So I’ve had my structural survey back- help! Is it as bad as I think?

Hi all,

Before I start- Marc, I’ve emailed a copy of the report to you, please take a look and see what you think- if anyone else on here would like a copy to help me out do let me know.

So as I’ve mentioned in a number of my previous posts, I’ve had my offer accepted on a BISF house in Wantage, Oxfordshire. It is in pretty sorry looking state and has literally not been touched internally or externally since first constructed. Now I knew as a result of this it would need some work, but I was hoping most of it was cosmetic and the only major job that would need doing would be the roof- but I was hoping this would still last at least 6-12 months to allow me to release the funds by increasing the mortgage.

So anyway the report is back, and what I would like is someone with a little more knowledge to help give me confidence or tell me to walk away.

There are 2 main things that are my concern;

1) the surveyor was able to remove some loose render in one of the corners of the house which revealed some rust on the sanction. Now the report does say that it did not appear to be degraded much but obviously would recommend full invasive investigation.

So on this point- I understand any soft of rust on the sanctions is not good- but is it something that can take a good few years to get to be a big mahout structural issue? Or once it’s there should immediately be replaced and sorted? (Can ANYONE tell me roughly the cost to get a sanction cut out and replaced?! Surely someone has had it done!?)

2) The roof, I new this would need replacing, but hoped it has a good year or two left in it, however the surveyor describes it as brittle and pourus- and the lean to which shares the same time of roofing (asbestos cement) has actually already got a hole in it). Now on moving in my immediate attention was to be sorting out the interior whilst I wait until I can borrow more money from my mortgage- however if the roof is pourus- is this likely to mean that a) it’s basically leaking so any work I do internally could be ruined quickly? Or is it Infact liveable in this state for a while longer?

I would really appreciate some input before Monday so I know whether to commit to the sale or not!

many thanks



  1. Hello Grangey
    Thank you for sending me a copy of your survey, it does appear to have raised a number of significant and potentially costly issues with the property in question.
    I am glad that you have chosen a surveyor who is obviously very well versed and familiar with BISF construction, which is rare but reassuring.

    In a typical survey the potential buyer may come across one or two major issues but in this case your chosen property looks to be suffering from all of the most common problems at once. This appears to be the result of the property being in almost 100% original condition and having undergone little or no maintenance or improvement in its lifetime.

    As you already know, maintenance is critical for prolonging the longevity of a BISF house. If a problem occurs and is not remedied, it can quickly lead to damage of other components most often caused by water or moisture entry. It is clear from the survey and from the images supplied that this property has received little or no maintenance during the last 65 years or so.

    There is one comment made by the surveyor of the property that stands out to me:

    “In its current condition, and particularly with the asbestos roof, there are heavy restrictions on lending by financial institutions. It is therefore important to improve its market credibility by carrying out refurbishment so that an improvement in its “mortgageability” will be achieved.
    Builders’ estimates must be obtained prior to establishing a legal commitment to purchase”.

    The surveyor does not say if the roof needs to be replaced prior to the sale or as a condition of the mortgage which does sometimes happen.

    The upside to the survey is that due to the number of problems found, it can be a valuable bargaining tool for reducing the price of your offer considerably and I would not hesitate to do so should you wish to continue with the purchase.
    Remember that many BISF houses were purchased under Margaret Thatchers right to buy scheme which entitled long term Council tenants to considerable discounts when buying their home. In many cases we have heard of properties being purchased for as low as £5k-£40k but much depended on the locality with London homes costing more, so finding out the price the previous owners paid would be a good start. You may even find the price from websites such a Mouseprice etc.

    Let us take a rough look at these potential repair costs. Obviously you would need to obtain professional quotes but for our purposes I will make a conservative guesstimate:

    Roof including firewall modifications £5000 – £7000 That’s if Metrotile is used but there are cheaper non tile style roofing sheets that could be applied.
    Stanchion repair – £2000 – £8k depending on spread of corrosion but could be more if other stanchions are affected.
    Replacement render – £500 – £2000 + depending if patched or replaced.
    Replacement heating and flue although I think the flue should be ok and may only need a new liner. – £2.500 – £3.500.
    Replacement windows and doors (I would class this as essential because without, the house will be much colder as according to the survey some cannot be fully closed. – £2000 – £3.500.
    Paint and corrosion repair to eaves and steel cladding. £2000-£3000

    These are very rough guides and the costs could well be lower or much higher depending on the companies you use. I would prefer to expect costs to be higher to avoid unexpected surprises plus London costs can be considerably higher than the National average.
    That would mean basic repair costs in the region of £25.000-£30.000 and does NOT include other work such as replacement bathrooms, outhouse roof repair, Kitchen replacement, flooring, extra insulation throughout house, or replacement guttering and downpipes mentioned in the survey etc.
    Even more worrying is the mention that damage has occurred to the concrete foundation plinth. This alone could be a relatively cheap repair or an explosion in cost. It would require a specialist Builder and even though this not being a case of true “Underpinning” like a brick house, costs can easily reach eye watering levels when this type of work is undertaken. At least in this case damage has not been caused by subsidence but rather expansion of corroded anchor bolts and so should not affect a future sale of the property.
    Understand though, that I have no experience in this type of foundation repair and I am only guessing what the cost may be but it is better to expect costs to be higher rather than lower and allows one to budget accordingly.

    Personally I think that unless you are able to further negotiate a considerable reduction in the asking price then it may be advisable to walk away from this one. There are far better examples to be found that would not need such a substantial cash investment to bring it up to standard. Just imagine what you could do with £30.000 inside a house that didn’t need so much spending on the structure or exterior. That £30k could be a new Kitchen & Bathroom, new floor coverings,new suite, etc and my estimate for repairs is far more likely to be lower than the actual costs as building material sand labour costs have risen sharply in the last few years.
    Further, if you are able to negotiate a substantial discount you will find that lenders will be more willing to lend as the LTV (Loan To Value) amount would be lower and less of a risk.
    You need to decide sooner rather than later as based on the survey you have I would expect a potential lender may request a full intrusive structural survey which will add to your costs should you go ahead with the purchase or not.

    What are your initial gut feelings?