Commercial Building Survey Surrey

We are delighted to confirm we have received instructions to undertake a commercial building survey for our Client near Guildford Surrey.

Our Client is expanding their business and to accommodate this they have secured retail accommodation occupying part of the ground floor of a period building.  The landlords building is understood to include further retail space with residential flats to the first and second floors above.

The draft lease sets out our Clients’ obligations which includes the repair and decoration of their proposed demise along with the service charge provisions undertaken by the landlord.  Our Client will be liable for nearly 50% of the service charge so the survey will not only focus on the ground floor demised space but include those areas covered by the service charge.  This will include the external elements of the building and any accessible internal common parts which the landlord will be responsible to maintain.

The implications of the service charge is often overlooked when considering taking a lease on a multi-occupied building.  Depending upon the nature of the building and the portion of service charge the tenant would be liable for, the cost to the tenant could be substantial in the event major works are required.  We would always advise that any commercial building survey include the demised areas along with those elements for which the tenant has a service charge liability for, however small.

As experienced chartered building surveyors we understand that acquiring a building, whether it be freehold or leasehold can be be a complex and potentially a costly process.   We offer our Clients bespoke advice to ensure they understand the potential issues with the condition of the building they are looking to acquire an interest in.   Once a building survey is undertaken we are also able to offer advice on limiting our Clients’ repairing obligations.

Reinstatement Cost Assessment Enquries

We are delighted to have recently been invited to tender to undertake a number of Reinstatement Cost Assessments.  The enquiries included a large portfolio of commercial properties in central London,a secondary school in London, flats in a converted industrial building and farm buildings in East Sussex.

Portfolio London

The portfolio of commercial properties in London are on one site with over 40 buildings which include commercial offices, retail units, a chapel, a meeting hall and ancillary buildings, structures and grounds.  There are a number of period properties including Grade 1 and Grade 2 listed buildings along with a limited number of more modern structures.

The reassessment of the portfolio is required before the insurance renewal early in 2019.  It has been 10 years since the last reinstatement cost assessment with sums’ insured being indexed linked since.  The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) recommend that reinstatement cost assessments are undertaken every 3 years to ensure their accuracy.

The quotation included for the surveying of the properties to obtain floor areas to calculate the reinstatement cost assessments.  The Client supplied historic floor plans some dating back 40 years many of which are out of date.  In view of this we also submitted prices for the preparation of digital plans of all the buildings in the portfolio.  These digital plans could not only be used in the preparation of the assessments, but also by the Client in the future.

Secondary School London

In addition we were also invited to provide a quotation for a secondary school in London formed of a modern structure and the external areas include car parking and playing fields.  To undertake this we would measure the buildings and external areas and take details of the construction to allow us to calculate the assessment.

Converted Flats South London

We have also been contacted to prepare quotations for flats in South London.  These flats had been been formed from a converted industrial building which was extended to the rear with a modern structure.  The building included 27 flats and the previous reinstatement cost assessment was undertaken over 10 years ago.  There are no detailed plans provided so the complex building structures, which include penthouses require remeasuring.

Farm East Sussex

We are also in discussions with a Client in East Sussex to prepare a quotation for reinstatement cost assessments on a number of buildings.  We are waiting for further information on these but understand they include a farmhouse, a bungalow, a stables and adjacent ancillary buildings.  We will need carry out an inspection of the buildings to prepare the reinstatement cost assessments.

We undertake reinstatement cost assessments on a wide range of buildings and are always happy to provide quotations and advice to Clients.

 

 

 

 

 

Invalid Party Wall Notices

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 sets out the when party wall notices should be served and when they are required.  It is important to ensure they are correctly served.

In the event there are errors on the notices, or they are not served in accordance with the provisions of the party wall legislation, then they can be invalid.  It is important to ensure the notices are valid to commence the statutory process.  Notices can be served by the building owner however to ensure they are correctly served we would recommend they are served by surveyors familiar with the party wall legislation, its conditions and the timescales that need to be complied with.

Notices are required under Sections 1,3 and 6 of the Party Wall etc Act 1996 and they should be clearly served.  Incorrectly served notices could invalidate the party wall process requiring the notices be served again potentially adding time and cost to the proposed works.

