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  • FIRST POST
    • CMBR1016
    • By CMBR1016 10th Oct 16, 1:02 PM
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    CMBR1016
    Flooding issue that wasn't disclosed by seller - please help!
    • #1
    • 10th Oct 16, 1:02 PM
    Flooding issue that wasn't disclosed by seller - please help! 10th Oct 16 at 1:02 PM
    Hi

    Iím after some advice about a flooding issue we are experiencing on a house we have recently bought.

    House is victorian, with a cellar. We had a Homebuyers survey and a specialist damp and timber survey.

    The Homebuyers survey said there was evidence the cellar had flooded in the past and to make further enquiries to determine the possibility of this happening again. The specialist damp & timber report advised the cellar was in an acceptable condition with no evidence of water pooling / ingress, with mild-dampness which could be expected from a cellar.

    The Homebuyers report also said there were ďa number of minor cracks in the external walls, probably due to past movement. Whilst not structurally serious, cracks should be filled to prevent water penetrationĒ. There was no advice to further investigate this or get a structural report.

    As advised in our survey, our solicitor raised an enquiry with the sellers solicitors and asked whether the cellar had ever flooded in their ownership and whether they had ever made an insurance claim for flooding. They answered no to both of these questions.

    Within the first 24 hours of moving into the house we experienced water pooling in the cellar, quite significant on some days. It involved mopping out the water which took a couple of hours at a time. This was despite having very low rainfall in the last few weeks. After doing a number of checks, we realised water was penetrating through the cellar wall every time we used the washing machine, or ran a tap for a period of time. We are pretty confident that there is an issue with our drain which is behind this wall, we think it may be cracked and when there is a large amount of waste water coming through, it overflows and floods the cellar. We have tried clearing out any debris but this isnít making any difference. We have temporarily re-directed the waste pipe from the washing machine so that it doesnít feed into this drain, and this has stopped the daily flooding.

    Worryingly, we are now concerned that this drainage issue and water overflow on this corner of the house is causing damage to the foundations (I donít know if this is possible?!) We are also wondering whether this is connected to the movement which was outlined in the homebuyers report. As explained above, the survey said this movement was probably historical and not structurally serious.

    We intend to instruct a drainage specialist and get CCTV footage of the drain to see if itís cracked or damaged as we suspect. We also plan to get a structural engineers survey to look at the movement issue and provide further advice.

    My questions are Ė Firstly, the sellers must have been aware of this drainage/flooding issue. As we specifically asked them whether the cellar had ever flooded and they said no in writing, do you think this is something we could and should be pursuing with our solicitors?

    Secondly, if we identify a structural issue with the movement in the wall, do you think there is any recourse to the surveyor who completed our homebuyers report? Iím aware they are full of caveats and this is probably a non-starter

    Any suggestions greatly appreciated
Page 1
    • HouseBuyer77
    • By HouseBuyer77 10th Oct 16, 1:12 PM
    • 755 Posts
    • 713 Thanks
    HouseBuyer77
    • #2
    • 10th Oct 16, 1:12 PM
    • #2
    • 10th Oct 16, 1:12 PM
    It could be the previous owners rarely used or only lightly used that drain so they didn't encounter that issue?

    Or perhaps they occasionaly noticed puddles down there and mopped them up, just thinking 'it's an old victorian cellar guess it gets a bit damp sometimes' without further thought (and never considered it to be flooding).

    How significant are the puddles and would it be conceivable the previous owners rarely used the drain? Perhaps there's a different place they could have drained a washing machine and the tap you talk about is in a utility room sink they very rarely used.

    If it ends up in court you need to prove on the balance of probability the vendor lied. If the tap that causes issues is over the main kitchen sink and the drain you used for the washing machine is the only sensible drain hookup for a washing machine in the house (and better yet you have a photo from the advert showing they had a machine there) it greatly strengthens your case.
    • carefullycautious
    • By carefullycautious 10th Oct 16, 1:48 PM
    • 2,136 Posts
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    carefullycautious
    • #3
    • 10th Oct 16, 1:48 PM
    • #3
    • 10th Oct 16, 1:48 PM
    Also take photos of the cellar when it has the water on the floor.
    • CMBR1016
    • By CMBR1016 10th Oct 16, 2:48 PM
    • 2 Posts
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    CMBR1016
    • #4
    • 10th Oct 16, 2:48 PM
    • #4
    • 10th Oct 16, 2:48 PM
    It could be the previous owners rarely used or only lightly used that drain so they didn't encounter that issue?

    Or perhaps they occasionaly noticed puddles down there and mopped them up, just thinking 'it's an old victorian cellar guess it gets a bit damp sometimes' without further thought (and never considered it to be flooding).

    How significant are the puddles and would it be conceivable the previous owners rarely used the drain? Perhaps there's a different place they could have drained a washing machine and the tap you talk about is in a utility room sink they very rarely used.

    If it ends up in court you need to prove on the balance of probability the vendor lied. If the tap that causes issues is over the main kitchen sink and the drain you used for the washing machine is the only sensible drain hookup for a washing machine in the house (and better yet you have a photo from the advert showing they had a machine there) it greatly strengthens your case.
    Originally posted by HouseBuyer77
    Hi, thanks for reply. Yes it floods when the kitchen tap runs constantly or a lot of water goes down the sink. It floods REALLY badly when the washing machine is used. The volume of water used by the washing machine means the whole cellar floor is 1-2cm full of water within an hour. It takes a good couple of hours to mop it out. It only took us a couple of days to realise the link so I canít imagine how the sellers werenít aware of this. There is no separate utility room or place for the washing machine to go. If it was a few small puddles I would live with it, but the volume of water escaping concerns me and Iím not sure how long itís been doing it or what other damage the water escaping from the drains has caused.

