Homebuyers Report back - lots of 2s and 3s, how concerned should I be?

I'm a FTB and am not particularly well-versed in property purchasing matters and most of my family last purchased 20+ years ago, so I'm hoping the wisdom of the masses can point me in the right direction.

I am hoping to purchase a basement flat (leasehold, Victorian house coversion, four flats total) in London and received the Homebuyers Report this morning. I'm concerned about the findings as there are a lot of 2s and 3s, but don't know if it's the surveyor being cautious or not.

Essentially, the valuation given is the same as my offer price. However, and I'm not really sure what this means, the reinstatement cost of the property is given as £111k.

Based on the below, how would you proceed? I really like the flat, so I don't know if there is scope for renegotiation on the price, if so I'm not sure what would be reasonable, so your advice would be welcomed (even if it's to say to pull out with an explanation). I'm not local to the area either, so don't have any recommendations for engineers etc for checks/quotes, so any suggestions of how best to go about this would also be welcomed.

I know the below is long, so huge thanks for sticking with me if you carry on reading! My comments are in italics and I've chopped out bits referring to checking things out with various bodies.

2 - Chimney stacks / Roof coverings / Rainwater pipes and gutterings
I'm less concerned about these aspects as the surveyor notes that he did not carry out a full inspection of them (presumably observed from the ground?).

3 - Main walls
The walls are of solid brick and rendered masonry construction. The raised parapets to the party walls are built in brick and are capped with copings. The damp proof course could not be seen; however, in a building of this age a slate damp-proof course is likely to be present.

I recorded high damp meter readings to the ground floor walls. This appears to have been caused by the high external ground levels and render bridging the damp-proof course.

I cannot confirm whether the parapet walls contain proper damp proofing measures. If these were omitted as is often the case in older buildings some damp could occur following driving rain. However, I saw no sign of damp in the habitable parts due to defective parapets at the time of my inspection.

The report also noted that the property may be built on clay soil. The vendor noted that a damp proof course was carried out in October 2014 - would that need redoing so soon after?

2 - Windows
The window frames are timber and are a combination of double and single glazed.

Sections of sealant between a number of frames and the walls is missing and needs replacing. The window in the lounge has been sealed up and cannot be opened which limits natural ventilation and improvements are needed. [The windows are divided into three, the large middle one is a sash window that does open, the other two are sealed.] The lower part of the frame to a number of windows does not project sufficiently to help discharge rainwater away from the wall. Repairs and improvements are needed.

3 - Outside doors
The outside doors are timber and are single glazed.

There is a safety concern with the front door. The glazing is has no markings to indicate toughened or laminated safety glass is present. This is a safety risk and the glazing should be replaced. Levels of security provided by the doors are inadequate and improvements are required. There is rot to the rear door frame and this will need
to be repaired.

The lower part of the frame to the doors does not project sufficiently to help discharge rainwater away from the wall. Repairs and improvements are needed.

3 - Other joinery and finishes
The external roof joinery is formed of timber.

The finishes are in a poor state of repair. Redecoration is needed. It is always possible with timbers of this age that some timber decay will be revealed during preparation for redecorating.

The property is of an age where there could be a lead content in the old paint finishes.

3 - Ceilings
The ceilings are formed of plasterboard and lath and plaster with painted, papered and timber clad finishes.

Timber cladding to the ceiling finishes are dangerous in the event of fire and they should be removed. This may reveal that the plaster beneath is in need of repair.

There are minor cracks in the ceiling finishes and some blistering was noted to the fixings, this is common and not of structural importance. They should be filled when the rooms are next redecorated. The original lath and plaster ceilings are in fair order there are some minor cracks visible. They will be susceptible to damage from vibration and any disturbance and they can fail without warning. You should allow for on-going repair but ultimately renewal will be required. Some blistering has occurred to the nail/screw fixing points and minor filling is needed. Some ceilings have timber board finishes which may conceal defects. Repairs/improvements may be needed if the coverings are removed.

3 - Walls and partitions
These are a combination of solid masonry and timber framed partitions with a combination of painted, papered and tiled finishes.

The walls are affected by dampness and I refer you to my earlier advice in this report. There is a risk of concealed decay to the wall timbers because of the damp found and further investigations should be undertaken by a member of the Property Care Association or similar. I suspect the plasterboard linings to the walls could be concealing defects such as dampness or cracking.

