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Identification Two different survey build types given. Please help identifying?

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Topic starter
20210703 193330

Hi everyone,

 

I hope you can help identify the construction type of this property, please? (I have attached a photo) Halifax are refusing to mortgage the property due to its reported wall construction. 

 

I know that the property was built in the late ’50s, I believe by the GLA but I am not certain on this. The property is situated in, Edenbridge, Kent within an ex-social housing estate. 

 

From my own layman terms, it appears to be concrete tile cladding, with a timber frame that only contains soft fibre glass style insulation within the timber frame and then internal walls. 

 

The property was purchased in 2018 and the Halifax valuation report stated the wall construction to be - “cross wall construction” this was obviously deemed okay to Halifax. We are now in the process of selling and the valuation reported stated the construction to be, “timber-framed” and from what I have read on the Halifax website they do not lend on properties that are timber-framed and contain insulation only without concrete or masonry?

 

I don’t want Halifax to take me for a ride as I feel we may have been misled. 

 

Thanks for all your help.

20210703 193330
20210703 193330

Hi @joeys20,

Is there any chance you can access the loft space and take a couple of images of the adjoining/party walls?

I could do with seeing the the internal structure and wall construction before providing a comment.

I do suspect the property to be crosswall and I'm also aware that many of the houses nearby have had their front and rear elevations clad in a wide variety of materials.

Unfortunately all former local authority built housing tock in this area was transferred over to the West Kent Housing Association who are not covered under the freedom of information act. If they were still under council control we could have requested the construction details under a FOI request.

West Kent Housing Association may still be willing to help in the identification but they are under no obligation to do so. 

They can be contacted at at West Kent Housing Association. 101 London Road, Sevenoaks, Kent. TN13 1AX

Telephone 01732 749400

E-mail enquiries@wkha.org.uk
Website www.westkent.org

From experience though, most housing associations don't like to release any information if they don't have to but it might still be worth a shot.

Halifax are often quite reluctant to lend against crosswall properties and their underwriting process changed several years ago, but they still state that they will judge each application on it's own merits. I have known some crosswall properties to go through without a hitch whilst others have been more troublesome, usually due to incorrect surveyors comments.

A roof space photograph should help us to clarify the construction type. I fully expect the roof construction to be timber and possibly even the internal framework and floor joists etc. What I'm hoping to see is a concrete or brick party wall where the gable ends would be in a non terraced property.

I look forward to your reply.

3 Answers
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Topic starter

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly!

 

Here is a picture of the loft space and it appears as you imagined. Brick work at the gable and wooden joists.

20210704 170333

You are also correct about the external cladding. Most appear to be either wood panels or concrete tiles.

What alarms me is that you said Halifax's policy/underwriting changed a few years ago regarding their policy on these builds? Do you know roughly when?

 

Thanks again for your help with this and look forward to hearing from you

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Hi Joeys20,

Here's a brief rundown of Halifax's recent history. (source)

In 1986, new legislation allowed building societies to increase their range of financial services. The Halifax steadily diversified into personal banking, stock broking, insurance and estate agency.

The 1990s saw a period of mergers and acquisitions. The most notable of these were the 1995 merger with the Leeds Permanent Building Society, and the acquisition of Clerical Medical the following year.

February 1997 marked a turning point in the history of the Halifax. Its members voted overwhelmingly in favour of conversion to plc status. The subsequent flotation on 2nd June was the largest the Stock Market had seen; some 7.5 million shareholders were created at a stroke.

A further acquisition was made in 1999 with Birmingham Midshires. Then, in September 2001, the Halifax merged with Bank of Scotland to form HBOS plc.

In January 2009, following unprecedented turbulence in the global banking market, HBOS plc was acquired by Lloyds TSB.

The new company, Lloyds Banking Group plc, immediately became the largest retail bank in the UK.

It was around 4-5 years ago that I last spoke directly to Halifax's underwriters due to a sudden rise in complaints I had received from members, who had experienced issues with Halifax, in relation to non-standard mortgages applications. At that time, Halifax informed me that they were now part of the Lloyds banking group and unfortunately Lloyds had a far more cautious approach toward Non-traditional lending. I have no doubt that the 2008 global market crash played a big part in this decision.

