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 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. 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.

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.

Office Refurbishment

We recently undertook the contract administration and project management of a successful office refurbishment to a Grade 2 listed, former town house located in a prominent position within Pinner High Street, London.

The scope of service included agreeing statutory consents and liaison with the local conservation officer and English Heritage. Providing additional restraint where historic settlement had affected the structure, design and specification of all elements of the refurbishment, including using materials sympathetic with the historic fabric of the building, roof repairs, external masonry repairs, internal plaster repairs, improving energy efficiency of the building, new gas and electrical service installations, joinery items and redecoration.

The contract was successfully completed inside the 15 week contract period. We held regular site meetings and site inspections, certified works as they were completed, agreed the final account and signed off works at completion. As well as liaising with the main contractor, we also organised the programme of works around data, telecoms and security contractors to ensure a seamless transition to allow the clients’ company to move offices without interruption to their business.

As a result the building has been transformed from a rather tired structure that was long overdue any maintenance into a building that not only contributes significantly to the historic fabric of central Pinner but has a contemporary style that is also reflective of the buildings history.

If you have a refurbishment project that would like RMA Surveyors Ltd assistance with, please contact us on 01635 579208, get in touch via enquiries@rmasurveyors.co.uk, or simply 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.

Property Checklist for Winter

ricsRMA Surveyors Ltd, Newbury have been reading an article from RICS (the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) which offers a checklist to homeowners on how to look after their properties during the winter months. With another cold snap predicted in the forthcoming weeks, it’s worth a read.

Below is a snapshot of the RICS winter property checklist; for the full article, click here.

  • Roof: Inspect the roof and replace any cracked tiles.
  • Loft: Check the insulation is in good condition (up to current standard). Avoid over insulating. It is important that the tanks and pipes in the loft do not freeze, so do not insulate below the tank. Make sure the lid is on the cold-water tank.
  • Gutters and drains: Clear them of leaves and debris. Take particular care that the gulley’s are clear. Overflowing gutters can drench walls and cause damage.
  • Walls: 33% of heat lost in the home is through the walls. Cavity wall insulation is a good option and can boost its value and saleability while reducing your energy bills. Check the pointing – frost can play havoc with poorly maintained walls.
  • Windows: It is important to minimize draughts. If double-glazing is not in place (it cuts heat loss through windows by 50%), consider fitting cheaper options such as secondary glazing or put polythene across the window frames.
  • Boilers: Have your boiler serviced.
  • Heating: Check your heating system is in order; insulate hot water tanks, and bleed radiators.

While many of these simple tasks can be undertaken safely in the home it is important that people seek the advice of reputable professionals when looking to complete larger jobs. RICS advise people to avoid using builders and tradespeople who cold call. To find a local, trusted chartered surveyor in your area go to www.ricsfirms.com.

If you require advice from a Chartered Building Surveyor in Berkshire, contact RMA Surveyors Ltd on 01635 579208.

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.