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Falling Down House - Advice Needed!

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Hi All

Hoping someone might be able to offer some advice. I've been holding back on buying a house after selling in 2007. We want to start a family this year and the wife doesn't want to do this in rented. So, fairly reluctantly, I've been looking around a few houses hoping to get something below market value to give me a bit of a head start when/if prices start to plummet.

The long and the short of it is I think I've found the closest to my dream house I'm going to get.... Unfortunately it's half falling down. It's an end terrace, there are some fairly substantial cracks in the upstairs hallway, the kitchen floor has sunk and is almost underwater. Basically it looks like it has subsidence. At an educated guess I think it's due to broken drains under the property but I've also got a mate who's a roofer who says that it has a concrete (heavy tiles?) roof (rather than the original slate) which is too heavy for the house - and this won't be helping...

So for a start - needs all drains replacing, and a new roof before even starting with cosmetic repair and decoration.

The guy who owned it has passed on and left it shared between a number of charities. It was insured and (apparently) the insurance company have said they are not sure it's subsidence and are monitoring it for 12 months.

I'm aware it needs massive amounts of work. I'm aware that most people's advice would be to walk away. But this is really the only way I am going to be able to afford this sort of house.

Difficulty is that I don't know where to get advice or where to start.. I really need to make a list of everything that's wrong with it and start getting quotes for putting it right - so I can work our how much my offer should be (starting figure is already £100k below asking).

Can anyone offer any (helpful) advice please?

Thanks in advance

~S~

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Hi All

Hoping someone might be able to offer some advice. I've been holding back on buying a house after selling in 2007. We want to start a family this year and the wife doesn't want to do this in rented. So, fairly reluctantly, I've been looking around a few houses hoping to get something below market value to give me a bit of a head start when/if prices start to plummet.

The long and the short of it is I think I've found the closest to my dream house I'm going to get.... Unfortunately it's half falling down. It's an end terrace, there are some fairly substantial cracks in the upstairs hallway, the kitchen floor has sunk and is almost underwater. Basically it looks like it has subsidence. At an educated guess I think it's due to broken drains under the property but I've also got a mate who's a roofer who says that it has a concrete (heavy tiles?) roof (rather than the original slate) which is too heavy for the house - and this won't be helping...

So for a start - needs all drains replacing, and a new roof before even starting with cosmetic repair and decoration.

The guy who owned it has passed on and left it shared between a number of charities. It was insured and (apparently) the insurance company have said they are not sure it's subsidence and are monitoring it for 12 months.

I'm aware it needs massive amounts of work. I'm aware that most people's advice would be to walk away. But this is really the only way I am going to be able to afford this sort of house.

Difficulty is that I don't know where to get advice or where to start.. I really need to make a list of everything that's wrong with it and start getting quotes for putting it right - so I can work our how much my offer should be (starting figure is already £100k below asking).

Can anyone offer any (helpful) advice please?

Thanks in advance

~S~

Depends how much risk you want to take.

If it ends up being underpinned you will never ever get insurance for it

tim

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Hi All

Hoping someone might be able to offer some advice. I've been holding back on buying a house after selling in 2007. We want to start a family this year and the wife doesn't want to do this in rented. So, fairly reluctantly, I've been looking around a few houses hoping to get something below market value to give me a bit of a head start when/if prices start to plummet.

The long and the short of it is I think I've found the closest to my dream house I'm going to get.... Unfortunately it's half falling down. It's an end terrace, there are some fairly substantial cracks in the upstairs hallway, the kitchen floor has sunk and is almost underwater. Basically it looks like it has subsidence. At an educated guess I think it's due to broken drains under the property but I've also got a mate who's a roofer who says that it has a concrete (heavy tiles?) roof (rather than the original slate) which is too heavy for the house - and this won't be helping...

So for a start - needs all drains replacing, and a new roof before even starting with cosmetic repair and decoration.

The guy who owned it has passed on and left it shared between a number of charities. It was insured and (apparently) the insurance company have said they are not sure it's subsidence and are monitoring it for 12 months.

I'm aware it needs massive amounts of work. I'm aware that most people's advice would be to walk away. But this is really the only way I am going to be able to afford this sort of house.

