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    • EvaC
    • By EvaC 7th Jul 17, 4:28 PM
    • 6Posts
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    EvaC
    Scary surveys..where do we draw the line?
    • #1
    • 7th Jul 17, 4:28 PM
    Scary surveys..where do we draw the line? 7th Jul 17 at 4:28 PM
    Hi there,

    We are first time buyers who have had an offer accepted on a 100(ish) year old terrace. The asking price was 145k and this is what we have agreed to pay.
    The first survey we had done (homebuyers) valued the property at this price however said there were certain issues which would need fixing (including problems with the walls) and recommended a structural survey which we did at a further cost. This survey has come back and has not mentioned anything wrong with the walls but has listed among other things: a concrete floor which may need redoing and damp proofing, a shower room with damp reading, issues with the chimney stack, guttering and lintel above the bay windows. After pressing the surveyor for approximate costs to remedy these he could not but advised we pay a further £180 to a damp and timber specialist who would be able to. We have already spent over £700 on reports so are reluctant and spoke to the damp and timber specialist tentatively on the phone who refused to say if the costs involved would be nearer 5k or 50k! My question is, should we continue getting more surveys done at our expense not knowing if the final cost of repairs may be too much for us to afford or do we throw the towel in now? We want to renegotiate a price with the seller but without even an approximate idea of how much to ask for we could end up selling ourselves short and ending up with a house that we simply can't afford to fix. On the other hand, if we give up now we lose all the money already spent on surveys and will be back to square one.

    If anyone can advise even who to go to for an idea of costs that would be a big help.

    Apologies for such a long post, we are at our wits end.
Page 1
    • DumbMuscle
    • By DumbMuscle 7th Jul 17, 4:41 PM
    • 196 Posts
    • 290 Thanks
    DumbMuscle
    • #2
    • 7th Jul 17, 4:41 PM
    • #2
    • 7th Jul 17, 4:41 PM
    Hi there,

    We are first time buyers who have had an offer accepted on a 100(ish) year old terrace. The asking price was 145k and this is what we have agreed to pay.
    The first survey we had done (homebuyers) valued the property at this price however said there were certain issues which would need fixing (including problems with the walls) and recommended a structural survey which we did at a further cost. This survey has come back and has not mentioned anything wrong with the walls but has listed among other things: a concrete floor which may need redoing and damp proofing What exactly does it say is wrong?, a shower room with damp readingwater, surprisingly, is wet. You may just need a new extractor fan or to open a window, issues with the chimney stackWhat issues? "It may need repointing in the next 10 years" is very different to "it's about the fall through the roof and kill you all" , guttering and lintel above the bay windows Again, what issues?. After pressing the surveyor for approximate costs to remedy these he could not but advised we pay a further £180 to a damp and timber specialist who would be able to. We have already spent over £700 on reports You're also about to spend over 100k on a house,
    most likely
    so are reluctant and spoke to the damp and timber specialist tentatively on the phone who refused to say if the costs involved would be nearer 5k or 50kWell yeah... He can't give an accurate diagnosis over the phone, and depending on what's wrong it could be anywhere in that range, or the surveyor could be wrong about there being a problem! My question is, should we continue getting more surveys done at our expense not knowing if the final cost of repairs may be too much for us to afford or do we throw the towel in now? We want to renegotiate a price with the seller but without even an approximate idea of how much to ask for we could end up selling ourselves short and ending up with a house that we simply can't afford to fix. On the other hand, if we give up now we lose all the money already spent on surveys and will be back to square one.

    If anyone can advise even who to go to for an idea of costs that would be a big help.

    Apologies for such a long post, we are at our wits end.
    Originally posted by EvaC
    You could ask neighbours if they've had similar issues, and how much they cost to remedy. You're not going to get a good estimate without paying for a survey - and even then, there could be something that comes up later
    • AdrianC
    • By AdrianC 7th Jul 17, 5:08 PM
    • 15,054 Posts
    • 13,375 Thanks
    AdrianC
    • #3
    • 7th Jul 17, 5:08 PM
    • #3
    • 7th Jul 17, 5:08 PM
    We ... have had an offer accepted ... 145k
    The ... survey ... valued the property at this price
    ...
    We want to renegotiate a price with the seller
    Originally posted by EvaC
    As far as renegotiation goes, I've trimmed your post down to the relevant bits.

