Maria Richards, consultant lawyer with Setfords’ residential property team, explains what mundic block is and what reports you can obtain to ensure your property investment is protected.
Conveyancers can handle properties across England and Wales, but each county may have unique differences. You should always check that your conveyancer has the relevant knowledge to advise you correctly.
If you are purchasing a property in the south west – Cornwall and some parts of Devon – and are obtaining a mortgage, mundic does not come up on the searches. The valuer will probably ask for a mundic block test for properties built between 1900 and 1960 in these counties.
So, what is mundic block and what does it mean for you as a seller or a buyer? Here are the answers to some FAQs surrounding mundic block and its place in the property purchasing process.
What is mundic block?
From 1900 to 1960 (and 1965 in some places), mining waste was combined with aggregates like beach sand, flint, and sulphite minerals. This material was used to mass-produce concrete blocks, which were subsequently used as building material in houses. This is mundic block.
The Local Authority purchased a lot of mundic blocks. Therefore, it can be found in a lot of ex-Local Authority houses. Sadly, even though they were an affordable solution back then, mundic blocks can crumble and break easily. They can affect the integrity of the structure of the property, rendering it unsafe to live in.
What are the signs of mundic block?
There are some clear signs that a property is made of mundic blocks. The telltale sign is cracks in the walls and, as the blocks decay, structural issues.
Is there a mundic test?
Yes, it is possible to test for mundic block. This will require an independent contractor. They will drill into the cores of the blocks to identify their composition. Your conveyancer may be able to recommend a suitable contractor, or you can do your own research.
A guide to mundic reports
Mortgage lenders are, understandably, cautious when it comes to lending on a property constructed of mundic block. Therefore, they will almost always insist on carrying out a test, alongside a report. This may be one test or a series, depending on the lender’s requirements. The test itself includes drilling into the building and taking core samples to analyse.
As a conveyancer for the buyer, our first step is to check if the seller has a report. This report can be given to you and your lender. However, this is only possible if the surveyor who conducted the report is still trading and willing to assign it. Changes to the rules governing mundic testing mean that many reports older than 6-10 years are not re-assigned.
The buyer and seller must agree on who will pay for a report if a new one is needed. The cost is typically around £450 plus VAT, and sometimes the parties will agree to pay 50% each.
The result will provide a grade for the samples, and more than one test may be required. The classes are A1, A2, A3, B, C1 and C2.
Generally, if it has a Grade A, it will be acceptable for mortgage lending purposes. If the result is a grade B or C, it is not mortgageable and this has an immediate impact on the market value. Works can often be done to remedy the problems and make the property safer to live in.
Once repairs have been carried out, a Precast Reinforced Concrete (PRC) Certificate is issued by a fully qualified structural engineer. This confirms that the repair system has been successfully carried out. If you are purchasing a mundic property which has already had the repairs, your conveyancer will check the PRC Certificate and your lender will need to see it before providing the funds.
How to fix mundic block?
The fixing of the mundic block depends on the extent to which the property is affected and the condition of the block. In some cases, the property may be only partially affected, which makes it far easier to resolve. Mundic block can affect a property’s structural integrity, so it’s important to have a specialist survey it thoroughly. They can tell you exactly what repairs are needed and what can be done.
How much does it cost to fix mundic block?
This depends on the extent to which the property is affected. For properties graded B or below, fixing mundic block typically involves removing the affected walls and rebuilding them with a different material that meets modern building regulations. This process can be expensive, especially if mundic block is used to build large areas or the whole property.
Some properties graded A1, A2, or A3 only require cheaper maintenance and protection.
A specialist contractor can evaluate properties and provide a cost estimate for repairs.
Are properties with mundic block mortgageable?
This depends on the grade given to the property in the mundic block report. If it’s given an A1, A2, or A3 grade, these properties are generally mortgageable, as the mundic block only requires maintenance and protection but are structurally sound. If it’s given a B or C grade, it is not mortgageable. This automatically reduces the price of the property significantly, as only cash buyers will be able to purchase it.
If you are cash buyer, it is always recommended that you obtain the report to ensure that, if you decide to mortgage the property or sell it to someone with a mortgage in the future, you do not encounter any problems, as well as knowing you are safe in your property without any danger to your life.
Inheriting a property with mundic block
It is recommended that mundic reports are considered when inheriting properties in Cornwall and Devon and distributing the estate as it can impact the value of the property and you could be paying too much inheritance tax if the valuation does not take this into account.
Selling a mundic block property
Many properties in Cornwall and Devon are affected by mundic block. This can present challenges when you want to sell.
A concrete screening test will be required which will tell you about the extent of the mundic block in your property. Depending on the results, the property may be unmortgageable. This will affect the price you can sell it for and limit the pool of potential buyers to cash buyers.
The good news is that most mundic block properties sell eventually, but it’s good to be preapred and know what it may mean for you as a seller and your buyer.