FULL BUILDING REVEALS NASTY SUPRISES - WANT NEGOTIATION - ADVICE NEEDED

I would appreciate your advice/expertise concerning the following:
I'm a first time buyer, buying a property (Victorian End-of terrace 3 bedroom / 2 stories house) in London (Leyton - East London).
I saw the house for 250k - put down the full asking price, had the full building survey done which revealed some nasty suprises. The full building report raised the issue of current cracking/old cracking on the extension part of the Victorian property and I required a structual engineer.
Vendor is putting pressure on me to exchange contracts - gave me ultimatum for end Aug-04. I wrote letter requiring more time, vendor wrote back saying I had more time however he would grant me more time provided that I give him a copy of the full strucutral which is needed for the property.
Dont' want to provide structural report for free, neither do I want to pay extra money for a structural report and loose more money.
i'm not happy with the issues with the current state of the house, want to negotiate through agency (not met vendor) and am proposing calling a meeting to discuss a negotiation of reducing the price BEFORE I undertake any further reports/estimate quotes.
Does anybody have any experience with negotiatiating without getting further estimates / quotes. I have however had my surveyor 'in writing' state that the list of issues below 'see below' would approximatley cost 10 - 15k.
Any advice welcome.
ISSUES Rising dampness * (kitchen) - rear wall, revealed areas with rising dampness problems * (cellar) "high damp meter readings" were recorded * (all elevations) - evidence of dampness found
Structure Movement to the rear elevations and side elevation to the back addition has shows existing and current cracking 'require strucutral engineer'
Woodworm (Cellar) woodworm found to attack structural timbers supporting the house. Cellar Requires attention - flooding evidence.
Windows * Windows: wood condition rotting taking effect requires replacing * Windows require replacing and plaster work around windows are "loose and uncertain". * Drip grooves or "throatings" are required to external cills so as to prevent water seeping back beneath and soaking the brickwork in the wall adjacent, detaching the plasterwork within.
Electrical System Incoming electrical works at low level (cellar), "thought to be fairly crude" with loose and old wiring etc. "needs special attention".
Condensation Condensation in roof needs to be addressed.
Chimney breast/s Chimney breast removed, require support to be added and additional ventilation.
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Personally, I would walkaway and look for somewhere else. -- troubleinstore http://www.tuppencechange.co.uk Personal mail can be sent via website. Email address in posting is ficticious and is intended as spam trap
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Walk away from it! There are plenty more houses without problems. The vendor just wants the survey on the cheap.
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...

Can you see the damp or is it only obvious to someone with a dampness meter? If the latter, it is more likely to be condensation, which tends to happen in kitchens. It might still be condensation, even if you can see evidence of the dampness. In any case, unless there is an obvious need to do rectification work, you can probably ignore it.

It is a Victorian cellar. They are all damp.

Probably raining on the day he did the survey :-) Again, unless the dampness produces visible evidence, it probably can be ignored.

A lot of Victorian houses in London will have cracking from WW2 bomb damage. If he is right about the cracking being current, then this is potentially a serious problem. However, a surveyor will almost always describe cracking as existing and current, because it covers him if it turns out he mistook subsidence for bomb damage. This is one area where you do need to do some more investigation.

It is a Victorian house in London. It will have woodworm. What is important is whether it is new or old woodworm and how badly affected the timbers are. Old woodworm is not usually a matter for concern.

Talk to the neighbours and the local Water Authority, to find out when flooding last happened. My house has evidence of flooding under the floors, but the provision of a pumping station a quarter of a century ago stopped the flooding.

I would not consider that particularly unusual on a house of that age. The rot certainly will need attention, although you need to determine whether it is wet rot, which is a minor problem, or dry rot, which is serious.

Easy enough to cut, or you could just add a small bead of wood under the edge, to give the same effect.

On a house of that age, I would expect it to need a rewire and be pleased, (and a little surprised) if it did not. The incoming wiring is, however, a matter for the electricty supplier to sort out.

Easy enough to add ventilation, although my experiences of Victorian roof spaces is that they are usually quite drafty.

The additional support bit is fairly serious and will need to be dealt with. Some of the dampness noted earlier could be down to this lack of ventilation.
All in all, much the sort of report I would expect to see on a Victorian house in London. There are matters that need to be clarified, but you will be lucky (or have an incompetent surveyor) if you ask for a full survey on any similar house and don't get this sort of report.
As for the buyer pressuring you, it may be that you are holding up a chain and he is getting pressure from further along it. However, it is your money and you don't want to part with it until you are sure that you are buying the house you want to have. Expect to become a regular here if you are buying a Victorian property.
Colin Bignell
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Yes. A quick look by a surveyor can't possibly say whether it's current or old movement. Cracks are common on this sort of build.
--
*I feel like I'm diagonally parked in a parallel universe.

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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Just wanted to quickly post this message to say thank you to all for your responses and help with this. I'll update later.
Thank you again.
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<snip>
Most of these issues are common on a Victorian property - especially one which has had little or poor maintenance. It's over 100 years old, so you'd expect some things to need attention.
It all comes down to price. Which seems cheap to me for a 3 bed end of terrace - or certainly would be in this part of London. Get a few independant valuations and decide whether it's worth it or not. At the end of the day, that's all you can do. You can't force the seller to reduce the price - although there's no harm in trying.
--
*I started out with nothing... and I still have most of it.

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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David Phillip wrote:

There are lots of houses available. They will shortly become cheaper, too. Say you reject his ultimatum (in the nicest possible way).

Well, sell it to him, or write a condensed version in your own words pointing out the broad problems. Not too much detail.

