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Surveying/building advice needed urgently, can you help?

We are in the process of buying an attractive victorian home in a good road. We have secured a good price and it is in reasonable condition for its age, with the vendors living there for 25 years and it is well presented, half of it has been refurbished and the kitchen is new and good quality. The survey has come up with some maintenance issues which are to be expected. However, off the side of the house is an extension which was originally a garage and has been extended backwards to become the kitchen (this was done before the current vendor over 25 years ago). The garage is 16 x 8.5 and the kitchen on the back of that is 22 x 8.5. It has a flat roof which was replaced this summer.

However the surveyor has noticed that the kitchen wall "may" be of single-skin brick with a timber-frame inner lining.  It isn’t thick enough to be cavity or solid.  There was no obvious feel of insulation nor any obvious ventilation. "Unless they have been very clever", he would guess that any insulation is either minimal or non-existent. He doubts that there is any insulation (or not much) in the wall lining. If they do claim to have insulation then he suggests i ask how the roof is ventilated as there was no sign of anything.

How concerned should i be about this? I have read that mortgage companies don't like such construction. We have secured a mortgage on the property but used an independent surveyor so he said the mortgage company "might not notice". Would a roof company re-do the roof with a 20 guarantee and not provide adequate ventilation and insulation? If they provide us with proof of building regs does this mean that the insulation is adequate at least in the roof?

We could obviously not change the roof because of the construction, how much would it cost to demolish and rebuild such a structure if we had to in the future? Is this a reason to secure a lower price?

If you can help and offer an opinion on this I would be very grateful. I don't want to buy something that is not mortgageable in the future. I don't want to have a kitchen that is a cold and mouldy. The vendors have lived there happily for 25 years and seem to be perplexed by our concerns because the extension has been there for so long and the refurbishments they have done have been very good quality.

I am awaiting their vendors information which should include the relevant paperwork for the new roof, what should i be looking for? In short, would you buy this house, i don't want to pay alot of money for something that isnt what is seems???? Many thanks for your help and apologies if i haven't explained this very well my knowledge of construction is zero but i am trying to learn very quickly.

5 Answers from MyBuilder Extension Builders

Best Answer


I think you have answered your own questions. Do you want to buy , or is the property cheap enough, considering that the kitchen is of unconventional construction. I doubt from my experience if you will find any form of insulation, cavity or ventilation to either the walls or flat roof sections. Back in the day this was how they carried out building work, and it sort of worked, ie its still standing 25 yrs later. But you do have consider that with no insulation the walls and roof are going to sweat and being cold, damp is going to form. There is a risk that the timbers in the walls or roof are on there last legs, they could be rotten as a pear. We have renovated so many victorian houses, that we will now only buy one if its cheap enough to gut. This woul include removal of all ceilings , plaster, electrics, heating, and the list goes on. Most of these houses have had a half hearted efort at maintainace over the years, which means adding layer upon layer. Most trades will come in and do the job there asked to do, that could mean it has a new flat roof, but on a uninsulated , non ventilated roof structure. They rarely address all the other issues or advise the client of this before starting a wasted job.

We like to strip back and start again. Bring the house up to the lastest building standards.

Be carefull. Houses look very pretty with a lick of paint , some nice carpets and furniture. But the day you move in then all comes to light. If in doubt get a full all singing survey done and find out from a professional what your going to be in for.

Hope this helps



Answered 20th Nov 2011

I guess, there was something wrong with the extension construction.
Because the vendor refurbished this part of the property before puttining in the market- thats for sure. But my suggestion is,if the property is in an atractive location- as I have noticed, even the cost of making things right will not be higher then a few grounds- in the future. In case the walls are not insulated as should be -there is always an alternative, same with the roof ventilation. In my opinion is not a such risk as seams to be.
All the best


Answered 20th Nov 2011

I would get a decent survey done, not just a mortgage application survey.
I personally would base my decision on the numbers here, most things can be fixed and if the numbers allow for a 30K "mistake" then you could be onto a winner.
Some buyers may have been deterred by these concerns and that's reflected in the price. I would knock them down if they cant produce any paperwork, or even knock them down for the cost of you getting a specific insurance plan put in place.

Good luck. Louis


Answered 17th Jul 2012

I dont think anyone can offer much of an opinion without seeing the property first. After all, thats what you pay your surveyor for. Things like this come up on lots of properties that I survey and I always offer an opinion of a suitable solution and a probable cost. Ask your surveyor. After all the bottom line is, do you want to pay for the work to be rectified. The building regulations approval certificate should give you some comfort but dont wait for it. Ring or go and see the local council and ask them to show you the building regulations file or at least talk to the building inspector for that area. You should get a much better feel about whether you will need to carry out repairs after that.

Phil Routledge


Answered 28th Nov 2011

Good advice from Phil Routledge, just to add to it slightly - email your surveyor and ask him directly for advice as to what to do, and any indicative costs for his reccomendations, this is what you have already paid him for. Remember too, you can't re-negotiate after the purchase so make sure you get to the bottom of it before you complete.
It is quite an easy job to add insulation on top of a flat roof and re-felt it (assuming you have the hight to do this) and insulation can be attached externaly and rendered if need be. If this work is required you will need a cost for negotiation prior to purchase, so ask your surveyor directly and folow his advice or the same problem will only come back and haunt you when you come to sell.
Mike Davison cssw


Answered 12th Feb 2012

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