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    • seasonalbiz
    • By seasonalbiz 6th Sep 17, 2:22 PM
    • 54Posts
    • 8Thanks
    seasonalbiz
    Which house survey?
    • #1
    • 6th Sep 17, 2:22 PM
    Which house survey? 6th Sep 17 at 2:22 PM
    Hi,

    Looking at buying a 3bed detached house in the Cambridgeshire fens.

    The house is well in excess of 100yrs old, although appears to be in good condition. Being the fens, subsidence isn't uncommon.

    Its been along time since I purchased a house, and that was fairly new.

    Any advise on the type of survey I should have carried out would be much appreciated.

    Thanks.
Page 1
    • ssparks2003
    • By ssparks2003 6th Sep 17, 2:43 PM
    • 194 Posts
    • 263 Thanks
    ssparks2003
    • #2
    • 6th Sep 17, 2:43 PM
    • #2
    • 6th Sep 17, 2:43 PM
    I would go for a building survey, personally the full structural is a bit overkill but it depends on your appetite for risk.
    • seasonalbiz
    • By seasonalbiz 6th Sep 17, 3:48 PM
    • 54 Posts
    • 8 Thanks
    seasonalbiz
    • #3
    • 6th Sep 17, 3:48 PM
    • #3
    • 6th Sep 17, 3:48 PM
    I'm financially sailing close to the wind with the purchase and therefore have zero appetite for risk.

    The house was built in 18something and although not close by, there was a younger property on the same road which was up for sale recently with subsidence issues... I think thats my main worry.
    • goodwithsaving
    • By goodwithsaving 6th Sep 17, 4:11 PM
    • 688 Posts
    • 1,031 Thanks
    goodwithsaving
    • #4
    • 6th Sep 17, 4:11 PM
    • #4
    • 6th Sep 17, 4:11 PM
    Building survey.
    Every time you borrow money, you’re robbing your future self. –Nathan W. Morris
    • hazyjo
    • By hazyjo 6th Sep 17, 5:11 PM
    • 9,799 Posts
    • 12,421 Thanks
    hazyjo
    • #5
    • 6th Sep 17, 5:11 PM
    • #5
    • 6th Sep 17, 5:11 PM
    I would go for a building survey, personally the full structural is a bit overkill but it depends on your appetite for risk.
    Originally posted by ssparks2003
    Same thing. Or is that what you mean?

    I would also go buildings survey although am also buying and changed my mind from a buildings survey to a homebuyers.
    2017 wins: Opera tickets; film preview; lipstick; Ideal Home Show tickets + afternoon tea & bottle of Champagne; 2 cases of NKD; notebook; bath rack; books; film Premiere; Broadchurch DVDs; lipbalms; hamper (food/wine/Echo Dot/Jo Malone goodies); Avon lippies; cowhide rug; Windsor luxury break, foundation; Flybe flight
    • AndyTails
    • By AndyTails 6th Sep 17, 5:14 PM
    • 55 Posts
    • 52 Thanks
    AndyTails
    • #6
    • 6th Sep 17, 5:14 PM
    • #6
    • 6th Sep 17, 5:14 PM
    I'm financially sailing close to the wind with the purchase and therefore have zero appetite for risk.
    Originally posted by seasonalbiz
    Zero appetite for risk? Have you considered not buying a house? Who's to know whether house prices are going to tank? On the other hand, who's to know if they're going to soar, in which case not buying a house would be a risk. Oh dear, there are no risk free options!


    Certainly if you have no appetite for risk I wouldn't buy an old house. Anything over 100 years old is going to need maintenance, and some of it could be unpredictable.


    If you're risk averse I'd suggest a new-build, with a 10 year NHBC warranty. It's still not "no risk" in terms of things going wrong, but there is some protection. On the other hand new-builds may have a higher risk of house price drop.


    If you do want to go with the 100 year old house, the higher level surveys reduce your risk, and give you more protection if something does go wrong. So the full structural survey / buildings survey (or whatever other name they might call it) sounds like the way for you to go.
    • Ithaca
    • By Ithaca 6th Sep 17, 6:01 PM
    • 220 Posts
    • 238 Thanks
    Ithaca
    • #7
    • 6th Sep 17, 6:01 PM
    • #7
    • 6th Sep 17, 6:01 PM
    Have a chat with a couple of surveyors. If subsidence is your main worry you could ask for a homebuyers' survey and if there are obvious signs of subsidence (which should be apparent to a decent surveyor as part of a standard survey anyway) you can negotiate to upgrade to a more in-depth survey.

