Subsidence? or just an old house?

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Im in the process of buying a house. The house was originally constructed in 1820 and consisted of 2 downstairs rooms and 2 upstairs rooms. The house was extensively extended in the 1960s and is now a 4 bedroom ditched house. The house is located in County Durham. The standard of the build on the extension (which included a full new roof) is excellent.

However, weve found a slight issue. There is a considerable (50-80mm) lean on 1 upstairs bedroom and the staircase. both of which are part of the original house. We have had a structural survey conducted and the surveyor stated that "there is no obvious signs of subsidence that would warrant such a big slope across the floors. If there had been such a movement none of the doors would close – but they all do and they don’t appear to have been adjusted to suit a sloping wall. However, the doors and windows could have been realigned and plastered / rendered around during the alteration works in the 1960s which would create the impression that nothing has moved. T If it is not recent subsidence then the sloping floor could be historic subsidence and the renovations and alterations in the 1960’s covered everything over – except the sloping floors." The house has not been decorated or updated since the 1960s (old farmer).

"There are no other signs of movement and no cracks in any of the interior walls. The exterior is poorly rendered and the render is cracked due to de-bonding and needs replaced but there is no cracking internally to match the external."

The render means the external walls cannot be checked. But in the loft the gable walls are exposed and are of excellent construction and have no signs of movement.

Im unsure where to go from here. It seems solid but the survey is inconclusive and there are no reports of underpinning or insurance claims. Do I keep going with the purchase or pull out whilst i still can? Any advice would be appreciated.
 
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It is a shame the structural survey doesnt identify the reason for the 50-80mm out of level which is a serious amount.

Will the problem stop the house getting a mortgage?
 
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Maybe worth looking at historical mining activity.

http://mapapps2.bgs.ac.uk/coalauthority/home.html

Thanks Bernard. I checked this map before we put an offer in on the house. As its in the north east pretty much everywhere is in an at risk area. The house sits on the boundary of the at risk area and is about 10M towards the good side. Im still awaiting local authority reports on this.
 
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It is a shame the structural survey doesnt identify the reason for the 50-80mm out of level which is a serious amount.

Will the problem stop the house getting a mortgage?

Notch7 i agree it is a large slope, the surveyor couldn't find a reason for the slope so just listed several possibilities. Including a construction defect and maybe the floors were built with this slope in them as the issue is only in part of the 200 year old section.
 
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Notch7 i agree it is a large slope, the surveyor couldn't find a reason for the slope so just listed several possibilities. Including a construction defect and maybe the floors were built with this slope in them as the issue is only in part of the 200 year old section.

Do the sloping floors by chance slope down towards a main central chimney?

Ive seen that a few times in listed buildings -the main chimney being built on a a big foundation and the outer walls / spine walls not so much so they drop over time.

I suppose the key os knowing whether the slope is due to a foundation subsidence or something to do with a construction issue, like the floors or walls being built on the pi**
 
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Do the sloping floors by chance slope down towards a main central chimney?

Ive seen that a few times in listed buildings -the main chimney being built on a a big foundation and the outer walls / spine walls not so much so they drop over time.

I suppose the key os knowing whether the slope is due to a foundation subsidence or something to do with a construction issue, like the floors or walls being built on the pi**

No, the room slopes towards the from garden. One bedroom is noticeable but the room next to it is nowhere near as bad. Its a mystery. The mortgage valuer didn't pick it up as an issue on his report. which i also find strange. I think i may need to pay for a second opinion.
 
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The executors/trustees will have to answer the same questions as a owner so they may have some knowledge. It may be that the floors have sloped like this for the 50 years or so since the 1960's works (or for even longer) and so may not be a problem (or quite the problem they seem). It gives you some leeway to negotiate. The other factor is whether you could get buildings insurance - again one of the pre sale enquiries asks whether the sellers have had insurance refused.

Good luck!

Blup
 
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The executors/trustees will have to answer the same questions as a owner so they may have some knowledge. It may be that the floors have sloped like this for the 50 years or so since the 1960's works (or for even longer) and so may not be a problem (or quite the problem they seem). It gives you some leeway to negotiate. The other factor is whether you could get buildings insurance - again one of the pre sale enquiries asks whether the sellers have had insurance refused.

Good luck!

Blup

Thanks for the advice Blup. I've put the relevant questions to the executors for a second time and I`m waiting for a reply. I`m not hopeful for anything useful to be honest.
 
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To be honest that's about the most positive a surveyors report gets! Basically if it's not moved for 50 years that's a better guarantee than any new build.
 
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A lot of the old stone houses round here have got some walls that are 2 or 3 inches out of plumb. When they were built with shallow foundations their early days would probably see them settle quite lot, so some of them would go a fair bit out of plumb.
However with most of them there comes a point when they stop moving so much, as having thick stone walls built in lime mortar the movement isn't such a problem.
Surveyors not used to these types of property don't always understand these issues and start talking about underpinning, whereas the houses will probably look the same in 200 years time.
 
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I've just done a sale as an executor and it's a standard pre contract enquiry question so your solicitor should be asking it if it's not offered with the sellers pack.

Blup
 
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to be honest the seller can be a great source of info, but they can just say "not known, buyer should satisfy themselves" over the whole thing. The only thing the seller has to do is own the title, everything else is down to the buyer and their mortgage company. Unless you suspect it's had a patch up job recently, you probably know as much as the seller, just by reading the survey
 

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