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Selling a Concrete House

filed under: How to sell a house fast

If you’ve tried selling a concrete house through an estate agent, you might have found that sales fall through due to mortgage companies not being prepared to lend on the property. These types of houses are sometimes called Cornish houses.

In this article in how to sell a concreate house we look at:

  • Why concrete construction houses are difficult to sell 
  • How to sell a concrete construction house for a good price
  • Who might buy a concrete house
  • Types of concrete houses
  • A summary of other types of non-standard construction houses 

So, what is a concrete house and why are they a struggle to sell?

Demand for non-standard modern construction homes is usually limited, as many people are now aware of the difficulties associated with their ownership.

Concrete systems can be classified as being precast reinforced concrete construction, or cast in-situ concrete construction. Precast reinforced concrete systems were manufactured off-site, and slotted together on-site, while cast-in-situ concrete systems were poured on-site into a timber ‘formwork’ called shuttering.

Concrete system-built houses can be hard to identify. 

Many have been refurbished, with rendered finishes, new roofs and replacement windows, masking the characteristics of the original building. Chimney stacks built of concrete blocks sometimes are an indication that the house may be of concrete construction.

Post 2nd world war, concrete houses were built to cater to the sudden demand in housing. The most common type of concrete housing was Pre-Cast Reinforced Concrete.

They were easy to assemble and build. They were cheap and therefore affordable to many. Many of the PRC properties were originally built as local authority or council housing, over the years many have been purchased privately.

The houses were typically clad in brick or timber. Sometimes, party walls were of brick (called cross wall construction), with the frame forming the front and rear elevations.

The walls were pre-made in a factory with steel rods (also known as prefabricated), this kept the costs down as bricklaying was a longer more expensive process. Later it was discovered that the rods inside were prone to rust. The reduction in strength of the rods made buyers nervous, and people became extra cautious when purchasing these types of properties. In turn, mortgage lenders now feel the risks are sometimes too much to consider pursuing a purchase on a concrete construction property.

Defects are, perhaps unsurprisingly, typically related to moisture and consequent timber decay. Moisture ingress can result from impaired weather-tightness. 

Condensation also poses a risk. A vapour check should be fitted behind the internal decorative finish of the walls, but in many cases, the vapour check has been found to be poorly fitted, or subsequently inadvertently damaged by the homeowner.

Likewise, fully insulated cavities can result in a build-up of moisture within the wall. A further area of concern in brick-clad examples is differential movement between the timber frame and brickwork, resulting in cracking and sometimes bowing of the brick’s outer skin.

Other types of Concrete Houses

Concrete houses are either cast on-site or prefabricated/precast. There are many types representing many different manufacturers. Some of the names of the building companies and types include: Airey, Bison, Cornish, Corvus, Cruden, Dorran, Kencast, Wimpey No Fines, Reema Hollow Form Houses, BISF, Laing Easy Form, among others.

Timber and timber-framed homes

Timber-framed buildings in their various forms may be considered a risk due to the fact they have little or no foundations. They may also present more of a fire risk than standard buildings and would be more affected in the event of flooding.

Asbestos Construction

Asbestos was used in building construction until around 1970, including in concrete cladding and panels for the walls, ceilings and roof tiles of some houses.

Asbestos homes aren’t considered a risk to occupants unless they are damaged or become damaged.

Nevertheless, some lenders won’t accept houses with certain types of asbestos construction or may ask for a specific asbestos survey in addition to the valuation.

Corrugated iron

Homes with corrugated iron roofs can have issues with corrosion, which can lead to loss of structural strength and integrity. This can lead to them being un-mortgageable or down-valued by the surveyor.

Who might buy a concrete house

If you’re considering selling your concrete construction house, you should be aware that your likely buyers are limited to cash buyers only, even if you already have a mortgage on the property yourself.

Are Concrete Houses Mortgageable?

The ability to raise mortgage finance against a house can be an area of concern for potential buyers of non-traditional homes. Even cash buyers may be worried that the future saleability of their property could be compromised if the property is declined for lending purposes. Each lender has its own specific set of requirements, and there are a number of houses not found on the designated defective list that are still considered unacceptable for loan security. 

Generally speaking, issues of mortgage-ability are likely to be encountered with precast reinforced concrete homes that have not been subject to an approved repair scheme, cast in-situ concrete houses that are badly cracked, timber-framed houses built between 1945 and 1970, and those with fully insulated cavities regardless of age.