Difficulty is that I don't know where to get advice or where to start.. I really need to make a list of everything that's wrong with it and start getting quotes for putting it right - so I can work our how much my offer should be (starting figure is already £100k below asking).

Can anyone offer any (helpful) advice please?

Thanks in advance

~S~

From you description, the property is near worthless. I would take £50000 off of that fair valuation and start negotiations from there.

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I'm aware that most people's advice would be to walk away.

And you're correct on that.

But, fwiw, you would need to commission a comprehensive structural survey which would cost a packet - before you're even out of the blocks. Depending on the outcome of that report, you'd then have a bargaining tool as you would be taking on the liability.

Given your post, though, I'd seriously consider putting your plans on hold for a little longer. A project like this will not be a cost saver in the end.

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The advice for the full and I repeat full structural survey is good. I had one when I bought my house (even though unfashionalble then) and because if the surveyor misses something then they are liable you can be pretty sure they will look into every nook and cranny.

The other problem you need to look into is the new building regs. Some work done on an old house will have to comply with the new building regs even if the original house did not. I will give you an example my neighbour is converting the basement into living space and for this they replaced the orginal raised wooden floor with a concrete floor. The builders had to dig down twice the depth of the original foundations because of the new building regs. All this work has to be approved by the building regs dept and documentation has to be submitted before and becasue the common man does not understand building regs or the process you have to have a project manager to handle it all.

Somebody said 50K I would say 100K to 150K (Grand Designs proves this, every project goes massively over budget with extras), just getting the proposals done for regs and projet management will be 10K, then if you have to excavate to the drains the earthworks will be 10 to 15K with out replacing them. Then if you have to replace them, etc, etc.

If you can knock them down to 10K and then have 12 months of building work will thay make you wife happy?

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But, fwiw, you would need to commission a comprehensive structural survey which would cost a packet - before you're even out of the blocks. Depending on the outcome of that report, you'd then have a bargaining tool as you would be taking on the liability.

Given your post, though, I'd seriously consider putting your plans on hold for a little longer. A project like this will not be a cost saver in the end.

Thanks.

I have been wondering whether to get a structural survey under way now off my own back or whether that would be done as part of the mortgage?

I wouldn't want to have to pay for it twice...

Given your post, though, I'd seriously consider putting your plans on hold for a little longer. A project like this will not be a cost saver in the end.

I know that is great advice. The house is over a hundred years old and is the only place i have seen in the area that still has all the original features - ceiling roses, cornices, fireplaces and foot high skirtings etc. This would really be my dream to bring a typically Victorian house back to life. Unfortunately it's extremely rare to find a place that still has these features left. I've looked at hundreds of other properties the same age and all have been ripped out and "modernised" in the 30's, 60's or more recently.

The fact is i would love to get my teeth stuck into this and I'm aware there is massive risk and a massive cash cost. I'm looking for some help to analyse this risk and ideally put some realistic figures on the cost....

~S~

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Depends how much risk you want to take.

If it ends up being underpinned you will never ever get insurance for it

tim

Absolute RUBBISH. Firstly, there are parts of the south (where underpinning is relatively common due to ground / soil conditions), where a property is actually downgraded by insurance / mortgage companies if it hasn't been underpinned. (Concern being that if every other property on the road has had it done, then yours is only a matter of time).

Secondly, there are many specialist companies who will insure underpinned property. Yes, you might pay a slightly higher premium, but you WILL still get insurance.

Expert in the field

General advice

As for the concrete tiles. This work should have building regs approval as roof timbers normally need to be upgraded for the additional weight, however I really can't see the weight causing the building to sink - it will be fairly negligible when compared to everything else bearing down on the foundations. Think your roofer mate just wants a job.

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In 18 months your wife's got post natal depression, the house is a 1/2 derelict money pit and the stress levels are palpable.

Do yourself a favor. Walk on by.

+1

Go make some silly offers on houses that don't need work doing.

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The advice for the full and I repeat full structural survey is good. I had one when I bought my house (even though unfashionalble then) and because if the surveyor misses something then they are liable you can be pretty sure they will look into every nook and cranny.

