More Rain Coming. West Berkshire braced for further flooding

Filling Sandbags at Chieveley West Berkshire

Filling Sandbags at Chieveley West Berkshire

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service have been tweeting that they are very busy with flood related incidents, including a rescue from a house in Ouseley Road, Wraysbury. The Windsor Observer reports that 20,000 sandbags are to be distributed to properties in the Datchet and Wraysbury area. More sandbags are being filled in Chieveley as West Berkshire braces itself for more heavy rain.

If you are unfortunate enough to suffer from flooding and feel a little overwhelmed as to how you will get back to normal please contact us. It is worth remembering your insurance policy usually allows you to appoint your own Chartered Building Surveyor to project management reinstatement works on your behalf. In our experience flood victims can become further stressed by the flood repairs process; having to deal with overworked, under resourced insurance loss adjusters and their in-house surveyors. In periods where many properties are affected these individuals are often difficult to contact and do not have adequate time to devote to their clients.

We are qualified and experienced in flood reinstatement works and we never take on more work than we can manage. We will provide you with peace of mind and ensure your property is returned back to normal as swiftly as possible. We will liaise directly with your loss adjuster, so you don’t have to.

Goverment boost pledged for flood repairs

High water in Reading, Berkshire

High water in Reading, Berkshire

An extra £30m has been pledged for flood repairs and maintenance, which is on top of the £100m announced by David Cameron earlier this week. Full story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26061795

If your house or building has been affected by flood or water damage, give RMA Surveyors Ltd a call for some professional advice on your situation.

What is Woodworm?

Wood boring insect flight holes in roof rafter

Wood boring insect flight holes in roof rafter

Damage caused by that commonly referred to as woodworm is actually caused by a beetle larvae. These larvae hatch from eggs laid on the outer surface of timber, where once hatched they burrow into the wood, creating tunnels as they feast.

It can take up to five years for the grubs to reach maturity. Before which they form a pupae eventually emerging as beetles and leaving characteristic flight holes in the timber surface.

Timber damage from wood boring beetle should not always be cause for alarm. For instance some larvae can only feed on damp timber. Once the cause of damp has been rectified the food source, and thus the larvae, will be stopped. In some cases the pest may have been present in the timber prior to construction and the process of sawing, drying and treatment will have killed any larvae leaving only residual damage as evidence of their existence.

The type of timber, size of flight holes, type of dust, or “frass”, left behind and condition of affected timber are all indicators of the type of species and likely damage that can be expected.

In cases where beetle larvae are active they have the ability to cause structural damage and remedial insecticidal treatment is often required.
Damage can be caused to sapwood (the outer rings where sap rises in a tree) and heartwood (the inner rings or ‘heart’). Darker heartwood damage is less common due to the presence of chemicals acting as a natural repellent. Heartwood damage is considered serious as the structural integrity of timber is greatly reduced when heartwood is attacked.

The death watch beetle is considered a particular menace as it feeds off both heartwood and sapwood.

The beetle most commonly referred to as woodworm is the Common Furniture Beetle (Anobium Punctatum). This beetle’s larvae are found to be present in sapwoods of both softwoods and European hardwoods. Infestations are common throughout the UK. Attack is rare in dry wood and modern timber panels such as plywood. It is most common when timber is damp. Where timber is exposed to good central heating this type of larvae usually dies out. Unheated and humid areas of properties such poorly ventilated roof and sub floor voids are most at risk. The larvae live for 2-5 years. Tunnels are numerous and close knit. Bore holes are circular and up to 2mm in diameter. Beetles emerge in late Spring and Summer.

Although treatment can be undertaken through drying out of timber, insecticidal treatment of live infestation is often recommended in order to swiftly arrest the damage.

Risk of flooding

As the rain lashed down, it seemed rather appropriate that RMA Surveyors Ltd attended a continual professional development seminar yesterday on flood management organised by 3CPD (www.3cpd.co.uk).

Hosted by Claire Thirlwell, a chartered landscape architect, the principles and practicalities of flood management were discussed, based on her experience designing schemes to reduce floods occurring.

With another day of rain today and more parts of the country becoming flooded, it seems more important than ever that we take flooding into consideration when buying a property.

People should ensure the correct searches are carried out and get a building survey undertaken by a professional to ensure the potential new acquisition is not at risk and if it is, that it is highlighted as such.

It’s better to be prepared, so if you know your property is in an area that could flood, install appropriate protection measures well in advance to reduce the risk of flood water getting inside.

If you’re unfortunate to have suffered from flood damage to your property, we can assist you too.

Under the terms of your insurance policy you are often able to employ your own independent building surveyor to oversee the insurance reinstatement of your property, rather than relying on the overstretched surveyors appointed by loss adjusters.

