Mundic block – What is it?

Mundic block – What is it?
Previously published in June 2010. Edited and re-published 14/06/2011

If you have ever owned or considered buying a block built house built before 1965 in the South West, the chances are you may have heard all about Mundic block. But if you haven’t, you may well need or want to know what it is.

What’s in a name? Mundic has two original meanings both of which could have given rise to its name. The Cornish word Mundic comes from the old word for Pyrites within a stone. However, in the SouthWest and Bristol area in the latter part of the 17th Century, Mundic the word was used to describe a copper ore which was smelted in those areas.

So what has that got to do with property? Mundic block is now used as a generic term for any block or mass concrete (shuttered concrete construction) built properties that suffer from degradation of compression strength of the concrete. In simple terms, the block or concrete becomes weak, brittle and falls apart in the most extreme cases. Mundic is generally associated with blocks that were cast/ poured on site and used unwashed beach sand or mine waste as part of the aggregate. It is often the case that it only affects part of a house (often the course of blockwork cast when the foreman had left for the day and the labourers were feeling lazy or, if the foreman was on the fiddle, charging for the good stuff but using whatever was available nearby!)

Are all properties built of block affected? NO! In mid and West Cornwall, all properties (or parts of) built before 1950 out of block or mass concrete will require a Mundic test as part of any mortgage offer/ survey (in other parts of the UK – predominantly East Cornwall and West Devon – the date is often extended to include up to 1965. However, just because they will require a test does not mean they will have Mundic.

So how does that affect me if I am buying? The chances are, it wont! Most properties test okay (an ‘A’ rating) and are perfectly mortgageable – I have sold and re-sold countless of pre 1950 houses in my time as an agent. The other test results are ‘AB’, ‘B’ and ‘C’. It is not possible to go into the full explanation with the amount of space I have here but, in VERY general terms theses results mean: ‘AB’ – may require further testing/ has some material but it appears to be inert. B and C results MAY make the property unmortgageable – although some specialist companies will consider them on a case by case basis. If in doubt, speak to an expert.

And what if I am selling? Depending on the test result, it may have little or no effect on the sale price or saleability of your property. It may, in the case of a B or C test result however, dramatically change how much your property will sell for and how the marketing is handled. An experienced agent will be able to advise you on the best course of action.

What will it cost, how long does it take and who pays for it? A typical test will cost somewhere around the £350 to £400 mark and can take up to a week or ten days to get the results back (due to the petrographical analysis). At my company, we encourage owners of properties built in that era to have the test before the property is marketed for a whole host of reasons borne from long experience. However; if it is left until an offer has been submitted and the surveyor has requested it, it is the buyers responsibility and therefore cost but, many sellers offer to share this expense to help a sale through.

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About Chris Wood: Chris is an estate agent with over 25 years of property experience and is based in Penzance and Helston, West Cornwall. He has worked with all sizes and types of businesses from single office independents to the management team and board of RBS and Tesco. A former President Elect of the NAEA and board member of NFoPP until he resigned in 2009, Chris has always championed the highest professional standards for estate agents in the UK. No stranger to the media, he has appeared on various programs including BBC, News 24, ITV, independent and BBC radio and is a regular contributor to trade journals, local and national Newspapers. Chris is on LinkedIn  Ecademy Facebook and Twitter Married to Amanda, he lives in Penzance with their children who are slowly flying the nest and his three dogs. In his spare time; Chris likes to keep fit and is a former member of the Territorial Army. He mobilised for a tour of duty in Afghanistan with 1 Rifles as part of 3 Commando Brigade in 2010.

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