BISF Houses Are Not Defective Under Part XV1 of the Housing Act 1985

BISF Houses Are Not Defective Under Part XV1 of the Housing Act 1985

Of all the e-mails that we receive here at BISF House, by far the most common relate to home buyers receiving surveys whereby the Survyor has wrongly labelled a BISF house as “Defective under Prt XV1 of the Housing Act 1985.

Before I go any further, Let me reiterate.

The BISF House built Post-War by the British Iron and Steel Federation is Not Defective under this or any other Government Act whatsoever.

What’s just as bad, is that once this has been written on your survey and submitted to your potential Lender, you now have an uphill struggle trying to convince the right person that this so called “Qualified Surveyor” is WRONG. He/ She is simply not familiar with the BISF house and as so many often do, wrongly classified the house as a different build type altogether.

These surveys are not cheap and the Surveyor is working for you, yet we hear of many cases where the home buyer has informed the company that the property concerned is a Non-Traditional BISF house and even requested that a Surveyor with previous knowledge of BISF house construction be sent, only for this request to be ignored.

But what can you do about it if this happens to you?

1. First and foremost, make sure that your property is a BISF House. This may sound obvious but if Estate Agents and Surveyors can get this part wrong, then so can you. If your unsure, then send us the postcode and house number and we will check for you.

2. Contact the Surveyor named on the report at the earliest opportunity and preferably before the survey has been sent to your lender. Point out that your property has been wrongly classed as defective and if it is not mentioned in the survey, ask the surveyor what he thinks the construction type is.

3) If your lender already has a copy of the report, you can ask to speak to the underwriting team directly and most lenders will allow you to express your concerns directly and in turn they should contact the surveyor to clarify the matter.

Below is an extract from the BRE (Building Research Establishment) Guide to Non-Traditional Houses. You can purchase a digital copy of the full guide using the link below.

BRE Bookshop

The Guide provides some basic construction details for the most common Non-Traditional Houses in the UK and it is often used as a resource for Architects and Surveyors alike.
In the early 1980s, investigation of fire damage to an Airey house revealed cracking to the structural PRC columns caused by inadequate cover to the embedded steel reinforcement and chemical changes to the surrounding concrete.

Subsequent investigations by BRE showed that a number of other house types built in the immediate postwar period exhibited similar defects, and that these would eventually lead to structural failure.

Accordingly, in 1984 the Government brought forward legislation to compensate owners who had bought, in good faith, houses from the public sector with serious structural defects which could not have been known about, or discovered on survey, at time of purchase.

The Housing Defects Legislation (now Part XVI of the Housing Act 1985) allowed the Secretary of State to designate particular dwelling types as inherently defective, and empowered local authorities to operate a Scheme of Assistance for eligible owners, either by way of repurchase or by way of reinstatement (‘repair’).

Over 28,000 households were aided under the Scheme of Assistance which is now substantially complete, with only a tiny handful of eligible properties remaining to be or repurchased or reinstated.” Most ‘repairs’ were carried out using systems of reinstatement licensed, inspected and certificated by PRC Homes Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of NHBC, but not all owners used this route, and in addition some local authorities carried out ‘partial repairs’ to their own stock which did not remove all the defective PRC structural elements from the dwelling.

Thirty house types were eventually designated as inherently defective, in separate legislation in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The subsequent BRE research programme into all non-traditional housing revealed no further house types which met the Government’s criteria for designation.

However, it should be noted that designation was by reference to a construction drawing forming part of the Order, rather than a named house type, and some local authorities have determined that the construction of Lilleshall (P075) and Cheecol Keeland (P035) houses is substantially in accordance with the construction shown in the designation documents for Dorran (P046) and Woolaway (P138) houses, respectively.

Under the ‘Notes for surveyors’ on the relevant pages, a warning symbol appears:
The house types listed below are designated as inherently defective under the Housing Defects legislation (they are shown under the names and reference numbers listed in the Hand book:-


Airey (P003)
Ayrshire County Council (P010)
Blackburn Orlit (P024)
Boot Beaucrete (P025)
Boot Pier and Panel (P026)
Boswell (S007)
Cornish Unit Type I (P039)
Cornish Unit Type II (P040)
Dorran (P046) Dyke (P047)
Gregory (P055)
Mac-Girling (P078)
Myton (P087)
Newland (P090)
Orlit (P091, P092)
Parkinson (P094)
Reema Hollow Panel (P101)
Schindler (S049)
Smith (P107)
Stent (P110)
Stonecrete (P113)
Tarran Temporary Bungalow (P115)
Tee Beam (P117)
Ulster Cottage (P122)
Underdown (P123)
Unitroy (P126)
Unity Type I (P127)
Unity Type II (P128)
Waller (P129)
Wates (P130)
Wessex (P132)
Whitson-Fairhurst (P134)
Winget (P137)
WooIaway (P138)

So if your prospective property has been listed as defective by your Surveyor, He/She may well suspect that the build type of your house is one of the construction types listed above and sadly it will be up to you to convince otherwise.

Saying that, it shouldn’t be too difficult as most surveyors are willing to accept than an error has been made, particularly when they are unsure of the construction type themselves.

You can also view a previous post regarding this issue here Defective or not?

Download the PDF Housing: construction defects Defective Housing

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