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Viewed A House That Looks Like It's Got Subsidence

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Saw a house yesterday - nice property, divorce situation, been on the market for a while - looks good for a low offer etc.

However, we noticed a patched-up crack in the render (it is rendered at most of the ground level, exposed brick everywhere else) - and closer inspection revealed a crack in the mortar. More inspection showed cracks running from the windows - either up to windows upstairs on down to the ground.

It's a detached property and next door did not show signs of cracking (by looking from several metres away - may have missed a fine one?). This property has at least one crack on each of it's 4 external walls.

We took this up with the EA who contacted the vendor and phoned me back later in the day: apparently the vendor only had a valuation survey when he moved in 4/5 years ago. And the cracks were there then. And he has no special conditions imposed on his buildings insurance. The EA attributed them to rotten windows that were replaced some 12 years ago. Not sure I can believe that, though!

Anyway, looking at ways of getting some professional advice ... preferably without having to pay for it ;)

I've thought about:-

  • Trying to convince the EA to convince the vendor to pay for a chartered surverer, on the grounds that such a report will be beneficial to selling the property in general (might lead to more offers coming in, blah, blah, blah)
  • Seeing if any trades that specialise in fixing this sort of issue do free estimates to at least get a bit of feedback as to what the problem might be
  • Going to see the neighbours + vendor to find out a bit of history myself.

As it happens, we actually looked at a house a while ago that turned out to have subsidence and the vendor was a RICS surveyor, so I had quite a detailed chat with him about what's invovled.

Anyone got any ideas (apart from not touching it with a bargepole :P )

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Saw a house yesterday - nice property, divorce situation, been on the market for a while - looks good for a low offer etc.

However, we noticed a patched-up crack in the render (it is rendered at most of the ground level, exposed brick everywhere else) - and closer inspection revealed a crack in the mortar. More inspection showed cracks running from the windows - either up to windows upstairs on down to the ground.

It's a detached property and next door did not show signs of cracking (by looking from several metres away - may have missed a fine one?). This property has at least one crack on each of it's 4 external walls.

We took this up with the EA who contacted the vendor and phoned me back later in the day: apparently the vendor only had a valuation survey when he moved in 4/5 years ago. And the cracks were there then. And he has no special conditions imposed on his buildings insurance. The EA attributed them to rotten windows that were replaced some 12 years ago. Not sure I can believe that, though!

Anyway, looking at ways of getting some professional advice ... preferably without having to pay for it ;)

I've thought about:-

  • Trying to convince the EA to convince the vendor to pay for a chartered surverer, on the grounds that such a report will be beneficial to selling the property in general (might lead to more offers coming in, blah, blah, blah)

  • Seeing if any trades that specialise in fixing this sort of issue do free estimates to at least get a bit of feedback as to what the problem might be

  • Going to see the neighbours + vendor to find out a bit of history myself.

As it happens, we actually looked at a house a while ago that turned out to have subsidence and the vendor was a RICS surveyor, so I had quite a detailed chat with him about what's invovled.

Anyone got any ideas (apart from not touching it with a bargepole :P )

If you like the house, suck it up and pay for a survey, unless you have a mate/ family connection to a surveyor. A good builder could also be an option that would probably be free. When the missus and I were looking to buy at auction, we got a builder to come along with us.

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Why don't you want to pay for it, apart from the obvious?

Just the obvious really: don't want to incur expenses if I don't have to. Especially here since it looks very likely to be subsidence and we are then very likely not to proceed with it. That's all.

I agree with both repliers though, that professional advice is really what's needed.

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Saw a house yesterday - nice property, divorce situation, been on the market for a while - looks good for a low offer etc.

However, we noticed a patched-up crack in the render (it is rendered at most of the ground level, exposed brick everywhere else) - and closer inspection revealed a crack in the mortar. More inspection showed cracks running from the windows - either up to windows upstairs on down to the ground.

It's a detached property and next door did not show signs of cracking (by looking from several metres away - may have missed a fine one?). This property has at least one crack on each of it's 4 external walls.

