UK Housing Market

RICS - UK housing marketThe latest RICS Residential Survey has revealed the following regarding the UK housing market:

There is an increasingly mixed picture across the UK housing market, according to the August 2017, UK Residential Market Survey. Although the headline level shows a return to growth, sentiment is less positive in prime central London and to a lesser extent the wider South East, alongside the North and East Anglia.

UK Housing Market: survey in brief

  • Mixed regional picture, with negative trend in prime central London in particular.
  • Solid growth in many regions, including Northern Ireland, North West, South West and Scotland.
  • National sales have not seen any growth since November 2016.

RICS press release issued: 14 September 2017. Visit Rics.org for further information.

 

RMA Surveyors are members of, registered with and regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) to ensure we maintain high professional standards. If you are looking for professional advise regarding building surveys, party wall matters or dilapidations, contact RMA Surveyors on 01635 579 208 or complete the enquiry form.

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.

Commercial Building Survey

Steel clad roofRMA Surveyors Ltd recently undertook a commercial building survey of an office unit located in Kingsclere Business Park, nr Newbury.

Part of our remit was to inspect the roof, which was a low pitched profile, steel clad roof that could not be easily accessed from ground level. We organised for a lift access platform to be hired and meet us out on site to undertake this part of the inspection.

We advised the client in advance that this would be necessary and it would be worthwhile investigating the condition of the roof covering given that it was likely to be original to the property, which was constructed in the 1980s.

We discovered that the protective paint to the roof covering was rusting in places and that one of the internal gutters was blocked. Both of these items could be potentially costly to rectify, involving the requirement for scaffolding to be employed to safely access these elements.

There was no way to determine this prior to our inspection and our client would have been in a strong position to renegotiate the terms of sale taking into account the defects noted.

If you have a commercial property that you are considering purchasing or leasing, please contact us for advice and a free, no obligation quote.

Japanese Knotweed with BBC Berkshire

PK Show BBC Berkshire

Richard Mountain owner of RMA Surveyors Ltd, Newbury was invited to talk live on the BBC Radio Berkshire show – Phil Kennedy on 19th November 2014.

As a Chartered Surveyor, Richard has had experience in finding japanese knotweed when undertaking building surveys.

He was asked to comment on the government news which states that people could be fined or receive anti-social behaviour orders (asbos) should they fail to control the spread of invasive non-native plants, such as japanese knotweed.

Listen to Richard: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02bkvjb (skip forward to 1:22).

As reported in The Independent: ‘The Government has named Japanese knotweed as one of the “non-native” plants which “have the ability to spread and pose serious threats to biodiversity, the economy and human health”.

As a result, new rules have been introduced in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 that could see people and organisations served with notices for “not controlling Japanese knotweed [when they] could be reasonably expected to do so”.

“Failure to act” is defined specifically as a form of anti-social “conduct”, according to a Home Office document, and individuals could be fined up to £2,500. Companies who allow the weed to get out of control could face a fine up to £20,000.’

Read the Home Office document.

If you would like advice from a Chartered Surveyor, please contact RMA Surveyors Ltd on 01635 579208 or complete the enquiry form.

A Party Wall Matter

Party Wall workWe recently acted as a Party Wall Surveyor for an adjoining owner, in Newbury, Berkshire.

The works being undertaken by the next door neighbour included an extension to the rear of the building and some cutting in and weathering of the Party Wall.

The owner that we acted for was concerned that their second floor flat may be affected by the works. We checked that the Party Wall notice that had been issued was valid, contacted the building owners surveyor and liaised with them to confirm the method and approach to which works affecting the Party Wall should be undertaken. In addition we took a schedule of condition of the property prior to the works commencing.

We have now issued an Award and works are underway.  Our final piece of involvement should be to attend site once works have been completed to ensure they have been undertaken satisfactorily and have not affected our appointing owner’s property.

If you have a Party Wall enquiry or have been served with Notice under the Party Wall Act, please contact us on 01635 579208 or by using the contact form. We will be happy to act on your behalf.

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.

Flood Insurance Reinstatement

Flood waters in residential BerkshireWe are currently overseeing an insurance reinstatement of a flood damaged property in Kingsclere, Berkshire.

We first became involved when our client was having difficulty in getting the loss adjustor from their insurance company to assess the property. We were asked to supply a defect diagnosis report to assess the cause of the water damage to their building.

We undertook the survey and produced the report which we supplied to the loss adjustor, who had not understood the gravity of the technical failure. As a result, we were able to explain that the insurance claim was likely to be larger than the loss adjustor had orginally anticipated and that a larger scale reinstatement would be necessary.

We were duely appointed by our clients to undertake and oversee the project management of the reinstatement, which is currently on site.

If you have damage to your property due to flood, fire or other insurance related loss, please contact us as we may be able to provide our professional assistance.

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Lack of Ventilation leads to Mildew

Lack of ventilationRecently we undertook an RICS Homebuyer’s Survey in Reading and found mildew staining to the underside of felt and roof timbers. It indicated that the roof ventilation was not adequate, causing moist air to condense on the cold surface on the underside of the roof covering.
This defect is more and more common as building owners are taking advantage of government incentives to improve energy performance in properties, adding additional insulation in their roof spaces. However, if insulation installers are not careful they can block up gaps between rafters at the eaves and prevent the cross flow of ventilation through the roof void.
Ventilation in the roof space is important as it is required to ensure roof timbers are protected from such moisture and the resulting consequences.
A defect like this is not costly to remedy but needs immediate attention to prevent damage to the timber roof structure. Potentially we saved our clients thousands of pounds in future repairs were this defect left unnoticed.
If you’re in need of some advice on a property defect, a Homebuyer survey or building survey, contact us on 01635 579 208.