Would you buy a house with subsidence history

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  • Would you buy a house with subsidence history
  • coffeeking
    Member

    Seems to frighten off most insurers and mortgage advisors, even if fixed and OK'd by engineers.

    PeterPoddy
    Member

    No. Not a chance.

    Wouldn't buy one on a flood plain, either.

    ojom
    Member

    Based on my recent experience in this area…. Walk away. Now.

    2hottie
    Member

    Agree with PP, on both counts, walk away..

    cynic-al
    Member

    Doubt I would, even if there was an engineer's guarantee (which I doubt)

    donald
    Member

    I did.

    The only problem we have is that there is a limited range of insurers from which to choose so we don't get the cheapest deals. For instance none of the on-line insurers will quote. Apart from that it's been fine.

    clubber
    Member

    No chance. Even if I didn't mind it for myself, I'd not simply because of how much harder it'd make it to sell.

    No. As a geotechnical engineer i regularly see houses which have 'been fixed' then start subsiding in another way.

    uplink
    Member

    Depends how much of a discount I was getting over a similar [non-subsiding] property

    jond
    Member

    If the reasons for the susidence have been established, and it's been done correctly, can't see why it should be a problem. A kneejerk reaction's a little simple-minded, if you'll excuse the phrase.

    OH's parents had some underpinning done on their place some years ago (and didn't have much problem selling it a few years later either), can't remember exactly why but it wasn't built on clay/near water/earthworks etc

    Only problem usually is that only the insurance company under which the work was done will cover it in future..

    >which have 'been fixed' then start subsiding in another way.

    Do tell, I'm curious 🙂

    coffeeking
    Member

    I'm looking at 145K for a 4 bed detached. Subsidence is assumed to have come from a blocked drain (lack of maint.) One corner sunk slightly, repaired by re-filling the void and bonding metal bars into the brickwork stitching the crack up every 200mm. And repairing the drain of course. No internal cracking obvious. House requires some hefty work (which doesn't worry me much, kitchen, some roof bits, decorate everywhere) but at that price and in the location it's pretty cheap (similar properties going for 200+ in the same area) and I'm not sure I'll get back what I put in. I'm not trying to "make money" on it, just don't want to find that in a few years when my contract is up I'm unable to sell etc. Current insurer will continue cover (fairly pricey) and others have agreed cover would be possible on production of certificates from structural eng report, but I can see me sinking 15K in repairs and the price not shifting. I'm really torn, as it's a nice place in a nice area and just what we were looking for (if not more) at our price range. It being near the top end of my budget I'm not sure I want to risk the additional possible costs, but its very very tempting.

    Premier Icon vinnyeh
    Subscriber

    I think that in London if you took out the houses that were in areas prone to subsidence, and the houses in flood risk areas, there's be pretty much nothing left.

    coffeeking
    Member

    This is true, and I wonder why it's still got such a stigma attached to it. Partly the reason I'm so tempted, but it's my first house buy and despite being technically competent for a hefty re-working, I've no experience of the buying/selling/insuring side of things.

    I've sent some detailed photos to a family friend who's a structural eng for a second opinion, but from the reaction here it suggests the number of buyers may be cut as quickly as the number of insurers is, which doesn't help if you need to move house.

    stonemonkey
    Member

    I investigate subsidence claims for insurance companies, and i would purchase a house with subsidence as long as I was confident that the cause of the problem had been properly identified and corrected. I would however, also use this as a strong bargaining tool. If you have any questions my email is in my profile.

    Mike

    The problems could really arise when you try to sell it on – the available market will be much reduced.

    stonemonkey
    Member

    ALso,

    was the remedial work carried out by the insurance company? If so was it declared on the HIP . If it was done at the previous vendors expense you really only have a moral obligation to declare it on the HIP when selling yourself.

    coffeeking
    Member

    Cheers stonemonkey, I might well contact you but wouldnt want to impose. My main concern is the fact that I'm on a fixed length contract so when it ends I may have to move and quick, and if market is too reduced and depressed as much as currently I may have big problems (could rent it I suppose, but it's big for renting). I've also no idea if the cause WAS properly remedied, or if it was actually the massive trees in the front garden, rather than/as well as a blocked drain, or if the repairs are sufficient (I think I may have spotted another crack or two which may or may not be related). The insurance company were advised of the damage but no claim passed as far as the owner (nice old chap, very keen to point out every fault in the house) tells me(?!) so the owner paid a local company to do the work. It's in scotland too, so not sure how the laws differ from the rest of the UK.

    sobriety
    Member

    I've also no idea if the cause WAS properly remedied, or if it was actually the massive trees in the front garden, rather than/as well as a blocked drain, or if the repairs are sufficient (I think I may have spotted another crack or two which may or may not be related).

