Cladding issues when selling your home

External cladding serves an important purpose for many properties. But they can present many issues too - especially in the wake of the disaster at Grenfell Tower. Find out the types of external cladding on houses and their issues.

5
minute read
Last updated:
August 24, 2020

Cladding is a product that can be applied to a structure, basically to fulfil one of two purposes:

  • Firstly, it can be applied so that it gives the structure a more pleasing appearance.
  • Secondly, it can be used on a property as an extra level of insulation.

Cladding became increasingly popular for these reasons.

However, there were serious issues with the materials used in some cladding. This led to the tragic fires at Grenfell Tower in June 2017, and the property industry has been clambering since to figure out how to keep people safe, and how to deal with all these properties all over the country with all these different types of cladding...

What can cladding issues mean for my house sale?

In short, cladding can put a serious halt on your home sale.

Mortgage lenders won't lend on a property unless they know exactly what the cladding is made of - and many buildings simply don't have the records of what cladding was used.

So if buyers can't get a mortgage on your property, you may not be able to sell it at all. It can take months (or even years in some cases) to get to the bottom of it and make your property mortgageable - even if the materials used were totally fine.

This can cause serious problems for homeowners who need to move on. Our service offers a solution - because we're familiar with these sorts of issues and because we can wait the time to resolve them, we can buy any house. We can make an offer on your property, and we can buy it in a timeframe to suit you.

Read on to learn more about cladding, or click that link above to learn more about our service.

There are a number of different kinds of cladding materials, and we’ll take a look at them below.

Cladding materials - and their impact

Wood Cladding

Exterior wooden cladding on house
Wooden cladding. Source: https://www.timbercladdingsolutions.co.uk/

Wood cladding looks very attractive. It is fitted to the exterior (or sometimes interior) of a building in individual pieces. Once applied to a building, wood cladding not only makes the building look better, it also creates a more durable exterior. So while it may be fashionable to have wood cladding fitted from an aesthetic point of view, it helps the building last longer too.

uPVC Cladding

Exterior uPVC Cladding on house
uPVC cladding. Source: https://www.nationalplastics.co.uk/

This is a cladding type that is quite common, and that is primarily because it is very easy to look after.

The material is weather-proof (if of good quality), and therefore requires little to no maintenance. It’s also inexpensive, and can be applied in a variety of colours, so there’s plenty of choice in the finish.

While uPVC cladding looks fantastic and can give a building a modern look, it is worth bearing in mind that you can also find that this type of cladding can discolour. You can purchase uPVC cladding that is treated to prevent discolouration, but the majority of people don’t (or don’t actually know about the treatment). This means there's a chance you could move to a property that will have a poor quality exterior.

If you’re trying to sell a property with uPVC that is changing colour, and changing for the worst, then it is advised that you try and get the problem fixed, so that it won’t affect the value of your property when you come to sell.

Tile cladding

Exterior Tile Cladding on house
Tile Cladding

This is a type of cladding that has become popular in recent years, and it’s very versatile.

While it can be used both internally and externally, it has become a popular choice for those homeowners that want to have a modern feel to their building’s exterior. The versatility comes in through the option to have a smooth exterior or a more textured finish.

Glass cladding

External class cladding on house
Glass cladding. Source: dezeen.com

This is another relatively new way of cladding a property.

Glass always looks amazing on buildings, but with cladding in this material, it also lasts a lot longer. Versatility is there again too, because the cladding can come in various styles and shapes. Modern architecture often favours glass cladding, because it has shapes that require versatility alongside attractiveness.

Metal cladding

External metal cladding on block of flats
Metal cladding. Source: salmonsolutions.co.uk

This is a little more artistic than some of the other kinds of cladding, and it is most often used on very modern buildings, or properties that have an artistic style to them. One of the best things about metal cladding (which often presents as steel and aluminium) is the durability aspect. It is tough and will not be as prone to wear and tear.

Stone cladding

External stone cladding on house
Stone cladding. Source: selfbuild.co.uk

Stone cladding is another attractive exterior that can add desirability to a property - as well as durability.

Issues with cladding

We've picked some lovely pictures above, but it's not all roses though. Cladding can actually cause issues, some people may find it unattractive (even if you like it!), and unless the exact materials are known, it can make your home temporarily unmortgageable.

