How to Sell a Flat With Cladding Issues

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Cladding was never really given much thought until the awful 2017 tragedy of Grenfell Tower, which killed 72 people and injured 70 more.

With new laws released on fire safety in tall buildings, many people are still living in flats around the country that could have combustible cladding.

If you think you may be one of them, then read on to find out what the different types of cladding are, which ones are dangerous, how to get it replaced, and how to sell your flat if the cladding is, indeed, combustible.

In this guide:

What is cladding?

Cladding is the material that’s wrapped around the exterior of a building, designed to help improve the structure, energy efficiency, and appearance of the building.

Whilst cladding is most commonly assembled in panels, which builders can then attach to a building’s structural frame, some cladding can be purchased off the shelf; with some even composing of additional components such as doors and windows.

What is cladding made of?

Cladding can be made from a range of materials, including brick, wood, metal and vinyl; in addition to composite materials such as blends of cement, aluminium, and recycled polystyrene.

What are the different types of cladding?

The type of wall cladding chosen will depend on several considerations, including how the building will be used, the budget available, and any planning requirements; in addition to the durability needed, and any maintenance and structural requirements.

There are various types of external cladding, with the most common being the following:

Sandwich panels

Also referred to as structural insulating panels or composite panels, these are made up of two layers of rigid material that are then bonded to either side of a lightweight core.

Curtain walling

Most associated with multi-storey buildings, this non-structural cladding system is comprised of a lightweight aluminium frame, where opaque or glazed infill panels are fixed.

Rainscreen

Rainscreens are part of a double-wall construction, and are also referred to as a ‘pressure-equalised’ or ‘drained and ventilated’ façade. This cladding stops water from entering the building, and the inner part of the wall construction helps with structural stability and thermal insulation.

Patent glazing

This type of cladding is a two-edge system, providing support with two edges of glazing infill panels, which are fixed at the back of the building’s structure. Patent glazing provides resistance to snow loading and wind.

What does cladding do?

As mentioned, cladding can help to improve the structure (but not the stability), energy efficiency and appearance of a building.

Most commonly, external cladding helps to protect the building from weather conditions – especially wind and rain. The strength of cladding stops the wind from putting pressure on a building, and prevents rain from entering a building, which would otherwise damage the structure, internal walls, and even the furniture inside.

Other benefits of cladding include the prevention of transmission of sound between flats, improving privacy and security, and creating a controlled internal environment.

Cladding should also help to prevent the spread of fire, although sadly, as a nation we found out the hard way that this isn’t always the case, with the tragic fire in Grenfell Tower.

Which cladding is dangerous?

Following the fire at Grenfell, Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) – which was used on the tower – has now been found to be combustible.

The government also has concerns that High Pressure Laminate (HPL), and Metal Composite Materials (MCM) cladding, made up of copper, zinc and steel are also very dangerous.

This is in addition to timber cladding, which, unsurprisingly, also enables fire to rapidly spread through a building.

How to find out if your building is safe

If your apartment block is found to have dangerous cladding, then unfortunately, building insurance won’t cover the cost to replace it; with insurance firms arguing that if safety standards were met when the block was built, they don’t have a responsibility to act.

The cost to take on yourself is huge, with the estimated price per flat to replace the cladding between £20,000 – £90,000 – a price that the majority of people couldn’t – and shouldn’t have to – pay. Whilst some developers have removed the cladding at their own cost, others have refused.

Knowing that you’re living in a building with dangerous wall cladding can be extremely frightening, but for many people, parting with that kind of money just isn’t an option.

If this is the situation you’re faced with, we recommend taking the following steps:

  • Get together with other residents and contact the management company to find out exactly when it was established that the wall cladding was combustible.
  • Ask them to test the building immediately, ideally using an RICS regulated building firm who is accredited by lenders.
  • Ask to see a schedule of works from the freeholder or management company, in addition to a specific timescale for removing the defective cladding.

The majority of mortgage lenders will require a fire safety report, which will only be issued when the cladding is approved, and the building is safe. Once you have a fire safety report, your property will then become mortgageable, which means you will be able to sell your flat.

Selling a flat with cladding issues

Whether you want to sell your flat because the timeframe for replacing the cladding is too long; or you weren’t aware of the combustible wall cladding in the first place, get in touch with us.

In fact, we recently purchased a flat in Leeds city centre from someone who faced the very same issue. After selling her flat, the buyer had to withdraw because the surveyor had established the cladding made the property unmortgageable, as they couldn’t receive a fire safety report.

So, if the external cladding is holding up your flat sale and you want to move quickly to avoid being in a broken house chain, or are relocating abroad, then speak to us today to get a free quote. We can provide you with an offer of up to 85% of your property’s mortgage value, which means you can sell your home fast, and move into your dream property as quickly and smoothly as possible.

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We are proud to be the most regulated property buyer operating in the ‘Quick House Sale’ industry. We are an active member of the NAPB (National Association Of Property Buyers) and are both RICS & NAEA (National Association of Estate Agents) regulated, which means you can have every confidence of selling your home with us quickly & easily.