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House Buying: underpinning - is it easy to re-sale & is it safe?

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House Buying: underpinning - is it easy to re-sale & is it safe?

edited 30 November -1 at 12:00AM in House Buying, Renting & Selling
11 replies 1K views
LEE2222LEE2222 Forumite
4 posts
edited 30 November -1 at 12:00AM in House Buying, Renting & Selling
Hi all,

I am in the process of buying a house, and during the process the solicitor, through the council local searches, found out that the property was underpinned in the 1980s. No further information can be found from the council.

The vendors say they did not know that the property was underpinned and forwarded us all the documents they were given by the previous owner. These documents don't provide any information about the underpinning, although there was one document which asked if the house was underpinned, and someone has ticked Yes, but then scribbled it out and ticked No.

We then asked the vendors to pay for a Structural Engineers Report to give us assurances on the underpinning. They have come back to us with a Structural Survey which comments on the visual appearance of the property (rather than investigating the foundations through a trial pit). The survey has come back fine - no visual sign of subsidence.

The problem is that the vendors current house insurance is incorrect and doesn't cover for underpinning.

We are not sure how to proceed next....

So my questions are:
1) Will anyone insure us, if the underpinning has previously gone unclaimed?
2) Will the property be difficult to sell in the future because of the lack of paperwork on the underpinning?
3) Would you pull out?

It would be great to hear your thoughts. The house is brilliant, but we are concerned about ease of re-sale in the future.
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Replies

  • davidmcndavidmcn Forumite
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    LEE2222 wrote: »
    through the council local searches, found out that the property was underpinned in the 1980s. No further information can be found from the council.
    What exactly does the local search say? (e.g. "consent for underpinning to take place" is rather different from "underpinning actually completed and inspected"). Sometimes things get filed under the wrong address in council records so (if there's no other evidence of underpinning having taken place) there's a possibility it doesn't even relate to this property.
    The problem is that the vendors current house insurance is incorrect and doesn't cover for underpinning.
    That would be a problem for the current owners if they wanted to make a relevant claim. I can't see that it's a problem for you. Your new insurer wouldn't cover for defects already apparent before their policy starts, but the terms of previous insurance policies aren't relevant to your cover.
  • @davidmcm - thank you. The status of the underpinning on the council notes say that the building work was complete.

    In your opinion, would you be worried about buying an underpinning house?
  • Out,_Vile_JellyOut,_Vile_Jelly Forumite
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    Apparently it's common in London, where buildings on London clay suffered subsidence following the drought of 1976. If the house is showing no signs of problems from correction work done in the 80s then the underpinning is doing its job.


    Why not run the property's details through some insurance quote sites to see how much extra you'd pay for noting the previous subsidence.
    They are an EYESORES!!!!
  • JMA74JMA74 Forumite
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    Most insurance companies only care about movement in the last 10 years or so. My own property was underpinned in the 80's and I pay exactly the same as a standard policy.

    If it hasnt moved in 30-40 years then it probably has the same chance of moving at this point as any other property, underpinned or not.
    I am a Mortgage Adviser

    You should note that this site doesn't check my status as a Mortgage Adviser, so you need to take my word for it. This signature is here as I follow MSE's Mortgage Adviser Code of Conduct. Any posts on here are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as financial advice.
  • thearchitectthearchitect Forumite
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    Underpinning is more common than many people appreciate and, if properly executed, will prevent further movement. Some limited initial settling-in may happen but would have been apparent by now.


    The work would normally require a Building Warrant/Regulations Approval (depending on where you are in the UK). You should enquire about the appropriate paperwork.
    Health Warning: I am happy to occasionally comment on building matters on the forum. However it is simply not possible to give comprehensive professional technical advice on an internet forum. Any comments made are therefore only of a general nature to point you in what is hopefully the right direction.
  • I think that's one of our main issues is that there is no paperwork (building certificates etc.) on the underpinning work carried out, so we are concerned this would put future buyers off.

    We're first time buyers so are just feeling very uncertain and cautious about everything!:eek:
  • davidmcndavidmcn Forumite
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    LEE2222 wrote: »
    I think that's one of our main issues is that there is no paperwork (building certificates etc.) on the underpinning work carried out, so we are concerned this would put future buyers off.

    We're first time buyers so are just feeling very uncertain and cautious about everything!:eek:

    I wouldn't expect to be seeing paperwork for anything done 30+ years ago. Besides, you presumably don't have any paperwork for the original foundations, and I would have thought it difficult for the underpinning to make anything worse than the original construction method.

    As above if there's no sign of any recent movement then I can't see anything to worry about. Would be of more interest if e.g. the underpinning had been done much more recently and therefore wasn't yet "tried and tested".
  • thearchitectthearchitect Forumite
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    I disagree re: paperwork. On my desk is a file containing 20 year old paperwork for underpinning of a property, however we had to request the local authority to pull the file from the archive which took a few weeks.


    The key document would be the building control completion certificate, sometimes called the habitation certificate or words to that effect. Howerver in the absence of any evidence of ongoing structural movement I wouldn't personally lose too much sleep over it.
    Health Warning: I am happy to occasionally comment on building matters on the forum. However it is simply not possible to give comprehensive professional technical advice on an internet forum. Any comments made are therefore only of a general nature to point you in what is hopefully the right direction.
  • AdrianCAdrianC Forumite
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    LEE2222 wrote: »
    So my questions are:
    1) Will anyone insure us, if the underpinning has previously gone unclaimed?
    Yes - somebody else's previous policy has no bearing on your new one.
    2) Will the property be difficult to sell in the future because of the lack of paperwork on the underpinning?
    Will it harder than one without? Yes. Your next question shows precisely why.
    3) Would you pull out?
    Not necessarily. The work was done in the 80s. That's 30-40 years ago... It's clearly achieved the aim - to fix the issues with the original foundations...
  • I disagree re: paperwork. On my desk is a file containing 20 year old paperwork for underpinning of a property, however we had to request the local authority to pull the file from the archive which took a few weeks.


    The key document would be the building control completion certificate, sometimes called the habitation certificate or words to that effect. Howerver in the absence of any evidence of ongoing structural movement I wouldn't personally lose too much sleep over it.


    Would the local authority be able to give this to us? Or are they prohibited by copyright issues?
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