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5 bedroom Cottage but 2 bedrooms are not habitable ?

Discussion in 'Building Regulations and Planning Permission' started by wwwebber, 2 May 2017.

  1. freddiemercurystwin

    freddiemercurystwin

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    When you bought the house presumably you were aware the loft had been converted, as was your solicitor? So if that’s so then surely your solicitor asked for the Building Regs certificate or made you aware it was unavailable? To which your move should have been to assess the quality of the work undertaken yourself or by employing a suitable person to do it for you?
     
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  3. wwwebber

    wwwebber

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    Yes, we were aware of the converted loft but the estate agents cleverly don't mention it in their sales blurb just calling them bedrooms. The rooms themselves look great, dedicated staircase, bannister with doors available for each room on the second landing, double glazed dormer windows, insulation, exposed antique floor boards, many power sockets, lights and switches. All very convincing, except we cant use them as rooms !!.

    The owners told us verbally that the floor joists were 6x2 which although don't conform to current standards should still have enabled us to use them but they're 3x2 ffs !!. Can't afford to do anything with it for at least a year so these rooms will be glorified storage spaces until then. What also concerns me is that we'll no doubt lose headroom when we replace the joists. Then there's the dormer windows - not even sure how they're supported and if they need to be disrupted when working on the floor. Also there's the water & header tanks which will also be disrupted !!.

    :(
     
  4. freddiemercurystwin

    freddiemercurystwin

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    So before you bought the pace did you think the loft had been converted or had been built like that when the house was originally built?
     
  5. wwwebber

    wwwebber

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  6. wwwebber

    wwwebber

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    ok, just spoke to local loft company who sounded absolutely horrified with whats been done, installing a new dormer window without proper flooring is apparently illegal - is this true ?. A little bit scared and very concerned now.

    It's become obvious that this house has been sold under false pretenses - the two loft rooms look great, look like usable rooms and have been sold as bedrooms which they are not. Yes, we have to bear some responsibility for not having a full structural survey done etc but we bought this house in good faith so I think we have grounds to take this further with either the estate agents or the sellers. However, this is further complicated by the fact that the sellers have in fact only moved across the rd and we've become friends, they're a retired couple in their 70's.

    What a mess !
     
  7. Mottie

    Mottie

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    With friends like that........
     
  8. garyo

    garyo

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    The EA can't be expected to validate the legality of every aspect of every house they market (and they're not qualified to do so). It's a standard part of the conveyancing process for your conveyancer to ask for BR's approval for all work done. Did the vendor omit the loft conversion off their sellers questionnaire?
     
  9. GeoffJ

    GeoffJ

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    So the new friendship can be expressed in monetary terms as the sterling value of the below calculation

    (Market Value of 5 Bed cottage, with 2 beds in the attic decorated to a high specification)
    LESS
    (Market Value of 3 bed cottage with nicely appointed attic storage space)

    Whilst you might be able to complete the attic conversion yourself for a lesser sum - if you factor in your time and the inconvenience then you end-up back in the ball-park of the above calculation.

    At the risk of appearing heartless :
    • It is unlikely that the elderly couple (previous owners) are innocent or ignorant of the deception
    • Further, if you are to make a claim against the previous owners then you should act promptly, as dealing with these matters whilst in probate would add a whole new level of complexity
    • Elderly people have been known to play the "age-card" as an excuse for inaction, misunderstanding, or misrepresentation - as time ticks your risk of more complexity gets ever greater
    • if the matter was to need settlement via the courts - The elderly are provided with every accommodation and most judges are likely to start their considerations very sympathetic to their position
    Geoff
     
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  11. Nakajo

    Nakajo

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    If an EA markets a 3-bed house as a 5-bed, then I think there's grounds for action. The OP's dispute is with the EA. It's for the EA to decide whether they then want to take the matter up with the seller.
     
  12. But you'd have to prove that the EA knew that it was really a 3 bed house with a fake conversion, and that's pretty unlikley; it's far more likely that the sellers just asked them to market it as a 5 bed house.

    The owners are in breach of planning permission, as I don't think permitted delevopment was around 10 years ago, and they're definitely in breach of building regs using the original ceiling joists, but 50mm PIR insulation would have been right at the time. And it's going to be debatable as to the solicotors negligence until you see the answers that the sellers gave them, as it's possible that they were lied to.

    And whilst the OP should have engaged a proper surveyor, you expect them to look for faults, not lies, and they wouldn't have expected 3x2s to be used, but might have warned you that there was excessive spring in the joists that needed checking. The rest of the installation would very likely have passed.

    The OP needs to aproach his solicitors with the issues and ask for a response, and the same with the estate agents. From there, he needs to engage a solicitor to start legal action for either misrepresenation against the EA, assuming they were aware, and the new friendly neighbours for lying to the solicitors - assuming that they did, or action against his solictors in the event that they didn't.
     
  13. chappers

    chappers

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    Can you establish that the vendors carried out the conversion, and when?
    Was it mentioned on the form TA6? if so what did it say about certification?
    If it is mentioned what action did you take/your solicitor advise..

    As an aside EAs normally ask if a conversion has certification and would then advise to market accordingly, but I doubt would have any legal responsibility as I have never known them to ask to see sight of the certificates.

    Don't get diverted by the old folks across the road thing, in fact maybe use the fact you are speaking to them to gently extract some more information.
     
  14. geraldthehamster

    geraldthehamster

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    Building Control have only one year to take action against a householder for non-compliance with building regulations, unless something is imminently dangerous.

    I don't know where you got the idea that you couldn't use the rooms as bedrooms. It's not a "fake" conversion, it's one that may not have complied at the time but is now out of time for enforcement. Unless the floor is unacceptably bouncy I don't see the problem.

    Even if a problem were raised by a buyer if you come to sell, you could cover this with a relatively inexpensive indemnity policy against council action (which they couldn't take anyway).

    What are you worried about, specifically?
     
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  15. Nakajo

    Nakajo

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    Always check with your insurers in case of any doubts.
     
  16. geraldthehamster

    geraldthehamster

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    If you are concerned about the absence of smoke alarms and fire doors, fit them.

    The degree of insulation is only an issue if the rooms are unacceptably cold.

    The floor structure is only an issue if it has unacceptable movement.

    The height of the windows is no issue at all.
     
  17. wwwebber

    wwwebber

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    ok, thank you for all of your replies - I haven't heard back from conveyancers yet - no surprises there. However, I thought I'd post a couple of photos which should help the discussion along :-

    I have pulled a section of the roof insulation away and it appears that I have no membrane under the tiles or insulation between the rafters and only 50mm simply polystyrene on top of them. No wonder it gets windy up there lol and its certainly gonna get cold !!. the rafters are only 80mm deep so I guess will need to battened to allow for proper depth of insulation between the rafters whilst leaving a gap of 50mm ?


    The second photo below demonstrates my worry. The floor clearly dips down to where the dormer has been installed and the purlin has been cut to accommodate it and then supported with two vertical struts. Now remember the floor is only 3x2 and is now supporting the dormer and now some of the roof weight ??. Please advise - much appreciated.

     
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