Building Survey – How long will it take?

Building surveyHow long will the building survey take? Is a common question that we are asked during most enquiries. 

In short, the time taken on a building survey depends on the property. The size of the property, the age of the property, its construction, the defects we may find and the extent of furnishings and carpets which can determine our access, are all factors to take into consideration.

 

 

However, we’ve put together a little guide below to give you an indication:

  • Homebuyers Report – 2 bedroom, recently built flat: 1.5-2 hours
  • Homebuyers Report – 3 bedroom, semi-detached house: 2-3 hours
  • Homebuyers Report/ Building survey – 4 bedroom detached house: 4-5 hours
  • Building Survey – 5 bedroom, detached house with garage: 5-6 hours
  • Building Survey – 5 bedroom, listed building with outhouse & garage: 6+ hours

At RMA Surveyors, we aim to deliver all our reports within 5 working days of surveying the property, if not before.

Take a look at our Property Surveys page to see what would suit your requirements.

If you’re in need of a Building Survey or Homebuyers Report, contact RMA Surveyors on 01635 579208.

We can advise you on whether you require a Homebuyers Report or Building Survey and provide you with a quote for our services.

RMA Surveyors Ltd are based in Newbury, Berkshire. We provide a wide range of building surveying services in Newbury, West Berkshire and the surrounding areas. Get in touch for professional advice. We are an independent company and take pride in the fact that we provide honest, impartial and credible advice to our clients. We are members of, registered with and regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) to ensure we maintain high professional standards.

 

 

Section 5 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996

Section 5 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996Section 5 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 deals with the disputes that arise under Section 3 and Section 4 of the Party Wall Act.

As already established in Section 3 and Section 4 of the Party Wall Act, Section 5 deals with disputes that arise when a party structure notice or a counter notice has been served.

Section 5 of the Party Wall etc. Act begins by setting out a time frame period by which an owner who is in receipt of a served notice must respond. This period is 14 days, and if the owner does not consent within this period, then a dispute is deemed to have arisen.

This section is an extremely small section of the Act and it simply consists of a single sentence. Although it does not state it within Section 5 of the Party Wall etc. Act, if a dispute is deemed to have arisen during or after that 14-day period then the dispute would be dealt with under Section 10 of the Party Wall Act.

A time period is necessary to allow a building owner to proceed with the party wall process, rather than be scuppered at the first hurdle, where an adjoining owner may decide to ignore the notice.

Despite the 14-day period, even if a decent is deemed to have arisen, owners can still agree at any time during the party wall process to consent to the works. If written consent is given, then there is no need to continue to pursue a dispute process.

If you require Party Wall advice, then contact us 01635 579208. Proud members of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, RMA Surveyors Ltd provides professional, independent advice.

 

Section 4 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996

Section 4 of the Party Wall etc. ActSection 4 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 deals with the serving of counter notices.

Such a notice might be triggered where an adjoining owner has received a party structure notice from a building owner but does not agree with the proposals put forward within that notice.

Section 4 of the Party Wall etc. Act allows an adjoining owner to serve upon a building owner a counter notice giving details of their requirements.

What can a Counter Notice request?

Paragraph 1a allows that adjoining owners may ask, where reasonably required, for a building owner to include such elements as chimney copings, breasts, jams or flues. It should be noted that this work would be done at the convenience of the adjoining owner.

Furthermore, an adjoining owner could serve a counter notice in respect of special foundations which the adjoining owner would consent under section point 7 of the act. He may request that the special foundations be placed at a greater depth than that proposed by the building owner or be constructed of sufficient strength to bear the load to be carried by columns of any intended building of the adjoining owner. Or both.

Section 4 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 – Issuing a Counter Notice

If an adjoining owner decides to issue a counter notice, the counter notice should specify the works required, and should be accompanied by plans, sections and particulars of those works. It should also be served within a period of one month, beginning on the day on which the building owners party structure notice was served.

If a building owner receives a counter notice he should comply with the requirements of the notice, unless the works described within the counter notice would be injurious to him, cause unnecessary convenience to him or cause unnecessary delay in the execution of works pursuant to the party structure notice.

Where an adjoining owner issues a counter notice it would be dealt with by the surveyors as a dispute will deemed to have arisen and owners can not determine a dispute themselves but it is the responsibility of the adjoining owner to serve the notice, and not the surveyor, unless the surveyor has been given the authority to do so. In practise it is unusual for counter notices to be served, however, the Act does allow for counter notices to be served and there are occasions where it is necessary to issue a counter notice.