Moving forward to the present, I must say that I no longer receive many complaints against Halifax but when I do, it's usually because a surveyor has wrongly classified a property. This could well be the case in your situation.

You stated that the property has been described as timber framed. I have my reservations about this claim but I do note the lack of visible vertical support columns between the properties that are often present in many (but certainly not all) crosswall buildings. So at the moment, we can't rule this out entirely.

I believe your house is a crosswall, having rigid concrete/block outer walls between which timber or steel joists provide lateral support, with the front and rear outer walls constructed from timber framework onto which a variety of finishes can be hung. If the floor support turned out to be of concrete construction, this would suggest a Bison build but as the surveyor believes the property contains a considerable amount of timber, I doubt this is so in your case.

There were a limited number of timber framed crosswall properties built in the UK but personally I have not yet viewed or inspected one of these myself and as such, this puts me at a disadvantage here.

From your latest image, it's clear that there is block work present at the party wall in the loft. In most crosswall buildings I would expect to see either block or concrete panels here. We now need to check that this blockwork continues down through the various levels of the house, in order to rule out the chance that the blockwork we see, may simply be a firestop wall, built in the loft-space to prevent fire from spreading into adjoining properties. All you need to do is tap the inner party walls at the ground and first floor levels to determine if they are solid or not. If they are solid there should be a definite sound difference between these walls and the front and rear walls, but remember that the side walls may sound a little hollow if timber studs have been affixed to the blockwork to accommodate drywall linings(plasterboard).

This is of course quite a crude method of testing but without being there myself or reading the surveyors report, I don't have much more to go on at this time.

I'll also add a short txt extract below from the BRE in relation to cross-wall properties which you may find interesting.

Meanwhile, the NBA pressed ahead with the appraisal of other proposals for two and three storey houses, paying particular regard to modular co-ordination and the use of preferred plans. By 1968 it had issued certificates for 42 systems, and another 34 were undergoing appraisal. Of these, 24 utilised precast concrete, 4 in-situ concrete, 23 were timber framed, 10 were steel framed, and the remaining 15 were of ‘rationalised traditional’ construction.

This last category was a comparatively recent arrival. As the name suggests, systems of this type used traditional masonry cross-walls to support timber floors and roofs: the factory-made timber framed infill panels at front and rear were non-loadbearing.

Such house types are therefore outside the scope of this book, but a list of known rationalised traditional (or ‘Rat-Trad’) systems is included in Appendix C.

Confusingly, some precast concrete, in-situ concrete or timber frame crosswall systems offered traditional masonry as an alternative, so the name alone will not necessarily provide identification of the structural system employed.
The common factor in most approved systems was the wide range of claddings avail- able. Walls might be of brick, tile-hung or boarded: roofs could be gabled, monopitch or flat. This diversity was deliberately encouraged by the NBA: they saw a range of choice in terms of appearance as the best way of extending the use of non-traditional construction into the private sector. However, with the exception of most of the heavy concrete systems, this can make
visual identification very difficult: the same house type can appear in a New Town with a flat roof and simple lightweight cladding, and on a private estate with a pitched roof and a proliferation of brick and tile finishes

As yet, I haven't been able to visibly match your house up to any one particular named system. This is partly due to the huge variety of external designs that were used by various manufacturers.

If you have digital copies of either or both of the surveys, you could always send then to me in confidence at admin@bisfhouse.comand I will take a look at the surveyors comments.

I hope this helps

Marc 

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Topic starter

Hi Marc,

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

The inner party walls are definitely solid. It appears many of the internal walls between rooms are solid also. 

So in your experience, you don't think anything has changed in the past 3-4 years with Halifax policy surrounding these sort of builds?

There is no point in sending you the valuation reports as it is so vague. I suspect Halifax have more information than me. It literally states this:

Posted by: @joeys20

The property was purchased in 2018 and the Halifax valuation report stated the wall construction to be - “cross wall construction” this was obviously deemed okay to Halifax. We are now in the process of selling and the valuation reported stated the construction to be, “timber-framed”

I took your advice and contacted WKHA and they didn't provide me with any information as you guessed.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Joe

 

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