Our last move, a review on buying a bungalow for our retirement

Independent Building Surveyors

If you are looking for a property for your retirement and would like it to be your last move than you need to have a Building Survey carried out to ensure the property is what you were expecting it to be.  Our Surveyors at gemsurveyors.co.uk can provide help and advice with regard to the property and can carry out building surveys, structural surveys, home buyers reports, independent valuations, property surveys, engineers reports, structural reports and specific defects reports. Please phone 01234 355 358 for a friendly chat with one of our surveyors.

Why should you have a building survey carried out?

Our clients were looking to move house for the final time as they were retired. They wanted to find the perfect house that was in a quiet village location but not too far away from local amenities. The property that they found seemed perfect for them but it turned out it was too good to be true.

A little bit about the property

This particular property was a large detached bungalow built during the War Years. The bungalow has good sized gardens and had been finished internally to a very high standard. It had also been altered and amended considerably to provide more space. As we said it initially looked perfect!  Our client needed to be extra careful with any property they bought as they were purchasing as a cash buyer.

Structural problems in the roof

During the course of our survey we noted structural problems with the property that the clients would not have noticed themselves, for example, when we inspected the roof space we noted some of the supporting purlins has been cut, this is unusual and not good practice. We recommended to our client that if they purchased the property then the roof would need the purlins replacing.

Purlins Defined

The purlin is the horizontal timber member usually running from gable end to gable end and parallel with the walls which supports the jack or common rafters (the angled rafters forming the slope to the roof).

Alterations to the property

Unfortunately during the survey, on close inspection, we noted that the alterations had not followed conventional construction techniques. We also found out that these amendments had been carried out without the correct Building Regulations approval. Luckily we were also able to find before and after floor plans from the Estate Agents details that showed how the layout of the walls had showed how the property had changed.

Walls have been removed

The plans revealed that the wall in the kitchen had been partly removed which in turn had put additional stress and strain on the pier between the alterations and the kitchen door. We could see a hairline crack where the alterations had taken place, however as the property had been recently immaculately decorated throughout it was very difficult to see if there were any other cracks.  From the plans we could also see that other walls had been removed.

Externally we could see that a ridge on one of the roofs had dropped slightly which related to where the wall had been removed in the kitchen.

Further meeting and discussion with our client

Interestingly the owner had not been keen on either us or our client looking at the right hand side of the property. We decided to get up on the roof so that we could look down at this area but unfortunately it is not the same as being able to inspect it closely but we suspect that there were structural problems in that area as well.

We later had a further meeting with our client and the architect who had drawn the original design alterations only to find that the architect had not drawn up some of the alterations that had been carried out.

How the removal of trees can cause problems

Another issue that we discovered during our survey concerned the removal of a large amount of trees from the rear garden. The owner advised us that he had removed in the region of sixty conifer trees. Whilst the root ball on a conifer is not as large as with many trees it can often be how their roots absorb water from the soil that is of help to the lands irrigation system and when the trees are removed they can cause problems such as heave.

Heave Defined:

Heave is an upward movement caused by activity in the ground. When water is not taken away by the roots of trees the water gets back into the clay soil and effectively expands.

Further investigations

We decided to investigate the removal of the trees further and obtained images via Google Earth that showed how the property looked a few years ago. We were surprised to find that there were extremely large trees to the front of the property that had since been removed. The owner or the Estate Agent did not mention these trees to us or our client!

High risk purchase, is it worth it?

After our client had discussed our report with both the owners and the Estate agent about the lack of Building Regulations regarding the alterations and how to resolve the problems they were basically told that if they did not go ahead with the purchase quickly then they would put the house back on the market.

Our client told us that alarm bells were ringing and so decided to do the sensible thing and pull out of the purchase. At the end of the day our client felt that the owner was not being honest about the alterations that had been carried out and as such they were not prepared to take on a property with this level of risk.