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timbert

Subsidence - Bargain?

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Hi,

I am about to buy a flat on leasehold with subsidence.

Now I can hear many of you thinking that I am mad but let me explain:

The price of the property is over 20% less than it should be without subsidence

The flat is part of group of 4 flat and the insurance is taken out by the freeholder. The Insurance has already carried out work for the subsidence. I would be paying 1/6 of the insurance cost and I don't have to find my own insurance since it's taken out by the shareholder.

By buying this house in a prime location, I can afford a big flat that I couldn't normally afford and I can see myself living there long. As a result I don't expect to sell for a long time in order to move in a bigger property (this means saving on stamp duty/Estate agent fees etc)

If there is ever work to be carried out against the subsidence (further to those already carried out) it will most probably be an underpinning of the ground floor. As I am on the second floor, I should only be slightly affected.

I know that I will have trouble to sell the flat if I ever want to, but I think that if I ever sell it will be in a favorable market (not like now) and therefore I should be able to sell more easily... after all the price cut due to subsidence has already been taken out by the present seller (who didn't know about the problem when they bought)

I also think that if I ever want to rent it, the rental yield is very good since I buy the flat at a discount.

Could anyone tell me where my logic is flowed?

Am I going to make a huge mistake?

Thanks

:unsure:

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Guest consa

Before you jump in you should get historical data for the site from the council, there could be more serious implications, ie: what was originally on the site? was it a refuse dump, allotments, contaminated land, mine shafts etc......

Maybe OTT but Check it out!! you could be buying trouble.

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The subsidence is due to trees and plants that have been cut down. The soil is made of clay as most of the property in north london.

I have carried out search and didn't find anything serious about the site.

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Guest consa
The subsidence is due to trees and plants that have been cut down. The soil is made of clay as most of the property in north london.

I have carried out search and didn't find anything serious about the site.

If trees and plants have been cut down this is more likely to cause ground heave not subsidence, what type of trees were they?

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Bushes - fig trees and one castor oil tree that have all been cut down.

One lime tree own by the council that has been reduced. This is probably the greatest cause of the problem.

It is subsidence because of the combination of plants and the type of soil. (Clay)

It becomes a problem especially in dry years.

The plant take up the water from the soil causing the ground to "shrink". The oposite action happens when it rains too much.

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Guest consa
Bushes - fig trees and one castor oil tree that have all been cut down.

One lime tree own by the council that has been reduced. This is probably the greatest cause of the problem.

It is subsidence because of the combination of plants and the type of soil. (Clay)

It becomes a problem especially in dry years.

The plant take up the water from the soil causing the ground to "shrink". The oposite action happens when it rains too much.

Yes quite correct, when trees are removed they no longer take up the water they used to, if underpinning has already been carried out was a compressible layer installed between the concrete and the clay? was there building regulation approval for the works?

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Don't underestimate the difficulty of selling a place with a history of subsidence.

I was looking at a terraced house that had had serious subsidence rectified in the recent past. The chap had all the guarantees and certificates from the company that did the work, and the place was 25% below the price of its comparables.

I felt that the house was probably a very good deal because it was stabilised and had all the living-in qualities offered by its more expensive neighbours.

However, the guy was almost manic in his desperation to sell - the house had been on the market for ages and had been reduced numerous times (in a booming market). We pictured ourselves in the same position when we came to sell, possibly in a falling market.

We walked away.

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I worked with a bloke once who made a point of nicking a bag of cement and a couple of buckets of sand whenever he could. It went on for ages so I asked him one day what sort of job was he doing at home that was going on so long.

Turns out he had bought a 4 storey end terrace Victorian house in Hammersmith (for 11k if I remember rightly when the market value even then was £40k or more). The outside wall had moved over the years - bowing out as much as 3 inches and the staircases (which all sat against this wall - one above the other) were no longer touching the wall. So it was a cash purchase - his Dad lent him most of the money.

Most people would have looked at it and said 'I wouldn't touch that with a barge pole'.

This bloke put a scaffold up and propped all the floors inside. He then painstakingly demolished and rebuilt the wall in the correct place a small section at a time - working from the bottom up. He had to keep waiting while new bits went off so he could prop the bit above while he moved along and worked on the next bit.

