Multiple Party Wall Awards

party wallWe undertook an instruction as Party Wall Surveyor to act on behalf of a building owner who was developing a site in Newbury.

The site itself was bounded by some residential properties at the front and a commercial property to the rear. The residential property at the front also had a retail unit on the ground floor.

To properly undertake the instruction notice was required to be served to all adjoining owners with an interest in the property. This included the freeholder of the residential units, the leaseholder of the retail unit and the freeholder of the commercial unit to the rear. Fortunately, the leaseholder and the freeholder of the commercial unit were the same party.

All parties dissented to works and required the appointment of their own surveyor to act on their behalf. In actuality, one of the adjoining owner’s surveyors acted on behalf of two parties, with a second adjoining owner acting on behalf of the other party.

Three separate Party Wall Awards were required to be issued. In order to minimise the cost to our appointing owner who would be responsible for all fees, we made assessment of adjoining owner’s fees and agreed a reasonable rate. We also organised to meet all surveyors out on site on the same day, to minimise time on site while discussing the critical issues that needed to form the basis of the Party Wall Award.

Without our professional input, the developer may have found difficulty in identifying the correct parties to serve the notice on, issue applicable notices, liaise with adjoining owner’s surveyors and form a Party Wall Agreement.

It is often thought by building owners that the Party Wall process is easily managed by themselves but we have often found that parties that have issued notice have issued invalid notice, which can delay works or can become confounded by the detail surrounding the Party Wall Act and can quickly find themselves out of their depth when matters become more complex.

If you have any Party Wall issues, please contact us for advice on 01635 579208 or complete the form below and we’ll get in touch.

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Homebuyers Survey finds damp

HBR dampWhilst undertaking a homebuyers survey in Newbury, our surveyor discovered damp to the base of internal and external walls and damp also to the ground floor throughout the property.

The exact cause of damp could not be determined, although our suspicions were that the damp was caused by a damaged or failed damp proof membrane to the floor. Other possibilities included buried service pipes within the floor screed, which could be leaking.

It is very common for service pipes buried in screed prior to the 1970’s to not be properly protected. Copper pipes can react with the cement within floor screeds causing corrosion; this process is accelerated where moisture is present. In some cases, where we have found similar problems and pipes have been exposed, the copper pipes are extremely thin due to this corrosive process and prone to leaking.

If you have any concerns regarding damp or are experience any similar problems please contact us on 01635 579208 or use the form below.

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Survey highlights flood risk

building survey door drainageWe undertook a building survey of a mid-terrace cottage in Sonning Eye, Berkshire. The property was identified as being in a likely flood area. The current vendor reported that although the lane near the property had regularly flooded, there had been no incidence of flooding during the occupation of the property since 2006.

We highlighted this to our client and advised that they should check with their insurance company that they would be able to obtain adequate building and contents insurance. Given the location of the property, there was likely to be an additional premium relating to flood risk.

The client did undertake these additional checks and whilst waiting for this and other legal checks to be undertaken the weather of the recent winter deteriorated and heavy rainfall unfortunately led to the property flooding.

It appears in this case that the client had a lucky escape. Flood reinstatement works can often take a long time, as we have experienced in overseeing the project management works of properties that have flooded in the past.

It is now quite possible that since the property has so recently flooded this will have affected any insurance policy to incoming owners.

If you have any queries relating to flood damaged properties or require us to undertake flood reinstatement work, please get in touch on 01635 579208 or complete the form below.

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Project Managers for Repairs

Project Management. Repair & Redec Block of FlatsRMA Surveyors Ltd acted as project managers for an external maintenance and repairs programme to a block of flats in Cockfosters, London.

The contract included roof repairs; including repairs to parapet walls and the repair of roof coverings, maintenance to external doors and windows; including repairs and redecoration, providing insulation to tank rooms located on the roof, internal plaster repairs to common areas and redecoration and masonry repairs; including crack stitching and repointing repairs to arches and lintels above openings.

The contract value was for £70,000; we provided specification, tendered the works and oversaw the works in two phases. Unfortunately the initial contractor went into liquidation between phases, so we were required to re-tender the works and oversee phase two using a different contractor.

We saw the work through to completion, awarded final certification and ensured the work was undertaken to a satisfactory standard.

If you require a project manager for any similar repairs, redecoration or refurbishment contracts, please contact us using the form below or call us on 01635 579208.

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Building Survey Boundary Issue

Retaining Wall & buddleiaWe recently undertook a building survey in Reading; the property was an end of terrace Victorian house. The building itself was in moderate condition, with only minor repairs required, for example some re-pointing of masonry and repair of flashings to chimneys.

The property was on a sloping site, with a retaining wall defining one of the boundaries. The retaining wall was significantly damaged by buddleia (commonly known as the butterfly bush) which was growing through the wall and had misplaced the masonry.

We identified this to our client and advised that they would need to check the ownership of this boundary.

The implication was that as the owner they would need to have the wall repaired themselves, incurring a cost and an agreement with neighbouring properties, from where the works would need to be undertaken. If it was not a boundary belonging to the house, they would need to persuade the owners of the retaining wall to undertake the works themselves.