Following the service of notices, in the event there is a dispute between owners, the building owner and the adjoining owner who are in dispute, must appoint a surveyor to act on their behalf or concur the appointment of an agreed surveyor.   Once an appointment is made in accordance with the Act it cannot be rescinded and the appointed surveyors are undertaking a statutory role to ensure the conditions of the Act are adhered to.

Tim Greenwood and Associates are experienced party wall surveyors and understand the importance of ensuring the process is correctly followed.  We can offer building owners undertaking works initial advice on what notices are required to ensure that they understand their obligations and the potential time implications that the party wall process may have on their works.  We also provide advice to adjoining owners who receive notices explaining the options available to them in accordance with the Act.

 

 

 

Schedule of Condition, Belgravia London

We were instructed to undertake a schedule of condition of each of the neighbouring properties prior to works commencing to refurbish a fire damaged residential building in Belgravia London.  The repair works proposed included the replacement of fire damaged floors, walls and ceilings and the complete replacement of all the building services and internal fixtures and fittings. Whilst the works were extensive they did not not fall within the Party Wall etc Act 1996 which would have required formal party notices be served which would have allowed the neighbours to require a party wall award to be agreed.

In view of the nature of the works and the fact the building was Grade 2* listed it was viewed prudent to prepare schedules of condition of the neighbouring properties.  This was to ensure that in the event any damage was caused during the course of the works, that damage would be identifiable and appropriate remedial works undertaken, as would have been required under the party wall legislation should it have applied.

Access to one of the 2 neighbouring properties was agreed with the owner and an inspection was undertaken to record the condition of the property before the commencement of the works.  The inspection included the external and internal areas adjacent to the party wall separating our clients building from the neighbours.  A full scaffold was to be erected to the front front elevation to facilitate the works so the condition of the front wall to include the render, windows and railings were noted in the inspection.  Internally, whilst a prestigious address, the internal finishes were showing signs of age and general wear and tear.  It was therefore considered beneficial to record the condition of the finishes prior to works commencing so any pre-existing defects in the neighbouring property were not later claimed to have been caused by the refurbishment works.

The schedule of condition was prepared and a copy sent to the neighbours surveyor so the document prepared could be agreed as a true and accurate record of the condition of the property.  At the completion the works, in the event there are any claims of damage, the schedule of condition will be checked and it be agreed if the works have caused any damage.

Tim Greenwood and Associates are able to advise when a schedule of condition is required and tailor it to suit its purpose.  We can prepare a schedule of condition to ensure that parties are protected in the event claims for damages are made by neighbours.  Schedules of condition can be applicable prior to the commencement of building works and are also often prepared to record the condition of a building at the commencement of a lease if it is agreed with the landlord to limit their repairing obligations.  Please contact us for further advice and information on schedules of condition.

 

Landlords Licences for Alterations in Flats

We work with a number of residential property managers dealing with instructions on large and small residential blocks that include external repairs and redecorations, fire upgrade works and where the individual lessees undertake works on their flats, we agree the landlords licences for those works.

We have dealt with licences over many years and from our experiences have advised both property managers and the management boards of the blocks on regularising licences to ensure that the works do not create a nuisance either whilst their works are being undertaken or at a later date as a result of poor quality work.  We have over the years encountered issues where blocks have imposed limited controls on lessees undertaking works leading to disputes between neighbouring flats.   We provide advice that aims to avoid that.

Our approach is welcomed by property managers, block management boards and residents who want to ensure that nuisances are not created by works, either in the short or long terms.  We have assisted in the preparation of terms and conditions which cover details on the standard of works and provisions that must be included in the works and also site conditions which the contractors must comply with.

With regards the standards of work we review the lessees proposed works and pay particular attention to issues that commonly create disputes between flats which include acoustic issues and waterproofing.  The conditions that we advocate require any works where hard floors are to be introduced be scrutinised to ensure firstly the leases allow such floor covering and secondly the new floors include acoustic insulation to ensure that the neighbours below are not suddenly subjected to a noise nuisance.  In addition we require acoustic testing to be undertaken at the beginning and end of projects to ensure that the works have not created a noise nuisance which is a common complaint between flats.

Waterproofing is another element of conflict so whilst water leaks cannot be eliminated in all situations, we aim to reduce the risk of them occurring.  These controls have made a significant difference in a number of the blocks we work in, reducing the number of leaks and consequently the number of insurance claims.