It does not pay to be loose with your money.

Sounds good enough to me to negotiate a reduction. Note that *you* are the buyer, and you make your decisions. If you really don't like it, don't buy it. If it's something special, then you will have to be a bit more careful!

Has this place been shut up for a while? Which ways do the front/ back/end face? When/how was it extended?

Can you see this cracking? Where is it, and how has the extension been joined? Is there distortion (looking along the walls)? Has any tree removal happened recently? Are other houses in good condition (have you talked to the neighbours? - this might be quite useful as their house joins).

Are the flight holes recent? What "structural" timbers are these, floor joists? I don't see how timbers would "support the house" for this sort of building. If the timbers are not damaged enough to warrant replacement, the cure is simply to treat them. Most old houses will have some woodworm - it's "normal".

Another good reason to talk to the neighbour. What flooding evidence?

What sort of windows are they?

Patching, or re-plastering of those walls.

No big deal usualy - what are the cills made of?

The electricity company will deal with anything their side - re- wiring bits and pieces "as is" is not hard or expensive.

What condensation? Has it affected any roof timbers? This is likely to be easy to deal with.

Um. Is this on the party wall?
Lots of things to consider. Anyway, unless you are really sold on the place, there is *no hurry*. The market is dead slack at the moment, at best.
J.B.
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damp assesments tend to be so bad you need to assess it yourself. False positive diagnoses are widespread. Which of the signs of damp are present?
My wariness is increased by the diganosis of rising damp: almost all such diganoses are false. It exists but is pretty uncommon.

All Vic properties have woodwormed timbers, so this is meaningless. The question is how much holing, is it bad enough to seriuosly affect the strength?
Timbers supporting the house? Unusual for a Vic house. Do tell.

Just to point out that this is not usually the best course of treatment in most cases.

A good chance for you to assess the report by looking at the windows yourself, and seeing if they match the report.

Is that problem occurring? If it isnt, it doesnt need doing. Cills dont always need drip grooves - hence Vics dont always have them. I have no drip grooves here, dont need them. The rain soak problem can also be avoided by a very slight slope to the cill underside, or by paint forming a lip at the front lower edge. Dont break such lips off.

Sounds vague: does it have fuses or MCBs? Wire type? TT and ELCB? etc etc. How is the rest of the wiring? Rewiring can be a pain if it means a lot of replastering.

Condensation is normal in unfelted Vic slate roofs: the airflow quicly dries it out, with no problem resulting. Last place I was in water used to drip down the interior of the slates, but it soon dried. If the roof is felted then it is an issue, since the ventilation is not present with such roofs.

How do you know support is needed unless you open it all up and see whats there?
Why are surveys so poor?
Regards, NT
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<snip>

Is it generally possible to hire a surveyor, on the condition that you want to walk round with him, and have him explain faults, so you can discuss, rather than just getting a report?
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In my experience, they would definitely rather that you werent there. Mainly because they would get drawn into discussions which would add substantially to the time taken for the survey.
I think if you wanted to do this, and get a surveyor motivated to do it, (rather than hacked off), you should discuss it up front, and offer to pay for any extra time it might take.
--
Richard Faulkner

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wrote:> >Is it generally possible to hire a surveyor, on the condition that you

I have always tried to accompany surveyors; usually not possible for the reasons Richard states, but it can be incredibly helpful if you manage to swing it.
Perhaps slightly different circumstances, as it's not a surveyor, but on Friday I had a structural engineer take a look at a property I was thinking of buying, and he agreed to let me accompany him.
The main reason I wanted this report was because the house is currently a refurbishment which has been abandoned half, and the whole ground floor had been removed for reinstatement (it is presently just sand/rubble/mess), and my concern was that there could be 'issues' with this floor.
The bloke duly nosed around, and when it came to the floor, he pointed out that I'd need to excavate X amount of the rubbish, and provided the ground was solid below that, then add hardcore, membrane etc etc; the only possible problem would be if the ground wasn't firm enough, and that would need a test excavation to ascertain one way or the other. Bummer, I thought, I still don't really know the answer for sure. "Tell you what", the guy said, closing the front door, "there's a shovel over there, why not do one now if you want!" Needing no further encouragement I set to in the middle of the front room; I had made a small hole just 9" deep and the bottom filled with water. I put my foot on the shovel to dig down a bit further and it went straight down; I pushed down further on the handle and it almost disappeared into the mire (it went down smoothly, in one push, to nearly 30" below floor level). "Hmm", we thought.
He reckoned there was a conservative 10K's worth of work needed to sort this out (and more if the whole building needs underpinning as seems likely), so unless the vendor wants to do some serious renegotation, I'll be walking away from this one. As the engineer says, it will probably end up getting flogged to some unscrupulous developer or builder who will just throw down a normal slab and then do the place up; and will be long gone when it all goes pear-shaped 2-3 years down the line...
Anyway, my point here was, had I not managed to accompany the engineer, I'd never have got the valuable info which I did (or at least, not without shelling out for a separate report/test excavation etc).
David
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wrote:

That is exactly what the buyer of a house I am selling did. He walked around with the two of us and explained what problems there could be from bits he could see. It was not intended as a full survey and did not produce a report, but rather a letter emphasising salient points. Fortunately, the need for a complete new roof (also mentioned in our buyer's survey of 1981) did not put her off.
Colin Bignell
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"N. Thornton" wrote:

I guess we'll just have to wait fon Mr. Phillip to tell us...

Er, why?
J.B.
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http://www.onthelevel.in-uk.com/timber-treatment.htm
Regards, NT
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