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    • Braboor
    • By Braboor 11th Jun 17, 8:34 AM
    • 32Posts
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    Braboor
    Retrospective Building Regulations vs Indemnity Insurance
    • #1
    • 11th Jun 17, 8:34 AM
    Retrospective Building Regulations vs Indemnity Insurance 11th Jun 17 at 8:34 AM
    I have recently discovered that the seller of a property I am currently in the process of buying, completed an extension without applying for Building Control Approval. I had a full Building Survey carried out & my surveyor noted that the new roof ventilation was not conforming to regulations, although everything else seemed in order.

    The seller has delayed negotiations by withholding the Memorandum of Sale for 7 weeks, after accepting my offer. My own buyers are keen for me to move & have a Completion Date. I need to move fast but am not happy with a quick fix Indemnity Insurance as issues have already been identified. Is it possible to fast-track retrospective Building Regulations Approval & where would I find out about cost?
    Last edited by Braboor; 11-06-2017 at 8:35 AM. Reason: error
Page 2
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 12th Jun 17, 9:10 AM
    • 23,346 Posts
    • 88,966 Thanks
    Davesnave
    I don't know if it makes any difference but the existing walls were the solid rubble type (circa 1850) 500mm thick.
    Originally posted by Braboor
    So it's more than likely they were laid on a foundation somewhat less than that which would be required today.

    We can assume that the walls built then had settled by 2013, but we can't be sure that they might not move again as a result of extra loading, perhaps only under extreme conditions, such as the excessive rain in winter 2012.

    But it's still not that simple, because the underlying rocks might play a part. When my BiL was working on his barn conversion in 2010, he was told to go down 1m, but hit bed rock ataround 500mm, so that instruction had to be revised.

    Without inspection pits it's a gamble. My last house had less than 300mm of foundations on clay and shale. It had moved, but there was no sign of it falling down as a result of the shallow footings.
    'A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they'll never sit in.'
    • Braboor
    • By Braboor 12th Jun 17, 11:02 AM
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    Braboor
    I had an exchange with the surveyor (a RICS Certified Historic Buildings Surveyor) this morning. He said there were no visible signs of subsidence & 'old rubble stone walls rarely have any formal foundation and at any prescribed depth. What you might find is a shallow foundation with the walls probably built off larger stone slabs'.

    The new build was a block built cavity wall with a slate roof.
    • EachPenny
    • By EachPenny 12th Jun 17, 11:27 AM
    • 2,478 Posts
    • 4,116 Thanks
    EachPenny
    He said there were no visible signs of subsidence & 'old rubble stone walls rarely have any formal foundation and at any prescribed depth. What you might find is a shallow foundation with the walls probably built off larger stone slabs'.

    The new build was a block built cavity wall with a slate roof.
    Originally posted by Braboor
    This is one of the potential issues with digging trial pits to establish the depth of foundations - the hole itself may cause disturbance to the supporting mechanism.

    In an ideal world you'd get a pragmatic BCO who would allow a conservative approach to be adopted. If it is assumed the foundations have no depth below topsoil and are the same width as the base of the wall then it would be possible to calculate the maximum permissible loading given a known or estimated bearing capacity of the sub-soil. It is then a case of working out the loading (and extra loading) of the walls and new structure and see whether this loading is below the maximum permissible bearing capacity - with the addition of some appropriately large factors of safety.

    Assuming no depth to the foundations would mean you cannot rule out the potential for moisture related ground movement affecting the building, but it could be a way of showing the structure is 'safe' in terms of loading.

    Given the age of the building and the fact several years have passed since the first floor was added then if there is no visible sign of movement it might be enough to satisfy a BCO... provided there is a willingness to take a pragmatic approach and calculations can be done to confirm the structural integrity.

    If you dig trial pits and 'discover' there is no depth to the foundations, what do you do then?

    The options are either to run a mile, or accept you are buying a property which may need significant additional expenditure to get it 'right'.