The wall between the kitchen and the hallway has been altered. Your Legal Adviser should confirm that Building Regulation approval was granted. The old plaster finishes are very prone to vibration and disturbance, such as that experienced when doors slam or when new services or joinery timbers are installed. The plaster could be loose in places and on-going patch repairs will be necessary from time-to-time. There are minor cracks in the walls and some distortion is evident, particularly around openings. This is very common and is not of concern. There is no need for any structural repairs but you may find it necessary to fill minor cracks around the doors and adjust the doors from time to time.

3 - Floors
The floors are of solid construction.

I noted evidence of damp to flooring in the bathroom. I suspect this has been caused by the lack of suitable damp proofing. Repairs and improvements are needed. The floors are sloping and repairs and improvements are needed.

3 - Fireplaces, chimney breasts and flues
The fireplaces in the property have been blocked up.High damp meter readings were noted to the rear breast and I noted staining to the finishes. I believe this may be due to acidic flue deposits leaching through the masonry.

If you intend to bring the disused fireplaces back into use some repair and upgrading may well be required and the flues may need repair or lining which could be costly. [I have no plans to bring them back into use - would there be any good reason to?]

2 - Built-in fittings (built-in kitchen and other fittings, not including appliances)
There are a range of fitted units in the kitchen.

Some worktops and plinths are damaged and require repair. The worktop has been painted over.

These fittings are of basic quality, will have a limited life expectancy and require regular maintenance.

The vendor notes the kitchen was installed in 2004, so I would expect some updating further down the line.

3- Woodwork (for example, staircase and joinery)
The internal joinery items include the doors, door surrounds and skirting boards.The glass in the internal doors has no markings to indicate toughened or laminated safety glass is present. To reduce the risk of injury from accidental breakage the glass should be replaced. Some doors are in need of adjustment to allow ease of operation. The kitchen door is missing. This is a fire safety risk and replacement is recommended. [I was already planning on putting a door in there.]

The property is of an age where there could be a lead content in the old paint finishes but I have made no tests as this is outside the scope of this survey.

3 - Bathroom fittings
There are a range of dated sanitary fittings.

The glass in the shower screen has no markings to indicate toughened or laminated safety glass is present. To reduce the risk of injury from accidental breakage the glass should be replaced. The toilet and bath are stained. Repair or replacement is needed.

Seals around the sanitary fittings, in particular those around bath/shower cubicles are very prone to leakage. It is important that the seals around the fittings are not allowed to deteriorate and seals should be inspected regularly.

The vendor notes the bathroom was installed in 2005 - IMO it looks pretty serviceable.

3 - Alarm systems
Basically, no carbon monoxide alarm.

3 - Gas / Electricity / Heating
Basically no defects found nor concerns raised, so presumably the 3 is because it's outside of the surveyor's expertise and a registered electrician and gas engineer should officially check things out?

3 - Drainage
I believe the property is connected by a shared drainage system to the public sewer. The property has a combined drainage system where the foul and rainwater flow into the same system. The above ground waste pipes are a combination of plastic and cast iron. As the property is a flat, an inspection of the underground drainage system is outside the scope of this report.

The inspection chamber cover to the right side is damaged and should be replaced. The vertical main above ground drainage pipe is corroded. Repair or replace is needed. Some of the gullies have become blocked with leaves and debris and they should be cleared to prevent localised flooding during periods of high rainfall. Gratings to the gullies are missing and improvements are needed to prevent debris entering the drainage system and causing blockages.
«1

Replies

  • edited 31 October 2018 at 11:44AM
    G_MG_M Forumite
    52K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    edited 31 October 2018 at 11:44AM
    .......
    ....purchase a basement flat (leasehold, Victorian house coversion,
    Hmmmm... basement flat.......:eek:.......
    Essentially, the valuation given is the same as my offer price.
    That will have taken into account the condition of the property - so the Valuer believes the property, as it is, is worth what you are paying

    However, and I'm not really sure what this means, the reinstatement cost of the property is given as £111k.
    That is for insurance. It is what it would cost to re-build if the property burned to the ground. Reinstatement costs are almost alays lower than market value.

