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How could you tell a house isn't standard construction pre-survey?

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  • Herzlos
    Herzlos Forumite Posts: 14,516
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    The estate agent should hopefully be advising you if it's non standard construction.
    I had one tell me on the first call, another after trying to put an offer in. Both were post-war pre-fabs and thus unmortgagable.

    Of course, different mortgage providers will allow different constructions.

    Is the steel beam part of the original construction or a retrofit? How old is it and is there anything in the planning permission search for it?
  • eddddy
    eddddy Forumite Posts: 15,799
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    edited 18 July at 7:19AM
    So I'm in the process of trying to buy my first house. It looked like a standard brick house so I applied for a mortgage thinking it was a brick house with standard construction, because it didn't appear to have anything unusual about it, but the survey has come back saying it's got steel beams inside. None of the advice I'd seen said to wait for the survey before applying for a mortgage, but obviously now I'm potentially not going to be approved anymore. The lenders didn't want to do their own valuation originally, the survey is for my own benefit. Just wondering for the future if there's any way to tell if there are things like this? The steel beams are within the bricks so there's no way to tell visually and it's not something I ever encountered in any of my researching. 

    The key question would be... Was the estate agent aware, or should the estate agent have been aware, that the property was non-standard construction?

    If the estate agent knew, or should have known, they probably should have volunteered the information to you - without you even asking. (As happened with @Herzlos above.)


    Here's an example where the Property Ombudsman awarded compensation to a buyer, because the estate agent didn't tell the buyer that a property was non-traditional construction: 
    https://www.tpos.co.uk/news-media-and-press-releases/case-studies/item/consumer-protection-from-unfair-trading-regulations-2008-cprs  



    If you decide to persue a complaint against the estate agent, things to consider include...

    • Did the seller know the property was non-standard construction? I'd guess it's likely they got a survey when they purchased, so it's likely they knew.
    • Did the estate agent ask the seller if their property was non-standard construction? That's one of the questions that the National Association of Estate Agents "strongly encourages" estate agents to ask sellers.
    • The Property Ombudsman expects estate agents to be "property professionals" (unlike most buyers and sellers). Should a property professional have noticed that it was non-standard construction?
    • Are there other similar non-standard properties nearby? If the local estate agent has sold any of them in the past, they should know that this property is probably non-standard.

    The legal position is that, assuming the seller is a private individual, they are not subject to consumer protection laws - so they don't have to disclose material information to you.

    But the estate agent is a business, so they have to adhere to consumer protection laws - so they must tell you all material information that they know or should know, even if you don't ask.



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