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How To Sell a House With Structural Issues

Do you wish to sell a house with structural issues?

In this article, we’ll explore different types of structural problems, different types of non-standard construction builds and how this can affect the saleability of any property.  We’ll also cover how to sell your property with structural issues.

Table of Contents

What are structural problems?

In layman’s terms, structural problems can be any issues that impact the overall structural integrity of a dwelling.

These issues can be from design flaws, sub-standard building materials, shoddy construction work, or structural faults that have surfaced over time.

Over time, several structural issues can cause major concern for the homeowners, particularly if the property wasn’t lived in.  There’s the uncertainty of how much will cost to rectify.  If structural problems are severe, the only option left is demolition. 

Find out our tried and tested best way to sell your house.

serious structural issues require underpinning
If a house has serious structural issues with foundations then it will require underpinning to support its structural integrity. The cost can be easily in five figures.

What are different types of structural problems?

Structural problems can come in many forms with varying levels of severity. Most common types of structural problems found in houses include subsidence, heave, and movement.  Structural damage can include:

  • Subsidence is a particularly common structural problem and is often the subject of insurance claims. 
  • Minor cases of subsidence, also known as settlement, are typically less severe, while major cases can be a serious structural issue. Subsidence can be caused by a variety of factors, such as ground conditions and geological problems, clay shrinkage, the removal of moisture from the ground by trees, water leaks, erosion, and mining subsidence in former mining areas.
  • Heave is the opposite of subsidence and occurs when the ground rises instead of sinking. Like subsidence, heave can also be a structural issue.

To address subsidence, it is important to first identify and address the root cause. Then, the damage caused by the subsidence must be repaired. In some severe cases, a house may require underpinning of its foundation to stabilise it.

Deep crack in a brick wall means structural issues
Deep crack in walls are early signs of structural issues that will need to be addressed.

Structural Problems with Houses of Non Standard Constructions

In addition to subsidence and heave, non-standard construction homes are considered structurally defective.  These include:

  • Timber-framed buildings
  • Thatched buildings
  • Cob or mud-walled buildings
  • Buildings made with asbestos or corrugated iron
  • Concrete frame or panel houses
  • System-built houses

In addition to this, the type of materials used can be considered to be dangerous.  One example is the wide use of Asbestos as an insulation or a fire barrier material.

Damp can be considered a structural problem, depending on its cause. In some cases, structural problems can lead to damp.

Dry and wet rot are common structural issues caused by damp conditions that allow the fungus to spread rapidly.

Flat roofs can be considered a structural problem if they leak or have been poorly constructed.

Invasive weeds such as Japanese Knotweed can also cause structural damage to property.  Often, Japanese Knotweed or JK can be spread from neighbouring properties.

Woodworms are tiny wood-boring insects that can destroy the structural strength of the timber used in roofs, walls, and floors. Furniture Beetle is a common type of woodworm. 

selling a house with subsidence.
Homes in old mining areas are likely to suffer with subsidence as the ground settles. This can be very expensive to rectify and difficult to insure in future.

How to spot structural problems?

There are several ways to spot structural issues within a home, including:

  1. Leaning Walls: Walls should be vertical. If they’re not, this can signify a structural problem with the wall itself or its foundations.
  2. Bulging Walls: Walls that bulge, even if the wall itself is vertical, can indicate a defect within the wall.
  3. Uneven, Bouncy or Springy Floors: This may indicate problems with the floorboards or joists and could be a sign of dry or wet rot.
  4. Sticking Doors or Sticking Windows: This can indicate movement in the house and could be an early warning sign of subsidence.
  5. Cracks: Cracks appearing in plaster, brickwork, stonework, and concrete may be superficial and just due to settlement, or they may be serious and indicate issues such as damp or subsidence. Cracks above a door or window could indicate a failed lintel, missing lintel, or other structural issues.
  6. Smells: Unpleasant smells can be a symptom of damp, dry or wet rot.
  7. Roof Spread or a Bowed Roof: This can indicate that the roof timbers are moving outwards, possibly because they are not strong enough to support the weight of the tiles.  This can also be caused by spray foam insulation.

How to diagnose a structural problem?

It can be difficult to identify structural problems on your own.  It is best to get advice from a trusted builder and then instruct a structural engineer from The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) if a formal report is necessary.  Their website can help you find a surveyor in your area.

It is highly likely that a professional surveyor will recommend structural testing, such as digging holes to check the foundation and to monitor the problem over several years.  He/she can also provide an indicative cost for repairs. But what happens if you need to sell now?

Can you make a claim against your insurance company?

You absolutely can.  However, as with most insurance companies it depends on wording of your policy and their exclusion rules.

Structural issues are one of the main reasons for disputes between the insurers and home owners often resulting in a referral to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Your insurance company’s surveyor is going to act in their client’s best interest to deny your claim.  The list of excuses can include:

  • Lack of maintenance by you
  • Subsidence may not be covered under your policy
  • Problem existed prior to you purchasing the policy
  • It is settlement and not subsidence.
It can be a real battle trying to get insurance companies to accept liability.  It can be a very stressful experience.  Even if you are successful, they would want you to pay £1,000 excess to cover the cost of any repairs.  You might wish to consider hiring a loss assessor to help with your claim.

How to Sell a House with Structural Issues

If need to sell a home with structural issues, it is best to sell to a cash buyer such as Property Saviour.  We’ll save you the hassle of putting up property for sale with an agent. 

There are no fees to pay.  We’ll buy your house for cash.  We will also pay you £1,500 towards your legal fees, and the whole transaction can be completed within a couple of weeks. Why not get in touch with us now?

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