    2 - Chimney stacks / Roof coverings / Rainwater pipes and gutterings
    I'm less concerned about these aspects as the surveyor notes that he did not carry out a full inspection of them (presumably observed from the ground?).
    as you don't say what condition thay are in I cannot comment.

    3 - Main walls
    The walls are of solid brick and rendered masonry construction. The raised parapets to the party walls are built in brick and are capped with copings. The damp proof course could not be seen; however, in a building of this age a slate damp-proof course is likely to be present.

    I recorded high damp meter readings to the ground floor walls. This appears to have been caused by the high external ground levels and render bridging the damp-proof course.
    so you lower the external ground level. A weekend spent digging round the walls outside if you owned a freehold house - as it's leasehold, the freeholder would probably employ a builder.

    Chop off the render just above the height of the dpc. This is straightforward, but to do so leaving a straight edge may require some skill. Employ a builder- a few hours labour.

    I cannot confirm whether the parapet walls contain proper damp proofing measures. If these were omitted as is often the case in older buildings some damp could occur following driving rain. However, I saw no sign of damp in the habitable parts due to defective parapets at the time of my inspection.
    so no need to worry.

    The report also noted that the property may be built on clay soil. The vendor noted that a damp proof course was carried out in October 2014 - would that need redoing so soon after?
    Most of London is built on clay!

    2 - Windows
    The window frames are timber and are a combination of double and single glazed.

    Sections of sealant between a number of frames and the walls is missing and needs replacing. The window in the lounge has been sealed up and cannot be opened which limits natural ventilation and improvements are needed. [The windows are divided into three, the large middle one is a sash window that does open, the other two are sealed.] The lower part of the frame to a number of windows does not project sufficiently to help discharge rainwater away from the wall. Repairs and improvements are needed.
    if the non-opening windows don't bother you, noproblem.

    Sealant costs £5.00 and takes 10 minutes to apply.
    The alteration to the window frame would require freeholder involvement (depending on the terms of the lease). May need a new window. May be able to add some kind of lip to throw rainwater away from the wall. Or live with it though it could make the wall beneath the window damp (survey does not say it has though does it?)


    3 - Outside doors
    The outside doors are timber and are single glazed.

    There is a safety concern with the front door. The glazing is has no markings to indicate toughened or laminated safety glass is present. This is a safety risk and the glazing should be replaced.

    very common. Building regs for new glass now require safety glass, but tens of thousands of properties have older glass. Main risk is if you have kids whomight run into the glass and break it. In normal intelligent use it's no issue.

    Levels of security provided by the doors are inadequate and improvements are required. Add a lock? :rotfl:

    There is rot to the rear door frame and this will need
    to be repaired. How bad? Half an hour with £10 wood-filler and some paint? Cut out a small section of wood and replace? Complete new door frame?

    The lower part of the frame to the doors does not project sufficiently to help discharge rainwater away from the wall. Repairs and improvements are needed. as per the windows

    3 - Other joinery and finishes
    The external roof joinery is formed of timber.

    The finishes are in a poor state of repair. Redecoration is needed. It is always possible with timbers of this age that some timber decay will be revealed during preparation for redecorating.
    Freeholder will need to arrange painting of external wood (needs doing every few years). Cost likely to be shared between flats.


    The property is of an age where there could be a lead content in the old paint finishes.
    So....?



    3 - Ceilings
    The ceilings are formed of plasterboard and lath and plaster with painted, papered and timber clad finishes.

    Timber cladding to the ceiling finishes are dangerous in the event of fire and they should be removed. This may reveal that the plaster beneath is in need of repair.
    This seems to be a fire risk you'll have todecide to live with, or not buy. I can't see the freeholder removing the wooden support to all the ceilings in the building.......

    There are minor cracks in the ceiling finishes and some blistering was noted to the fixings, this is common and not of structural importance. They should be filled when the rooms are next redecorated.so fine

    The original lath and plaster ceilings are in fair order there are some minor cracks visible. They will be susceptible to damage from vibration and any disturbance and they can fail without warning. You should allow for on-going repair but ultimately renewal will be required. Some blistering has occurred to the nail/screw fixing points and minor filling is needed. Some ceilings have timber board finishes which may conceal defects. Repairs/improvements may be needed if the coverings are removed.
    all just 'maybe's and minor touching up if and when you can be bothered

    3 - Walls and partitions
    These are a combination of solid masonry and timber framed partitions with a combination of painted, papered and tiled finishes.

