Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

Welcome to the MSE Forums

We're home to a fantastic community of MoneySavers but anyone can post. Please exercise caution & report spam, illegal, offensive or libellous posts/messages: click "report" or email forumteam@.

Search
  • FIRST POST
    • fredster83
    • By fredster83 10th Nov 18, 2:20 AM
    • 3Posts
    • 0Thanks
    fredster83
    +++HELP+++ tough spot with new property
    • #1
    • 10th Nov 18, 2:20 AM
    +++HELP+++ tough spot with new property 10th Nov 18 at 2:20 AM
    Hi all and thanks in advance for your time. My wife and I are first time buyers and have found a great property in East London: The house is in very good condition, therefore we placed an offer which was accepted.

    our survey and searches came back, we are facing the following challenges

    - a covenant was found on the property from the 60's which inhibited any future owners from making any structural changes. Covenant was breached as seller had a rear extension done, removed 2 x chimney breasts and started working on a loft conversion which was left unfinished. Seller claims he wasn't aware of this and has offered indemnity insurance

    - seller does not have ANY planning permission or building regulations approval for the chimney breasts removal and loft extension. One of the loft purlins has been cut in half to allow for easier loft access, which i believe is not ideal. We're not happy with the lack of documentation, however seller is saying that all work was carried out professionally over 10 years ago therefore there is no longer need to get building retrospective approval.

    - there is a public sewer within the boundaries of the property. We're not allowed a sewer survey

    The seller is putting a lot of pressure on us to exchange before Christmas and insists that he does not need to provide any paperwork.
    As first time buyers we are worried these issues could cost us in the future, especially as we see this an investment and are planning to complete the loft and extend the kitchen further into the garden.

    I suggested bringing a builder in the property to assess the loft situation but the seller is refusing this. We also can't tell if the chimney breasts were removed safely unless we ripped the plaster board and checked, which the seller does not want to do.

    I feel like although we are close to complete, there are way to many issues and the seller's attitude is very suspicious.

    I'd like to hear your thoughts please

    thanks
Page 1
    • SG27
    • By SG27 10th Nov 18, 5:40 AM
    • 2,523 Posts
    • 1,766 Thanks
    SG27
    • #2
    • 10th Nov 18, 5:40 AM
    • #2
    • 10th Nov 18, 5:40 AM
    Its fairly commom for covenants like that to be put in place by the original developer to ensure someone doesnt move in and ruin the look of the house potentially affected the values of other houses on the development still for sale. I wouldnt be too bothered about this one.

    The extention is a bigger problem as now you do not know if it was done properly. She does have to provide documentation if you insist on it and your mortgage company (if you have one) will also insist on it (or the indemnity) have you asked why she didnt get the building regs? How long ago was the work done? You could get a structural engineer to have a look and check the loft but as you say without opening the walls up you will never know if the chimney breats are supported properly. She says its proffesionally done but no proffesional builder will do that sort of work without contacting building control.

    Tell her to forget about exchanging by christmas. You'll exchange when your satisfied.

    (Her attitude could possibly be she panicking to sell before brexit. I know someone wants to sell this year if not she thinks she will have to wait a few years.)
    • lookstraightahead
    • By lookstraightahead 10th Nov 18, 6:04 AM
    • 568 Posts
    • 524 Thanks
    lookstraightahead
    • #3
    • 10th Nov 18, 6:04 AM
    • #3
    • 10th Nov 18, 6:04 AM
    Hi op. as with a lot of first time buyers, for some reason they think that the sellers are the 'ones in charge' with timescales etc. You will never be in the fortunate position again of not having to sell which means you must be absolutely sure you are doing the right thing, as one day you will be selling the property you are considering buying. I too wouldn't exchange before Christmas, if the seller pulls out so be it - but that's better than you rushing in. You need to get these things checked out thoroughly and do what you need to do to be satisfied. I must say personally the sewer would worry me but that's because I know little about that type of thing maybe.
    • fredster83
    • By fredster83 10th Nov 18, 8:39 AM
    • 3 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    fredster83
    • #4
    • 10th Nov 18, 8:39 AM
    • #4
    • 10th Nov 18, 8:39 AM
    Seller is saying that because the work was done more than 10 years ago, he doesn't have to provide any documentation. Is this true?

    I thought you would still need to obtain a building regularisation certificate from the council?
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 10th Nov 18, 8:43 AM
    • 26,651 Posts
    • 96,070 Thanks
    Davesnave
    • #5
    • 10th Nov 18, 8:43 AM
    • #5
    • 10th Nov 18, 8:43 AM

    our survey and searches came back,
    Originally posted by fredster83
    What sort of survey was it?



    With a house like this that's been messed with and not finished, nothing short of a full buildings survey would do for me. Then I might want a structural engineer or a builder to look. You're being denied the latter. Red flag.

    You're not allowed a drain survey? Another red flag.

    If there's a public sewer and you need to build within 3 m of it, you will need a formal agreement with the water authority. They'll tell you where it is, but it should be in your paperwork. (CON29DW.)

