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Knotweed and buildings

Hello. I am on the verge of purchasing a property that has Japanese Knotweed (JKW) in the rear garden. The owner's solicitor shared the JKW survey report from mid-2018 that shows 2 affected areas in this pretty long garden (as showed in the picture below).



Last summer, a company that are JKW experts in the UK, excavated and treated these areas and have given a 10 year insurance to the property owner. The first 3 years will involve monitoring and further treatment if required (only in the affected areas though). My motivation to purchase this property is to be able to extend it to add more rooms and habitable space. However, one of the affected areas is about 5.4 m from the rear of the house. This was first found in 2013 but the company that tried to treat it then obviously was not successful. The JKW was about 0.5-1 m deep before treatment last year. I did a third party survey last month that found no traces of JKW. So it seems like the treatment has worked so far. However, if I need to build over or near the affected area (JKW01), I don't know the dangers I could face in the long term. Therefore, please make me aware of the liabilities that one could face if they had to build over or very near to the JKW affected areas even though the company has provided 10 yrs insurance. Note: The JKW treating company has some clause about building over or near the affected areas and I am trying to speak to them about it. Appreciate your advice in this regard.

Comments (14)

  • Jonathan

    If it were me I would also be checking if your household building insurance would provide cover for the extension if you build close to the affected area.

  • Patrina

    If it were me unless you have irrevocably fallen in love with the property. I would be withdrawing my interest. I just do not want that kind of headache.

  • Kollol Bhattacharjee

    Thanks Jonathan and Patrina. After giving it a serious thought, we decided to withdraw. It would have turned out to be a big financial and mental stress. In short, if you wanted to lay a spade in the garden, you will have to hire an expensive surveyor every single time. So stuff like fencing, laying a turf, or installing a shed too would need a surveyor from the company that is doing the treatment. Surveyor fees range from £300- £600 a day for standing and watching that the contractors don't screw up the membranes they installed. Not worth the pain. :-(

  • Jonathan

    Shame - can you get some allowance from the seller to pay for persistent treatment to ensure it is eradicated?

  • Kollol Bhattacharjee

    Not sure I understand. I didn't want to try and bargain on the price. I came down to a ballpark figure of £30000 to pay in surveyor charges for doing extensions, landscaping work and fencing work and other things like extending the guarantee. Even then, there is no guarantee that it could grow in another place in the property and then the liability of treating it is all yours. Not sure I would want to take that kind of risk. I am not a millionaire. ;-)

  • Jonathan

    Ah- I was saying that Knotweed can be eradicated in which case it would no longer be a concern. For your peace of mind would the current seller either give you the money to pay for later treatments if needed or allow money to be held by solicitors for such an eventuality.

  • E D

    I agree with Jonathan. Knotweed can be eradicated.

    Although it's quite a pest, I feel the problems surrounding it have been exaggerated and some scare mongering has been going on. f.i it can't really grow through concrete or thick brick walls. It's very invasive nevertheless.

    We've had knotweed at the bottom of our garden for many years. We actually quite liked the bamboo like growth, it formed a fairly attractive hedge in the summer and we managed to contain it to just that area.

    TBH we're glad it has now been eradicated, thanks to developers who took it upon them to have it removed (the knotweed originated from their plot) with insurance backing.

    It has now been treated for several years and has not raised its (not so) ugly head anymore. :-)

  • E D

    Jonathan, is your last sentence a question? Because yes, that would be a good (and fair) question to ask the vendor.

  • Kollol Bhattacharjee

    Hi Jonathan, Again, I am not sure if I understand the idea though it sounds quite good. I don't know if there can be any such lifetime service that solicitors would give after a sale is complete. Even the seller would not be willing to have his/her money lying dormant in a solicitor's bank account for a potential future JKW treatment.

  • Jonathan

    It doesn’t need to be a lifetime service- I suspect experts in knotweed will specify a time after which you can be fairly certain it won’t return.
    And solicitors have separate accounts exclusively for holding client monies so can hold them indefinitely (although I believe they have some responsibilities to annually confirm the monies remain in the account).

  • Kollol Bhattacharjee

    Even if my solicitors were to have an agreement with the seller in the way you proposed, it doesn't change the fact that I as an owner have to pay lots of money for every modification work that I undertake in the garden (to keep the guarantee safe), as mentioned in the beginning of this topic. And that cost is exorbitant. These JKW excavating companies will make money life long even after treatment which I think is a form of extortion.

  • Sonia

    I recently saw an article in the i newspaper online that it has been agreed by experts that Japanese Knotweed is no worse than other spreading plants and the dangers have been exaggerated. Criteria has been changed so that lenders no longer avoid loans for properties with Knotweed. The article is very interesting and worth a read, although you have withdrawn from the purchase.

  • Kollol Bhattacharjee

    In my case, my lender made no fuss at all after I shared the 10 year guarantee. In fact, I was quite relieved after that and was proceeding towards contracts exchange. But when I discussed my extension plans with the JKW experts, they told me the shocking news i.e. I'll have no control on my own garden. I've to pay them for any digging I do. Otherwise, the guarantee will be void. :-( What could I do if they scare you like that?

  • Sonia

    Sounds like they are scaremongering too and probably made a nice profit from it all In the past. You probably did the right thing.

    Kollol Bhattacharjee thanked Sonia
Ireland
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