The licences also includes the structural alterations and services installations which we have reviewed by specialists where required to ensure compliance with regulations.

Whilst the conditions can seem onerous to those undertaking the works they provide reassurance to neighbours that appreciate that any works are being monitored and controlled for the benefit of all those in the block.

 

Party Wall Appointment – Cranleigh, Surrey

We are pleased to have been appointed by the Building Owners of a house in Cranleigh who are looking to undertake alterations and an extension to their property in Cranleigh.  We were initially approached by their their architect for advice in accordance with the Party Wall etc Act 1996 and the implication of the Act in relation to their proposed plans.

We reviewed the details of the proposed works and were able to identify the elements of the project that were notifiable in accordance with the party wall legislation and provided the Building Owner with information on the Party Wall etc Act 1996 and the statutory process they needed to adhere to.  We provided our Appointing Owner with clear information and also highlighted the role of a party wall surveyor in accordance with the legislation.  We explained that the role of a party wall surveyor is one which is impartial and once appointed the role becomes a statutory appointment and as such cannot be rescinded.  This is a key difference from typical client/consultant role where a client can change consultants if they chose to do so.  Under the Party Wall etc Act 1996 once appointed a surveyor cannot be dismissed and would only cease to act if they were unable to do so.

We have extensive experience in dealing with party wall matters under the Party Wall etc Act 1996 and prior to that in London under the London Building Acts (Amendment) Act 1939 which only applied in the inner London boroughs.  The party wall legislation was amended in 1996 and extended nationwide making it a statutory requirement to comply with the Party Wall etc Act 1996 for all notifiable works.  We can provide advice and act as party wall surveyors for Building Owners and Adjoining Owners, or as an Agreed Surveyor acting impartially for both parties in accordance with the legislation.

 

 

Reinstatement Cost Assessments – are you correctly insured

As a Landlord is your building correctly insured?  When did you last have the reinstatement cost of your building assessed?  Was it within the last 3 years?  If the answer is no to the last question then a reinstatement cost assessment may be required.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) recommend that the reinstatement values of all buildings are recalculated every 3 years to ensure they are accurate.  In line with RICS advice the reinstatement costs of a building should be reviewed as a desktop exercise annually to ensure there are no significant changes to the building or the potential reinstatement costs.  In most cases the desktop review prior to renewing the building insurance will confirm that there is little change to the property and placing an index linked uplift on the buildings’ reinstatement figure is appropriate.  If the building has changed and the changes have a potential impact on the reinstatement costs of the property then the reinstatement costs should be recalculated.

Whilst applying an index linked uplift is standard practice the RICS advise that reinstatement costs of every building should be should be recalculated every 3 years to ensure they reflect current costs.  Index linking the reinstatement value year on year can over time distort the reinstatement value so it can lead to the sum insured being inaccurate and not correctly reflecting the true reinstatement value.  This in turn could cause issues in the event an insurance claim is made so it is important to review and carry out reinstatement costs assessments to ensure buildings are suitably insured.

We have experience in undertaking inspections and preparing reinstatement cost assessments on all building types to include commercial properties ranging from small retail units to large office and industrial properties to residential blocks.  We work with our clients to ensure that we provide clear information on what is included in the reinstatement costs allowing our clients to obtain the most appropriate insurance cover for their building.

 

 

Client care – understanding the services you require

All to often we receive enquiries from clients who ask for a quotation for a service because someone, possibly an agent or their solicitor has told them they need one.  In many situations we find that the client may not actually know or understand what they are asking for but are simply following up on the advise they received.

We pride ourselves in ensuring we deliver the services our clients need and take time to make sure we understand our clients position and advise them of what they actually need.  We have no desire to sell a client a service just because they ask us for it when we know it is not what they require or will not be of value to them.  Clients do not appreciate receiving a bill for a service they instructed that they subsequently realise they did not need.