Should the retaining wall collapse through structural failure it would pose a risk to the building itself and potentially to neighbouring properties, so it was an item that required attention.

As a prospective buyer, identifying issues like this is not easily done, especially when one is caught up in the excitement of taking on a new property. Although our advice can be often be sobering, it can also prevent a nasty hangover from occurring in the future.

If you need advice regarding any structural matters concerning retaining or Party Walls, or would like a quote for a building survey, please contact us on 01635 579208 or by using the below form.

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Clear Party Wall Explanation

Party WallWe recently were instructed to act as a building owner’s Party Wall surveyor near Reading. On receiving the plans from the building owner’s architect, we were able to make a full assessment of the types of notices required and duly issued them to the adjoining owners.

On issuing the notices we also provided a cover letter explaining, in less formal terms, the implications of the works required, how these would affect the adjoining owners, as well as providing a full and clear description of the Party Wall process. In doing so we demonstrated to the adjoining owners exactly what was involved and what their options were. The adjoining owners were content with the explanation.

The clear and concise way in which we dealt with issuing notices meant that the adjoining owners were satisfied that they understood what was involved. As a result, they consented to the works without a Party Wall Award needing to be in place prior to commencement. This in turn saved our client (the building owner) money in terms of Party Wall Surveyor fees.

We strongly believe that Party Wall issues should be dealt with in a professional and transparent manner and in accordance with spirit of the Party Wall Award Etc. Act 1986.

It is our duty as Party Wall surveyors to provide clear and concise advice and to minimise accruing costs to the owners responsible for paying the fees.

If you require advice on a Party Wall issue, please contact us to discuss it further or complete the form below and we’ll get in touch.

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RICS ‘Buying a home: let the seller beware’

ricslogo_100x350RMA Surveyors Ltd, Newbury have been following a RICS discussion which talks about how a house sale can often be hampered, with information coming to light after a house sale has been agreed.

It states that ‘in most cases, it relates to things that might affect the value and/or the enjoyment of the property – especially if an unknown, possibly prohibitive cost is involved.’

It’s an interesting read and discussion.

We believe it’s vitally important to get a house inspected by a Chartered Building Surveyor, enlisting their services to conduct a Homebuyers Report or a Building Survey, prior to purchase. As a purchase, a house is one of the biggest investments you may make in a life time, so it’s important to be in receipt of the facts.

RICS states that ‘A purchaser is advised to obtain their own home survey (NOT a lender valuation) as a first step, then to heed any recommendations for further specialist reports or quotations for repairs – to build up as big a picture of the property as possible.’

If you’d like further information on a RICS Homebuyers Report or Building Survey, or to receive a quote, please contact us or complete the form below.

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Building Survey found no Chimney Breast

Chimney StacksWhilst undertaking a building survey in Reading, Berkshire, we identified that a chimney breast to a shared chimney stack (or party stack) had been removed by a previous occupant.

The removal of the chimney breast will have required permission from the Local Authority Building Control Department and the person undertaking the work would have had to demonstrate to Building Control that the method of supporting the retained chimney breast in the roof space was structurally adequate. This would usually involve a design from a structural engineer to demonstrate that the method of restraint had been properly calculated.

Additionally, because this is a party structure, the work will likely have required agreement under the Party Wall Act and there should be record of such agreements available for inspection. Without such an agreement in place, the building owner may be liable for repairs to the neighbouring property in association with any structural defects in relation to the removal of the chimney breast.

In such situations, liability is not always clear and the fees of solicitor’s and construction professionals can lead to spiralling costs. These matters can be all dealt with prior to exchange of contracts through a legal advisor.

Were this item not identified prior to the sale of the property, our client could have taken on an expensive liability.

If you’re in need of a Building Survey or Homebuyers Report please contact us on 01635 579208 or use the form below.

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RICS UK Residential Market Survey

ricslogo_100x350RMA Surveyors Ltd, Newbury have been reading the lastest comment from RICS regarding its UK Residential Market Survey.

It states that house prices in June remained positive across the UK but the Mortgage Market Review and the Bank of England rhetoric are having a drag on activity.

Ensure Extensions are Structurally Sound

Bungalow ExtensionWe undertook a building survey in Chieveley. The property in question was a bungalow which had undergone a roof conversion and had further extension work undertaken to the rear of the property.

The survey that we undertook didn’t throw up any specific serious defects; however, there were a number of minor items that we brought to the client’s attention to enable them to negotiate some money off the agreed sale price.

More critically for the client, we were able to provide peace of mind that the extension works had been undertaken and completed to a satisfactory standard and that he would not be taking on a property with a variety of inherent defects for which he would be saddled with the costs.

When taking on a property that has had recent extension works undertaken, there is often no guarantee that is transferable with the sale of the property. The nature of building contracts is between two parties, it is often very difficult to bring action against a negligent builder once the property has exchanged hands.

For this reason it is very important that a building survey is undertaken to either provide peace of mind or to highlight any deficiencies within the structure and make aware any potential liabilities.

If you need a building survey undertaken in Chieveley, or a surrounding area, please contact us using the form below or call us on 01635 579208.

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