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Leeds Corporation (Bell-Livett and Livett-Cartwright) mortgages



In the years immediately following the Second World War, housing was in especially short supply. To meet the demand as quickly as possible, a lot of housing was built using non-traditional construction techniques – many using reinforced concrete panels.

Local authorities primarily built the housing, and each one tended to favour a particular type of construction. Bell-Livett or the Livett-Cartwright steel framed house was the model approved by the Interdepartmental Committee on Housing Construction at the time and chosen by local authorities in and around the City of Leeds.

So, why may it be difficult to get a Bell-Livett house mortgage?

Post Contents

What are Bell-Livett and Livett-Cartwright houses?

Why may it be difficult to get a Livett-Cartwright steel-framed house mortgage?

Can I get a mortgage for a home with an unusual construction?

What deposit will I need for a Leeds Corporation (Bell-Livett and Livett-Cartwright) mortgage?

Next steps

What are Bell-Livett and Livett-Cartwright houses?

The houses were also known as Leeds Corporation houses and around 2,500 were built in the years between 1948 and 1956.

In time, much of this non-traditional housing – including Livett-Cartwright steel-framed houses – developed construction defects through the corrosion of the relatively poor quality steel that was used, or contaminants in the concrete, or both.

By the 1980s, explain Cockrams Surveyors, the faults in properties like this were the subject of the Housing Defects Act 1984, which gave the Secretary of State authority to designate certain types of construction as “defective” if:

  • the houses are inherently defective because of their design or construction; and
  • the value of such housing has been substantially reduced because the defective design or construction has become generally known.

Why may it be difficult to get a Livett-Cartwright steel-framed house mortgage?

So-called Leeds Corporation housing fell into this category of “defective” housing.

As a result of that designation and the widespread recognition of the defects in steel frames and concrete cladding, the homes are typically not considered “safe to lend” by mortgage companies – there is limited demand for houses of non-standard construction, and they are more likely to require repairs and maintenance.

A discussion thread on the website of the Money Saving Expert illustrates the difficulties encountered by some prospective owners in securing a Livett-Cartwright steel-framed house mortgage.

It is also typically more challenging to arrange essential home building and contents insurance on houses of non-standard construction – including BISF (steel-framed) homes. Any mortgage lender, of course, is going to insist that adequate building insurance is in place throughout the term of any mortgage.

Nevertheless, Leeds Corporation homes built using the Bell-Livett method are generally straightforward two-storey semi-detached houses. Although rust and corrosion of the frame’s steel stanchions can lead to more serious problems, repairs can be made – and there are companies, such as Structural Repairs Ltd, which specialise in such work.

The work typically involves cleaning, treating, and repairing the affected steelwork after gaining access to the frame. Companies which specialise in such repairs may also issue a certificate on completion of the work. This may be used in support of your mortgage application.

Can I get a mortgage for a home with an unusual construction?

Although mortgage lenders may generally be more cautious and will carefully consider whether it is safe to lend a Livett-Cartwright steel-framed house mortgage, you may still find a company prepared to grant such a mortgage.

As with other distinct niches of the mortgage market, there are specialist lenders with particular knowledge of British Iron and Steel Federation construction mortgages and the different qualities and shortcomings of Leeds Corporation housing from the late 1940s.

Here at Needing Advice, we have cultivated working relationships with these specialist lenders and may be able to help you find a steel house mortgage.

What deposit will I need for a Leeds Corporation (Bell-Livett and Livett-Cartwright) mortgage?

Mortgages for homes with unusual construction may be few and far between. While it is possible to get a mortgage for your steel framed Leeds Corporation house, you may need to track down a suitably experienced specialist mortgage lender.

Whenever the pool of potential lenders is more limited, and a specialist provider is required, you are unlikely to be offered the most generous loan to value (LTV) mortgage that is otherwise available on a newly built or standard construction home. Whereas you might get a mortgage of up to 95% of the value of a new-build home, for example, a mortgage for homes with unusual construction may be limited to, say, 75%. In that case, you need to find the remaining 25% of the purchase price of the property as a deposit.

Next Steps

If you are interested in buying a Leeds Corporation (Bell-Livett and Livett-Cartwright) home, you are likely to encounter difficulties in getting a mortgage. With our help and advice, however, we may be able to find you a lender prepared to make such an advance – so contact us today and find out how we can help.