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Hi All,

Looking for some advice please on this probate property to be purchased. It's going for £225k in West Midlands as a 1950s three-bedroom end of terrace with a ground floor extension, with a flat roof, split into two rooms (sitting room and utility room). The property generally needs modernisation, new kitchen, bathroom, fixtures and fittings, including skimming and new flooring.

We've had the level 3 survey report back and have some conerns as the reported issues were not obvious to us. We were told the cracks on both sides of the interior wall of the extension were non-structural by the estate agent when viewing the property, but the survey seems to say otherwise. The extension was built with planning permission in 1970-1980, so is 40+ years old, does it seem likely there is a leak based on the cracks at all?

Extension first room interior wall:
Both sides of the extension are cracked 1.PNG

Extension second room interior wall:
Both sides of the extension are cracked 2.PNG


Crack on the connecting wall - the original build into the extension:
Extension interior connecting wall crack 3.PNG

We have some other issues reported as follows:
1. Related to the extension cracks, the belief the extension was built over a drain and that the drains may be leaking. Surveyor strongly recommends we get a drain survey and structural done but we can't justify the cost if we'll just be abandoning the property.
2. Diagonal cracking to the exterior wall above the living room window due to timer windows being replaced by UPVC, the surveyor believes there are no lintels above the windows, but we don't understand how the property would be built without some level of support?
3. Electrics - RCD in place but the box is plastic and not up to regulations as should be metal.
4. Roof sarking felt was found to be slightly damaged and mortar verge to the gable end will require repointing soon, under cloaking suspected asbestos.
5. Vertical thermal cracking to where the extension meets the original build, surveyor believes this is of little worry, but if it continues after repair, to install an expansion joint.
6. Wrongly discharging down-pipe onto the flat roof, this is from the rear gutters of the original build discharging over the flat roof.
7. Exterior wet rot to the joinery of the flat roof.
8. Render taken too far down so DPC is ineffective to the original build. No DPC to extension.
9. Survey mentions that it appears walls have been removed from between the living room and kitchen, but seems no building permission was granted for this.
10. Small trees and bushes within influencing distance of the foundations but been advised to not let them grow any taller than the distance to the property.

Slideshow below with main points from the survey:
View album 27887
Possible minor issues:
1. Wasp infestation around the joinery in the flat roof.
2. Very old multipoint heater unit. No Central Heating. New boiler, piping and central heating to be installed - we were aware of this.
3. Toilet fill valve doesn't fully close.
4. Shower cubicle to be re-sealed to prevent leaks, possible it has been leaking slightly without being noticed. Seems dated.
5. Soil vent pipe not properly covered, possibly made of Asbestos.
6. Textured ceilings (suspected Asbestos).
7. Suspected asbestos concrete rear garage roof. Leaking garage roof.
8. Lead rising mains suspected - I believe this is common for the property type and age.
9. All doors and almost 80% of the windows to be replaced as not sealing properly and seem to be first generation double glazing.
10. External joinery clad with PVC - survey mentions this can cause the timer to deteriorate more rapidly.
11. Significant moss on the roof to be removed - as expected.

P.S. The estate agent pushed for us to book in a survey asap and mentioned my request for furniture to be removed prior to survey was unsual, I was happy to wait how ever long this would've taken.

Would it be wise to walk away at this stage, or possibly ask for a reduction in asking price by possibly 5-10k? I do wonder how much it may cost to rectify these problems. Our mortgage expires in April 2023 so if we are forced to walk away, hope to have ample time to look elsewhere.

We are not very experienced and the report shocked us somewhat. Suggestions / reccomendations welcome, we've been advised to go through this with a builder but don't know anybody who might be able to help. We'd only really budgeted 15k including heating and bringing the property to a modern standard (not including kitchen or bathroom).

I should add we've only just received the survey and have not yet informed our solicitor or bank. We are awaiting the vendor's grant of probate shortly so are in a somewhat odd position as both of our solicitors have not formally set anything out.

Thanks for your time.
 
