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How a landlord identified an opportunity when others could only see problems

For the structural engineers among us this photo of the “modified” roof trusses will create mild panic. For the rest of us it probably looks like nothing short of problems so avoid it at all costs!

Well, that’s not what one of our landlord clients did. They saw it as an opportunity.

Indeed, those trusses are potentially a problem and a structural engineer’s definition of a nightmare. So what is the opportunity I hear you ask?

Well, our client was looking to add to their rental portfolio, found this property that had been on the market for a while, was vacant and ticked many of the boxes on their buy to let criteria, such as location, size, outside space etc. But (yes there is always a but) what was going on with those roof trusses and where to start finding out if it was an issue?

Not sure where to turn they called Neil at Property Partners and after a quick discussion and some online investigations by Neil  (isn’t google street view brilliant!) Plus reviewing the home report, the local authority planning portal and his trusty structural engineer’s pocketbook  (surely everyone has one of those right?), a plan was made.

Interestingly the seller’s solicitor was adamant we weren’t allowed to contact the local authority’s building control department about the property – sounds like another problem? To mitigate this Neil had a chat with one of his structural engineer contacts.

The plan was to view the property with the landlord and Neil would survey the roof space to obtain all the necessary timber sizes, spacing, fixings, plus identify any load-bearing walls below and take photos. This would then be passed to the structural engineer to review and determine if the current structure was sound, i.e. not a problem after all, or what would likely be required to make it sound.

The structural engineer could indeed have visited the property to complete the survey, although the location and timescales meant that wouldn’t be the most cost-effective or efficient option for the landlord, whereas Neil could assess the details of the “potential” problem and also offer his opinion on the property as a rental prospect at the same time.

With the plan sorted, the site survey took place with the current owner present, which was another story in itself but we will leave that for another day – more problems I hear you cry? It turns out he had previously attempted to create an additional first-floor area in this bungalow so in effect had cut out sections of the original roof trusses and come up with his own “structural” solution, but alas the new first floor was never completed, nor any design or local authority approvals put in place. Not to mention the fact that there was insufficient headroom for a first-floor.

What was the outcome of the survey and engineers findings? In short, the most cost-effective and straightforward solution was to reinstate the removed sections of the roof trusses and certify accordingly. Trying to calculate the performance of what had been done and then make it compliant didn’t seem to justify the costs involved. Often the simple solution is the best. It also allowed for a building warrant to be obtained and signed off by the local authority, removing any potential re-mortgaging or re-sale issues in the future.

With this information in hand, along with some indication from Neil on the likely costs to obtain a building warrant and reinstate the timber trusses, the landlord was able to reflect this in his offer to the seller, comfortable in the knowledge that the “problem” could be mitigated and at what cost. Yes, to get to that position has incurred a small cost but the value of the process is clear.

Fast forward to today, the landlord has successfully purchased the property, the structural engineer has now visited the property, provided their design and certification and Property Partners in house team have completed the building warrant drawings and application to secure the local authority approval to complete the remedial works, with that all-important completion certificate on completion.

The end result being, the seller has resolved his problem of getting his property sold, the landlord has secured a new property for his portfolio at the correct purchase price with no surprise problems and another local property is brought back into use.

What’s not to like with that outcome and it is all part of the SERVICE here at Property Partners!

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