The other problem you need to look into is the new building regs. Some work done on an old house will have to comply with the new building regs even if the original house did not. I will give you an example my neighbour is converting the basement into living space and for this they replaced the orginal raised wooden floor with a concrete floor. The builders had to dig down twice the depth of the original foundations because of the new building regs. All this work has to be approved by the building regs dept and documentation has to be submitted before and becasue the common man does not understand building regs or the process you have to have a project manager to handle it all.

Somebody said 50K I would say 100K to 150K (Grand Designs proves this, every project goes massively over budget with extras), just getting the proposals done for regs and projet management will be 10K, then if you have to excavate to the drains the earthworks will be 10 to 15K with out replacing them. Then if you have to replace them, etc, etc.

If you can knock them down to 10K and then have 12 months of building work will thay make you wife happy?

Thanks ralphmalph.

This is really useful. I would have estimated 10k-15k for the drains so actually being aware that this might escalate to £30k if we have to have building regs and excavate is handy. I would guess around £10k - £15k for a new roof.

I'm aware that to put it right structurally and make it watertight could realistically take 12 months or even longer. I would love to offer £10k for the place but realistically i know that won't be accepted. The place was originally up for £289 March 2010, reduced to £250 in the same month. It has had two accepted offers since then which have both fallen through (for obvious reasons).

Realistically, if you were to put yourself in my place and were keen on the renovation aspect, knowing at the end of it all you would have a massive Victorian house, full of character, what would you consider a reasonable offer?

~S~

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The true value may be that of the land. This sort of property might appeal to a developer who would demolish it and start afresh, which could put a lower limit on the price the sellers would accept.

Very true - the land is probably worth a bit being town centre and 3 mins walk to the sea.

However the "owner" is actually several different charities which makes it slightly more difficult to predict what would be accepted. Each offer has to go in writing to all the charities and if one of them says no, they all say no..

~S~

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Absolute RUBBISH. Firstly, there are parts of the south (where underpinning is relatively common due to ground / soil conditions), where a property is actually downgraded by insurance / mortgage companies if it hasn't been underpinned. (Concern being that if every other property on the road has had it done, then yours is only a matter of time).

Secondly, there are many specialist companies who will insure underpinned property. Yes, you might pay a slightly higher premium, but you WILL still get insurance.

As for the concrete tiles. This work should have building regs approval as roof timbers normally need to be upgraded for the additional weight, however I really can't see the weight causing the building to sink - it will be fairly negligible when compared to everything else bearing down on the foundations. Think your roofer mate just wants a job.

Thanks monks.

This is really helpful - after having done some online research this is definitely what became apparent to me - subsidence doesn't really seem like the massively negative thing it used to be. In fact some of the statistics I've read seem to suggest that one in 8 properties in London have subsidence.

The other advice i've found is to ask the current insurer to continue to insure you. I've found out the name of the current insurer but I'm not sure whether i can ask them to continue to insure the property as obviously i don't own it yet!

With regards the roof - this is pretty much what he said - that the roof should have been reinforced for the weight of a concrete roof as opposed to slate. Perhaps I've misunderstood and he was suggesting that this could account for the cracks in the walls and ceiling rather than thinking it was subsidence?

~S~

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Thanks.

I have been wondering whether to get a structural survey under way now off my own back or whether that would be done as part of the mortgage?

I wouldn't want to have to pay for it twice...

I know that is great advice. The house is over a hundred years old and is the only place i have seen in the area that still has all the original features - ceiling roses, cornices, fireplaces and foot high skirtings etc. This would really be my dream to bring a typically Victorian house back to life. Unfortunately it's extremely rare to find a place that still has these features left. I've looked at hundreds of other properties the same age and all have been ripped out and "modernised" in the 30's, 60's or more recently.

The fact is i would love to get my teeth stuck into this and I'm aware there is massive risk and a massive cash cost. I'm looking for some help to analyse this risk and ideally put some realistic figures on the cost....

~S~

Come to an agreement with the owners to buy the interior fittings - strip it out, gut it and buy another house on the same street.

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Come to an agreement with the owners to buy the interior fittings - strip it out, gut it and buy another house on the same street.