Last edited:
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Depends how badly you want the house.
Do you see yourself moving again after a few years.
What you are prepared/able to spend on it if a worst-case scenario.
How much you could expect it to be worth after all the works are done.
As you are not really DIY'ers would you need to get tradesmen in for everything except the most basic repairs?
How long would the repairs take? (Always anticipate at least 6 months longer than the builder says it will take. They will give you the shortest possible time and then blame other factors when it takes longer).

My gut instinct, after reading a report with numerous things I didn't expect to see, would be to walk away now before spending more money and realising it was a waste. Especially as the estate agent was pushing you to get a survey quickly. That is just so they can get the sale and refuse any liability.
 
Hi All,

Looking for some advice please on this probate property to be purchased. It's going for £225k in West Midlands as a 1950s three-bedroom end of terrace with a ground floor extension, with a flat roof, split into two rooms (sitting room and utility room). The property generally needs modernisation, new kitchen, bathroom, fixtures and fittings, including skimming and new flooring.



We are not very experienced and the report shocked us somewhat. Suggestions / reccomendations welcome, we've been advised to go through this with a builder but don't know anybody who might be able to help. We'd only really budgeted 15k including heating and bringing the property to a modern standard (not including kitchen or bathroom).
15k is nowhere near enough, walk away.
 
The problem with house selling is that buyers put in a half reasonable offer knowing that the survey can be used as leverage for a second round of negotiations.

So surveyors fill up the survey with all sorts if buts and maybes.

the major potential issues:
1) drain built over - is it or not?
2) “appears wall removed” a surveyor should know for definite
3) is there really no DPC in extension - seems unlikely
4) cracks at extension join needs investigating but likely to be a bit of differential movement in foundations

I presume the price takes into account this property needs refurbishing - how much would a similar modernised property sell for?

If you want a property that needs renovating, this house is probably quite typical.
 
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The problem with house selling is that buyers put in a half reasonable offer knowing that the survey can be used as leverage for a second round of negotiations.

So surveyors fill up the survey with all sorts if buts and maybes.

the major potential issues:
1) drain built over - is it or not?
2) “appears wall removed” a surveyor should know for definite
3) is there really no DPC in extension - seems unlikely
4) cracks at extension join needs investigating but likely to be a bit of differential movement in foundations

I presume the price takes into account this property needs refurbishing - how much would a similar modernised property sell for?

If you want a property that needs renovating, this house is probably quite typical.
Thanks for your reply all!

To be honest we are keen with this property as the location is convenient and quiet.

I haven't yet spoken to the surveyor over the phone but we've scheduled a call next Monday, so I may ask him this in more detail, but yes the survey does appear very vague and seems they cover themselves for liability by saying these things.

regarding the internal crack in the extension wall on both sides, would this be considered major? Surveyor tells us one thing but seems friends say the cracks look normal. They seem to suggest it's a leak but surely after so many years a leak would be obvious, please pardon my ignorance.

We're happy to put more money in but possibly only another 15k absolute max. We were thinking on repairing the issues step by step. We've had some advice by friends that suggest these are normal problems that can happen and the cracks don't look too bad, but we're conflicted as common sense tells us to listen to the surveyor. To be honest it seems the property is priced sensibly as this property in good standard should be towards 260k, would it be wise to ask for a small reduction, maybe 5k? We did offer 5k over asking initally anyhow. As FTBs we didn't really know whether to do a survey or not, but all forum posts seemd to say it was worthwhile.
 
The normal process is simple maths - the house is advertised in X condition, at Y price, the survey comes up with Z work required - either pull out if you don't want the work or deduct Z from Y and revise your offer - this will be your starting point for negotiation - but the market is teetering at the moment and with a probate the family often just want it gone - on the flip side you might really want it and it could become attractive to developers/investors at a lower price - but you've got to start somewhere.
 
regarding the internal crack in the extension wall on both sides, would this be considered major? Surveyor tells us one thing but seems friends say the cracks look normal. They seem to suggest it's a leak but surely after so many years a leak would be obvious, please pardon my ignorance

extensions are built on a different foundation to the original house, so there will be differential movement. Usually you don’t see it because there’s usually a return where the extension goes, so internally you don’t normally see a flat wall with a join in it.

