My lovely girlfriend Claire and I are buying a flat. Its a very nice flat, 3rd floor, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, brand spanking new, and most importantly it has one of the best views you could ask for – looking directly at the World Heritage Site of Liverpool’s Three Graces (Liver Buildings etc.) from the other side of the Mersey.*
Yes, we can see the ferry.
We’re buying it on a shared ownership basis through a housing association, in a first-time-buyer friendly scheme. That means we get a mortgage for 50%, plus pay rent to the housing association. This is a great thing, as otherwise we could only afford to live in a borderline war zone.
Despite only legally owning half we are allowed to treat the flat as our own, so we can decorate it to taste, put a new bathroom in, whatever. It’s a very good scheme.
Anyway, after a delay of a month or so today is the day the building is officially complete. Yay!
Well I say Yay, but at the moment we are feeling a bit more Grrrrrrrrrrrr.
You see yesterday we had a meeting with our solicitor. She was arrogant, dismissive, unorganised, and generally, bloody useless.
We have had some problems getting an Environmental Certificate after one of the searches. This was because some muppets in the map department had plonked two landfill sites several hundred metres north west of their actual location. Guess where this was?
Right under our new flat!
This is bearing in mind our flat is in a Conservation Area, surrounded by Grade II listed buildings, Birkenhead’s beautiful Town Hall, the magistates court, the Italian Consulate, and the Peninsulas main police station. Also, elsewhere in the report the same two offending sites where mentioned earlier, but positioned correctly on the maps.
You see the report was produced through the website HomeCheck Pro. This is basically a big database of all that sort of geographical and historical info. The ‘expert analysts’ put in the post code and it spits out all the relevant data.
I’m sure it works well, but I severely question the fact it should be used as the be all and end all – Garbage In, Garbage Out and all that.
Anyway the ‘expert analysts’ completely ignored the glaring inaccuracy of the maps and refused to issue a certificate because the land could ‘contaminated’. That makes it sound like the ground is full of deadly green goop, but really means that normally landfills are generally an eye sore and affect house prices accordingly.
The fact the two sites were to fill in a dock (we are 300m in land) and backfill from a disused railway should have been enough to point out the mistakes.
So for the last week or so, we (well I say we but, mostly, it was Claire’s Dad) have been gathering evidence to prove the fact the report was full of BS. We’ve taken photos of the areas in question, gathered copies of historical maps from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s and Claire’s Dad produced a brilliant report with all the info.
We took this to our solicitor who couldn’t have cared less if she tried. Her exact words where “Can YOU provide me with an Environmental Certificate?” complete with sitting back and smug face. “You need insurance” (about £200) “or I’m going to have to tell your lender. Which, could take months…”.
Fortunately Claire’s Dad took the initiative before hand and contacted Landmark – the people who produced the report. He sent them the report he produced, and within about 15 minutes he had secured the certificate for us!
Unfortunately we didn’t find this out till just after we left her office.
The Environmental Report was just one of many things that she annoyed us with. Others include:
- Saying she had been waiting over a month for a document from the sellers solicitor saying our mortgage was fine… We found out today she hasn’t even sent the mortgage info off to them yet. We are the only one out of 20 not checked.
- Saying the Sellers “don’t even own the land yet, so how can they sell it?” Shuffle. Shuffle. “Oh, yes they do”.
- “When is the building due to be completed?” errr tomorrow?
- Saying “All this post only came this morning…” Despite the fact it was 4pm and clearly stamped as arriving at least the day before.
God, I’ve gone on about this haven’t I? Seeing as this is my first real post it’s a shame it’s a bit of a rant. I didn’t mean to, but it’s been a bit therapeutic to get it out.
After all this we should be able to move in about 2 weeks. We’ve got the chance of ‘snagging’ the property first. Which does sound fun.
Hopefully this rant might also come in useful for other people who have trouble getting a certificate. Take these words of advice:
- Don’t take anything the environmental report says as the Gospel Truth, ours proved to be scarily inaccurate.
- Don’t take all the advice your solicitor gives, they want your money.
- Keep calm. As much as you might want to, slapping some sense into a solicitor is probably not the best idea…
*(a re-design of this site will be done to reflect the stunning view accordingly; I’ve decided that before this one is finished…)