It took him about 9 months of working evenings and weekends on it.

I imagine that house is worth 800k now.

Somehow I can't imagine any young bloke of 24 taking on a job like that now.

Anyway, as long as the work was done properly, buy. Half the buildings in London have some (slight) evidence of ground movement.

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You are stuck with the same insurer now. No other insurer is likely to want to cover the subsidence risk so would exclude it if you took out a new policy. Then the previous insurer would not want you back either. If you are stuck with the same insurers, they can increase their premium however they wish and there's bugger all you can do about it. Insurance subsidence claims are a minefield. Remember they have £1000 excesses as well for subsidence claims.

I'd be very, very cautious as any further movement may not be insured under the above circumstances - then where would you be?

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Hi,

I am about to buy a flat on leasehold with subsidence.

Now I can hear many of you thinking that I am mad but let me explain:

Am I going to make a huge mistake?

Thanks

:unsure:

Have you ever lived in a property thats subsiding?? I have and its awful!

You may notice that:-

1. When you walk around the place as though your walking down or up a hill.

2. When you spill some liquid on your laminate floor, it'll roll down towards the the wall thats subsiding.

3. You may feel a bit dizzy due to the gravity pull.

4. Depending on the severity of the subsidence, there are cracks appearing on your walls and door/window frames due to the pressure pushing everything to one side.

If I was you, I'd think again :unsure:

Edited by Boom'n'Bust

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Have you ever lived in a property thats subsiding?? I have and its awful! 

You may notice that:-

1. When you walk around the place as though your walking down or up a hill. 

2. When you spill some liquid on your laminate floor, it'll roll down towards the the wall thats subsiding.

3. You may feel a bit dizzy due to the gravity pull.

4. Depending on the severity of the subsidence, there are cracks appearing on your walls and door/window frames due to the pressure pushing everything to one side.

If I was you, I'd think again  :unsure:

You may feel a bit dizzy due to the gravity pull.?? I fail to understand that... and as for the other point I think that I can live with it. Perfect squareness is not my idea of ideal so I should be alright.

As for the insurance, I note what has been said... but I thought insurance company had to folllow a strict code of conduct. I am probably wrong here: I will definitely try to find out more.

Thanks

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My mum and dad's place has a bit of subsidence. Long crack appearing in a wall.

Could someone tell me what pinning involves, and how expensive it might be?

Cheers

(Parents are thinking about extending the mortgage, which is a bit scary...)

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My mum and dad's place has a bit of subsidence. Long crack appearing in a wall.

Could someone tell me what pinning involves, and how expensive it might be?

Cheers

(Parents are thinking about extending the mortgage, which is a bit scary...)

Hi,

from what I know underpinning involves moving out of your house (or ground floor flat) for 6 months to 1 year. However, if you only do a partial underpinning of the property which is often the case as Insurance company try to save money, then you may be able to still live in part of the property.

Cost are very high and can easily go above 50k. (But it depends on the underpinning and size of the property I would guess)

Underpinning is the best solution to subsidence escpecially if your house has very little fundations (like the one I am willing to buy). However, a property underpinned, even if there is no more movement, will always carry the "Subsidence problem" red tag. (I personnally don't understand why!)

Rgds

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A bargain is only a bargain if someone buys something for much less than it's actually worth.

In this case, you are probably paying what it's worth, so it's not a bargain.

However you will be reducing your housing cost by accepting a lower quality property.

If the quality of the property improves in the future at no expense to you (ie the insurance company pays up), then you may be able to look back & say it was agood deal (maybe even a bargain), but until then, you don't know.

So as with anything in life, you're taking a chance.

Edited by Time to raise the rents.

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Guest Charlie The Tramp

I bought a 140 year old lopsided cottage in 1998. Came to sell in 2001 and the problems started. Just called in a civil engineer for a report at a cost of £350 + vat and was then stamped on in the rush. :D

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Guest consa
My mum and dad's place has a bit of subsidence. Long crack appearing in a wall.

Could someone tell me what pinning involves, and how expensive it might be?

Cheers

(Parents are thinking about extending the mortgage, which is a bit scary...)

If you can imagine the existing foundation, you are going to place a new foundation at a suitable depth below and in line with the existing one incorporating dowel bars in the concrete, then you will be constructing a new wall up to the underside of the existing foundation in line with the existing wall above.

