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Survey report on 1940's house

  • 27-12-2022 9:54am
    Registered Users Posts: 12,903 ✭✭✭✭

    We are sale agreed on a 1940’s detached property, which we knew for sure when we were bidding would need a lot of work. However, we have just got our survey report back (carried out by a Chartered Building Surveyor) and it raised some new issues and we are not really sure what to do next.

    1. The house originally had a suspended timber subfloor, but one side of the house (right side) has since been upgraded to solid floors. The left side of the house, which comprises two reception rooms, has noticeable sloping and uneven floors. The surveyor also noted a lack of adequate vents to the subfloor. Reading between the lines, it sounds like possibly rotting joists? 
    2. Some cracking to external walls and the front bay windows. Some the surveyor thinks are historical and just settlement. Others he recommends we get a structural engineer to examine.
    3. The property has a side garage and behind the garage is another lean-to extension. Both are in bad condition - a) Roof in need of replacing, b) Floor level flush with exterior ground level resulting in high damp readings, c) Manhole cover for foul drain is in the garage and is blocked up, d) Large crack on the wall where the extension meets the original house

    There were other issues noted, not necessarily minor, but were ones I anticipated - like get the electrics checked by a RECI, get the gas system checked etc.

    But those 3 issues and how to deal with them are I think the major problems.

    The garage and extension, I am thinking we just knock down. They are badly constructed and creating more problems than they are solving.

    But the surveyor has recommended we have an engineer examine the walls and that we also investigate the subfloor.

    My big question is - without the ability to carry out much more than a visual inspection, is an engineer going to able to tell us much more about the cracking etc?

    And re: the floor - without the ability to pull up carpets and floorboards and inspect - do we (if we proceed) just need to budget to replace the subfloor in that side of the house?

    Thanks in advance


  • Moderators, Home & Garden Moderators Posts: 10,133 Mod ✭✭✭✭BryanF

    1. allow a few grand for floors and new joists
    2. ’historical’ ie just settlement. If you love the house and want to be sure get a structural eng to visit.
    3. Demolish the shed/garage. No big deal. May require planning, surveyor should confirm. But this is a post sale problem.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,903 ✭✭✭✭whatawaster

    Thanks Bryan

    Another recommendation was a CCTV survey of the drains - have got a quote for €300 for this (including unblocking the drains). Would this be money well spent? (I'll have to pay €100 of the €300 if we buy anyway in order to clear the drains)

  • Moderators, Home & Garden Moderators Posts: 10,133 Mod ✭✭✭✭BryanF

    I’d probably do the drains before the structure on basis of the word historical.

  • Registered Users Posts: 757 ✭✭✭C. Eastwood

    Do not Waste your time or money on a Drains CCTV and drains Survey Report

    The drains will be constructed by Masons with 100 mm (internal dia) clay pipes, which were jointed in the Spigot and Sockets with Jute Scrim and Cement paste. - xx metres of a rigid clay pipe like a stick of chalk.

    The CCTV will show that the drains are all cracked and damaged with ponds of water where the pipes have sunk because of escape of water. There may also be roots of trees/ shrubs etc in the drains sourcing water.

    You will need to replace all the drains and in accordance with the Building Regulations must install 2 separate drainage systems -a Surface Water drainage System and a separate Foul Water drainage system.

    Ball park figure for renovating and refurbishing the detached 1940 dwelling- €100,000 to €150,000

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,903 ✭✭✭✭whatawaster

    That sounds like a can of worms I might not want to open at this point in time! What are the consequences of just unblocking the drains and moving on . . ?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 773 ✭✭✭cnoc

    Are you willing to say how much you pair for the house?

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,903 ✭✭✭✭whatawaster


  • Registered Users Posts: 757 ✭✭✭C. Eastwood

    That’s Ok

    Ensure that there is no water escaping from any pipes- near the foundation of the house as this may lead to Subsidence of the foundation and cause structural damage.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,903 ✭✭✭✭whatawaster

    Thought I'd give an update:

    We decided to get a structural engineer to examine the property.

    It turns out this engineer had been engaged by the owners to monitor cracks in 2002 (he disclosed this to us immediately and asked us if we were happy to proceed). So he had the benefit of notes and photographs from 2002 to compare.

    He concluded that there was "significant movement" on one of the gable walls which "demonstrated an increase since 2002".

    Asked him for an estimate to resolve and he said he reckoned €25k to €40k depending on how deep new foundations need to go.

    So now considering our options - walking away or seeking a significant reduction in price €40k-€50k or something like that. Walking away being the most likely

  • Registered Users Posts: 757 ✭✭✭C. Eastwood

    You are so lucky to have an engineer who assessed the property 20 years ago and is able to categorically ascertain that there is movement in the wall.

    This is very rare.

    Therefore the wall is subsiding due to movement in the soil under the foundations, or the subsidence is causing by a leaking drain pipe.

    The foundation must be underpinned.

    Do you want this house, or are you happy to move on.

    If you decide that you want the house / you should get an bonafide Estimate from a Building Contractor to underpin/ pile the foundations and replace drains etc.

    The Estimate should be presented by your solicitor to the Vendors solicitor looking for a reduction of the amount of the Estimate - in the purchase price.

    The Vendor will possibly do 1 of 3 things

    1. Say no reduction
    2. Offer some discount
    3. Offer a substantial amount of the Builders Estimate off the purchase price.

    You will never know until you try.

    There is no point in seeking a major reduction in the purchase price by picking figures out of thin air.

    The figure must be provided in the form of a bonafide Builders Itemised Estimate.

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