    Does the vendor have any pictures showing the building before the first floor was added? This might be useful (necessary) to confirm what the structure (especially the roof) was like before the building work was done. If the original roof was similar to the new one, then the additional loading is effectively the weight of the (lightweight?) walls and floor plus loading from occupation - as it is a bedroom this isn't going to be excessively high.
    "In the future, everyone will be rich for 15 minutes"
    • lwhiteman88
    • By lwhiteman88 12th Jun 17, 11:37 AM
    • 83 Posts
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    lwhiteman88
    I had an exchange with the surveyor (a RICS Certified Historic Buildings Surveyor) this morning. He said there were no visible signs of subsidence & 'old rubble stone walls rarely have any formal foundation and at any prescribed depth. What you might find is a shallow foundation with the walls probably built off larger stone slabs'.

    The new build was a block built cavity wall with a slate roof.
    Originally posted by Braboor
    I think an hour of a local engineers time at the property could be really valuable. They would be able to comment with any concerns with the foundation.

    A new cavity wall above a solid masonry wall would require cavity trays, weep holes etc which again I would hope the builder would have installed.

    A surveyor can advise on what is there but they're not qualified to know if the loadings are correct etc. Hence speaking with an engineer would be advisable.
    • Braboor
    • By Braboor 12th Jun 17, 1:02 PM
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    Braboor
    ...this might give some idea of the extent of the work...

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/eftun58bnoe35qj/before-after.jpg?dl=0
    Last edited by Braboor; 12-06-2017 at 1:05 PM.
    • EachPenny
    • By EachPenny 12th Jun 17, 1:11 PM
    • 2,478 Posts
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    EachPenny
    That's some substantial additional loading, especially on the gable end wall. It also looks like the roof was originally lean-to, so the load paths from the roof have changed significantly.

    Another thing I would want assurance on is how the new walls were keyed onto the existing sloping walls - has this been done securely, or is the new blockwork just 'clinging' on?
    "In the future, everyone will be rich for 15 minutes"
    • Braboor
    • By Braboor 12th Jun 17, 1:30 PM
    • 32 Posts
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    Braboor
    Now I'm worried. The surveyor observed a retaining wall adjacent to the extension 'is notably bowed along its length and at its mid-point vertical cracking was noted'. I'm wondering if this may be caused by subsidence in the foundations there...

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/qk2c72w2hg0q4vs/retaining-wall.png?dl=0
    Last edited by Braboor; 12-06-2017 at 1:39 PM. Reason: spelling
    • EachPenny
    • By EachPenny 12th Jun 17, 1:52 PM
    • 2,478 Posts
    • 4,116 Thanks
    EachPenny
    Now I'm worried. The surveyor observed a retaining wall adjacent to the extension 'is notably bowed along its length and at its mid-point vertical cracking was noted'. I'm wondering if this may be caused by subsidence in the foundations there...
    Originally posted by Braboor
    Is it the gable end wall of the house on the right and a raised garden on the left supported by the wall? If so it would be more likely that the soil in the garden is pushing the wall towards the house causing it to crack - the foundation level of the house wall would be lower.

    As lwhiteman88 says, this is something you would need to discuss with an engineer to work out the best way forward. However, you'd really have to decide whether you like the house enough to take a bit of a gamble on the cost of rectification work, or on spending money for a structural engineer to investigate before you buy, or walk away.

    Not an easy choice.
    "In the future, everyone will be rich for 15 minutes"
    • lincroft1710
    • By lincroft1710 12th Jun 17, 4:07 PM
    • 9,756 Posts
    • 7,783 Thanks
    lincroft1710
    Having seen the size of the extension I would be even more suspicious of why the vendor did not obtain BR consent. Were any plans drawn up for this extension together with a schedule of works? If so it would be a good idea to have a long hard look at them, even though there is no guarantee that the work was carried out accordingly.
    • the_r_sole
    • By the_r_sole 12th Jun 17, 6:43 PM
    • 2,323 Posts
    • 1,171 Thanks
    the_r_sole
    There's somethings I would inspect myself and make a judgement on, a significant extension with no regs built onto and old wall, I'd be walking away tbh, there's too much unseen work to be confident it's been done well...
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