The external projection of the existing foundation can then be removed.

You now have a double foundation with a small wall between them, the the gap internally between the two foundations would be filled with hand placed compacted 1:12 concrete.

This is the typical traditional form of underpinning.

Before works proceed all live loads should be removed from the structure in question and any other loads possible, place necessary supports and props put in place.

There are other ways of underpinning ie:Jack Pile, Needle and Pile, Angle Pile, stool method etc...

Not cheap, get at least 3 quotes and make sure they have the necessary liability insurances and they are up to date!!

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Hi,

I am about to buy a flat on leasehold with subsidence.

Now I can hear many of you thinking that I am mad but let me explain:

The price of the property is over 20% less than it should be without subsidence...

Why dont you wait til next year when you could bid 20% lower than todays prices on a normal flat/house ?

Its already dropping, whats the rush ?

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My mum and dad's place has a bit of subsidence. Long crack appearing in a wall.

Could someone tell me what pinning involves, and how expensive it might be?

Cheers

(Parents are thinking about extending the mortgage, which is a bit scary...)

On buildings I have underpinned it went like this.

You divide the wall up into sections about 1 metre wide. And mark these up like so:

1,4,2,5,3,1,4,2,5,3,1,4,2,5,3 etc

You excavate below the existing foundation to whatever depth is deemed suitable. You clean the underside off the foundation off to remove all soil etc.

You fill up the hole with concrete to within about 75mm of the underside of the foundation.

You wait at least 24 hours for the concrete to go off - so most of the shrinkage has taken place.

You then dry-pack the 75 mm gap between new concrete and the foundation with a mixture of sharp sand to cement - about 3/1. This is done by ramming the dry mix (not completely dry - damp enough to form a ball in your hand) in - usually with a lump of timber - and you keep ramming until the 75mm gap is completely filled.

You need some sort of key between one pin and the next - you can either do with with a piece of chamfered timber (which gets removed to form a key) or, as someone else said you can use dowel bars. The trouble with dowels is they get in your way when you are excavating the next pin.

You do all the 1s first. Then a day after they have been packed you do the 2s etc.

I have underpinned some massive party walls to buildings in London when building a deeper building next door. We have never had to worry about trying to lessen the live loads in the building being pinned. The weight of a few desks and chairs is nothing compared to the dead load of building itself.

With a little excavator to hand, taking on the underpinning of a typical house is not something beyone anyone with a bit of savvy.

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A Structural Engineer, is the person you want.

They will advise as to whether it is historical movement

(which has settled and needs only to be corrected) or

ongoing susbsidence.

Thanks for all the help guys. Hopefully it will not be a major job, who knows insurance might even cover it...

As the parents still have 60K on the mortgage (some properties sell for 400K nearby) I might encourage them to downsize now while their loan:equity ration is favourable.

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The house that we rent requires underpinning. It appears that a combination of clay , trees and summer 2003 are at fault.

It is easy to look on knowing you don't actually own the place. The problem was first reported to the owner in Aug 2003,and after a couple of inspections from various insurers nothing has actually happened....apart from of course more serious cracks and movement of door frames, windowsills, floors sinking.

I would never touch a property like this one, let some other fool do it.

The owners seem to think that we will be happy to hang around whilst they underpin the extension,but this will not be the case.

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I almost bought an underpinned property and had a full structural survey on it. While discussing with the surveyor he pointed out that insurance companies will often try to partially underpin rather than fully underpin. All properties need to move to some extent and if only half of the property is underpinned then one half will try to move and one half can't. He said that in roughly 10% of cases this in itself can cause the property to crack further in later years. Apparently he has quite frequently been involved in loss adjustment cases where the original insurer insisted on partial underpinning and has later refused a further insurance claim because damage caused by that same underpinning was specifically excluded from the policy.

It's possible to get indemnity insurance against this situation. But in the end I decided it simply wasn't worht me buying someone elses problems and walked away. The house eventually sold over a year later after several price cuts and several other failed buyers. This was 2003 to 2004 in a peak market.

Most of North London is potentially affected by similar problems but personally I've decided it's not worth the hassle.

Edited by Portent

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  • 301 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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