We found a sink hole when providing a building survey for our customer



Hi, Joe Arnold here from Arnold & Baldwin. I just wanted to share with you what's happened today, it's been a bit surreal really. 

So I’ve had a customer who's been referred to me by their solicitor, they've had a mortgage valuation done, the mortgage offer is out and the solicitor said “look you know you need to get a survey done really on this property, don't just rely on a mortgage valuation, it's for your lender it's not for you”. 

Good job they did, they're buying the property for £465,000 and the mortgage valuation came back fine and the funds are on their way to the solicitor, but I've just been out and there's some massive cracks to the sidewall that the mortgage valuer just wasn't seen and I started to think, not sure what's causing these cracks and the property is on London clay and London clay is susceptible to movement anyway.

There's two large trees, one at the front, one at the back. One was in the council pavement and the other one was in the neighbour's garden at the back so that's going to be quite complex to get an arboriculturalist to have a look at that to see how to implement any repairs, but that's what the solicitor is there for. 

Then the owner came home and I said to the owner “there are cracks at the side of the building, are you aware of what's happened?” and they said “oh I know, they were there when I bought the property.” I said “okay” and she said “but is it anything to do with what the council have been doing in the pavement over there” and she pointed down at the floor at the fresh tarmac. I said “what have they been up to?” “Oh, they've been filling in a sinkhole, there’s a massive sinkhole under the property, they say it's fixed now.” 

This fresh tarmac was right next to this crack and the mortgage offers out and the mortgage valuation has obviously been done. Thank goodness that they instructed us to do a home buyer survey as there's nothing on Google and there's nothing on any social media anywhere about this sinkhole popping up.

Thankfully, we've now been able to help our customer, we can get a structural engineer to have a look at the defects, we can get the documentation from the local authority to see what's happened but in all honesty the customer has decided that she's just not happy to take on the risk anymore.

We have said to her “that we really think you should get the structural engineers report undertaken, we can advise the estate agent that this is a problem which comes with the property so really it should be the vendor that pays for this survey, because you know, if you pull out then the next buyers will only have the same problem.” But she's a little bit worried at the minute so we're working with the estate agent, we don't want to rock the boat so it's important that we help our buyer but equally the homeowner has got an issue there that we’ve highlighted, so we do feel a little bit of, I suppose, a social responsibility to them. 

But yeah, it just again shows you the importance of getting yourself a proper survey done from an RICS surveyor, to do a homebuyer survey or a building survey and to remember that the mortgage valuation is not for you, it's for the lender to decide how much money they want to lend against that asset.

Anyway, there you go, enjoy your day.

Joe Arnold from Arnold & Baldwin Chartered Surveyors.

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Joe Arnold

Joe is the guiding force behind Arnold & Baldwin and has overall responsibility for all commercial and residential surveys and valuations. Passionate about delivering the highest quality products at the fairest prices possible, he has been consistently searching for new and innovative client-focused services since founding the company with Jobie in 2007

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