    The walls are affected by dampness and I refer you to my earlier advice in this report. There is a risk of concealed decay to the wall timbers because of the damp found and further investigations should be undertaken by a member of the Property Care Association or similar. I suspect the plasterboard linings to the walls could be concealing defects such as dampness or cracking.
    well, it's a basement! Always high risk of damp. Lowering the ground level outside and removing the render should resolve this, but.... basement so....

    The wall between the kitchen and the hallway has been altered. Your Legal Adviser should confirm that Building Regulation approval was granted.
    ask conveyancer. Depends how long ago the alteration was though

    The old plaster finishes are very prone to vibration and disturbance, such as that experienced when doors slam or when new services or joinery timbers are installed. The plaster could be loose in places and on-going patch repairs will be necessary from time-to-time. There are minor cracks in the walls and some distortion is evident, particularly around openings. This is very common and is not of concern. There is no need for any structural repairs but you may find it necessary to fill minor cracks around the doors and adjust the doors from time to time. fine

    3 - Floors
    The floors are of solid construction.

    I noted evidence of damp to flooring in the bathroom. I suspect this has been caused by the lack of suitable damp proofing. Repairs and improvements are needed. The floors are sloping and repairs and improvements are needed.
    damp proofing a solid (baement) floor will not be easy.

    3 - Fireplaces, chimney breasts and flues
    The fireplaces in the property have been blocked up.High damp meter readings were noted to the rear breast and I noted staining to the finishes. I believe this may be due to acidic flue deposits leaching through the masonry.
    the chimneys need ventilation by the sound of it. Freeholder would need pursuading

    If you intend to bring the disused fireplaces back into use some repair and upgrading may well be required and the flues may need repair or lining which could be costly. [I have no plans to bring them back into use - would there be any good reason to?]yes if you want to install a solid fuel burner and increase London smog and globalwarming.....

    2 - Built-in fittings (built-in kitchen and other fittings, not including appliances)
    There are a range of fitted units in the kitchen.

    Some worktops and plinths are damaged and require repair. The worktop has been painted over. well you already noticed that yes?

    These fittings are of basic quality, will have a limited life expectancy and require regular maintenance. My 'basic' B&Q kitchen has lastd 15 years just fine!

    The vendor notes the kitchen was installed in 2004, so I would expect some updating further down the line.
    your choice

    3- Woodwork (for example, staircase and joinery)
    The internal joinery items include the doors, door surrounds and skirting boards.The glass in the internal doors has no markings to indicate toughened or laminated safety glass is present. To reduce the risk of injury from accidental breakage the glass should be replaced. see aboveSome doors are in need of adjustment to allow ease of operation. The kitchen door is missing. This is a fire safety risk and replacement is recommended. [I was already planning on putting a door in there.] fine

    The property is of an age where there could be a lead content in the old paint finishes but I have made no tests as this is outside the scope of this survey. my water mains is lead - Hmmm....

    3 - Bathroom fittings
    There are a range of dated sanitary fittings. as you already know

    The glass in the shower screen has no markings to indicate toughened or laminated safety glass is present. To reduce the risk of injury from accidental breakage the glass should be replaced. The toilet and bath are stained. Repair or replacement is needed. your choice

    Seals around the sanitary fittings, in particular those around bath/shower cubicles are very prone to leakage. It is important that the seals around the fittings are not allowed to deteriorate and seals should be inspected regularly. so inspect them regularly. £10 for some new sealant.

    The vendor notes the bathroom was installed in 2005 - IMO it looks pretty serviceable. if you're happy with it, that's all that matters.

    3 - Alarm systems
    Basically, no carbon monoxide alarm. £10

    3 - Gas / Electricity / Heating
    Basically no defects found nor concerns raised, so presumably the 3 is because it's outside of the surveyor's expertise and a registered electrician and gas engineer should officially check things out?yes

    3 - Drainage
    I believe the property is connected by a shared drainage system to the public sewer. The property has a combined drainage system where the foul and rainwater flow into the same system. The above ground waste pipes are a combination of plastic and cast iron. As the property is a flat, an inspection of the underground drainage system is outside the scope of this report.