    The surveyor has told you that the price is right, after taking into account the current condition. If I were the vendor, that's what I'd be saying as I handed your survey back to you, tapping the valuation line...

    As far as the rest goes, there's simply insufficient information to give any clue. Quote the exact wording of any relevant sections, and we'll help you translate them.

    The damp specialist is not going to give you a number over the phone - he's not psychic. Be aware that their "surveys" are notoriously often little more than sales opportunities...
    • EvaC
    • By EvaC 7th Jul 17, 5:14 PM
    • 6 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    EvaC
    • #4
    • 7th Jul 17, 5:14 PM
    • #4
    • 7th Jul 17, 5:14 PM
    DumbMuscle, Thanks for the quick response. I'll try and go in to more detail now:
    With regards to the concrete floor it says that it is a very uneven solid construction with a slurry compound over the original construction which will need relaying.
    The shower room floor would require replacing in a concrete construction including a damp proof membrane - due to leaking from the shower and rising damp from the floor.
    The chimney showed the brickwork to be notably weathered with repointing to the stack on each elevation required.
    Window opening over the bay showed evidence of some disturbance due to deflection on the timber over the bay itself.
    Stepped cracking to the left of the window crudely repaired in the past which should be professionally dealt with.
    Flashing between the bay roof and the main house showed an upstand of mineral felt but a down stand of led work requiring further investigation.
    Defective rainwater pipe with a hole where it was connected to the over flow pipe but now water drops off the bay window to the cill sections below (therefore paintwork and brickwork to these cills in poor condition).
    The SVP which serves bathroom waste requires the section at ground level pointing.
    Lintels above 2 doors are timber and need replacing with a concrete section.

    Does this sound like a LOT of expensive work? The surveyor in his conclusions suggests a timber and damp specialist to inspect as well as a builder to carry out a trial hole in the floor and a roofing specialist to look at the bays. I am more than happy to do this if in the long run we can afford the repairs but if it sounds like a bit too much work on a budget we will back out now.

    Thanks for reading!
    • AdrianC
    • By AdrianC 7th Jul 17, 5:20 PM
    • 15,054 Posts
    • 13,375 Thanks
    AdrianC
    • #5
    • 7th Jul 17, 5:20 PM
    • #5
    • 7th Jul 17, 5:20 PM
    With regards to the concrete floor it says that it is a very uneven solid construction with a slurry compound over the original construction which will need relaying.
    Originally posted by EvaC
    The floor's not quite flat. Did you notice this when you went around the house...?

    The shower room floor would require replacing in a concrete construction including a damp proof membrane - due to leaking from the shower and rising damp from the floor.
    The chimney showed the brickwork to be notably weathered with repointing to the stack on each elevation required.
    Window opening over the bay showed evidence of some disturbance due to deflection on the timber over the bay itself.
    Stepped cracking to the left of the window crudely repaired in the past which should be professionally dealt with.
    Flashing between the bay roof and the main house showed an upstand of mineral felt but a down stand of led work requiring further investigation.
    Get a recommendation for a trusted local builder to have a good look. All of these could be nothing, or could be major. They should all be fairly visible from ground level, especially with a pair of binoculars - that's all the surveyor will have used.

    Defective rainwater pipe with a hole where it was connected to the over flow pipe but now water drops off the bay window to the cill sections below (therefore paintwork and brickwork to these cills in poor condition).
    Few quid for some new gutter, and an hour or so up a ladder, then a bit of paint.

    The SVP which serves bathroom waste requires the section at ground level pointing.
    A tenner for a bag of mortar and a trowel, then an hour on your knees.

    Lintels above 2 doors are timber and need replacing with a concrete section.
    "Needs"? They've been just fine for a century...
    • EvaC
    • By EvaC 7th Jul 17, 5:29 PM
    • 6 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    EvaC
    • #6
    • 7th Jul 17, 5:29 PM
    • #6
    • 7th Jul 17, 5:29 PM
    Hi AdrianC,

    Very good point on the lintels, I am just overwhelmed and inexperienced but as you say they've not caused any problems so far! Also, good advice regards guttering etc.
    The uneven floor went unnoticed during 2 viewings as a carpet is fitted over the floor. In fact to say it is 'very uneven' seems a little dramatic now. The concern is that these things will put off future buyers when it comes to selling the place in 5, 10, 15 years - whenever it is. If it's troubling me then surely it will be difficult to sell when the time comes?