    I think you may have answered your own question, if it was me i'd be walking away about now…

    mema
    Member

    Is this the house in the south side of glasgow that you were talking about on another thread? If so the south side has subsidence throughout, engineers said that the flats around Cathcart would all collaspe and that was 40 years ago and they are still standing. My flat has had concrete pumped into the foundations. I would get in touch with a structural engineer who knows about Glasgow and the subsidence thats has occurred, also have a look at the cracks in the walls and try and see how 'new' they are to try and determine the amount of movement.

    stonemonkey
    Member

    Coffeeking , happy to help if i can who was the insurance company previously ?

    neilforrow
    Member

    depends… on how it has been dealt with, what problem is/was and what the solution was… you could have a house that is better off… ie more competent foundations…

    got anymore information?

    dont run away from it, but do your research, seek advice and make an informed decision…

    if you do by it, build up a history file, you will be amazed how records go missing…

    coffeeking
    Member

    mema – wayyyy out the south of Glasgow towards Dalry, not so much the southside. But yes, same house.

    stonemonkey – Zurich, I believe.

    The problem I see is that though the owner has kept records and I'm fairly sure I can find out the company that did the work etc, I've no proof that that was the cause, though the structural eng undoubtedly knows better than I so I suppose I should trust them. But that means I could be missing out on a massive bargain, or buying a massive black hole. From a technical point of view I'd be fairly happy with a repaired house if I knew it was done correctly and I knew it wasn't going to dent the resale cost too much (I guess it'll never be that of the surrounding houses if it's logged anywhere or I'm at liberty to tell people of the problem).

    neilforrow
    Member

    have you got the records… I could take a look at them…

    it coud be a case of a collapsed drain, or surrounding trees… or a more complex issue.

    like you said… if it has been fixed and you can prove it… put in a cheaky offer

    stonemonkey
    Member

    Not one we deal with am afraid , as others have said the correct cause of the problem is the most important. Most of the work i deal with is a result of trees on clayey soils and drainage problems , or poor construction. Not sure of the area, so couldn't advise on the local strata , neil forrow am sure could help.

    However it is not uncommon to come across propertys whic have been incorrectly diagnosed and repaired by others in the industry. Have all the cracks been repaired? If not do they look fresh, ie sharp edges, or old contain debris , warn edges etc. Where are they located on the building? Are there any monitoring records?

    coffeeking
    Member

    145 is the cheeky offer TBH, it was on the market at 175 18 months ago when the cracking was first noticed, relisted a bit cheaper but I've knocked him down again but I'm fairly convinced this is the limit.

    Not sure what the soil is, but the property is bordered by 2 rows of 30ft connifers, one either side but not actually next to the house, only down the sides of the front and rear gardens. These woudl be chopped down sharpish I think and replaced with something low and dense.

    All cracks had been repaired (only one major one got stitched, it started at first floor floorlevel about 1/3 of the way along the gable end, wrapped round the front and under the front window to about 20% where it met the DPC). Opened up to about 3mm at its worst as far as I can see from the original images. But now I found anothe starting at the other side of the front window heading down to the DPC in the other direction from the middle of the front wall. This may or may not be new, but it looks newish to me – follows mortar joints and the cracks are not weathered looking. I can shove a few images up if it helps to say "steer clear" or "needs someone to have a proper look"?

    Probably too much to describe TBH. I've made up a mini HTML document on a CD with a description of what I've found and links to images of them, but I'll have to re-size them for webbizing as they're 4 meg a photo at the moment.

    Cheers for the advice!

