Homebuyers Survey issues and down valuation

Discussion in 'Builders' Talk' started by JAzer, Sep 11, 2019 at 9:36 AM.

  1. JAzer

    JAzer Member

    Hello chaps and chapesses,

    We have agreed a sale on our 150 year old home, but the Homebuyers Survey has reported some issues and the valuation has been put £15k below the sale price. Some of the issues are nonsense, such as potential problems with log burner and electrics, but they were only installed a couple years ago and we have the relevant certificates. The main problems relate to damp and woodworm, but again, I believe they are nonsense and there are websites confirming this - I just need to know how to respond to some of these points and would appreciate your expert help. Here are the points made (in italics) and my draft responses (bold) - do you agree or would you change anything?:

    There is no visible evidence of a damp proof course within the external walls.
    There is evidence of damp to the walls internally. Please see below.
    Similar type and condition as described above.
    Similar type and condition as described above

    MIDDLE RECEPTION (dampness)
    There is dampness at low level in the walls. The dampness appears to be originating from/have been caused by rising damp. This should be investigated further by a PCA registered damp proofing contractor

    The previous owner advised that damp proof course injections had been previously undertaken, I believe going back around 20 years (this is visible where there is no skirting board, in the cupboard under the stairs).
    For a house of this age, it is perfectly normal and to be expected for residual damp to exist, as confirmed by advice received from another RICS Chartered Surveyor that visited the house (verbal advice, not as part of a report). There are many companies advising that you should install their products. There are also many impartial people advising this is unnecessary and will do more harm than good.
    We advise the buyers to do their own research into this subject, as information like this can be found: Taken from https://www.heritage-house.org/damp-and-condensation/managing-damp-in-old-buildings.html:
    Homebuyer Surveys - the truth about them...
    I am constantly inundated by people who are getting Homebuyer surveys, in which the 'Surveyor' recommends you get a 'specialist timber and damp survey from a PCA registered contractor'.
    If a qualified surveyor - a Chartered member of RICS - tells you that an independent 'timber and damp' survey is required - I suggest you tell them you are not paying the bill. These people are incompetent. If they cannot diagnose the REAL reasons for damp in an old house - tell them to go survey a dolls house.
    If they even MENTION Rising Damp - they are incompetent.

    There appears to be some historic woodworm to the main beam. Your legal advisers should check to see if there is any paperwork in place to confirm the timbers have been treated.

    Again, very common to see this in an old house. The timbers may have possibly been previously treated, but not under our ownership as it is unnecessary. As above, the woodworm is "historic" and no longer present. Again, we advise the buyers to do an internet search on this subject to find information such as: Taken from https://www.heritage-consulting.org/woodworm-or-beetle-attack-of-timber
    Most holes that we see in surveys are over 100 years old - some over 400 years old. ... a lot of research has clearly established that these treatments are not needed. This is now neatly summarised in the new BS 7913: 2013 Guide to the conservation of historic buildings, published jointly by the British Standards Institute, and the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (BSI and IHBC). Section 6.10.3 - 'Insect attack' includes the following statement: "The principal objective should be to remove the sources of moisture..." it goes on to say this about chemicals: "Insecticidal treatment should only be used as a last resort as it can cause environmental damage and might require licenses of protected species. Precautionary treatment should NOT be applied to unaffected timbers." These are powerful words - and clearly establish that wholesale and automatic 'timber treatment' should NOT be undertaken.

    The clay pipe in the inspection chamber (nearest to the garage) has broken and will need to be replaced. In the absence of a full inspection and test report by a drainage specialist, you must accept the risk of defects existing to the pipes not visible. We should make you aware that properties of this age are often found to have defective drainage, due to the brittle clay pipes having little protection from slight degrees of movement within the ground.

    As per the comment, it is common for a property of this age. It has not caused any issues and is still functioning as expected.

    Unfortunately we were not present when the surveyor visited, as we would have liked to discuss the points they made regarding their damp and timber findings. Although we would not advise following their advice, we are happy to engage (at our own cost) an independent timber and damp surveyor to offer a report and expert advice on these matters for the buyers.

    Thanks for reading. Would you change anything or do anything differently? Appreciate the help.

  2. Heat

    Heat Well-Known Member

    I would address some of the claimed faults by doing a ‘fix’ rather than defending myself with argument.
    That way you will have evidence of removing an alleged problem.
    For example - have clay pipe repaired replaced and invoice/certificates for proof.
    It is all a paper trail
    Astramax likes this.
  3. JAzer

    JAzer Member

    Thanks Heat. Yes, you are right. I will get a fix done. Just been to house to check clay pipe - there's a small crack and hole in it and really not an issue - will take 5 mins to patch up.
    Heat likes this.
  4. Hans_25

    Hans_25 Active Member

    Surveys will always pick up issues, unless there are real deal breakers or can be fixed easily (in which case fix them) I'd say its down to the buyer to decide if they want to proceed or ask for a discount from the previously agreed price. As a seller, my position might well be that no properties are perfect, take it as is or look elsewhere.
    Joe the Plumber likes this.
  5. Heat

    Heat Well-Known Member

    Surveyors risk their reputation and also risk legal claims against them should they miss anything that falls under what the survey is supposed to cover.
    So it is to be expected of a Surveyor to put every obvious fault down so nobody can say they haven’t done their job properly.
    Can be annoying though to have an obvious, but minor thing put in writing against your property
  6. sospan

    sospan Well-Known Member

    Well without seeing your property the report seems to be what I would expect in properties that old. I have three properties from the 1870's and all have issues either through age or previous owners bodges.

    Solicitors these days have to do a lot more diligence on their conveyancing work and check that all the necessary paperwork and standards are adhered to as much as they can.
    Heat likes this.
  7. ajohn

    ajohn Well-Known Member

    Woodworm is pretty common in anything around 100 years old. Our place was built in 1911 and has had it. Some timbers in the garage really suffered. Easy to tell as the beams could be pressed in with a finger. It had been treated. Woodworm usually is so signs of it in the past are a nonsense.

    Damp is trickier. It depends on what they found and depends on what the notes below say.


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