    That's how we did it... homebuyers survey with an agreement that if anything looked concerning we'd discuss and go for a structural (but without paying full whack for both).
    Last edited by Ithaca; 07-09-2017 at 1:03 PM.
    • seasonalbiz
    • By seasonalbiz 6th Sep 17, 7:46 PM
    • 54 Posts
    • 8 Thanks
    seasonalbiz
    • #8
    • 6th Sep 17, 7:46 PM
    • #8
    • 6th Sep 17, 7:46 PM
    Zero appetite for risk? Have you considered not buying a house? Who's to know whether house prices are going to tank? On the other hand, who's to know if they're going to soar, in which case not buying a house would be a risk. Oh dear, there are no risk free options!


    Certainly if you have no appetite for risk I wouldn't buy an old house. Anything over 100 years old is going to need maintenance, and some of it could be unpredictable.


    If you're risk averse I'd suggest a new-build, with a 10 year NHBC warranty. It's still not "no risk" in terms of things going wrong, but there is some protection. On the other hand new-builds may have a higher risk of house price drop.


    If you do want to go with the 100 year old house, the higher level surveys reduce your risk, and give you more protection if something does go wrong. So the full structural survey / buildings survey (or whatever other name they might call it) sounds like the way for you to go.
    Originally posted by AndyTails
    Your right, maybe I over emphasised myself. I am laying down 30% deposit, and my idea of sailing close to the wind, is moving out of a comfortable comfort zone... theres a contingency but I just know little about surveys and looking for some advise on how to make sure the place isn't sinking into the ground.
    • Debtslayer
    • By Debtslayer 6th Sep 17, 8:53 PM
    • 430 Posts
    • 599 Thanks
    Debtslayer
    • #9
    • 6th Sep 17, 8:53 PM
    • #9
    • 6th Sep 17, 8:53 PM
    If it's a 100yr old house I'd want a full survey especially if subsidence isn't uncommon, to me it would be worth the extra pounds
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    • ThePants999
    • By ThePants999 6th Sep 17, 10:21 PM
    • 863 Posts
    • 1,010 Thanks
    ThePants999
    I'd go for a full survey.

    FWIW, though, get some quotes, see what the difference is. On my last purchase, a local surveyor had a "full structural for the price of a homebuyers' report" offer going on, which made it a no-brainer!
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 7th Sep 17, 7:04 AM
    • 23,552 Posts
    • 89,404 Thanks
    Davesnave
    A buildings survey isn't going to cost a huge amount more than homebuyer's, and if anything was flagged-up re subsidence, it would probably fall to a structural engineer to determine ongoing risk.

    Being in the Fenlands, have you have looked at the Environment Agency's flood map and obtained insurance quotes for the exact addess?
    'A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they'll never sit in.'
    • DaftyDuck
    • By DaftyDuck 7th Sep 17, 8:01 AM
    • 3,800 Posts
    • 7,684 Thanks
    DaftyDuck
    Definitely go for full building survey. Not only will you go into (or withdraw from) the purchase fully educated and armed for what you are buying, you'll also have a report that will inform you of expenses over the next five to ten years.

    Fenland subsidence is extremely common - the Victorian farmhouses have limited foundations and the shrinkage of the land has often exposed half of what was below ground. The brick is often that grey-buff style, very hard, and prone to stand up to stresses... just so far, and than fail. That means active subsidence can easily be masked (in a way that the softer Norfolk reds won't mask).

    If it is a farm house, or a farm cottage, many in the same small area were built at the same time, by the same people. What fails in one may fail in its neighbour, so well worth looking closely at neighbouring similar houses for evidence of rebuild/cracks through bricks.

    Many of the houses were cheaply-built, and poorly maintained; the Fens was an extremely poor area until recent times, and there just wasn't the money to spend. Look out for poor and thin roof trusses! Those winds do whip over, and they economised on timber!

    There are plenty of surveyors who charge little more for a full survey than for a homebuyer's - there's one in Bury St Edmunds I have used twice who I can recommend(ish), and will travel to most of the southern fenland (maybe further, as the market is quiet). Personally, I would prefer to use as local surveyor as possible, IF he were good, as he'd know of similar houses and the local topography.

    If you have a good, good look at the house yourself, identify what concerns you, and then WRITE a letter (not email, but you can send an e-copy) posing these questions, the surveyor will answer them to the best of his ability.