    TandemJeremy
    Member

    If it was a house for you for life and cheap enough then maybe. If you want to be able to sell quickly in the future then walk away.

    stonemonkey
    Member

    the wrote:

    YES Choppy choppy, on the basis of what you have said and without seeing the property tis is most likely the culprit. Stick the photos up but i would advise you get a surveyor out to investigate. Problem is the trees may not only be dehydrating the soil but have caused damage to the drains , so a CCTV survey of the drains would be advisable. And some trial holes to investigate the foundations. Maybe ask the vendors to pay and you will absorb some of the cost if you choose to purchase!

    coffeeking
    Member

    TJ – that is indeed the advice handed to me by relatives.

    stonemonkey – I'll grab the photos tonight, cheers. Obviously I'd not go near putting cash on the table without a proper investigation, I would just like to get a wide range of views on it to balance my initial rose tinted view, then very negative view afterwards. I suspect the trees blocked the drain they claimed caused the problem, one is about 5ft from the corner! If I were the neighbour I'd be getting very worried and demanding they be cut down!

    jond
    Member

    Stonemonkey's alluded to it already – re trees near houses, it depends a lot on what the subsoil is, as well as the type/size of tree. We wound up having to get a tree survey on our current place because there were several close to the border of the property (tho' the only large ones were a decent distance away) – sand/gravel, so no problem. It's more generally a problem on a clay soil – but removing a tree can cause a problem where one doesn't exist, since the tree will be removing water from the soil. Remove tree – clay expands and you get ground heave.

    Premier Icon midlifecrashes
    Subscriber

    I've not bought one, but it wouldn't be a problem, so long as I was sure of the cause, and it was fixable. Our first house had a problem with a cracked drain which washed away/undermined the footings of the corner of the house. We had the drain replaced, and a fair few ton of concrete under the corner. Inside we had strapping under the floorboards to tie the walls in place, then a repoint. Some tell tale nails were put in on either side of the crack site and they haven't moved in 16 years now. The main thing is if you're going to have an old house, you have to allow for the fact that they will need maintenance. At least with a traditional build house, pretty much everything is fixable by a bloke from yellow pages.

    coffeeking
    Member

    I suspect the soils are clay, I know someone about half a mile away who has very clay-y soils in his garden about a metre down.

    gixer.john
    Member

    Am currently remotley involved with a subsidence issue in Dudley.
    Carrilion Engineering Services say it's caused by faulty drainage.
    Dudley MBC Engineer says it's not.
    Specialist structural engineer says it's caused by failure of cavity void.

    One wants butressing.
    One wants underpinning.
    One wants wal stitching.

    Would't want to try and get insurance or future sale in this type of property.

    One of my work colleagues bought a flat in Walsall with subsidence about 4 years ago – can't even get anyone through the door to have alook at it now that he wants to sell.

    coffeeking
    Member

    noted, john, that's the kind of nightmare I woke up with this morning!

    mudshark
    Member

    My old house was on a flood plain – only found out when an insurance company told me and refused to insure me; thing is the house is in a rather densely populated part of West London so their loss really. Then when I sold the house the buyer was told the house needed indemnity insurance as there used to be a battery factory nearby – well there did 20 years ago and now there's a rather nice development of flats on it. I refused to pay for the insurance.

    jond
    Member

    Isn't most of London a flood plain ?
    😉

    (FWIW I'm a few miles west of Hampton Court…notionally ok from the river Mole 'cos of the local flood defences..)

    mudshark
    Member

    Well indeed – seems crazy to me for an insurer to reduce it's potential customer base so dramatically.

    No, I'd never buy any kind of listed building.

    Premier Icon armchairbiker
    Subscriber

    I scrolled down this really quickly but I've got a house with piling that goes down 6 meters in places. It will never move :-). Also my last house in London also had a small amount of subsidence (but it had been fixed- so never a problem).

    I got hit with a £3k subsidence excess when I bought it 5 years ago. Given the last claim 15 years ago cost £40k. I live with that.

    I would always take each property on it's own merits and ensure work was done properly and warranted. No paperwork – then walk.

    Final point is loan to value. The land of mine is worth it on it's own, so no issues (oh and don't flag it too much to lenders – but don't lie to insurers)

    Oh and I work in insurance so know how to present it as a good risk – but it's still a challenge. Good Luck.

    Premier Icon MoreCashThanDash
    Subscriber

    I used to be a claims manager, seen a fair few subsidence cases – as all have said, if the house is a keeper, and the problem was diagnosed and cured correctly, it will be worth it, might even be worth an extra grand or whetever to have your own investigations if you want to doublecheck given the potential savings you might make on the purchase price. If you are looking for a quick turn around, it will always deter fuure buyers I'm afraid.

    As for London, I attended conferences back in the early 90s pointing out the risk to the capital if the Thames Barrier failed, and warning that large parts of the underground would be unusable by the distant date of 2010 due to rising water levels. I suspect that those experts have now moved on to the global warming debate……

Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 43 total)

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