Defect Specific Reports

Specific DefectsIn addition to property surveys, RMA Surveyors Ltd undertake Defect Specific Reports. Each written report provides a clear, comprehensive and professional opinion regarding a particular problem (or ‘defect’) within a building.

In recent months, RMA Surveyors Ltd have visited a property in Thatcham to inspect a sagging roof, a site in Didcot to investigate cracking and building movement and a property in Hungerford to assess a damp issue.

Defect specific investigations and reports encapsulate the specific materials, construction and associated issues surrounding a specific building defect. Reports can be provided in a formal written report or in a letter or email format depending on the client’s requirements.

Specification for reinstatement and an estimate for repair costs can also be included.

If you have a concern regarding your property, get in touch for advice. Call us on 01635 579208 or complete the enquiry form.

As chartered surveyors, RMA Surveyors Ltd are members of and are regulated by the governing body RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors). As such, any client can be guaranteed a high professional standard of inspection and report.

Building Survey vs Homebuyer Report

House SearchBased in Berkshire, RMA Surveyors Ltd have recently surveyed properties in Newbury, Reading, Wokingham and Windsor.

When making an initial enquiry for a survey on a property, we are often asked what the difference is between a Homebuyer Report and a Building Survey. Our simple response is that while both involve a survey of the property, a Homebuyer Report details all the essential elements of a building but goes into less detail than a Building Survey.

If you would like to read more about the details of each report, take a look at our Property Surveys page.

As chartered surveyors, RMA Surveyors Ltd always provides professional advice and will recommend which type of survey best suits the proposed property. By analysing the age, type (e.g. semi-detached or bungalow) and whether there are any extensions to the property, we can determine which survey would best outline the condition of the building.

If you are unsure which type of survey would be most suitable for the type of property that you are intending to purchase, please contact us and we shall be happy to discuss this with you.

For a Homebuyer Report or Building Survey quote, please call RMA Surveyors Ltd on 01635 579208 or complete the enquiry form.

Insurance Reinstatement Repair

Damp floorWe recently undertook an insurance reinstatement repair contract in Compton, Berkshire.

The semi-detached property had suffered a central heating leak within the floor screed. It could not be determined how long the leak had been established but the whole ground floor screed was saturated. The client appointed us to liaise with the insurance company and their appointed loss adjuster.

We visited the site, assessed the damage and advised the loss adjuster of the works required. We drew together a schedule of works, which we issued for competitive tender. We ensured a contractor was appointed to undertake the works and attended regular site meetings to ensure works were completed within the four week contract period. Our role included liaising regularly with the client to ensure that decisions regarding finishes were made in good time to prevent any delay to the contract and to enable the client to move back from their alternative accommodation as quickly as possible.

Overall, the issue was dealt with within a four month period, from the date the loss was discovered to completion. Our involvement in this project reduced the cost of the claim to the insurer, ensured that the property was sufficiently restored to its pre-loss condition, and enabled the client to be satisfied that works had been undertaken and specified properly.

During the contract period, we were also able to incorporate some amendments and alterations to the ground floor space that the client desired and we were able to clearly separate and demonstrate to the Insurer which works were part of the insured loss and which were undertaken privately for the client.

On completion we certified all works and valued them and made sure the contractor was duly paid. We are pleased to have been able to provide our services and without our involvement it is highly likely that works would not have been completed in the time and to the quality to which they were.

If you’re in need of a Chartered Surveyor to help oversee some insurance reinstatement works, contact RMA Surveyors Ltd on 01635 579208 or complete the enquiry form and we’ll get in touch.

Homebuyer Report identifies Movement

ground movement on buildingWe undertook a Homebuyer Report on a starter home in Thatcham. The property was constructed in the 1990s. During the survey we noted that there was a pattern of mortar repair to the outside walls that suggested some kind of ground movement or subsidence had occurred in the past. We identified this in the RICS Homebuyer Report, and reported it back to our client.

Our client asked their legal advisor to investigate this matter further. It was determined that the property had been repaired previously due to heave, caused by the removal of a tree in the front garden. The repairs were made in the last 10 years.

Our client reported that they were having difficulty trying to obtain building insurance as a result of the findings. It can also be a difficulty in securing a mortgage where ground movement is identified at a property.

We were pleased to be involved and if it were not for our expertise and involvement at this stage prior to purchase, our client could have taken on a potential liability.

Although not as detailed as a Building Survey, a Homebuyer Report will identify any significant defects, such as historical subsidence or ground related movement to buildings, and will put the purchaser in a far better position so that they understand the extent of their liability prior to proceeding with the purchase.

We would thoroughly recommend that no matter what the age of the property that you consider instructing a Chartered Building Surveyor to conduct a Building Survey or Homebuyers Report prior to exchange of contracts.

For further information or advice, please contact us on 01635 579208 or complete the enquiry form.

Traditional Building Pitfalls

ricsRMA Surveyors Ltd, Newbury have been reading an interesting discussion on RICS regarding the care and repair work of Victorian and Edwardian age buildings and the pitfalls often made that result in ‘inherent defects’ in later life.

RMA Surveyors Ltd are a proud member of RICS, with experience in dealing with traditional buildings and period properties. If you’re looking for advice from a local, trusted chartered surveyor in Berkshire, please call us or complete the form with your query.