    Personally, if a seller refused checks I wanted to be made, and pressured unreasonably for exchange, I'd lose confidence and withdraw.
    A garden is never so good as it will be next year....
    • fredster83
    • By fredster83 10th Nov 18, 8:55 AM
    • 3 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    fredster83
    • #6
    • 10th Nov 18, 8:55 AM
    • #6
    • 10th Nov 18, 8:55 AM
    It was a full building survey. The surveyor said the property was sound but told us to make sure we would get the paperwork or regularisation certificates from the council, to get some guarantee the works were done properly.

    He also said that the slate roof has been replaced with heavier concrete tiles but the lack of documentation there is worrying, and since the seller has cut the supporting roof purlin in half in the loft, nobody would ever approve the work apparently.

    Even with a full building survey and structural engineer, we wouldn't be able to know if the chimney breasts have been removed properly.

    These things don't scare me too much, my worry is that we will end up paying much more to get the regularisation certificates needed in the long term...is it true that you because the works were done more than 10 years ago, you don't need ANY certificates?

    thank you!
    • bouicca21
    • By bouicca21 10th Nov 18, 8:56 AM
    • 4,034 Posts
    • 6,439 Thanks
    bouicca21
    • #7
    • 10th Nov 18, 8:56 AM
    • #7
    • 10th Nov 18, 8:56 AM
    You have put a lot of money into fees, searches etc and don't want to lose it, but this is the biggest purchase you will ever make (even if you trade up in the future the amount of money will be proportionately less), don't let the seller intimidate you.

    As an FTB you are the one in the strongest position. If there is dodgy stuff about the house then the seller will be desperate to sell and will know that he/she will face problems with any buyer.

    Good luck.
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 10th Nov 18, 9:08 AM
    • 26,651 Posts
    • 96,070 Thanks
    Davesnave
    • #8
    • 10th Nov 18, 9:08 AM
    • #8
    • 10th Nov 18, 9:08 AM
    ..is it true that you because the works were done more than 10 years ago, you don't need ANY certificates?
    Originally posted by fredster83
    Lack of planning can't be enforced after 4 years. There's no magic time limit on building regs, but in practice, virtually no chance of enforcement there either as the work is long-standing.
    A garden is never so good as it will be next year....
    • AnotherJoe
    • By AnotherJoe 10th Nov 18, 9:15 AM
    • 11,495 Posts
    • 13,282 Thanks
    AnotherJoe
    • #9
    • 10th Nov 18, 9:15 AM
    • #9
    • 10th Nov 18, 9:15 AM
    I'm having a problem marrying up your statement
    The house is in very good condition
    with everything else you've said about the work that's been done / part done / badly done, and the sewer under the property and so on.
    Did you really mean "it looks in good condition " rather than "it's in good condition"? I once bought a house like that
    Please dont criticise my spelling. It's excellent. Its my typing that's bad.
    • middleclassbutpoor
    • By middleclassbutpoor 10th Nov 18, 9:19 AM
    • 381 Posts
    • 322 Thanks
    middleclassbutpoor
    All indemnity insurance does is protect you from facing the cost of your local planning dept taking enforcement action against you. If the work is more than a year old - the insurance is worthless in reality but is often asked for to give lenders the peace of mind because you don't really know whether it was done 6 months or 60 years ago sometimes.

    Would concur with what has been said already, if you are not getting the surveys and/or answers you want then do proceed with extreme caution. It is 'Buyer Beware' and you get less protection buying a house than you do a kettle....

    There would be too many red flags for me personally. I could probably take a removal of a chimney breast or a wall etc but cutting into the purlings and adding on extensions without paperwork would be very risky.

    You need to be comfortable that the house is safe for you to live in... You need to consider if you intend to sell, you are going to find people asking all the same questions as you.

    I'm not even sure you could rectify the issues to satisfy future buyer so it's really down to you to make a decision. Is the house priced accordingly for all of these issues?

    If not, I would be walking away or looking for a massive discount to account for the uncertainty and risk you are taking.
    • Doodles
    • By Doodles 10th Nov 18, 9:31 AM
    • 286 Posts
    • 396 Thanks
    Doodles
    I would also be feeling rather uncomfortable about this purchase.

    Refusing a sewer survey, and a builder to check the loft, as well as putting pressure on for you to exchange are all red flags in my opinion.

    In your shoes, I would not be pushed to exchange. Your concerns given the situation are reasonable and therefore I would insist on these checks being done or I would pull out. The seller doesn't have to oblige of course, and the risk is you lose the house. But there is a greater risk of going through with it, and ending up with an unsafe money pit.
    We are in Transylvania, and Transylvania is not England. Our ways are not your ways, and there shall be to you many strange things.