Need advice?

If you have any Party Wall concerns or feel that a counter notice needs to be served under Section 4 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, then please call us for advise on 01635 579208.

RMA Surveyors are proud members of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors and of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

Section 3 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996

Section 3 of the Party Wall etc. Act

Section 3 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 deals with the requirements for issuing a Party Structure Notice.

Before a building owner can exercise any right conferred to him under Section 2 of the Party Wall Act he should serve on an adjoining owner a Party Structure Notice stating his intentions.

What should a Party Structure Notice contain?

A party structure notice should be served to the adjoining owner 2 calendar months before the works are due to begin. Although there is no express requirement within this section to include a date on the notice it is implied by the Act’s stipulation of the notice period. The notice will cease to be effective if the works in which it relates do not begin within 12 months, beginning with the day of which the notice was served and if the work is not undertaken with due diligence.

A Party Structure Notice should include the name and address of the building owner, as well as the particulars and description of the proposed works. In cases where the building owner is seeking to construct special foundations, then plans, sections and details of these foundations, together with structural engineer calculations of the loads to be carried, should also be included. The notice should also include the date on which proposed works are due to commence.

Serving Notice

Notices under Section 3 of the Party Wall etc. Act pertain only to Section 2 of the Act. It is deemed by party wall professionals that the format of notices under this section should also be applied for notices of adjacent excavation as well as line of junction notices.

If a notice is not served then the Act is not invoked, nor are the rights conferred under the Act. Notice can be issued by anyone, although in our experience it can be easy for the lay person to make a mistake on a notice which can invalidate it. We advise clients that the cost is minimal and it is usually best to allow us to issue valid notice/s on their behalf. If an invalid notice is served there is a possibility that notice will need to reissued leading to inevitable delays. It should be noted that Party Wall Notices are legal documents.

When a notice is served by another party on behalf of the building owner it should be made clear that this is the case on the notice. The person serving notice should have written authority to do so. A party wall surveyor serving notice is acting as an agent at this stage, not a party wall surveyor. Party Wall Surveyors can only be appointed as a Party Wall Surveyor once a notice has been served and a dispute has arisen. Appointment of Surveyors is covered under Section 10 of the Act.

Agreement to a notice can be given at any time, even if the process of dispute has commenced. An adjoining owners consent to any notice must be in writing. Party wall notices become legally binding documents and any consent given needs to be documentable. This prevents any potential misunderstandings once works are underway.

If you require advice regarding Section 3 of the Party Wall etc. Act or indeed any Party Wall matter, contact us on 01635 579208.

Homebuyers Report Uncovers Serious Drain Defect

Homebuyers report discovers partially blocked drain

Drain partially blocked by tree roots

While undertaking a Homebuyers Survey on a four bedroom detached house in Highclere, RMA Surveyors, Newbury, highlighted a list of defects where further investigation would be required.

Notably, we found evidence of a partial blockage to the drain, believed to be caused by tree roots. We reported this back to our client in the Homebuyer Report.

We recommended the client commission a CCTV survey of the drain runs, as this would provide a clear diagnosis of any problem.

The client had the drains checked by a drainage specialist, who discovered there were bush and tree roots present in all of the drain runs.

As a consequence, insurers would only provide buildings insurance if subsidence was specifically excluded from the policy. This was a big risk for our client as we also noted some evidence of subsidence to a subsidiary structure at the premises within the same survey. The insurers stipulated that all drain repairs must be undertaken and a further structural survey be carried out prior to any policy being agreed.

As a result, the Mortgage company refused to lend and their mortgage offer was withdrawn. This defect was not picked up by the mortgage valuation survey as these types of survey are very limited in scope.

Why Get a Homebuyers Report?

By commissioning a Homebuyers Report, the client saved valuable time and considerable future expense and inconvenience.

It is important to remember that a mortgage valuation is not a survey. It is undertaken on behalf of the lender, not the purchaser and only serves to determine whether or not the property provides enough security for the bank to lend upon.

This case proves that a Homebuyers Survey and Report does save our client’s money. A property purchase is one of the biggest investments you will make, and commissioning a Homebuyers Report or Building Survey will provide peace of mind that the investment is a solid one.

