Should I buy a house that's been underpinned due to subsidence?

We are in the process of buying a property and have just been informed by one of the neighbours that the house we're buying suffered from subsidence and was underpinned about 15-years ago. I don't know much about subsidence/underpinning but it has got me worried about the purchase. Should I be worried? And...
If a house has been underpinned for subsidence, is that it, fixed for good, or is there a chance it might recur and need doing again?
Is it likely to affect my mortgage - i.e. will the lender be reluctant to give me the mortgage when this comes to light - and similarly, will it affect me ability to sell the property on?
I've only found out about this by co-incidence from a future neighbour. Will this come up in any surveys I have done - if I hadn't been told, would I ever have found out in any official way?
Any advice about whether I should continue with this purchase regardless, forget about the house completely, or try to re-negotiate a cheaper price would be welcome.
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On 2007-02-18 13:34:04 +0000, snipped-for-privacy@david-andrews.net said:

If underpinning was done properly with structural engineer involvement etc. it should have improved the original. That is not to say that other parts of the house may not still be subject to subsidence and have not been underpinned.

It may do. The bugbear usually comes with trying to insure the property for building insurance - for whatever reason best known to themselves, insurers seem to have the willies whenever underpinning is mentioned.

It should have been among the list of questions asked by your solicitor.
If it wasn't, it should have been, and I would look very carefully at what else was asked and answered.
It's possible that the underpinning preceded the occupancy of the current vendor, and he didn't know - although since the neighbour told you, it would be hard to believe that he didn't tell the current vendor.
If the vendor was asked and didn't reply truthfully, then it begs the obvious question of what else did he lie about.

As a minimum, I would check what has been asked and replied to with the solicitor. If that checks out, then ask the vendor about it and ask to see a copy of his buildings insurance policy. Check that subsidence has not been excluded, then check with the insurer and some others as to whether they will insure you without exclusion.
All of this assumes that you really want the house. If that motivation isn't strong, then you may prefer to walk away.
One can always negotiate price - the question is what.
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On 18 Feb, 13:34, snipped-for-privacy@david-andrews.net wrote:

Not if it was done properly. In fact, it should be an advantage in that case, compared to others in what is likely to be a subsidence- prone area - ie with clay soils. Though that doesn't guarantee that subsidence would occur, you'd probably need a tree coupled with the clay soil. Likely to increase in the future with global warming.

Don't know - wouldn't have thought so, because these things are paid for by insurance companies, so they'd tend to insist on it being done properly before they pat out.

Not if it has been OK'd by the ins co, I'd have thought.

I would have thought it would come up through the solicitor's enquiries.

As I say, should all be fine if the Ins co has OK'd it but your surveyor will do a check of course if you specifically mention that anyway.
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If you have had a survey then why was it not pointed out? I can tell you that it will be difficult to get house insurance. None of the major companies will cover any property or one within 100ft of it. Why would the neighbours be pointing this out to you and why are you asking here without getting a proper survey? How do you know it is true. The neighbour might not like the look of you and be trying to put you off. A house that has been underpinned correctly and to local council building standards is perfectly OK. Trying to reduce a price using that as an excuse is not acceptable, at least the work is guaranteed for a minimum of 20years in some cases and you will not have many future problems.
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Dev wrote:

Rubbish. I was asked very little when I changed my buildings insurance online. As it happens the house across the street was underpinned 10 years ago. I don't give a toss and I doubt if Norwich Union do either.

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Stuart Noble wrote:

Not sure about the "100ft" bit, but other than that, yes - if the insured property has been underpinned then it will absolutely, unequivocally be an issue with insurance companies.
I've twice had the misfortune to have offers accepted on properties where it has subsequently emerged that there has been underpinning (done properly and fully guaranteed), after I'd started spending money on mortgages, surveyors etc. Both times I had to option to withdraw over the reluctance of insurers to accept the risk under sensible conditions. In one case I couldn't find a quote less than about 6-fold the normal premium, and in the other I gave up looking for a broker or company who would even consider it, when it became quite obvious it was a major issue. The usual advice is to use the same insurer as the seller, to ensure continuity of cover by the same insurer in the event of problems, but even they declined. (The property concerned was permanently withdrawn from sale).
So whatever you do, have a go at obtaining quotes for buildings insurance for the property now, before you spend any more money, and see how the land lies.
You need to consider how a future prospective buyer will fare when you come to sell the property... in my case, neither property was going to be a long-term purchase; but if you've fallen in love with the place and are likely to stay put for 60 years, then that may not be much of an issue for you.
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Some extremely useful replies there - thanks very much. I haven't had a survey done yet and I'm glad I've found this out before having done so, or I'd have potentially wasted a lot of money before finding out whether it's feasible to progress or not.
I will ask my current - and some other - buildings insuers if they'll insure this property for a reasonable sum and see how it goes from there.
Thanks for all the advice

