tree. Both boreholes had medium roots down to 1.8m of about 4mm in diameter. So presumably the little ones go further.

    Presumably you could get a borehole by your foundations, and then set the insurance on them?

    Premier Icon Ewan
    Free Member

    This may be a useful table – taken from my subsidence book (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Has-Your-House-Got-Cracks/dp/B01A0BQJ1M). This is a table showing the distance within which 75% of reported tree related subsidence occurred, together with the recommended separation relative to the height of the tree H.

Viewing 38 posts - 1 through 38 (of 38 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.