We took this up with the EA who contacted the vendor and phoned me back later in the day: apparently the vendor only had a valuation survey when he moved in 4/5 years ago. And the cracks were there then. And he has no special conditions imposed on his buildings insurance. The EA attributed them to rotten windows that were replaced some 12 years ago. Not sure I can believe that, though!

Anyway, looking at ways of getting some professional advice ... preferably without having to pay for it ;)

I've thought about:-

  • Trying to convince the EA to convince the vendor to pay for a chartered surverer, on the grounds that such a report will be beneficial to selling the property in general (might lead to more offers coming in, blah, blah, blah)

  • Seeing if any trades that specialise in fixing this sort of issue do free estimates to at least get a bit of feedback as to what the problem might be

  • Going to see the neighbours + vendor to find out a bit of history myself.

As it happens, we actually looked at a house a while ago that turned out to have subsidence and the vendor was a RICS surveyor, so I had quite a detailed chat with him about what's invovled.

Anyone got any ideas (apart from not touching it with a bargepole :P )

Clearly you have identified some serious structual problems I will offer a few ideas

How old is the house 100 years or so its probably done its movement etc

Newish 30 years or so you are brave going forward.

Buy a spirit level and check the walls and floors inside and out and check the doors are they square and close correctly also are they original to the property.

The wall paper is it old or new if cracks are in the wallpaper and lets say its been on for 10 or 20 years the house is still moving.

If the house is still moving it may be cheap now but probably a lot cheaper in the future massive caution must be given if evidence shows this to be the case.

If you think its stopped and the render point is a good indicator how old do you think its been on and if the crack hasnt re opened is a good sign.

The causes is a drain blocked or a big tree near it or evidence this may be a case a while ago and put right.

The area in question what are the other properties like maybe its a general bad area or a just this house problem?

The advice is a simple cost free option for you to investigate weather to go into the professional area.

The EA not an option the builders are ok but they will want extra work etc you could get bad advice but its cheap.

The survey the house seller is a no go and if in the event they did would they show you it if its a bad one?

If you are satisfied its not moving and a price you are happy with the seller is ok with you must buy a structual professional survey you would be a fool not too and its going to show up some bad things if they are too bad you walk away or get a massive discount and if its just bad so to speak I am sure the seller will knock a bit more off anyway.

I would rather invest 1k in the survey than run the risk of paying a high price in the future.

hope some of this helps

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Newish 30 years or so you are brave going forward.

If the house is still moving it may be cheap now but probably a lot cheaper in the future massive caution must be given if evidence shows this to be the case.

If you think its stopped and the render point is a good indicator how old do you think its been on and if the crack hasnt re opened is a good sign.

The causes is a drain blocked or a big tree near it or evidence this may be a case a while ago and put right.

Thanks for your advice here - that is some great information!

The house is about 30 years old, has a huuuuge fir tree in the front garden (height of tree is far exceeds the distance from house).

Also, they've have patched up the render where a crack passed through that, but on close inspection a hairline crack is evident in this. May possibly be due to the shrinkage in the stuff that the patching up was done with ... but I'm thinking that that tree's roots are taking way too much moisture out of the ground and causing contraction.

The inside has been refurbished extensively. Very nice it is too, but impossible to tell what the nice decor is covering up!

So this house is no longer on my list.

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We took this up with the EA who contacted the vendor and phoned me back later in the day: apparently the vendor only had a valuation survey when he moved in 4/5 years ago. And the cracks were there then. And he has no special conditions imposed on his buildings insurance. The EA attributed them to rotten windows that were replaced some 12 years ago. Not sure I can believe that, though!

Isn't a valuation survey done by a real surveyor, who would've noticed what you saw?

And isn't it reasonable to say that the surveyor would've said No to a mortgage (at least without a full structural survey) if there was a suspicion of any serious structural problem?

So if you meant a mortgage survey, you can infer the surveyor 4/5 years ago has effectively said there's not a serious issue. For what that's worth.

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