Principal: Steve Butler MRICS Chartered Surveyor
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Lichfield RICS Surveyors report on major structural failures of a house built on an in-filled quarry
Typical late 1960's semi detached house of brick and concrete tile construction.
The purchaser discovered this large crack across the lounge floor when replacing the carpet. An engineer had suggested that the floor might have fractured due to sulphates in the hardcore attacking the concrete but sulphate attack tends to manifest as small humps and a chemical analysis of the hardcore proved negative for sulphates.
Neither the purchaser, mortgage surveyor or engineer appeared to have noticed this buckled window with fracture at the top. No mention made when the instruction was received to look at the floor. Whilst the mortgage surveyor might not have been expected to notice the crack in the floor they would certainly have been expected to seek further investigation of the buckled window opening.
In addition to the out of square rear bedroom window opening there was evidence of patchy repointing on the rear elevation. It would be most unusual to have a repoint a house of this age due to general weathering of the pointing.
A shallow and thus weak section of brickwork has also snapped above the bathroom window opening.
Movement of the rear bedroom wall corresponding to the patch repoitning of the exterior. There is no evidence that the fracture has re-opened.
Similar repair above.
Movement of the interior of the bathroom wall.
Different pointing on the front of the property below the window was thought not to be related to the matter. It was thought that the brickwork was a replacement for a timber panel or much deeper window opening.
A raised floor in the under stairs cupboard was initially thought to be a clue but turned out to be a quirk as the attached property had a similar floor. Most interestingly there was no evidence of any movement of the attached properties walls or floors.
Movement above the lounge window. It was unclear if this was related or due to minor movement of the foundation probably at the time of construction manifesting as a crack in the relatively weak section of the brickwork between the two front window openings.
Unusual movement in that the the top or bottom of the chamber had twisted horizontally in relation to each other. The channel was also blocked although thought to be unrelated.
Investigation of the old OS sheets showed the estate of houses was built in the late sixties on what had been an active sand quarry until after WWII. The house was either built on sand or material that had been used to fill the sand quarry in the fifties or even sixties. It was considered most likely that the water had escape from the drains undermining the rear wall of the property and floor.
The purchaser sold the property at a £20,0000 loss to a cash purchaser. This is an excellent example of why you should have a RICS Homebuyers survey or Building survey and not reply on a mortgage valuation.