Remember it is your property and you are free to appoint your own independent surveyor to specify, tender and oversee works on your behalf. An insurance policy often covers the fees of an independent surveyor, like RMA Surveyors Ltd. Providing you are adequately covered it should not cost you a penny to get impartial, qualified and quality advice and management for the duration of the insurance reinstatement works from us.

If your property has suffered from any flood damage, or you’re looking to purchase a house in a flood risk area, contact us for some professional advice.

RMA Surveyors have moved

RMA Surveyors Ltd head office has moved to Compton, Berkshire.

Our new address is:
RMA Surveyors Ltd
Foinavon,
Churn Road,
Compton,
Berkshire
RG20 6PP

Have a look at this video to see some history behind the name.

How do you know if the Party Wall Act etc 1996 applies to works?

New structure adjoining older structureIf you are planning on undertaking building works the Party Wall etc Act 1996 may apply. If you do not know of a requirement to serve or respond to notices you are not alone and we can help.

Many people are unaware of their obligations and rights that the Party Wall Act provides. Building works that proceed without complying with the Act can lead to significant difficulties, legal action, and a breakdown in neighbourly relations. Iit is not just building works directly affecting a party wall or boundary wall that may require action under the Act.

A Building Owner may decide to build a permanent structure on his own land within 6 meters of a neighboring party structure, build near or on a boundary or cut into or otherwise alter an existing party wall. In all these cases the Party Wall Act can apply. The Act allows for a Building owner to progress with works whilst protecting the an Adjoining Owners’ interests.

Where an Adjoining owner has concerns regarding a neighbors’ proposals they can appoint an independent party wall surveyor to provide help and explain the implications and procedures of the Act.

The requirements of the act stipulate that where there is a disagreement, a Party wall surveyor can step in to guide the process according to a defined protocol. Anyone can act as a Party Wall Surveyor. However a surveyor should ideally be experienced in construction,  have read, understood and be able to operate within the Act, interpret technical details, drawings and ultimately work diplomatically to provide swift resolution.

Property Surveys – worth there weight in gold

In the excitement of buying your first home extra costs such as a building survey or home buyers report can often be overlooked.

As a result getting a survey that assesses the property’s condition can often be omitted on cost grounds. A survey is the most cost effective fee you will spend when buying a home. Armed with a survey, prospective buyers either have a tool to renegotiate or peace of mind that the property is sound.

First-time buyers fees checklist – the costs you need to think about before buying a property | This is Money.

A Full Range of Resedential Surveys

View our updated building surveying page.

Do We Need Another 1930's House Building Boom?

1930's semi detached houses1930's semi detached housesAn article published by the Guardian proposes that a 1930’s style housing boom may be the key to boosting the economy.

The article states that 1930’s Britain was the first country to come off the gold standard. As such it was able to devalue the currency, assisting manufacturer’s exports and allowing the interest rate to be cut to 2% for a period of almost 20 years. The article cites that this laid the grounds for the private sector driven residential construction boom which helped the country out of the economic depression.

The article notes that whilst today’s interest rate is at an all time low, our economic recovery has been protracted.

Clearly, our modern economic landscape is very different from the 1930’s. The article recognises we are a more consumer and service driven economy and far removed from the primarily industrial economy of the post industrial revolutions.

What the article doesn’t make light of is that the size and scope of the 1930’s industry massively supported the construction sector. Innovations and materials were abundant and a transient skilled and semi-skilled labour market was available.

The demise in UK based manufacturing; the deskilling of the workforce, through the erosion of apprenticeships and lean production methods makes it difficult to apply the same 1930’s template to today’s economy.

The article states:

Open-quoteGovernment policy today has the avowed intent of pushing up asset prices, which is good news for the haves but not so for the have nots.Close-Quote

The article goes onto cite a report by the Centre for Cities. Which argues that funding stagnant developments in towns and cities where there is high housing demand, such as Reading, would provide immediate economic growth. In areas where there is less housing demand refurbishment of existing run down developments is a better route to economic stimulus.

Government policy needs to be decisive to support a massive building program. Compared to 1930’s Britain there is less land, tighter planning regulation and a great deal of uncertainty as to what interest rates will do in the forthcoming months. Government incentives that meet these issues head-on are thin on the ground. For example there are no large scale tax incentives to encourage large scale development and a limited government targets for building.

Ultimately the article recognises the central issue that prevents the government supporting a major house building program is the affect it may have on existing property prices. The market is currently reasonably buoyant due to high demand. A major house building programme will likely see a fall in values. A big help to the first time buyer, but an unwelcome development for those who took out a mortgage at the height of the 2008 market.