We've just moved house and decided we wanted to re-roof the
single-storey extension in tile, replace some large windows with a patio
door, and extend it sideways.
The builder dug out a trench to lay the new foundations and found there
were no foundations - the brickword was bedded on a scattering of balast
about an inch thick. A couple more inspection pits around the perimeter
So it looks like we've got to knock it down and start again - which is
an option we'd considered when we made an offer on the house because we
thought it might be easier and better than working with what was there.
Nothing showed up on the survey - and I can't see how it would have
unless the surveyor had been instructed to dig pits.
The council apparently knew about the extension as I checked before we
bought the house and there had been a planning application which showed
the extension as already existing --- but they didn't seem as if they'd
taken any interest in it as it was done under permitted development
rights. It was put up about ten years ago and obviously having no
foundations didn't meet building regs.
Do we have any comeback against the seller (who incidentally is a
solicitor) or is it just a case of caveat emptor?
are no terms other than the terms described here" and a pretty much
"you get what you've seen". The previous owner might have a claim
against his builder - but hasn't actually suffered a financial loss.
Take advice - but I doubt you have a valid claim against the builder -
even if traceable or still in business.
Depends on the questions *your* solicitor asked. If the seller has given
a false answer to the question, then you may have a comeback against the
If your solicitor didn't ask the right questions you may have a comeback
If the seller was the same person who had the extension built, then they
should have owned up to this in the disclosure form sent to them by your
solicitor - that will have been trapped by one of the questions they had
to answer. You should have a copy of the responses. You can check the
historical ownership of the property at
<http://www.landregisteronline.gov.uk>. (Even if the seller didn't build
the extension, there might still be something incriminating in the
Either way, somebody at some point (surveyor? you?) ought to have been
aware that there was a newish extension on the property, which ought to
have triggered your solicitor to check for a building regs application
when (s)he did the local authority search. Realising there had been no
such application would have enabled you to make an informed decision
about what to do next (structural engineer? inspection pits? withdraw
In which case perhaps the answer is not to beat yourself up about it; if
you were going to demolish it anyway then then you wouldn't lose any
money, it's just about The Principle, isn't it? And you can be sure
that if you push for compensation from somewhere - anywhere - you'll
have a long, stressful struggle.
If you are going to rebuild the extension, consider whether you might
ever want to extend it upwards to two floors in the future, and specify
that the new foundations are adequate to cope with that. Would save you
demolishing it yet again!
It is up to you (ie your solicitor) to do the checks and ask the
questions you feel necessary in order to make the decision whether to
purchase or not. You would first have to determine if the extension
actually needed building regs approval or not.
In any case, you don't say that the extension has a problem related to
the foundations. If its not in distress, then why are you worrying
You can carry on and do your proposed maintenance and alterations.
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