Read the full article or see the snapshot below:

The top 10 inappropriate works commonly carried out on traditional buildings

  1. Replacing original good quality sash windows with inappropriate modern aluminium or PVC-U casements and stripping out original period doors.
  2. Unnecessarily injecting chemical damp-proof courses (or injecting them incompetently), and re-plastering or rendering main walls with cement-based materials rather than traditional lime, thereby  trapping damp in the walls.
  3. Encouraging damp, rot and beetle infestation by blocking ventilation to floors and roofs, and by allowing high ground levels (such as flower beds) to build up against external walls.
  4. Removal of chimney breasts or load-bearing internal spine walls without providing adequate support to the remaining masonry above.
  5. Neglecting badly eroded mortar joints to external masonry, allowing damp to penetrate and frost damage to occur.
  6. Re-pointing walls with cement mortar that prevents walls from ‘breathing’, and re-pointing in visually dominant ‘show off’ styles (such as protruding ‘weatherstruck’ pointing).
  7. Botched repairs to flashings to stacks and roofs with short-life materials such as self-adhesive tapes or mortar fillets.
  8. Failure to provide enhanced structural support to roof structures where original lightweight slate coverings have been replaced with heavier concrete tiles.
  9. Not lining old flues before lighting fires or using appliances, and failing to cap and ventilate disused flues.
  10.  Weakening floor joists with excessive cutting for cable and pipe runs.

RICS members have a pivotal role to play in both these areas to ensure that the future of our important stock of traditional buildings does not continue to be carelessly endangered.

Listed Building Repairs

Wood Boring BeetleWe were privileged enough to undertake a building survey of a Grade II Listed building in Aldermaston. The property was built originally in the 1600’s with further extensions and additions added in the 1800’s and 1900’s. The original property comprised of a timber frame structure with facing brick work in fill panels, the later additions were formed in solid masonry construction.

The property had undergone extensive refurbishment during the 1800’s and the mid 1900’s and additional upgrading and repairs and addition of services had been undertaken more recently.

Many of the more recent repairs had not been undertaken in sympathy with the original construction. Most significantly many repairs had been undertaken using a cement mortar, where lime mortar would have been originally used.

The internal faces of the timber frame walls were lined with wattle and daub and we found evidence of fresh wood boring beetle damage to the wattles and staves where the wall had been exposed to prolonged high levels of damp. Gypsum plasters had been used internally, originally a lime plaster would have been used and evidence of which was visible where gypsum plaster was coming away from the wall. Modern gypsum plasters are less impervious than lime and earth plasters and gypsum is hygroscopic, meaning that it absorbs water from the air.

We also found damage to lintels buried within the wall which were also affected by damp and excessive vegetation to walls, some of which was growing through the walls. The walls had been rendered with a cement render, which was preventing evaporation from the wall and water was accumulating in the walls and allowing the structure to become saturated. The cement repointing was also having a similar affect and affecting the exposed timber within the wall.

Unfortunately these defects are extremely common with Listed Buildings where contractors and specifier’s who do not understand the performance of traditional buildings have undertaken repairs in good faith but have caused more extensive damage to the structure as a result.

Often such repairs can be more expensive to remediate as materials such as strong cement mortars can damage brick work when removed, leading to further work and repair.

If you have a Listed property, or you’re thinking about purchasing a Listed building, and would like some advice regarding appropriate remediation and repairs, please contact us on 01635 579208 or complete the form with any queries.

Asbestos Concerns

One common item we often raise in our building surveys and homebuyer reports is the potential for asbestos to be present in textured, decorative coatings, such as Artex to ceilings and wall surfaces internally.

Following guidance by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/ and the Asbestos regulations, we have an obligation to make mention of potentially asbestos containing materials.

Asbestos encapsulated in textured, decorative coatings is often only in very small amounts and provides no risk, unless it is disturbed and the fibres become airborne.  Textured, decorative coatings installed after the year 2000 are unlikely to contain any asbestos, as the use of asbestos was prohibited after this date.

RMA Surveyors Ltd are not asbestos surveyors; however, we are trained to identify potential asbestos containing materials. We have also worked alongside licenced asbestos testing and removals contractors to identify the presence of asbestos and arrange for its safe removal.

It should be noted that just because asbestos is present in a material, does not mean that the material is inherently unsafe but it should be left undisturbed, to avoid the asbestos fibres becoming airborne, at which point they do become hazardous. Professional advice should be sought.

For information and advice regarding asbestos in textured, decorative finishes, further reading is available on the HSE website.

If you have any asbestos related queries that you would like to discuss with RMA Surveyors Ltd, please contact us on 01635 579208 or by completing our ‘Contact Us Today’ form.

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 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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A Detailed Building Survey

Shared Hidden GutterWhilst recently undertaking a building survey in Thatcham, we discovered a shared hidden gutter formed between two roof pitches. Access to the gutter was difficult and many surveyors we know of would not have attempted to embark upon gaining access. However, we duly assessed the risks and although access was awkward, it was not impossible.

Our surveyor took the decision to access it through a roof window. We were pleased to have undertaken this additional assessment, as we were able to advise our client that the roof was nearing the end of it serviceable life and that there was a shared maintenance liability with the adjoining property, which would need to be confirmed with the client’s legal advisor.

The roof itself had received temporary repairs which would not last for very much longer and although there were not any visible signs of leaking to internal surfaces, it was only going to be a matter of time before the roof began to fail.

We are always pleased that RMA Surveyors Ltd take the additional time and effort to undertake a full and detailed survey inspection, where other surveyors may reasonably determine to perform only a limited inspection.

We believe that our attention to detail and willingness to inspect as much of the property as possible, provides our clients with a detailed and thorough service.

If you require a building survey in Thatcham, Newbury or surrounding areas, please contact us for some advice or a quote on 01635 579208 or by using the form below.

Contact Us

Fill in the below form to contact us today.
  • If you are requesting a survey quotation please provide the address and postcode of the property.
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