    The inspection chamber cover to the right side is damaged and should be replaced. Pursuade freeholderThe vertical main above ground drainage pipe is corroded. Repair or replace is needed. Pursuade freeholderSome of the gullies have become blocked with leaves and debris and they should be cleared to prevent localised flooding during periods of high rainfall. Gratings to the gullies are missing and improvements are needed to prevent debris entering the drainage system and causing blockages. Pursuade freeholder
    Of course, most work requires doing by the freeholder so

    * you'd have to puruade him to do it, but
    * depending on the lease, the cost would probably be shared by al 4 flats


    Are you also buying a share of the freehold? If so, you (along with th other joint feeholders) have control over maintenance work.
    If the freeholder is eg an overseas investor he may not care two hoots.......
    Though you and the other flat-owners could take over building maintenance (Right To Manage)


    Basements are below ground level so dark prone to damp.
  • What concerns do you have about it being a basement flat, G_M? I hadn't set out to look at basements, but this one is light and airy, all the rooms have windows and I get a private garden. I would definitely look into an alarm system though.


    Thanks for the explanations :)


    RE: lowering the external ground level - is that always necessary and is it always feasible? I presume also I would need to have permission from the freeholder.



    I suspected that London was a clay area!
  • G_MG_M Forumite
    52K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    RE: lowering the external ground level - is that always necessary and is it always feasible? I presume also I would need to have permission from the freeholder.
    the damp proof course is a barrier placed between bricks all round the external walls just above ground leve. This stops the damp in the ground 'seeping up' the bricks and making the walls damp.


    If the ground level outside is hgher than the dpc (eg because someone has added a rockery up against the wall, or build a driveway beside the house) then the damp earth will breach the dpc (because it is above it) and the dpc is useless.


    Diggig a trench round the externalwall so that the ground level is lowered, solves the problem.


    Similarly, if the wall is rendered (pebbledash?) and the render extends from roof-height to ground level (ie below the dpc) then again damp can creep up the render and breach the dpc - hence cut off the render so it starts above the dpc.
  • Just seen the rest of your replies and the new one, G_M - thanks so much!



    Other than the dpc, that feels pretty reassuring! I am guessing that the wall concerned is to the outer side of the property, as the front and back walls are exposed top to bottom (if that makes sense - it looks like a regular ground floor flat at the front and back), whereas it's only the uppermost section of wall on the side that is above ground level. The bathroom is the only room that is on that side wall alone, all the other rooms also adjoin either the front and back walls.



    Would it therefore just be that side wall that needs a dpc or all sides in case of spread? Excuse my ignorance on this, but would I need to approach the management company re: lowering the ground level and ask them to obtain quotes or is this something I can do?



    The flat isn't SoF, and the management company is based in the UK.
  • G_MG_M Forumite
    52K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    all walls should have a dpc. But they almost certainly do. It's the breaches of the dpc that cause the issues
  • Thanks again, G_M.


    Just so I'm straight with this, would lowering the ground level resolve the issue or would the dpc also need doing again?
  • G_MG_M Forumite
    52K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    !!
    Depends exactly what the issue is that needs rectifying. If the dpc is faulty, then it needs fixing.


    But the report does not suggest this.It suggests the issues are the ground level and the render, so that's what needs fixing.


    Probably.
  • Ah, OK.


    I guess I need to see if the mortgage provider adds a condition and what my solicitor makes of the lease before I do anything. Hoping also the dpc is under guarantee if it was only four years ago (not that I'm sure that it'd be worth anything!).
  • G_MG_M Forumite
    52K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Ah, OK.


    I guess I need to see if the mortgage provider adds a condition and what my solicitor makes of the lease before I do anything. Hoping also the dpc is under guarantee if it was only four years ago (not that I'm sure that it'd be worth anything!).
    I thought this was a Victorian building? Probably has a slate dpc that was put there 150 years ago.. The guarantee has probably expired.......
  • It is Victorian, yes. The vendor indicated that a dpc was carried out four years ago though.
This discussion has been closed.
Latest News and Guides