If the crack is even from top to bottom and not too big, it’s just settlement / thermal contraction.

If the crack is tapered, say much wider at top, that indicates the extension is suffering subsidence - which is not your situation.


Its got nothing to do with a leak, sounds like estate agent bull.
 
To be honest it seems the property is priced sensibly as this property in good standard should be towards 260k, would it be wise to ask for a small reduction, maybe 5k? We did offer 5k over asking initally anyhow

Similar thing with my Dads house when he died. It needed modernising.

houses of similar type in modernised condition were selling for £450k+ we sold for under £380k



In your case, you are buying a house worth £260k all done up and have offer in of £225k

So you’ve £35k difference in value representing value of refurbished and repair.

personally I don’t think £35k is enough to cover everything, bearing in mind it needs new windows, new gas boiler, prob rewire, new flat roof. And of course updated kitchen and bathroom. As well as the remedials.

the asbestos and potential drain issue are probably the 2 main unknowns - asbestos is virtually a std mention on surveyors report, no doubt a cut n paste for every survey on older properties. But asbestos work is eye watering,y expensive.


IMO you need to negotiate a bit more off so you have some contingency cover for the unknowns.

If the Vendors complain get them to do an asbestos sampling survey and a drain inspection.
 
There is nothing in that report that looks bad or out of place in an old house. The wall cracking is indicative of thermal cracking not foundation movement.

Your only decision it's whether a house requiring such modernisation is priced correctly compared to one in that location that does not.
 
I'm not really sure what you are hoping for here? If it's for somebody to tell you it's ok to buy the property, you'll be out of luck.

That cracking might or might not be due to leaky drains, but I would rule out the other possibilities first. As a starting point, is it just the plaster cracked or does the crack transfer through to the masonry. First of all, check outside - looking for any cracks or indication of movement? If nothing, consider hacking off plaster to about 600mm either side of the crack. If there are no cracks in the masonry, make good the plaster and that's it. Obviously, you'll need the agreement of the vendor. That might seem unlikely but in an empty probate property it's not impossible. If this issue came up once, it will come up again and they might be happy to get it resolved one way or the other and/or not lose the sale.

The lack of underfloor ventilation could be an issue. At the very least the air bricks should be properly exposed and cleaned out. Ideally you would also get a look under the floor to check condition. Again, this might be possible in a probate property. I'd do some negotiating if I were you.
 
Thanks all, appreciate all of your comments here. We'll certainly try to weigh our options the best we can.

We'll also try to speak to any builders to get an idea of cost and possibly see what else is on the market. Is it likely the bank could possibly withdraw the mortgage offer based on these issues at all, or would they require further investigations such as the reccomended drain and structural to continue? Unfortunately the survey didn't include estimates, but I'll see what the surveyors thoguhts are on Monday.
 
Is it likely the bank could possibly withdraw the mortgage offer based on these issues at all
I doubt it, Its pretty std stuff on a home buyers report

surveyors gotta justify their high fees for their cut n paste, massively padded out report.

The surveyor on my dads house tried to imply the house could be suffering subsidence....and mentioned that the garden shed 50 feet away that was wonky due to rot might indicate unstable ground.
 
It's not a case of "justifying fees". Those issues in this (or any report) are actual issues and things the buyer needs to know about in making the purchase decision and committing to future costs.

The problem is that a lot of surveyors do not put their findings into any context, so the buyer just sees problems with the house but not the significance of the findings. The RICS standard report format does not help either.
 
It's not a case of "justifying fees". Those issues in this (or any report) are actual issues and things the buyer needs to know about in making the purchase decision and committing to future costs.

The problem is that a lot of surveyors do not put their findings into any context, so the buyer just sees problems with the house but not the significance of the findings. The RICS standard report format does not help either.
Fair point.
 

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