    I will take your advice on a local builder and see what he comes back with. Without walking round the place it's difficult to say anything else on the matter. Would a builder be allowed to do this before I have the keys myself?

    Thanks again.
    • AdrianC
    • By AdrianC 7th Jul 17, 5:35 PM
    • 15,054 Posts
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    AdrianC
    • #7
    • 7th Jul 17, 5:35 PM
    • #7
    • 7th Jul 17, 5:35 PM
    The concern is that these things will put off future buyers when it comes to selling the place in 5, 10, 15 years - whenever it is. If it's troubling me then surely it will be difficult to sell when the time comes?
    Originally posted by EvaC
    It'll only trouble somebody who has an overly-scaremongery surveyor and takes it at face value without pausing to think about it... <grin>

    I will take your advice on a local builder and see what he comes back with. Without walking round the place it's difficult to say anything else on the matter. Would a builder be allowed to do this before I have the keys myself?
    Talk to the builder, and find out when he can do it - then just say to the EA... "I've had the survey, and I'd like a second opinion on a few things - is X day at Y o'clock convenient to revisit?" - then turn up with the builder. At worst, you might have to pay the builder for an hour or two of his time.
    • Returntosender
    • By Returntosender 7th Jul 17, 5:56 PM
    • 26 Posts
    • 11 Thanks
    Returntosender
    • #8
    • 7th Jul 17, 5:56 PM
    • #8
    • 7th Jul 17, 5:56 PM
    We're in the process of buying a Victorian terrace and I have garnered quite a lot of knowledge about the difference between modern houses and old houses. It sounds like you've found a surveyor who doesn't understand the differences between old and modern. There's a period property expert called Peter Ward who has fantastic videos on youtube about the issues with older houses and damp. I highly recommend you read his website before paying people damp proof a period property - it is not recommended. Old houses need to breathe.... that is the most important thing you need to understand.

    Secondly, I would've gone straight for a structural survey - we paid £780 for our survey and it's incredibly comprehensive and they'll even help us if we need to negotiate on our offer (we attended the survey so we know round about what the survey will say). If you want to PM me to discuss recommendations for surveyors, I am happy to give you the name of the nationwide company I used.

    May I also recommend you grab a copy of Hayne's The Victorian House Manual (the new edition includes Edwardian houses) and Period House by Collin's. Those are two books that have taught me so much about period properties.

    Any questions, don't hesitate to message me Good luck
    • EvaC
    • By EvaC 7th Jul 17, 7:47 PM
    • 6 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    EvaC
    • #9
    • 7th Jul 17, 7:47 PM
    • #9
    • 7th Jul 17, 7:47 PM
    You're right AdrianC of course, I'm getting cold feet because I've never been through this process before. And I'm a bit of a baby, and worrier.....and the list could go on :-)
    • EvaC
    • By EvaC 7th Jul 17, 7:51 PM
    • 6 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    EvaC
    Returntosender - I have decided that another structural survey at this point is a step too far. If the surveyor we employed doesn't understand the difference between old and new houses then I will have to myself, which is where your youtube and website advice will come in handy!

    You wouldn't know I was brought up in a Victorian terrace for 20 years. My mum still lives there and all I hear is how it's 'falling down'..... but she's still confident it will sell when the time comes.
    • Crashy Time
    • By Crashy Time 7th Jul 17, 8:03 PM
    • 4,790 Posts
    • 2,104 Thanks
    Crashy Time
    Returntosender - I have decided that another structural survey at this point is a step too far. If the surveyor we employed doesn't understand the difference between old and new houses then I will have to myself, which is where your youtube and website advice will come in handy!