Others, such as many steel-framed houses, may be acceptable for loan security – subject to a full building survey. Framed houses have been in existence for many hundreds of years. However, there are a number of specific issues with those constructed in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

This is why a Cash Buyer can take away all the stress involved as they won’t need a bank or mortgage to fund the purchase and therefore survey reports are more likely to be applied just so that the cash buyer knows how much building work will need to be undertaken.

Above is an example of a cross-wall construction: The front and rear elevations are timber-framed and clad in weatherboarding. Structural loads are carried by the brick-built party walls.

Here’s a summary of some of other construction types, for reference:

  • Prefabricated concrete (very common for post-war England)
  • Walls made out of glass
  • Walls constructed of concrete
  • Walls constructed of metal
  • Wooden walls
  • Stramit construction
  • Steel-framed houses
  • Woodwork frames for the house
  • Flint stone walls
  • Wattle and daub construction
  • Corrugated iron walls or frames
  • Asbestos walls

Roof Structure: 

When you look at your roof, there are several different elements that may contribute to make it non-standard construction.

Additionally, some materials like asphalt, concrete, felt and timber, thatches, shingles or glass could be considered non-standard.

Most common non-standard roof options:

  •   Asbestos roofs
  •   Asphalt roofs
  •   Concrete roofs
  •   Steel roofs
  •   Corrugated iron roofs
  •   Felt and timber roofs
  •   Shingles
  •   Thatches
  •   Glass roofs
  •   Stramit roofs 
  •   Plastic roofs
  •   Fibreglass roofs

If you have any of the above, your house would fall into the non-standard category.

Why don’t mortgage companies like to lend on concrete houses?

Mortgage companies need to be sure that they can get their money back after lending money against a property. For this to be a certainty, the history of the house is important to the mortgage companies. The material used to build a house needs to stand the test of time and, when it comes to resale, they need to be sure that surveyors will give the property the all-clear. Unfortunately rusting of the steel rods and degradation of the concrete panels are usually major concerns for mortgage lenders.

A further area of concern in both precast concrete and cast-in-situ systems is the quality of thermal performance, which tends to be poor. A large number of concrete houses have been found to suffer from excessive heat loss, surface condensation leading to mould growth, and rainwater penetration.

How to sell a concrete construction house

There are two main options to whom you might sell this type of property.

  1. Sell to a local Cash Buyer and avoid the need to involve a mortgage company 
  2. Pay to carry out reconstruction work to the property, this will involve removing the concrete panels and converting the property back to traditional brick. As long as there is a PRC certificate, then this will open some possible mortgage lenders to assist in the purchase of the property. This second option is a big building task and takes approx 8-12 weeks. It won’t be habitable during that period. If the foundations need reconstructing than this time frame increases. The cost of the materials and labour, plus the need for new windows could mean this option becomes prohibitive to many.

The majority of sales for concrete construction properties are made to cash buyers. This is a quick and easy option because there is no mortgage lender involved. A local cash buyer who knows your area will take away the hassle of selling this type of property and although you can expect a lower offer from them for the service, the certainty of the sale is one that people find invaluable.

What to do Next

Each property needs to be assessed on an individual basis, taking into account the form of construction, and the risks of any associated defects. If you are considering selling a concrete house or have any further questions, please get in touch with us here at Mark King Properties, we can provide a free inspection and offer on the property. We are a Welsh business with over 20 years of experience in buying all sorts of properties in South Wales. See our reviews here. We would be happy to have a chat with you and help you through the sale process. You can book a call back with us by filling in this simple form, click here to get started.

It doesn’t matter what the house is made of. Regardless of the size, age, condition or content, Mark King provides a quick, private house sale for anyone. 

There are specialist lenders who offer non-standard construction mortgages.

Categorising things into ‘standard’ and ‘non-standard’ is a way for lenders to mitigate their risk. So as a general rule, non-standard properties are considered riskier and thus harder to finance.

But, as you can imagine, non-standard properties are not equally reliable, and every lender tends to have its own criteria, favouring certain non-standard properties over others.

In fact, there are plenty of unusual properties that are, from a structural point of view, just fine. This doesn’t mean, however, that a risk-averse lender will offer you a mortgage for a non-standard construction house if it violates their criteria in some way. You may have to look further. 

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