    Thanks for suggesting getting a photo of where they had the washing machine, there was one in the rightmove advert showing the washing machine in the kitchen in the same place we have ours.

    Iíve never had this sort of thing happen to me before, I donít like the idea of pursuing a legal claim really but itís something we are having to consider

    Iím also taking photos and keeping a record of correspondence with surveyors and drainage specialists.
    • davidmcn
    • By davidmcn 10th Oct 16, 2:55 PM
    • 3,845 Posts
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    davidmcn
    • #5
    • 10th Oct 16, 2:55 PM
    • #5
    • 10th Oct 16, 2:55 PM
    This sounds like a "leaking pipe" rather than "flooding" - the latter usually referring to an external source e.g. a nearby river. Search for previous thread(s) here discussing the distinction between "flooding" and "damp cellar"...
    • Seanymph
    • By Seanymph 10th Oct 16, 3:12 PM
    • 2,609 Posts
    • 16,863 Thanks
    Seanymph
    • #6
    • 10th Oct 16, 3:12 PM
    • #6
    • 10th Oct 16, 3:12 PM
    And yes, it could be damaging your house structurally - because ALL the water isn't coming into your cellar, so that corner of the house is sitting on porridge.

    We had this in France, a downpipe was split and 15 years of non occupancy had rotted the floor in that corner downstairs and caused huge damp issues.

    We redirected it, let it dry out, and it's fine now.
    • Hoploz
    • By Hoploz 10th Oct 16, 5:10 PM
    • 3,039 Posts
    • 2,693 Thanks
    Hoploz
    • #7
    • 10th Oct 16, 5:10 PM
    • #7
    • 10th Oct 16, 5:10 PM
    Tbh I don't think 1-2cm in a cellar would be considered flooding. Would it dry up if you didn't go down there? Is it possible they didn't go down there and see it?

    However you clearly do need to get this sorted out. Waste water is unclean and could be considered a health hazard.

    In fairness your survey did pick it up and 'flooding' eg by nearby river overflowing is only one cause of dampness so it might have been followed up further by the damp survey which failed to identify it. Were the sellers definitely living there? I would bring the damp surveyor back and challenge him for a response,
    • Chanes
    • By Chanes 10th Oct 16, 9:46 PM
    • 602 Posts
    • 344 Thanks
    Chanes
    • #8
    • 10th Oct 16, 9:46 PM
    • #8
    • 10th Oct 16, 9:46 PM
    When you take out your home insurance you are often given the option to take legal cover and emergency cover. For the price of them, it's worth paying I think. So, did you take legal cover? Check your policy to see if it was included as a deal? It will save you a lot of money of you pursue them through the courts. Though when I think of flooding I think deeper than a centimetre or so? You may find it less stressful to fix this yourself and be happy in your house. But we have had unpleasant surprises when we moved into our new house and it really, really can be upsetting, so I can sympathise with your situation a little.
    • Seanymph
    • By Seanymph 11th Oct 16, 9:57 AM
    • 2,609 Posts
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    Seanymph
    • #9
    • 11th Oct 16, 9:57 AM
    • #9
    • 11th Oct 16, 9:57 AM
    You can't really blame the surveyor - they may not have done any washing that week!
    • martinthebandit
    • By martinthebandit 11th Oct 16, 10:04 AM
    • 2,834 Posts
    • 4,659 Thanks
    martinthebandit
    If it was me I would,

    1. Get the drain fixed,
    2. Use a laundrette for my washing until 1. is done, and
    3. Try and minimise other water going down that particular drain until 1. is done.
    4. Wait a few months after 1. is done to see if the cellar dries out.

    PS the drain may have been fine until very recently and/or the seller may not have noticed it, or the seller is a lying git, whatever is true you will not get far trying to sue him or her, your best bet is to fix it and enjoy your house.
    Politics -
    from the words Poli, meaning many
    and tics meaning blood sucking parasites


    (thanks to Kinky Friedman (or Larry Hardman) for the quote}
    • pinkteapot
    • By pinkteapot 11th Oct 16, 10:38 AM
    • 6,105 Posts
    • 7,819 Thanks
    pinkteapot
    Agree with davidmcn that flooding isn't the right word to be using. That would usually be used when a river is bursting its banks and flooding the garden and cellar, or if the garden slopes towards the house and heavy rainfall results in water on the cellar floor.

    If taps and the washing machine result in water in the cellar then you've got leaking or completely broken pipework, and that's what needs repairing. Sounds like you've narrowed it down to a drain rather than pipes, so you need a drain company to come round, investigate the issue (they can put cameras down) and repair it.

    Surveyors won't normally turn on taps and appliances and wait to see if there are any leaks. If the drain is cracked and you can clearly see that then it's possible they should have commented.

    Get the drain fixed FIRST to stop any further occurrences. Until it's fixed, don't use any taps or appliances that result in water leaking.

    Check your home insurance. If you have home emergency cover then it may cover the repairs, or at least the cost of finding out exactly what's wrong (look for "trace and access" cover).

    Once the pipework and/or drains are repaired and no longer causing water ingress, then get someone out to tell you if it's caused any structural damage. It may not have done. The cracks may be something else entirely and historical, and the leak might not have caused damage. You don't know.

    Keep receipts for EVERYTHING. It may turn out that the drain costs a few hundred quid to repair and there's no structural damage, in which case it probably won't be worth the cost of pursuing the vendor. If it's more serious and costly then you'll want to.

    EDIT: martinthebandit said what I said much more succinctly.
    Last edited by pinkteapot; 11-10-2016 at 10:44 AM.
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