Review of the purchase of an
underpinned property
for a Polish couple's first UK home


Today we met a Polish couple who were buying their first property in the UK and to some extent were slightly mystified by the process as it was very different to what they had experienced in Poland .

Interestingly the couple commented that they both worked in London but couldn't afford properties in London so had looked at the outer suburbs to buy a property as they would get a lot more for their money. Equally they commented that in Poland you would be able to get a mansion for that amount of money. It always intrigues us as to how location affects value.


Structural problems / Underpinning

The reason why we were called in with regard to this property is because it had had structural problems in the form of cracking both internally and externally, which had resulted in it being underpinned. Underpinning means a foundation is put under the original foundation. We had been asked to comment on the underpinning, the initial structural problems and also how this would affect value and what they should offer on the property?



Underpinning defined

This is where a foundation is put under the original foundation to help support the building.



How properties are valued and how structural problems affect value

Residential properties are valued on what is known as a comparable basis. This is effectively comparing properties of a similar nature with each other to work out the value, which is known as the open market value.

It can always be argued that all properties are unique and the skill of a regulated valuer is to identify the positive and negative attributes and a professional opinion of the value.


However, we would say in more recent times that Chartered Surveyors working either directly for banks, building societies or mortgage lenders or those that are on banks, building societies or mortgage lenders panels will value based upon what mortgage should be lent rather than what the open market value is and as such the price that you offer is the price that the buildings are valued at in 99.9 times out of 100.

Structural problems or building problems

The problem with this type of valuation occurs where structural problems are present is that you have to allow for how they affect value. There are several difficulties:-

1.  A valuer may not notice the problem and as such doesn't assess for the factor at all.

2. The valuer may see the problem but not understand how to solve it or indeed have ideas of how to solve it which aren't appropriate for that age, type and style of building.

3. The cost of a repair is different to the value of a repair and as such the cost of putting a structural problem right can be far different to the value.

In our experience, approximately ten to twenty percent, possibly up to thirty percent is reduced from the value of a property that has had structural problems even where underpinning has taken place. The percentage value depends upon how the housing market is, which in a booming market/upward market tends to be towards ten percent or possibly even five percent. In a recession or reducing downward house price market then the percentage discount gets towards twenty to thirty percent.

Certificate of Structural Adequacy

In our experience a Certificate of Structural Adequacy may or may not help with how the value is affected as generally we feel that people do not wish to buy a problem property and this includes a property that has had structural problems, even if they have been repaired.


Seventy percent of people would not buy a property with any structural problems whatever the price

We believe that approximately seventy percent of people would not buy a property that has had structural problems even if they have been repaired and even if a Certificate of Structural Adequacy is available and even if that Certificate of Structural Adequacy had been double checked as being correct by an independent chartered building surveyor.

As such we would always recommend for strong negotiations if you are buying a property that has had structural problems and expect reductions in the range of typically ten to twenty percent.

Client feedback on survey report

In this case, the client spoke to the surveyor several times with regards to the Certificate of Structural Adequacy and other items within the report to fully understand the implications of buying an underpinned house. We gave the client a courtesy call a couple of weeks later to check they were happy with our service where they said that they were delighted with the service and wouldn't hesitate to use us again.


Halo! Jak mozemy Ci pomóc ?

If you call our office we may even be able to practice a few words of Polish with you, however we must say that our surveying is far better than our Polish!

Independent advice from an independent surveyor

If you are buying a home our surveyors can provide help and advice with regard to building surveys, structural surveys, structural reports, independent valuations, property surveys, engineers reports, specific defects report, home buyers reports or any other property matters . We can even meet you at the property whilst the survey is being carried out and we can send you examples of our survey reports.

For further information please free phone 0800 298 5424.