You’ve found your dream house, it’s within budget and you’ve even put an offer in… but then the surveyor’s report comes back and you find out that it’s needed underpinning in the past. Do you still go through with it? Or should this make you think twice?
As professional underpinning contractors we understand that taking on a house that’s previously been underpinned can be daunting – but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Here, we’ll take you through some of the factors you need to keep in mind if you’re looking at buying a house that has been underpinned in the past.
Why Did The House Need Underpinning?
One factor to consider is why the house needed underpinning in the first place. The majority of reported subsidence is due to tree roots, and if the tree that caused the original subsidence is still there, it’s worth getting in touch with a specialist to advise you on the best course of action. Your surveyor should be able to put you in touch with someone. In some cases, removing the offending tree can actually compound rather than solve a problem, and instead, pruning (which reduces the amount of moisture that a tree takes from the soil) can help.
Other causes of subsidence include clay soil and damaged drains. The water that escapes from damaged drains can soften the ground beneath the foundations, resulting in ground movement and, therefore, building movement. A specialist engineer’s or surveyor’s report will be able to give you more information on what exactly caused the problem and whether this is still a threat to the property.
Was the Work Carried Out Legitimately?
It’s essential that any underpinning work carried out previously comes with all the right paperwork. Make sure that the work was passed by Building Regulations, otherwise, you may have difficulty if further work is needed. If you’ve got your heart set on the house, we’d advise having a full structural survey carried out so you know exactly where you stand.
Negotiate on the Price
One of the main points to consider when buying a house that has been underpinned previously is the impact this may have on your buildings insurance. If a property has been treated for subsidence in the past, this can greatly increase the excess you’ll be expected to pay if further work is needed. The typical excess that insurers expect people to pay is around £1,000, whereas a building with previous subsidence issues can be up to 5-10 times that.
Because of this, it’s not unreasonable for you to negotiate on the price – especially if you were unaware of the subsidence before you made your initial offer.
Think about the Future
Selling an underpinned house that has had subsidence issues in the past can be difficult, so you need to think about the resale value. If you think you’ll outgrow the property in a matter of years, you need to think long and hard about whether the insurance cost and potential difficulties selling are worth it. If you’ve found your dream house and you’re planning on staying there for the foreseeable future, you may be more likely to overlook the complexities involved in purchasing a house that has previously been underpinned.
Buying a house that has been underpinned previously isn’t completely off-limits, as long as the work has been done professionally, complies with regulations and has the paperwork to back this up.
The good news is that if you’re buying a house that has been underpinned, it will be more structurally sound than a house that has not been underpinned. The fact that the previous owners have carried out the building work means that they have taken steps to secure the property from further damage. If you’re worried about subsidence or think that your property may need underpinning, get in touch with us.