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Liability after contract exchange
A few weeks ago, during what we believed to be the final stages of our lengthy probate-driven buying process, we received a call from the estate agents. They informed us about some damage to the detached garage, specifically mentioning that the window frames had fallen out.
Upon inspecting the garage, it was clear that the wall facing our garden had shifted significantly and was perilously close to collapse (see attached image).
Since then, the sellers have assured us they had "secured" the structure, however, it looks like they’ve propped it up with thin wooden planks that can’t even hold their own weight, let alone the weight of a brick wall.
We have already received a decent reduction in the purchase price after we noticed some cracks in the garage wall back in November but at the time we thought we’d caught it in time and would be able to fix it. Further delays in the purchase process meant that we weren’t able to get in there in time to do anything.
While we don’t want to back out of the purchase entirely, our primary concern revolves around the potential consequences if the garage were to collapse after the exchange of contracts, potentially causing harm or damaging the house next door.
The stable side, a single course red brick wall forms the boundary with the neighbour's driveway. I’m concerned that removing the damaged side would leave this wall unsupported, likely leading to the remaining wall being blown over into the property next door. To add to that, the roof has been flagged as an asbestos risk so it’s not as simple as ripping the garage out by hand.
We’re not sure how to proceed in this situation, considering the safety risks and potential liabilities associated with the structural instability of the garage. Given that the damage is pre-existing, I can’t imagine it would be covered by building insurance.
Front corner of garage, pillar holding up roof beam above the door:
Shows sagging roof above where the window fell out as well as roof beam no longer sitting on brick work. Also gap in roof where asbestos sheets are separating.
Internal block partition wall compared to external red brick wall, wall has shifted outwards.
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