In his latest blog, Andy Lucas, Managing Director of Property Assure, looks at properties that have been affected by subsidence and the key documents Conveyancers should be obtaining.
The Valuation Survey includes questions pertaining to evidence of movement and subsidence. (It should be noted that the Valuation Surveyor is not equipped to identify whether the property is at risk of subsidence only if there is evidence of its occurrence — but we’ll revisit this in a later blog). Where historic subsidence repairs have been identified the Conveyancer should obtain the supporting documentation to verify that any repairs have been undertaken accordance with the Building Research Establishment (BRE) subsidence classification and repair guidelines and or whether an insurance claim was made by the vendor.
There are 2 main documents that should be obtained:
– It must be remembered that a significant proportion of subsidence repairs do not require underpinning of the foundations. However, if any underpinning has been carried out it is a notifiable operation under the Building Regulations and as such, inspections and sign off by the Local Council Building Control Officer should have been carried out. A formal Completion Certificate should be issued by the Council at completion.
– Where the repair has been undertaken as an insurance claim, the insurer appointed Building Surveyor / engineer should have produced a Certificate of Structural Adequacy. This is issued under guidance of the Institution of Structural Engineers (1994) although there is no actual contractual or legal requirement for one to be provided and it is not a guarantee.
So in the event that previous subsidence is identified you should look to obtain the Completion Certificate issued by the Local Authority and Certificate of Structural Adequacy issued by the engineer/ surveyor who specified and periodically inspected any repairs under an insurance claim. They should both be available from the Property Owner
The first step is to understand your subsidence risk. If previous cracking or subsidence has been identified it is always worthwhile appointing a Building Surveyor / engineer to undertake a specific check on the property and review any supporting documentation and thereafter identify whether specific further investigations are required (soil samples, monitoring etc).