We recently received an enquiry from a client looking to take a sub-lease of a office suite from the existing tenant and who was told by the agents dealing with the transaction that they needed a schedule of condition prepared on the office.  The agents had provided a quote to prepare a schedule of condition and the client approached us for an alternative price.  We sought to understand the purpose of the schedule of condition which, as we had expected, we were told was to limit their future end of lease dilapidation’s liabilities.  This was understood but further questioning relating to those potential liabilities uncovered the fact that the terms  of the proposed sub-lease included that the client was liable for a percentage of the dilapidation’s claim made on the tenant from the freeholder of the building at the end of the head lease.   We highlighted the fact that if they were agreeing to pay a percentage of a claim made on the tenant, then that would potentially negate the benefit or value of a schedule of condition as it would not have a bearing on the cost that they would liable for.  Although we may have advised our client out of giving us an instruction  there is no desire to prepare a schedule of condition that we could not see may not be of benefit to our client.  Our client was very appreciative of our honesty and advice and went to discuss this further with their solicitor.

Providing our clients with clear information and guidance is critical for them to understand which services they actually need whilst ensuring we deliver the correct and appropriate professional advice. We are always happy to discuss clients instructions to ensure the high quality service we deliver is one which our clients need, expect and deserve.

Party Wall Instruction – Peacehaven

I am delighted to have been received an appointment to act as the Adjoining Owners’ Surveyor in accordance with the Party Wall etc Act 1996 in Peacehaven, East Sussex

At Tim Greenwoods and Associates we have extensive party wall experience acting on behalf of both building owners undertaking the proposed party wall works, and the adjoining owners.  Our experience includes party wall instructions dealing with both commercial and residential buildings.

The party wall legislation covers works being undertaken on party walls and also those works where excavations are required adjacent to a neighbours property.  The party wall legislation sets out the rights and duties of each party and the timescales that need to be adhered to for agreeing the party wall matters prior to the proposed building works commencing.

We are able to offer clear information on the process, which for many unfamiliar with the party wall process and its terminology, can be confusing.

Once appointed by either the building owner or adjoining owner in accordance with the Party Wall etc Act 1996, we act impartially.  When appointed by the building owner we review the proposed works and prepare and serve party wall notices on the neighbouring owners in accordance with the party wall act.  Following the service of notices we prepare the schedules of condition of the neighbours property and agree party wall awards as required.  Our role when appointed by the adjoining owner is to check the party wall notices, agree the party wall award and schedule of condition with the building owners’ surveyor.

The party wall process can be a daunting one and is often viewed as an unnecessary additional cost to the building owner.  The legislation is designed to protect the party wall when works are being undertaken.  The party wall act also offers the respective owners protection in the event that works cause any damage thus reducing the risk of disputes between neighbours.  We have the expertise to deal with party wall matters and provide the advice required to ensure compliance with the Party Wall etc Act 1996.

Acoustic Advice – noise nuisance between flats

We have recently been approached to advise on a long running problem of noise nuisance between 2 flats in London.  The flats are within a period terraced property which was converted some decades ago and the flats were formed one above the other.  The upper flat installed timber floor coverings in recent years and since then the flat below has reported that footsteps, movement and general noise was audible from the flat above.

Noise complaints and problems between flats is common especially when buildings were constructed or converted before general building practices considered noise transfer in the construction.  In addition to sometimes poor acoustic attenuation between dwellings, the fashion for hard flooring in homes generally increases noise transfer and nuisance between flats creating neighbourly disputes.

We undertake instructions for owners and property managers on a number of residential mansion blocks, purpose build flats and properties converted into flats and are able with our acoustic partners to advise on acoustic issues and complaints in flats.  We are able to arrange appropriate testing of floors and walls as required to advise on the acoustic performance of floors and walls and provide advice in relations to compliance with building regulations and specific lease provisions as applicable.

Acoustic issues commonly arise when owners refurbish their flats.  We work with property managers and provide advice on Licences for Alterations for refurbishment works.  Within those licences we ensure the works are planned and undertaken in accordance with lease, building regulations and best practice requirements.  As part of this we carefully consider acoustic issues to ensure the works do not create a future noise nuisance or potential dispute with neighbours.

We work with both landlords and tenants to ensure that any Licence for Alternations proposals are acceptable.  We also inspect refurbishment works whilst builders are on site to ensure the carefully considered and approved works are constructed correctly.  Poor installation and failure to construct details correctly can lead to a reduction of acoustic performance which could fail to achieve the required standard.

We have experience in working with Clients offering advice and technical support on acoustic issues in residential blocks and are able to ensure all parties are clear on the issues and how they can be resolved.