    Dracula, Bram Stoker
    • jbainbridge
    • By jbainbridge 10th Nov 18, 9:42 AM
    • 1,799 Posts
    • 1,176 Thanks
    jbainbridge
    You need to be comfortable that the house is safe for you to live in... You need to consider if you intend to sell, you are going to find people asking all the same questions as you.
    Originally posted by middleclassbutpoor
    For me ... the above sums it up completely. Don't be rushed by the vendor - other buyers will also ask questions - if you buy it, so will your buyers when you come to sell.
    • AdrianC
    • By AdrianC 10th Nov 18, 9:44 AM
    • 19,098 Posts
    • 17,505 Thanks
    AdrianC
    - a covenant was found on the property from the 60's which inhibited any future owners from making any structural changes. Covenant was breached as seller had a rear extension done, removed 2 x chimney breasts and started working on a loft conversion which was left unfinished. Seller claims he wasn't aware of this and has offered indemnity insurance
    Originally posted by fredster83
    Who is the covenant in favour of?
    Indemnity probably isn't needed, or particularly useful - it'll cover the legal costs of the beneficiary of the covenant finding out and coming after you. Which are vanishingly small anyway.

    - seller does not have ANY planning permission or building regulations approval for the chimney breasts removal and loft extension. One of the loft purlins has been cut in half to allow for easier loft access, which i believe is not ideal. We're not happy with the lack of documentation, however seller is saying that all work was carried out professionally over 10 years ago therefore there is no longer need to get building retrospective approval.
    He's right. That doesn't, though, mean you wouldn't be wise to get a structural survey.

    - there is a public sewer within the boundaries of the property. We're not allowed a sewer survey
    Who won't "allow" you? If it is a public sewer, though, it's not your problem. Thames Water are responsible.

    The seller is putting a lot of pressure on us to exchange before Christmas and insists that he does not need to provide any paperwork.
    He doesn't NEED to. You may want him to, and refuse to buy unless he does, but that doesn't mean he NEEDS to. He just risks losing the sale if he doesn't. If he genuinely can't, because it's never existed, then you need to make a decision based on the information available to you - which should include a structural engineer's opinion if you're concerned.

    As first time buyers we are worried these issues could cost us in the future
    Of course they could. It's a house. Houses are great at "costing you in the future"... It's what they do best...


    especially as we see this an investment
    DON'T. See it as your home.

    and are planning to complete the loft and extend the kitchen further into the garden.
    Then whether the pre-existing structure is sufficient may be academic, since you'll almost certainly need other structural changes for those.

    I suggested bringing a builder in the property to assess the loft situation but the seller is refusing this.
    Such is his prerogative. And it may lose him the sale.

    We also can't tell if the chimney breasts were removed safely unless we ripped the plaster board and checked, which the seller does not want to do.
    And who can blame him?

    I feel like although we are close to complete, there are way to many issues and the seller's attitude is very suspicious.
    If you haven't exchanged yet, then you can still vote with your feet.
    If you have exchanged, and are just coming towards completion, then it's too late to be having these nerves...
    • G_M
    • By G_M 10th Nov 18, 10:22 AM
    • 45,919 Posts
    • 55,437 Thanks
    G_M
    The issue is not whether the council will come along one day and enforce Planning or Building Regs and make you remove or replace the extension/chimney etc.

    They won't. Not after 10+ years. Not even after 4 years.

    The issues are:

    1) is it safe? Properly constructed? Potential to fall down, move/crack etc?

    2) is it to a reasonable standard? eg extension insulated? double or single skin brickwork etc?

    3) will your mortgage lender agree to lend?

    4) will you have trouble selling in the future?

    You need to be saisfied about tose 4 issues, not the actual paperwork
    • Cakeguts
    • By Cakeguts 10th Nov 18, 1:51 PM
    • 5,227 Posts
    • 7,939 Thanks
    Cakeguts
    I see a fair number of posts on here from first time buyers who have seen a great property somewhere. Eventually it turns out that what they mean by great is that the property appears to be "good value for money" as in it seems to be cheap for the area that it is in and the type of property.



    There is no such thing as a bargain property. If it appears to be cheap for the area or for the size or type of property then that is because there is something seriously wrong with it which will end up costing any buyer a lot more than a different house in good condition without any problems in the same area.



    This sounds like the type of property where an experienced buyer would want either a huge discount or they would walk away and find something else that hadn't been messed about with. The reason why you are being bullied by the vendor is because they know you are first time buyers and they are tryng to get you to buy a problem property as fast as possible so that you will buy it without realising how many expensive problems it has.


    You may be worried about losing the money that you have spent on this purchase so far but the surveys have done their job they have showed you that this is a problem property that will cost a serious amount of money to correct probably 1000s more than you would ever get back when you sell.



    If this house is a lot cheaper than ones of the same size in the same area there is something seriously wrong with it and it is not the house for a first time buyer.



    If you don't want to lose more money find a different house.
Welcome to our new Forum!

Our aim is to save you money quickly and easily. We hope you like it!

Forum Team Contact us

Live Stats

2,574Posts Today

6,624Users online

Martin's Twitter