House on a raft, sinking??

4 Apr 2011
Reaction score
United Kingdom
Hi All

We've fallen in love with a detached house in the middle of a Lincolnshire field that seems to be sinking at the rear :eek:

We haven't bought it yet but have made an offer so still have time to opt out [offer hasn't been excepted yet].

Due to lack of work/finances we're having to sell up and move to a cheaper area, we will be cash buyers because of the equity in our current home and not because we're rich.
I have been in the property maintenance game for 20 odd years but have no experience in what I found at this house yesterday, due to limited funds I set off to do my own survey yesterday [ok found problems, don't know what to do about them].
I printed out check lists for every room and every aspect of the property, from the loft downwards to all external elevations. Things on list were conditions of ceilings, wall's, electrics, windows, doors/frames/skirtings, floors etc.
There were many hairline cracks in the upper rooms, corners of ceilings, edge of lintels over doors, nothing major upstairs other than the wooden floors were all out of level.
Downstairs was the worse crack running down a wall [going through to the other side], it was an internal wall just inside a column built to support a beam where an opening had been created for a small extension.
Downstairs all floors are concrete and all run down towards the rear of the house, the agent explained to me that the houses were built on concrete rafts and some settling was normal. From using a 3' level it looks like the raft has settled 2" inches lower along the rear of the building [pretty level across front elevation].

So I spent three hours there and filled in a 16 page report but don't know what I've discovered only that the house is sinking :oops:

My wife loves the house but to purchase it will literally be all our money, we will be mortgage free which means I should find work again on a minimum wage type job so we'll be better off. If we've bought a red herring though we're stuffed, what would you guys do or advise please. I could get a structural engineer in [we could afford one], if he condemns the place it's money we won't have for the next house we'll have to find :(
The house was built for Lincolnshire County Council in 1958, the same elderly lady lived there until passing for 25 years, windows are good, electrics/plumbings all good. There are NO external cracks showing in the brick work but definitely some loose pointing in top corners.

While laying in bed last night I had a thought that the weird little extension that had been built [probably extending out no more than 5' in length] on the rear was in fact an attempt to stop the house going any further backwards/downwards in that corner just a thought :idea:

I don't have a picture on the left hand end showing the small extension, took a 100 odd pic's and didn't get that one :rolleyes:

The house


View of lounge showing small exension outwards [width of patio doors on left]


One of the larger cracks that continues across ceiling, it is on the house side on the column supporting the rsj over opening into extension and goes right through wall.


So lots of little cracks internally, one larger crack near extension and house 2" plus lower at the back :!:

Help please

Kind regards


WoW! just looked at that first picture on here and the house looks to be really really bad, compare the main house to the side extension and conservatory that's presumed level :eek:

Think I've just found my answer :cry:

Just found this end shot with the conservatory pretty upright, doesn't look so bad but house is going down. Think my guess of a 2" drop on floor was slightly under exaggerated :eek: [did only have a 3' level]

Sponsored Links
Firstly, you must not let emotion blind your decision,,,, and remember that many a 'dream home' has turned into a nightmare. And by what you say about your finances,, then you should leave it alone. These properties need a huge contingency budget, even after the faults have been diagnosed and costed out.

But,, no matter what your financial situation is, if you are keen then you can't afford not to get a surveyor involved. He/she will probably advise soil tests and inspection holes dug to expose the foundations. They will also want to inspect the slab for cracking,, and given the problems on the 1st floor it probably is,, then the remedy costs increase.

It seems that part of the slab is resting on hard ground, and part on soft ground... and given this is an isolated property in a field, you really don't want to find that the soft ground is peat for instance. If this were the case then one remedy is piling,, but this could be uneconomical even if you could afford to have it done, especially if the piles have to go deeper than say 8-10 metres. Surveys would need to be done to locate the depth of the hard ground,, and an assessment then made. If internal piles are needed then the costs increases again.

You will also have to consider drainage, as when foundations move this can have an impact on drains, depending on their location. Indeed, what you can see is bad enough, what you cant see will be much much worse.

Also consider that if the foundations can be fixed,, this will not fix the uneven floors you mention on the 1st floor. So you could spend perhaps tens of thousands of pounds on the foundations,, and still have an uneven 1st floors. I'm not sure if you inspected the attic area to see if there is any sign of movement of the purlings, props etc. and any signs of roof repairs, if there is then another area of concern.?

To summarise,, you really need to invest £££'s prior to purchaser to get an indication on how much it will cost to fix,, if indeed it is economical to fix. But given this property is unmortgageable, if you did buy it on emotion alone and without professional advice,, then I guarantee you will soon grow to hate it, and then hope that another emotional 'mug' is out there with cash in their pocket to take it off you,, and you will see that these people are really not that easy to find.
Hi Jackthebiscuit

Many thanks for taking the time out to reply and we have pretty well decided to walk away from this one, we know we'd have nothing left after purchasing and gut feeling is it'll get worse.

I did inspect the loft and everything was fine up there, in fact it was the best room of the house, timbers all looking new and brickwork each end perfect.

I perhaps didn't make myself clear with the floor levels, all the floors both upstairs and down slope towards the rear. I have worked out roughly that 3/4" on a 3' level means over the length of the lounge running front to back the rear of the building is 6 3/4" lower than the front.

I think the raft the house sits on is still whole but tilted back as the concrete floors are all good on ground level and none of the external brickwork has cracked, it seems the whole lot is going over. It's funny because on the way there we saw a house on the same road that is still lived in but is so tilted over it was almost comical, I think the gutter line one end must have been 2' lower than the other end.

When starting this thread I was unsure what to do, reading it back the answer jumped out at me. Must admit we're both gutted at losing the house but do know it's for the best, worse bit is we have to start the search all over again and we are being pressured. We are holding up a very short chain of our buyers and first time buyers, we don't want or can afford the chain to collapse so back to the hunt.

Cheers again

It's an orrible looking house. Probably better to knock it down and do a rebuild.
Sponsored Links
It's an orrible looking house. Probably better to knock it down and do a rebuild.

Rooms were lovely proportions, it was a great size with no near neighbours but I don't think it's worth saving as it isn't anything special to look at.
Hi All

We've fallen in love with a detached house in the middle of a Lincolnshire field that seems to be sinking at the rear :eek:

Built in 60s/70s for a farmer :idea: pull it down - simples ;) those airbricks ventilate the cavity - bloody freezing place in winter too :rolleyes:
You need to get a proper survey done

Properties can have many cracks for different unrelated reasons, or there may be a single significant cause

Foundation movement can be expensive to rectify, and you need to know the cause and whether its on-going or has stopped.

A big consideration in buying a house is the cost of maintaining it, so you need to know costs after purchase

And you need to know if it is insurable
Thanks for your input Woody but we've decided to walk away from this one :(
how much was the asking price? I think others have hit the nail on the head. If it was priced low you'd knock it down and new build.

DIYnot Local

Staff member

If you need to find a tradesperson to get your job done, please try our local search below, or if you are doing it yourself you can find suppliers local to you.

Select the supplier or trade you require, enter your location to begin your search.

Are you a trade or supplier? You can create your listing free at DIYnot Local

Sponsored Links