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Property Record

Sunken drain raises eyebrows of a Somerset Surveyor

A collapsed drain beneath a bungalow in the Somerset village of Phillip St Norton had already caused significant damage, said a Chartered Surveyor. But his greatest concern was that the movement was ongoing.

Cracks tell an unstable tale, says Surveyor

The Home Buyers Survey in Somerset reported that cracks were evident running on a single trajectory between the front and back doors of the house.  

When he traced this course, the Surveyor noted that the cracks lay in line with two manholes; one at the front and one at the back of the property.

The Surveyor deduced that the cracks were due to the collapse of the drain that connected the two manholes and ran beneath the home.

This had caused significant damage:

  • A brick pillar had shifted so much that it was hanging half off the concrete step it was built on. This represented a shift of some three inches.
  • There were cracks running through much of the interior plasterwork.
  • Exterior cavity walls showed signs of bowing, warping and cracking.
  • The flooring in the kitchen had shifted away from the wall by nearly one inch.

The severity of the movement could mean the buyer would be unable to obtain building insurance.

"Movement may be progressive", says Building Surveyor

The Home Buyers Survey said:

“There is a possibility that the movement may be progressive. Consequently, we would recommend that a Structural Engineer is instructed to carry out inspection of the property and ascertain the nature and the cost of undertaking remedial work to repair the damage caused and to prevent further movement. However, until the kitchen floor is lifted it may not be possible to determine the extent of the failure. ”

This did not bode well for a smooth transition of title. The buyer would have been wise to:

  • Obtain quotes for repairs and then negotiate for the seller to contribute to their cost.
  • Obtain quotes for repairs and then negotiate for the seller to reduce the price of the property.
  • Reconsider the purchase altogether.

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