Problem with your Property? RMA Surveyors can help!

Impact damge to houseProperty investment is expensive. Remedial works for untreated defects can be costly and can affect the saleability of the property. Therefore, it’s important to keep your property in good condition.

If you notice a potential problem, don’t leave it, get a professional to make an assessment on your behalf. The cost of a Chartered Building Surveyor’s fee may save you thousands of pounds.

If you’re unsure how serious a building defect may be, seek advice from a Chartered Building Surveyor who can visit, inspect, report and advice you, provide remedial advice and put your mind at ease.

Recently RMA Surveyors Ltd has undertaken Defect Inspections to assess a variety of defects from damp, condensation, dry rot, flooding, cracking in walls, potential subsidence and concerns over construction works to extensions.

When you instruct the services of RMA Surveyors Ltd, a surveyor will attend the property and make a full assessment of the problem. Following this inspection a Defect Report will be written, detailing the specific materials, construction, implications and other associated issues regarding the building defect or defects.

If further advice regarding reinstatement is required we will also be pleased to assist.

For more information, visit the Surveys page or call 01635 579 208.

A Full Range of Resedential Surveys

View our updated building surveying page.

Top 5 Building Maintenance Tips

Defects that affect the structure of a building are usually caused by the simplest of issues,  which are easily remedied with a regular cyclical maintenance programme. The age old adage that prevention is better than cure rings true. The following is a list of the RMA Surveyors Ltd top 5 problems regularly encountered that could be easily prevented.

Poorly maintaned guttering1.    Keep rainwater goods regularly cleared and maintained. This is one of the simplest practical steps one can make to maintain any property. Safe access should always be factored in, particularly on larger commercial premises. That said the regular maintenance and clearing of rainwater goods will save hundreds, often thousands of pounds in remedying associated defects. We have discovered a dry rot outbreak covering three floors of a four story commercial premises; damaged masonry and staining; water ingress inside the building saturating the concrete floor screed; rotten external timbers and windows; damaged plaster and decorations internally; rusting of steel framing to a prefabricated system built property. All of these defects could have been easily prevented by maintenance of gutters and downpipes. In some cases poor rainwater management can lead to more serious structural damage caused by subsidence, where soil has been eroded away. For a small annual cost such problems could easily be avoided.

Partially blocked sub floor ventilation grille2.    Ventilation of buildings. This is a broad ranging subject, but in essence all one needs to do is remember a simple rule that buildings and their materials need to be adequately ventilated (or breath). The typical scenario we find is where suspended timber ground floors are not adequately ventilated. The presence of ventilation grilles on external walls indicates that the floor is likely to be timber and the void below needs to be well ventilated to prevent the accumulation of moisture. Typically solid floor extensions are installed and no provision is made to retain ventilation. This can create unventilated pockets where moisture can accumulate allowing the conditions for wood boring insects larvae (commonly called woodworm) and all kinds of rot to establish. Simply ensuring that ventilation grilles are maintained and not covered over could end up saving you thousands.

Loose repointing undertaking using cement rich mortar3.    Masonry repairs are often undertaken without due consideration for what original materials were used. Commonly I find that brickwork gets repointed in a cement mortar that is stronger than the surrounding brickwork. The result of this is that the mortar joints no longer allow water to evaporate and the brickwork begins to retain more water. On solid walled properties this can lead to damp on the internal wall surfaces. It can also mean damage to bricks in cold weather as the surface of the brick can be pushed off by the freeze/thaw cycle. Often repointing work can work itself loose due to expansion and contraction at differing rates with the brickwork and repointing is required far sooner than should be required. Make sure that when you are undertaking external masonry repairs it is done so by a contractor who understands the original construction and the work is correctly specified.

Flashing junction weathered with bitumen tape4.    Critical junctions between building elements such as chimneys and extensions are often poorly weathered with lead flashings in poor condition or missing altogether. The recent spate of metal thefts has compounded to the issue, as people are becoming increasingly reluctant to replace lead. Opting for cheaper bitumen backed aluminium tape is a temporary solution, but should not be relied upon to form a proper long term weatherproof junction. Where lead flashings are installed the standard of workmanship can often well below par. If you are planning to have any lead work undertaken make sure it is done by an experienced installer who understands the material and follows the industry standard guidance available from the Lead Sheet Association.

Jungle outside a back door5.    Finally, external decorations and maintenance of vegetation. Innumerable problems are associated with the simplest of maintenance tasks, namely vegetation management. Ivy climbing up walls may look idyllic but in some cases it can do permanent damage to masonry and cause all manner of associated problems. Careful pruning and maintenance of trees near buildings is also worthwhile especially in drought affected areas as the amount of water taken up by maturing trees can cause subsidence. A simple lick of paint every 5 years to external joinery will prevent costly maintenance of external and internal elements.

The above are simple measures that will save you time, stress and money. If you have a property that requires a detailed cyclical maintenance program, so you can plan and manage your maintenance budgets, or you require more urgent repairs and remediation, then please contact us. Our initial consultations are always free and we would be pleased to provide you with a full quotation based on the level of service you require.

Richard Mountain MRICS

Why pay for a construction professional?

Judges gavel and the scales of justiceWe have picked up several projects in the last 6 months where the clients have had builders start or about to begin works with no formal contract, specification, scope of works or even a sketch on the back of a beer mat. As building professionals we see these as shocking omissions. We implore anyone thinking of embarking upon a building project, whether it is a refurbishment, extension, alteration, repair or cyclical maintenance, to only do so if they have taken appropriate professional advice.

Invariably construction is expensive. People want to limit costs as much as possible. Often the services of construction professionals are first to be omitted, in a bid to shave some of this cost. True, in the first instance money has been saved. The fees of surveyors, architects and structural engineers have been avoided. But the saving often doesn’t remain as the project spirals out of control without formal professional management. Worst case scenario the building owner ends up paying for professional fees to put it right or act as an expert witness in court.

Often a good contract administrator or project manager’s value cannot be immediately seen. But a project that has benefitted from the process of feasibility, design, specification, tendering, contractor appointment, management and communication by a qualified professional adds value to a project. Using a professional to steer you through the process will save you money.

A good proportion of RMA Surveyors Ltd instructions are generated by clients who wished they had sought professional advice in the first instance. We have seen sewer pipes terminate below ground floors, all manner of poor masonry detailing and poor mortar specifications, non-compliant roof conversions, unsupported chimney breasts, undersized lintels, dangerous electrics and all manner of other defects. Often work has not been passed by building control and there is no formal contract in place to protect the client.

Many problems encountered are not even considered at the time of installation, but would have been picked up by an experienced professional. Even if a problem is not noted during or immediately after construction the chances are the problem will manifest itself in years to come. Most likely when the property is sold and a purchaser’s surveyor highlights defects or shortcomings. Inevitably the value of the property is reduced at the point of sale.

Coupled with the above, a project that has not been properly specified will undoubtedly result in spiralling costs during construction. We often hear of clients whose builder invoices an inflated final account where no agreement has been made for the extra costs. But with no formal contract or defined contract sum the client is often bamboozled by the contractors’ technical explanations when trying to negotiate. The result is that both parties become entrenched.

A construction professional may not always seem appropriate and can be a cost to be avoided. But RMA Surveyors Ltd experience is although the value we bring cannot always be calculated; the cost of putting it right when it goes wrong cannot either.

If you have a project you would like to talk about please contact us.