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On 18 Feb 2007 11:46:31 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@david-andrews.net wrote:

If you do want to proceed make sure that your get a proper survey done. Not the "Home Buyers" thing which is not much more than a glorified valuation for the mortgage provider. Talk to several chartered surveyors and get some idea of their costs and what they'll do for their money. Get relevant documentation from the vendor and council.
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I don't know when you last moved insurers, but these days the very first question they ask is "have you ever made a claim for subsidence", and if the answer is "yes", they decline the business.
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Huge wrote:

Then the OP's answer to that would presumably be "no". They're not asking about the property, but about the person claiming
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Playing the smart-alec barrack room lawyer with insurance companies, especially over the single largest asset you're ever going to own, is seriously dumb.
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Huge wrote:

I just went to the DirectLine site. They ask if the home is in an area subject to subsidence.
By which they mean
"Have properties in your neighbourhood (within 100 yards of your home) been affected by subsidence".
How on earth are you supposed to know this? When you buy a house, all the questions about subsidence relate to the house itself, not to the neighbourhood. So you could move into a house tomorrow and have no idea that the two neighbouring houses were underpinned last year.
Ben
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Ben Blaukopf wrote:

It doesn't matter whether you know or not.
If you answer yes, they won't insure you. If you answer no, and there's a subsequent claim for subsidence, and they can find a garden shed that's slipped on a wonky paving-slab, the claim is invalidated anyway.
Owain
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From the Direct Line web site;
---------- Q: If I live in an area that is prone to flooding or subsidence does it cost a great deal more to insure my property?
A: We aim to provide competitive quotes for homeowners in all parts of the country. If your home is in an area with a known history of flooding or subsidence, we will require further details from you to assess whether we are able to offer cover. If it is the case that your home has suffered from flood or subsidence damage in the past, we may have to recommend that cover is continued with the current insurers. ----------
IOW, "go away".
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who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this
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What a smooth way to say f*ck off. I'll have to note the phraseology.
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These are possible points

The local council doesn't set the standards, only implements according to the Building Regulations.

It's always acceptable to try to get a price reduction when one is a buyer, regardless of the reason. The vendor has the choice to accept or not.
Whether or not the stability of the property has been improved (and it probably has), then there is likely to be an increased cost for insuring it vs. a property than has not been underpinned and it would be reasonable to deduct the increment for N years of increment in premium. If insurance is possible, but with an exclusion for subsidence then the buyer is assuming the risk for that, which also should have a monetary value.
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My son bought a house about 17 years ago. When he tried to sell it the sale fell through because of subsidence. He had it underpinned under insurance. Later we moved into the house (he had by this time moved out but couldn't sell because of negative equity). The insurance company continued to insure it, and didn't exclude further subsidence. About seven years ago we noticed the back wall was leaning outwards. Our son asked us to deal with it for him. It took us over two years to persuade the (same) insurance company it needed attention. We had to get a structrual engineer in to sort them out. It was discovered that the original job had been botched. Because of this the insurance company had to forego their 1,000gbp excess, and pay again to get the job done. This time the whole back walls (next door's as well) had to come down and be completely rebuilt. It was also discovered the local council had lost all the paperwork for the original work. If you buy the house, make sure your insurance cover further susbsidence, and also make sure they know about the underpinning.
Richard
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snipped-for-privacy@david-andrews.net wrote:

If it was done properly to regulations, it will be better than other houses nearby that haven't been underpinned.
Underpinning consists in making a house with poor foundations into a house with 100% to spec modern foundations.
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Although the insurers won't agree with you, even if they commissioned the work, oversaw it, and paid for it. They will tend to be wary of neighbouring properties, and run a mile from anywhere that's actually been underpinned. Which is almost totally arse-about-face and dumb beyond belief, but no-one said insurers have to be logical.

Hmm, I think I'd stop at "making a house with poor foundations into something a little better than it was originally". It's a bit like plastic surgery, really.
-- "I have seen the truth and it makes no sense."
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John Laird wrote:

A LOT better.
When you have gone from a row of bricks laid on damp clay to 6 ft of concrete strip foundations, all with rebar, you will understand.
And just tell the insurance company it was underpinned to stop HEAVE, not subsidence. That will shut them up.
Or simply negotiate a deal that says 'susbidence not covered'

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