    You wouldn't know I was brought up in a Victorian terrace for 20 years. My mum still lives there and all I hear is how it's 'falling down'..... but she's still confident it will sell when the time comes.
    Originally posted by EvaC

    Anything will sell at the right price.
    • EvaC
    • By EvaC 7th Jul 17, 8:25 PM
    • 6 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    EvaC
    and how will we ever know what the right price is? lots of guesswork in this game!
    • AdrianC
    • By AdrianC 7th Jul 17, 8:33 PM
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    AdrianC
    and how will we ever know what the right price is? lots of guesswork in this game!
    Originally posted by EvaC
    The right price is the one at which the seller is happy to sell, and a buyer is happy to buy.

    It's that simple.

    (BTW, ignore Crashy. He thinks the right price for Buckingham Palace is a half-chewed Werther's Original with some pocket lint stuck to it. Even then, he probably wouldn't be happy.)
    • LHW99
    • By LHW99 7th Jul 17, 10:23 PM
    • 851 Posts
    • 681 Thanks
    LHW99
    Interesting to know how the surveyor could separate "rising damp" from a "leaking shower"

    Being in our 5th house now, I have found:
    Surveyors don't always pick up on what actually makes a difference to you (thoroughly rotten window frames, poor exterior pointing on walls) May pick up what is actually less important (the property has a flat roof which is understood to be x years old and should be replaced despite not leaking).
    But generally notice the really catastrophic - house about to crack in half, lose the chimnet etc.

    Unfortunately new is not a guarantee of no (expensive) problems, but old almost always has the fun of trying to discover exactly what the last six occupants combined to do with ... the mains stopcock (covered over with a kitchen cupboard), the mains water inlet pipe (concreted into the bedroom door post)...........
    • michael1234
    • By michael1234 7th Jul 17, 11:39 PM
    • 126 Posts
    • 50 Thanks
    michael1234
    Unless you're using a survey solely to justify further reductions from your offer (risky), I've always taken the view that its not necessary so long as buildings insurance can be obtained at normal rates. Colleagues and friends have shown me their homebuyers surveys which seem to restate the known, itemize the obvious (light switches, power points etc) and state that most of the things you'd like to know about haven't been inspected. They tend to come with lots of other boiler plate crap and bound in a nice folder to make you feel better about paying for it.
    • deannatrois
    • By deannatrois 8th Jul 17, 1:48 AM
    • 4,740 Posts
    • 6,675 Thanks
    deannatrois
    I'm no expert and can't help with the possibility of a damp problem but look carefully at the walls in the bathroom, is there peeling paint, mould, has it been very recently decorated.

    I moved into a private rental with a bathroom in a very 'done by the neighbour, cheap' extension. The concrete floor was more like gravel than a solid mass. Cleared it up and we just put some self levelling compound on it which was fine four and a half years later. I'm not saying a professional would have done what we did, but the bathroom floor was perfectly ok.

    We did find a leaking shower water pipe in the wall when retiling though - but there were obvious signs that something like that was happening i.e. the mould etc)! I was just relieved we'd found the cause.

    Oh and BTW I replaced the bath, bought lovely black and white tiles in a sale, reused an old vanity cabinet, replaced the piping, got the replastering done by a builder friend.., and had a very smart shower bathroom for less than £400. Did most of it myself. Read some books, especially use Youtube like a bible and you can do a lot of things for much much less than you'd think.

    It seems to me that surveyors are just covering !!! and as a side effect keep specialist surveyors in business. Find a builder who knows what he's doing (get recommendations from family and friends, beware of cowboys), and make him your best buddy.
    Last edited by deannatrois; 08-07-2017 at 1:54 AM.
    • lincroft1710
    • By lincroft1710 8th Jul 17, 3:41 PM
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    lincroft1710

    (BTW, ignore Crashy. He thinks the right price for Buckingham Palace is a half-chewed Werther's Original with some pocket lint stuck to it. Even then, he probably wouldn't be happy.)
    Originally posted by AdrianC
    • Crashy Time
    • By Crashy Time 8th Jul 17, 10:10 PM
    • 4,790 Posts
    • 2,104 Thanks
    Crashy Time
    The right price is the one at which the seller is happy to sell, and a buyer is happy to buy.

    It's that simple.

    (BTW, ignore Crashy. He thinks the right price for Buckingham Palace is a half-chewed Werther's Original with some pocket lint stuck to it. Even then, he probably wouldn't be happy.)
    Originally posted by AdrianC

    Not sure how that differs much from "Anything will sell at the right price"?
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