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Structural problems from removal of a chimney breast?
I am in the process of buying a Victorian terraced house in East London. A chimney breast was removed in the ground floor kitchen in 1998 by previous owners, with the remainder above left in place. Our building survey report states "The chimney breast to the kitchen has been removed and there is no evidence of support to the remainder above. This should be verified, and the proof of local authority consent for the removal of this chimney breast provided." The current owners (who purchased the property in 2001) are not aware of any building consent being obtained, and the local authority have confirmed that they have no consent on record. The owners are saying that it wasn't raised as an issue when they purchased the property, that any structural defects would have appeared by now, that the local authority enforcement period has passed, and so we 'simply have to accept the position'. I have asked them to seek retrospective consent from the Council or to get a builder round to check the support arrangements, but they have so far refused.
What would your advice be in this situation? Would any structural defects have appeared by now? Is it safe to ignore this issue? Whilst clearly no defects have appeared in 13 years, part of my concern is that I assume we would not be insured were anything to happen in the future, given consent has not been obtained? Also, the chimney breast is on a party wall, so I assume there should have been some agreement with the neighbour.
4 Answers from MyBuilder Chimney & Fireplace Specialists
For your peace of mind, you need to get a structural engineer on board and a good builder.
The builder will have to expose the areas where the lower part of breast was removed, and check to see if any steels etc are in place.
The S/E will then do calculations, if everything is in order ,he will then do a report and issue to building control, who will then sign of the works.
If there are no good structural supports, he will advise/calculate and your builder will work to this, building control will need to see everything in place before covering it up and then sign it of.
You then have the certificate of proof, should you sell on.
It sounds like the original owners just went ahead and done the works, without telling anyone, and the previous owners surveyor may not have picked it up, where as yours has.
Answered 7th May 2011
if no supports in place ,they will have to be done by law ,for any structural works calculations must be submitted by structural engineer and then once works carried out building control sign off and issue a cert ,allow 300 -500 for structural engineer up to 200 pounds for building control and dependant of works required allow 2k plus ,i would be asking for a reduction in selling price of around 5k because of this issue ,do not purchase unless they aggree
Answered 7th May 2011
Sorry can't add any more to the above and you know what
Insurance company's are like anything so not to pay out
Answered 8th May 2011
Ebony fires does not know policy wording by the sounds of it. An insurance policy is for Fire, Flood, Escape of Water, ect - not Poor or Faulty Workmanship. Buildings Insurance does not mean you purchase a maintenance policy!
Answered 22nd Jun 2013
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