  • Cladding sometimes is the reason why condensation builds up. However, if you are able to purchase a property that has something called a rainscreen, it shouldn’t be a problem. If you’re selling, get it looked at. A rainscreen could be the way forward.
  • Fixing cladding to your property could make it more attractive to some buyers. Especially if the current exterior looks shabby and unloved. Check with your insurance provider before you purchase some cladding though, because not every insurer is prepared to cover a cladded property. It's not a major issue - just check first.
  • Some cladding (such as uPVC) can suffer from some serious wear and tear issues. If you’re buying a property that has cladding, ask if the warranty on the work is still good. And if you’re selling, having cladding that is still in warranty will become a true selling point.
  • Some people simply don't like cladding. Even the most modern examples of cladding, which are essentially designed to be attractive more than anything else, can be loathed by prospective buyers if you’re trying to sell. One of the best ways to work out if you’re going to have a problem is to talk to a local agent or lender. If they know of any problem properties they’ve sold in the past that happened to carry cladding, they should be able to tell you about them.
  • Cladding can make your home temporarily unmortgageable. Unless there's a formal record of the exact materials used to clad a property, it can make it unmortgageable.

Dangerous cladding, and unmortgageable properties

The tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in 2017 has sparked inquests into cladding materials, as authorities seek to protect residents.

The tricky thing is, it's difficult to know if a type of cladding is dangerous just by looking at it. This is because the flammable element is not necessarily the external facade - but the material behind it, holding it to the building.

Grenfell Tower. Aluminium panels were seen melting and falling away, exposing the highly flammable substance polyurethane.
Image source: dw.com

In the Grenfell Tower disaster, the external cladding was made of aluminium. Of course, aluminium is not highly flammable. But the aluminium panels were held to the building with a flammable substance called polyurethane. As the fire reached the external walls, the material heated up and the aluminium panels melted and fell away. This left the highly flammable, exposed polyurethane. It caught fire, and flames grew to 10x the size of the panels. This led to more aluminium panels detaching, exposing more polyurethane, making the fire spread even faster.

Replacing dangerous cladding - will take years to sort

Unfortunately because it isn't clear from the external material exactly what the cladding behind is made of, it's difficult to identify whether or not cladding is safe. And not all buildings have clear records of the exact material used. This means expensive investigations need to take place into each building.

Until formal proof is in place that the cladding is indeed safe, lenders will assume the worse. They want to take as little risk as possible, and if they were to lend on a large number of properties which are exposed to a high risk of fire, they may end up taking heavy losses. Of course, this is nothing compared to the tragic loss of life, but banks will act in their own financial interest.

Consequences for you, the homeowner: 

In short, this means that banks won't lend on cladded properties unless the exact materials are provably known. So if you already own one of these properties, it means you will not be able to remortgage. And if you're trying to sell, then the people you're trying to sell to won't be able to secure a mortgage.

This means you may only be left selling to investors and cash buyers, who will offer a low price.

What can you do? (Your options)

If you're trying to sell your home or remortgage, you'll need to prove that the materials used in the cladding are safe. There are two main ways to do this:

  1. Provide evidence of the materials used. Sometimes you (or the original builder) will have evidence of the type of cladding used. This can be provided to the lender and, provided the materials are safe, they'll be happy to proceed as normal.
  2. Obtain evidence of the materials used (Get a report). If you (or the original builder) don't have proof already, you'll have to arrange an inspection. This is slightly complicated (and therefore costly), as the cladding needs to be opened up so a sample of the materials can be taken. This is then examined, and a report is provided explaining the materials used. Again, if the materials are safe, the lender will be happy to proceed.

If you're trying to sell your home or remortgage and you know (or have found out) that the materials used are not safe, you have two options: 

  1. Sell your property for less. Unfortunately, because you can't sell your home to mortgage buyers, you won't get the top price for it. If you really need to sell, our service could be a great option. We buy any house - even those with cladding issues. But there is a compromise on the price.
  2. Wait it out. If you want the best price for your property, you're going to need to wait it out. The company in charge of your building will, over time, replace the materials. The Government have set up a large fund to supplement the cost of this, but it's going to take years for all the buildings across the country to first identify the issue, and then to arrange getting it charged. You can either stay put or rent the property out while you wait. Eventually this will pay off - but not everyone can afford (or wants) to wait.

In short, the tragedy at Grenfell Tower exposed an enormous issue with some buildings in the UK, and it's going totake years to resolve.

If you're in a property that's been affected, then to get the best price you'll need to wait it out. If you really really need to sell now, we buy any house - even those with issues.

In short, cladding can really add to the desirability and durability of a property. But some tragic decisions have been made about materials, so be prepared for some resistance as you try to remortgage or sell your home.

It could take years to re-clad the affected properties. If yours is one of them, be prepared to wait it out (stay put or rent your home to a tenant), or you may need to settle for accepting a lower offer.

FREE VALUATION
No Obligation

Ready for a faster house sale?
Let's get started.

Get An Offer