Nice idea.

Except that i wouldn't be able to afford another house on the same street.

Or even a similar size house on any other street nearby.

~S~

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The place was originally up for £289 March 2010, reduced to £250 in the same month. It has had two accepted offers since then which have both fallen through (for obvious reasons).

I've just choked on my coffee!

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Thanks monks.

This is really helpful - after having done some online research this is definitely what became apparent to me - subsidence doesn't really seem like the massively negative thing it used to be. In fact some of the statistics I've read seem to suggest that one in 8 properties in London have subsidence.

The other advice i've found is to ask the current insurer to continue to insure you. I've found out the name of the current insurer but I'm not sure whether i can ask them to continue to insure the property as obviously i don't own it yet!

With regards the roof - this is pretty much what he said - that the roof should have been reinforced for the weight of a concrete roof as opposed to slate. Perhaps I've misunderstood and he was suggesting that this could account for the cracks in the walls and ceiling rather than thinking it was subsidence?

~S~

I know about this, because it sounds like my house - it was underpinned by the previous owners, then I swapped the slate roof for a concrete tile one (no Building Regs though... whoops. It's only on a small section of the property though, so I could buy the next owner an insurance policy, or at worst, pay to have the roof changed back to slate).

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I've just choked on my coffee!

I know! The worst thing is the subsidence, roof, drains etc. are not even mentioned on the particulars. if I hadn't done a bit of digging of my own i probably wouldn't know. I guess their hope was that some naive ftb would look around and decide against having a survey done when they buy...

Similar properties nearby are asking well over £300k.

~S~

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I know about this, because it sounds like my house - it was underpinned by the previous owners, then I swapped the slate roof for a concrete tile one (no Building Regs though... whoops. It's only on a small section of the property though, so I could buy the next owner an insurance policy, or at worst, pay to have the roof changed back to slate).

Does £10k - £15k sound about right for having the roof re-inforced / changing back to slate i wonder?

Who insures you?

~S~

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Before you go any further, are you sure that the property is mortgageable in its current state?

Even at the height of the Liar Loan frenzy, lenders were very hesitant about throwing money at you for properties with structural problems, or with “unusual” construction materials / features

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Before you go any further, are you sure that the property is mortgageable in its current state?

Even at the height of the Liar Loan frenzy, lenders were very hesitant about throwing money at you for properties with structural problems, or with "unusual" construction materials / features

As far as i understand it is the insurance which can be difficult to get rather than the mortgage itself. I may be wrong in this but i believe if I'm able to get insurance and have the means to put the property right the mortgage shouldn't be too much of a problem?

~S~

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Thanks monks.

This is really helpful - after having done some online research this is definitely what became apparent to me - subsidence doesn't really seem like the massively negative thing it used to be. In fact some of the statistics I've read seem to suggest that one in 8 properties in London have subsidence.

The other advice i've found is to ask the current insurer to continue to insure you. I've found out the name of the current insurer but I'm not sure whether i can ask them to continue to insure the property as obviously i don't own it yet!

With regards the roof - this is pretty much what he said - that the roof should have been reinforced for the weight of a concrete roof as opposed to slate. Perhaps I've misunderstood and he was suggesting that this could account for the cracks in the walls and ceiling rather than thinking it was subsidence?

~S~

If the weight of the new roof was a problem for the roof timbers it would be evident and visible by now in the roof itself. When constructing housing you don't build the walls differently or have bigger foundations depending on the what material covers the roof, a 3 bed semi concrete roof tiles would only be 2 tonnes,considering the overall weight of buildings it's nothing.

The roof timbers might be constructed differently, but like i said if it was a problem you would know.

Edited by neil324

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We want to start a family this year and the wife doesn't want to do this in rented.

My advice is just have the family - you will never have everything you would ideally want in place. Even having to move schools in a rental situation is not the end of the world and it allows your kids to grow up knowing that not everyone has as much money as the next person. Honestly, people are topping themselves when they can't meet their debts. I have two lovely girls, 6 and 8. Would love a permanent family home for them but love them more than that idealized dream.

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  • 312 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

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      • down 5% +
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      • Even
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      • up 5%



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