18 Jan Intriguing level 3 building survey of ‘self-build’ property in central Bristol
The property in question was a central Bristol ‘self-build’ by a sole developer. It made use of a small space between two houses, previously taken up with the garage of a house on the road behind. It was a small plot, being just over 5 metres wide, and situated on a steep hillside. However, the developer was sensitive in their design. They built the four-storey property so that it followed the slope of the hill, which meant that it did not overshadow adjacent properties
Although the property did not have any garden, each storey had a flat roof; the first of which was made into a balcony, with the other three covered in sedum/grass to ensure that the naturalistic look of the area was maintained.
The property was constructed using an insulated concrete framework, consisting of a series of preformed polystyrene blocks encapsulating steel-reinforced site-poured in-situ cast concrete, faced externally with a painted render surface. This meant that it was categorised as a property built using ‘Modern Methods of Construction’ (MMC)
Overall, the property was in very good condition, but there were several considerations that our building surveyor brought to our clients’ attention.
Considerations when buying an MMC property
The approach of mortgage lenders to MMCs varies, but it is possible that mortgage availability for the property would be limited. If restrictions were imposed upon the property by a lender, this could make re-mortgaging in the future more difficult, and may restrict the extent of mortgage products available to the client and any prospective future purchasers.
It is also possible that buildings insurance may be more difficult to obtain, and the buyer should ensure that appropriate cover will be available for the property.
The property surveyed was built using pre-formed blocks and in-situ cast concrete. Cast concrete structures of this nature require specialist structural design and construction following manufacturers guidance. As with any specialist construction methods and materials, the buyer should obtain all formal designs for the installation along with associated guarantees and/or warranties.
The buyer’s Legal Advisor should confirm that any balance of new build warranties can be transferred to the new owners, along with associated collateral warranties, material warranties, Professional Consultants certificates and Completion Certificates. For example, they should check that all local authority approvals were obtained, works were done in accordance with the submitted drawings, and in accordance with building regulations, and that all relevant professional/consultants certificates were obtained, including Designers Completion Certification and Collateral Warranties. They should also check that a Practical Completion Certificate (PCC) is in place, together with a Making Good of Defects Certificate.