Friday, 27 March 2009

Surveying my Domain - it seems I'm doomed. Doomed I tell you.

So, after a manic week spent mostly on building sites, in the car or at the airport I have made it home and have been able to speak to the surveyor. He took great pleasure in suggesting that the house of my dreams is a deathtrap that will suck up my lifesavings, my will to live and leave me penniless and in debt for life. He was on the verge of suggesting I watched 'The Moneypit' and took it as a serious documentary.

The difficulty is how much attention should you pay to a survey? They are naturally pessimistic and never tell you good things that make you feel happy about spending the most money you will ever shell out on anything. In fact they are designed to part you from large paper bags of cash in order to persuade you not to part with further bags of cash for the actual house.

The big problem on this one seems to be the roof. Unlike most welsh houses the roof does not have slate but is done in some delightful tile invented by a lunatic in the sixties. I had naively hoped that, despite its ugliness, I could live with this for 20 years or so before worrying about replacing it. Not according to Survey Man. Apparently, the tiles are 'shaling' which is a BAD THING. Not that he has ever seen it before, but that fact in itself seemed to induce a gloomy outlook over the whole roof.

In addition, he added morosely, the roof trusses might not be strong enough to support the weight of slate tiles so replacing the sixties tiles with slate might mean changing the entire structure of the roof. Great.

His advice? Pay for more specialists to come and look at it and then throw myself off the nearest cliff when overwhelmed with depression.

Naturally he also said that the house had, and I quote, mysterious damp which was erratic and unsourced. Well, that's a welsh house for you.

Oh god - am I biting off more than I can chew? Are my eyes too big for my stomach? Am I cursed with an inability to write anything other than cliches?

What do I do now? I'm sort of afraid to haggle in case I lose the house entirely but equally I can't buy it if I can't afford to look after it. I can feel myself getting stressed just thinking about it. I will go and lie down quietly and moan to myself for a while and hope for words of wisdom from all of you as to what course to take.


Cathy said...

It's maybe time to haggle. If the survey is presented to the bank they may say that they don't want to loan on a property that has obivious problems. Of course, the present owners need to know that they will be lucky to get offer with this kind of major problem. I'll be praying for you as I'm not quite sure you won't a have a wee stress ulcer after all this. Thinking of you...

Rob-bear said...

Weird entry. More particularly, weird house. And yes, as Cathy said, you probably shouldn't take it to the bankers.

Given the information, I wouldn't be surprised that, if you pulled a few tiles, you would find the roof is rotting. In which case you'd be singing, "Rain drops keep falling on my head."

On the other hand, the building sounds like it is at least one step up from traditional wattle and daub. Certainly strong point in its favour.

Home Office Mum said...

ooh that sucks. I hate surveys. They do make you feel as though you're buying a cess pit. But that does sound fairly serious. I'd get another expert in. Get him to give a cost estimate for replacing the whole sodding roof, then go back to the chap and say: so, while I'm willing to live in a roofless house in Wales (few would be) I'm not willing to do so at this price. If you end up losing the house, maybe its karmic. Or something equally deep.

lunarossa said...

I do not know much about houses but I've had enough roof troubles to last me for this life and next. Maybe you should get a second opinion and check whether the roof is really a big problem. Because in that case it can cost you lots of bucks!!! Wish you luck. Ciao. Antonella

Mr Farty said...

Oh bugger, that's a bit of a downer. Try haggling. If that fails, cut your losses and move on.


mothership said...

Hmm. I think you should definitely get a 2nd opinion and you should certainly haggle.
Having been through the house buying panic/heartache thing a few times I would recommend NOT rushing into something that has a major dodgy flaw because you're worried about losing it.
Playing for a bit of time will either bring your price right down or else it will mean that something better will turn up. Don't get panicked into something you will regret. It will be a nightmare.

Monika said...

Oh dear :(
I think you should definetely get another opinion and if it is as bad as they say, maybe it's a sign to look elsewhere as that is a big problem. Or get three quotes on how much to replace the roof and tell your seller you will only take the house if he knocks off that price - after all, it's probably the most important structure and not just aesthetics.

elizabethm said...

some very sound advice here. I agree - get another opinion and a quote for the cost of redoing the roof, then haggle. He is not going to be able to sell it if it has a real problem. However, I would also always take any survey with a pinch of salt. We specifically had this house surveyed by someone experienced in period buildings because we were sure that anyone who wasn't would get all excited about things which were in fact ok. It worked although it cost a bomb.

justme said...

Surveyors are a gloomy bunch by nature, but with something as serious as a new roof needed, I think you definately need another opinion. If it DOES need replacing then, as everyone has said,you do need to go back to the guy who is selling it and haggle. Nothing worse than needing building work which you can't afford to have done. You want to be able to ENJOY where you live, not have it as a cause of major stress. I feel for you! Life is never simple, is it?

Welsh Girl said...

Thanks everyone. I have booked a builder to come and look at the whole thing on Monday evening and will have to take it from there I think.

In an ideal world I will then be able to haggle ruthlessly and the roof will turn out to not need the work for years and years and years and I will be in the money! (I know, as if life EVER turns out like that).

The Singlutionary said...

It sounds like the surveyor is like a home inspector here in the US. Everyone's advice is spot on. Remember that it is the surveyor/inspector's job is to find every single possible thing that might even maybe be wrong with the house and point it out. The better they are at this, the better they are at their job. It is normal to freak out after getting the inspection report. Even on a brand new house there will be this long list of things wrong with it.

The blessing is that you GET to haggle. Now you have something to work with to lower your price. And now the seller wants very much to sell the house and doesn't want you to walk away as it will make the house harder to sell once one seller has walked away all future sellers will ask "why" did this person back out? What is wrong with the house. So you've got the advantage now. Go forward with confidence!!!!

The Barrister said...

Because this is a proprietary roofing system, all the tiles were made in the same way and probably at the same time. Shaling (becoming flaky, like shale) in one part of the roof is likely to mean that the whole of it is weak. The knock on effect of that is that it is impossible to do patch repairs because the roofer can't crawl across the better tiles without destroying them. The technical term for it is 'buggered'.
If it is not leaking then it might not leak for some years, but once the leaks start, the whole lot will have to come off.
Proprietary systems were usually designed to be lighter so leading to savings on roof trusses, though the use of smaller timbers only really took hold in the 80s. Therefore it's possible that the woodwork in the loft would support a heavier covering, but I wouldn't bet on it.
I'd guess you should negotiate a discount of not less than £20k or a retention of £40k for three years or until the roof is done if earlier. But get an expert's costings...

Welsh Girl said...

The Barrister - I ended up by getting two different builders to come and look at it, both of whom are familiar with the roofing system. They both confirmed that the strusses are strong enough for slate (phew!) and that there was no problem with the roof but I did get the price amended a little and get costs on what it will cost to reroof when it has to be done. I'm back on track for now! Thanks though. I really appreciate the help.

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