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    • tiredoflife
    • By tiredoflife 21st Mar 17, 5:36 AM
    • 112Posts
    • 309Thanks
    Buying a house with subsidence
    • #1
    • 21st Mar 17, 5:36 AM
    Buying a house with subsidence 21st Mar 17 at 5:36 AM
    Does anyone have any experience of this?

    We have seen a lovely house for sale so I called the agent to find out a little more. She explained that it was a new build in 2011 and it had suffered with subsidence but has now been rectified, it comes with the 10 year new build gaurantee. We went and had a nosy at the outside of it and all we could see were a couple of yellow markers on the side of the wall. It is next to some trees, so I wonder if they may have caused it?
    We are cash buyers so possibly in a better situation than most.
    I don't want my heart to rule my head. My worries are insurance, will they see this as a problem? Also, future buyers, again will they have problems with insurance/ mortgages?

    I plan on giving the agent a call later to find out more about the subsidence and what caused it.

    So, walk/run away?! Or potentially a good buy?
Page 1
    • moneyistooshorttomention
    • By moneyistooshorttomention 21st Mar 17, 6:20 AM
    • 15,590 Posts
    • 43,314 Thanks
    • #2
    • 21st Mar 17, 6:20 AM
    • #2
    • 21st Mar 17, 6:20 AM
    Only 6 years old and it has it......!

    I'm guessing the trees were there first - so would be wondering why the house wasnt built suitably (ie foundations etc) in the first place to allow for those trees already being there so close by - and what else the builders might not have thought of/taken account of.

    Imo it would be more explicable if one could see that the house was decades old and the trees had "come along later" and no-one taken account of how they would grow.

    If I was even prepared to consider it (which I personally wouldnt be...) then I would want an appropriate expert along to take a good look at things.
    Like Frankie said - I did it my way.
    It's MY life......
    • Sheep
    • By Sheep 21st Mar 17, 7:31 AM
    • 180 Posts
    • 38 Thanks
    • #3
    • 21st Mar 17, 7:31 AM
    • #3
    • 21st Mar 17, 7:31 AM
    I used to sell insurance for a well known high street provider for years and we would never insure any propert that had subsidence unless we also mortgaged the property or it was a second home and we also insured the first. Why dont you give maybe 5 top insurance companies a ring and ask the question. Im sure you will then find your answer.
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 21st Mar 17, 7:50 AM
    • 25,016 Posts
    • 92,522 Thanks
    • #4
    • 21st Mar 17, 7:50 AM
    • #4
    • 21st Mar 17, 7:50 AM
    Your thread title is a little misleading, because the house is now underpinned and presumably has no subsidence now. However, as you've guessed, that's not the end of the story.

    Underpinned houses can be good buys; my daughter lives in one and had no problems with insurance or obtaining a mortgage. However, her property is Edwardian, and the underpinning was done more than 20 years before she purchased, so those were two historical reasons for confidence. One expects the shallow foundations of older houses to succumb in certain situations, while 20 years is a good time to assess whether remedial work is sound and has worked.

    As money says, a nearly new property is a somewhat different proposition. The foundations should have been deep and strong enough to cope with existing trees, so one wonders whether they are a red herring. If the site supervision was simply lacking, as it sometimes can be, there might be a quality control issue instead, or in addition to difficult ground conditions.

    Treat anything the agent says with circumspection; she's not an expert and she's working for the seller. If seriously interested, probably the best you could do would be to hire a structural engineer to report on the house, or at least have a full structural survey.

    Meanwhile, it would also be prudent to get some insurance quotes. If the estate, assuming there is one, has a track record, insurers will already be building their own picture of it.

    Finally have the trees asTPO on them? Are they of a species that's likely to present a problem as they grow, casting shade and dropping leaves? Are they under your control if you buy, or are they outwith the boundary? These are all questions worth considering now.
    'It's a terrible thing to wait until you're ready…..Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.' Hugh Lawrie.
    • ProDave
    • By ProDave 21st Mar 17, 8:11 AM
    • 843 Posts
    • 955 Thanks
    • #5
    • 21st Mar 17, 8:11 AM
    • #5
    • 21st Mar 17, 8:11 AM
    I would want to know what the previous use of the site was. whether it's built on made up ground or not, or a rubbish dump? I would also want to know exactly what was done to stabilise it.

    Also bear in mind with poor ground conditions, if you later want to extend that will probably need expensive complicated foundations as well.
    • david1951
    • By david1951 21st Mar 17, 9:10 AM
    • 394 Posts
    • 449 Thanks
    • #6
    • 21st Mar 17, 9:10 AM
    • #6
    • 21st Mar 17, 9:10 AM
    The word of the estate agent is probably worthless. I would want proof of the cause of the subsidence and what has been done to fix it. They may not be able to provide this, of course, at which point I would walk away.
    • dsdhall
    • By dsdhall 21st Mar 17, 9:25 AM
    • 323 Posts
    • 316 Thanks
    • #7
    • 21st Mar 17, 9:25 AM
    • #7
    • 21st Mar 17, 9:25 AM
    You will almost certainly need to use a specialist insurer, although if a subsidence claim has already been made the existing insurance company may be willing to transfer insurance to you. Either way you'll most likely have a huge excess and massive premiums.

    I bought a house that had underpinning to a very small part of the property (a small one room utility room extension without proper foundations) that was underpinned under the supervision of a structural engineer. With hindsight it would have been easier to just knock it down. My annual policy currently runs at around £800 with a subsidence excess of £2,500 and I can currently only find one company that is willing to insure the property and that took over three months to sort out. Got the house at 20% reduction off the original asking price and intend to live here for years so I'm not particularly bothered about the resale or issues reoccurring.

    The yellow markers on the wall almost certainly are for monitoring, and their continued presence would make me question whether the subsidence issues have been completely eliminated.

    A first step would be to get full disclosure from the vendors, including all correspondence with their insurance company including annual premiums and find out whether they would continue to insure you after purchase and at what price.

    A house with historic subsidence should be trouble free to sell. Many insurance company don't care about subsidence issues past a certain number of years (e.g. 10 or 15), so if you're there a while it may not be a problem to sell, but you'll almost certainly have to sell it at a discount.

    How much are they knocking off the price for the subsidence issues?
    • tiredoflife
    • By tiredoflife 21st Mar 17, 9:35 AM
    • 112 Posts
    • 309 Thanks
    • #8
    • 21st Mar 17, 9:35 AM
    • #8
    • 21st Mar 17, 9:35 AM
    Excellent advice all round, thanks guys.
    I think it might be a bullet we need to dodge.
    I think my husband is going to call and get more information, but as some of you say, if it is a new build and it is already having issues.....
    Also, someone made a good point about if we wanted to extend, which we may do in the future, it could potentially cause issues.
    • kilby_007
    • By kilby_007 21st Mar 17, 10:44 AM
    • 732 Posts
    • 491 Thanks
    • #9
    • 21st Mar 17, 10:44 AM
    • #9
    • 21st Mar 17, 10:44 AM
    Walk away. Very frustrating, but we've walked away from a number of properties with current or historical subsidence. A recent one was underpinned 10 years ago. They had it on at 325K and somebody was going to buy it (had surveys done etc) and the seller had "forgotten" to tick the box for underpinning on the property information form. It's now back on the market and 25K cheaper. I don't expect it to sell any time soon without a further reduction of at least 25K. For me it'd have to be 250K to even consider living with the constant worry it might one day move again, although I still don't think I would.
    Last edited by kilby_007; 21-03-2017 at 10:48 AM.
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