    The flood maps of the Fens are relevant, but they are not really reliable on a year-to-year basis, as the dependence on flood defence is so high. The annual risk seems overstated (in areas I know well), but the risk of (no - it's not of, it's FROM... they are accurately predicting the annual risk) catastrophic failure is underrated. I guess they can't balance the risk of bank and pump failure. I know that seems counter-intuitive, and they should know better than I do, but I would place an element of caution on them.
    • seasonalbiz
    • By seasonalbiz 7th Sep 17, 10:54 AM
    • 54 Posts
    • 8 Thanks
    seasonalbiz
    Being in the Fenlands, have you have looked at the Environment Agency's flood map and obtained insurance quotes for the exact addess?
    Originally posted by Davesnave
    Yes I've had an informal chat with a planner and it does sit above flood zone.
    • seasonalbiz
    • By seasonalbiz 7th Sep 17, 10:58 AM
    • 54 Posts
    • 8 Thanks
    seasonalbiz
    Definitely go for full building survey. Not only will you go into (or withdraw from) the purchase fully educated and armed for what you are buying, you'll also have a report that will inform you of expenses over the next five to ten years.

    Fenland subsidence is extremely common - the Victorian farmhouses have limited foundations and the shrinkage of the land has often exposed half of what was below ground. The brick is often that grey-buff style, very hard, and prone to stand up to stresses... just so far, and than fail. That means active subsidence can easily be masked (in a way that the softer Norfolk reds won't mask).

    If it is a farm house, or a farm cottage, many in the same small area were built at the same time, by the same people. What fails in one may fail in its neighbour, so well worth looking closely at neighbouring similar houses for evidence of rebuild/cracks through bricks.

    Many of the houses were cheaply-built, and poorly maintained; the Fens was an extremely poor area until recent times, and there just wasn't the money to spend. Look out for poor and thin roof trusses! Those winds do whip over, and they economised on timber!

    There are plenty of surveyors who charge little more for a full survey than for a homebuyer's - there's one in Bury St Edmunds I have used twice who I can recommend(ish), and will travel to most of the southern fenland (maybe further, as the market is quiet). Personally, I would prefer to use as local surveyor as possible, IF he were good, as he'd know of similar houses and the local topography.

    If you have a good, good look at the house yourself, identify what concerns you, and then WRITE a letter (not email, but you can send an e-copy) posing these questions, the surveyor will answer them to the best of his ability.

    The flood maps of the Fens are relevant, but they are not really reliable on a year-to-year basis, as the dependence on flood defence is so high. The annual risk seems overstated (in areas I know well), but the risk of (no - it's not of, it's FROM... they are accurately predicting the annual risk) catastrophic failure is underrated. I guess they can't balance the risk of bank and pump failure. I know that seems counter-intuitive, and they should know better than I do, but I would place an element of caution on them.
    Originally posted by DaftyDuck
    Many thanks for your reply, if you could recommend the surveyor you have used in BSE... that would be most appreciated.
    • DaftyDuck
    • By DaftyDuck 7th Sep 17, 1:16 PM
    • 3,800 Posts
    • 7,684 Thanks
    DaftyDuck
    I'll send you a PM .... With an explanation of my reservations on the firm!
    • Narkynewt
    • By Narkynewt 7th Sep 17, 1:31 PM
    • 118 Posts
    • 23 Thanks
    Narkynewt
    I'm financially sailing close to the wind with the purchase and therefore have zero appetite for risk.

    The house was built in 18something and although not close by, there was a younger property on the same road which was up for sale recently with subsidence issues... I think thats my main worry.
    Originally posted by seasonalbiz
    The difference between a building survey and a homebuyers report is a few hundred quid, but the potential of huge losses are high if you go for the homebuyers report then in a few years find out there are structural issues.

    Better safe than sorry.
    • seasonalbiz
    • By seasonalbiz 9th Sep 17, 7:51 AM
    • 54 Posts
    • 8 Thanks
    seasonalbiz
    The difference between a building survey and a homebuyers report is a few hundred quid, but the potential of huge losses are high if you go for the homebuyers report then in a few years find out there are structural issues.

    Better safe than sorry.
    Originally posted by Narkynewt
    Thanks, seems to be the genera consensus, which I was unsure of.
    • seasonalbiz
    • By seasonalbiz 9th Sep 17, 7:52 AM
    • 54 Posts
    • 8 Thanks
    seasonalbiz
    I'll send you a PM .... With an explanation of my reservations on the firm!
    Originally posted by DaftyDuck
    Thanks for your PM, I've tried to reply twice but it does not show up in my sent messages... but essentially, thanks for your advice.

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