If you’re thinking of purchasing a property and require a Homebuyers Report or Building Survey, please get in touch with RMA Surveyors Ltd for a quote. Call us on 01635 579208 or complete the enquiry form.

RICS Residential Survey

RMA Surveyors Ltd, Newbury, have been reading the latest on the RICS Residential Market Survey (April 2016) with interest.

RResidential surveyICS Residential Report Highlights

– Demand from buyers drops for the first time since March 2015
– Prices continue to rise due to continued lack of supply
– Long term outlook shows prices continuing to rise across the UK

 

It states that the lack of supply will continue to push up UK house prices despite short term uncertainty.  You can download the full UK Residential Market Survey for further reading.

Residential Survey Advice

As chartered surveyors, RMA Surveyors can undertake a building survey or Homebuyers Report on a property to help you make a reasoned and informed decision regarding a property purchase.

If you’re looking for some professional advice regarding a property purchase in Berkshire, please contact RMA Surveyors Ltd on 01635 579 208 or complete the Contact Us form and we’ll be in touch.

 

Building Work to a Party Wall

Are you Planning Building Work to a Party Wall?

Are you planning building work to a party wall or structure that you share with your neighbour? Is your neighbour undertaking building work that will affect your property?

Building Work to a Party Wall Can Be a Matter For the Courts

If you are planning building work or your neighbour is proposing work that affects a party wall or party structure then there is a legal requirement to meet the provisions of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.  If your property is in England or Wales, this legislation must be followed. The law does not apply in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

What Is a Party Wall?

A Party Wall can be defined many ways. Principally it is a wall that sits across the boundary between two or more properties, such as the dividing wall between adjoining houses. It could also be the dividing floor between flats.

The Act also protects structures that stands completely on one owner’s land. Sometimes this can be astride the line of junction and can be used by both owners. i.e. Where one owner has built a wall and the adjoining owner has built up against it enclosing the structure. In that particular example only part of that wall might be considered a ‘party wall’.

Properties that are completely independent of one another can also be subject to the Act. If a building owner is planning to undertake excavations up to 6 metres from an adjoining owners structure there may also be a requirement to adhere to the Act.

A ‘party fence wall’ is a wall that does not form part of a building and stands on land belonging to different owners. This could be a garden wall, but does not include a timber fence.

There are many instances where the Party Wall Act may or may not be relevant. For this reason we always recommend it is assessed by a professional to assist, who both knows the workings of the Act and has technical construction expertise.

Does the Party Wall Act Apply To Me?

Providing the structure or structures in question meets the definitions within the Party Wall Act there is ikely to be a requirement that works need to be agreed with the adjoining owner. Simple works, such as installing shelves, replacing electrical sockets or wiring, does not require an agreement. But you should only do certain building work to a party wall or party structure once the adjoining owner or owners have been formally notified in writing and agreed the works in advance of works proceeding. Examples of notifiable party wall work might include ork includes:

  • Cutting into a wall to take the weight of a beam or insert a flashing.
  • Inserting a damp proof course.
  • Demolition, reconstruction or underpinning a party wall.

If you’re planning to undertake excavations there are some comprehensive requirements defined within the Party Wall Act, that need to be properly understood to determine whether the Act applies.

When Does Party Wall Notice Need To Be Served?

If you are planning to undertake building work to a Party Wall then we suggest you inform your neighbour in good time. This is the most critical step and can often prevent unnecessary and costly dispute later on. The purpose of the Act is to avoid disputes arising by making sure owners are aware and agree the Party Wall works.

Where applicable you must notify your neighbour in writing before building work to a party wall begins. There is a minimum period for this notice to be served before building works affecting the party wall or structure can commence. If there is more than one person with an interest in the property (i.e. Leaseholders and Freeholders. Again these are clearly defined in the Act) you must notify all of them. If there are multiple properties affected they must all be notified.

The Act is specific about the requirements of issuing notice/s. It is very important that valid notice or notices are served. If notices are not valid they will need to be served again correctly and this will reset the minimum period.

What Happens If An Adjoining Owner Does Not Agree to Party Wall Works?

If an adjoining owner does not agree to works then a dispute is deemed to have arisen. Parties in dispute are not able to act as a surveyor for themselves . They need to appoint someone who can act independently. Owners may agree to appoint a single ‘agreed surveyor’, or they can each appoint their own surveyor to act upon their behalves. The expert or experts will agree the parameters of how the works should be carried out and will serve a ‘party wall award’ which will stipulate how works affecting the party structure will be completed.

The award usually contains a schedule of condition of the affected elements of the adjoining owner’s property before work begin. This provides an accurate record of the condition of the building prior to works so damage (if any) can be properly defined after works have been completed.

RMA Surveyors are Chartered Building Surveyors, Members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, Members of The Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors. We are experts in party wall matters. If you need advice in relation to the Party Wall Act contact us for clear and reliable advise.

Party Wall Notice

Being unaware of a duty to serve Party Wall Notice under The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is not a defence. Some people do not factor in the costs of compliance with The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 before they commence works. Some choose to ignore the legislation, in the belief they are saving themselves time and money. This incorrect course of action leads to delays to their project, neighbourly dispute, possible court action and associated costs.

Party Wall Notice will prevent court action

The Requirement For Party Wall Notice

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 requires Building Owners to serve relevant party wall notice to Adjoining Owners up to 2 months before notifiable works commence. When party wall notice is not served and it can cause friction between neighbours. In the worst case scenario where works have begun Adjoining Owners can apply to the Court and gain an injunction against the works. There are upfront costs for doing this, which are usually recoverable from a Building Owner. What Building Owners can also overlook by neglecting to serve notice is that certain rights granted by the Act are also not invoked (such as access in their neighbour’s land, to undertake notifiable works).

In many cases serving party wall notice is simple. By notifying a neighbour that works are going ahead there is less likelihood of a dispute occurring. Issuing notice/s with a polite letter explaining what the works are is far cheaper and easier than a court injunction and costs, then living with the resulting bad feeling.

Ignorance Is No Defence

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is now well established legislation. There is no good reason to ignore it. The courts will invariably find against anyone who does, either wilfully or through genuine ignorance. The cost of not serving a valid party wall notice may prove to be the costliest oversight of the whole project. The adage of Ignorantia iuris nocet applies. Not knowing the law is harmful.

We Can Help

If you are having works undertaken to your property that is likely to affect your neighbour’s property contact RMA Surveyors Ltd and we will be pleased to assist you serving the correct notice to avoid future and costly disputes. RMA Surveyors Ltd are members of The Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors Please contact us and we will be happy to help.

Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors Members

RMA Surveyors Ltd are proud to announce they have been accepted for membership of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors. RMA Surveyors Ltd have always acted as competent party wall surveyors, and are pleased to reinforce this by accreditation from this prestigious organisation. RMA Surveyors Ltd will assist the Faculty in maintaining the highest standards of professional practice in the field of Party Wall Surveying.

Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors Logo

Professional

RMA Surveyors Ltd will be continue to act professionally in accordance with the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 on all party wall matters. Whether they be acting for an adjoining owner, building owner, or for both as an agreed surveyor.

RMA Surveyors Ltd are pleased to be part of an organisation whose membership includes the most eminent practitioners in Party Wall matters.

Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors

The Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors have enjoyed steady and continual growth since its inception. Their members benefit from legal support and counsel when required. By obtaining membership RMA Surveyors Ltd belong to the principle organisation dedicated to Party Wall matters. Effectively anyone can call themselves a party wall surveyor, membership of this organisation ensures that a minimum standard of competence is required. The Faculty provide telephone advice to surveyors and the public, provide a list of party wall surveyors

Richard Mountain MRICS MFPWS, RMA Surveyors Ltd managing director, said “Becoming a member of the Faculty demonstrates to appointing owners, that we will deliver a high level of professional competence. The Faculty provides us with additional resources and support when dealing with the technicalities of interpreting the Party Wall Act, it also gives those we act for a method of redress. These two factors are critical, when there are unfortunately some unscrupulous companies trading as party wall surveyors, who do not act properly.”

If you have a Party Wall matter you need to discuss contact RMA Surveyors Ltd, who will be happy to assist.

Need a Party Wall Award?

party wallHaving recently undertaken Party Wall Award Notices in Windsor, Newbury and Leckhampstead. RMA Surveyors Ltd are experienced in providing advice in compliance with The Party Wall Act 1996, throughout Berkshire and the South-East.

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings.

The Act is separate from obtaining planning permission or building regulations approval. It provides a mechanism for preventing and resolving disputes relating to building work near or on a shared property boundary, or ‘party wall’.

If you require advice on a Party Wall, contact us on 01635 579 208.

For further reading on Party Walls visit the RICS information page.