Survey highlights flood risk

building survey door drainageWe undertook a building survey of a mid-terrace cottage in Sonning Eye, Berkshire. The property was identified as being in a likely flood area. The current vendor reported that although the lane near the property had regularly flooded, there had been no incidence of flooding during the occupation of the property since 2006.

We highlighted this to our client and advised that they should check with their insurance company that they would be able to obtain adequate building and contents insurance. Given the location of the property, there was likely to be an additional premium relating to flood risk.

The client did undertake these additional checks and whilst waiting for this and other legal checks to be undertaken the weather of the recent winter deteriorated and heavy rainfall unfortunately led to the property flooding.

It appears in this case that the client had a lucky escape. Flood reinstatement works can often take a long time, as we have experienced in overseeing the project management works of properties that have flooded in the past.

It is now quite possible that since the property has so recently flooded this will have affected any insurance policy to incoming owners.

If you have any queries relating to flood damaged properties or require us to undertake flood reinstatement work, please get in touch on 01635 579208 or complete the form below.

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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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When Flood Water Recedes

Flood waters in residential BerkshireRMA Surveyors Ltd have visited many properties over the last few months to assess flood water damage and work with home owners to reinstate their property.

About 6,500 homes have been flooded in the UK since December, according to this interesting BBC article, which takes a look at what happens after the flood water recedes.

If you are concerned about any damage to your property, then enlist the services of a Chartered Building Surveyor.

The reinstatement process can be long and involved. Many factors can come into play that delay or frustrate the process, particularly where there are so many claims being processed concurrently.

In our experience it is better to have an experienced Chartered Building Surveyor appointed to steer you through this lengthy and sometimes frustrating process.

If you need the assistance of a qualified and experienced Chartered Building Surveyor please call on 01635 579 208 or contact us via our contact page.

For further information read Five Steps to Flood Reinstatement.

5 Steps to Flood Reinstatement

RICS Guide to floodingThe Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has issued helpful advice in the wake of the recent flooding throughout the UK. A copy of which can be downloaded here.

Unfortunately, for many, the flood waters have far from receded. Reports of more rain this week, and the potential for rivers to rise further, is unwelcome news. Once flood waters do eventually dissipate the process of reinstatement can be a long one.

Many people have been affected and are asking themselves, “How do we get back to normal?”

These five steps chart the process back to normality.

STEP 1 – THE LOSS ADJUSTER

If your building is insured against flood damage and you have been seriously affected, you will usually have a loss adjuster appointed who will deal with your claim on behalf of your insurance company. They are the main point of contact in regards to the claim, and will make the decisions as to what can and can’t be allowed under the policy. A loss adjuster should undertake an initial visit between three and five days from receiving notification of a claim. This may be longer in peak levels, such as now.

STEP 2 – THE PROJECT MANAGER/SURVEYOR

In claims where the cost of reinstatement to your property is likely to be expensive, a project manager with specialist building knowledge is often appointed. The project manager is usually a surveyor, and both terms are used interchangeably. It is their role to specify the extent of the necessary remedial works, send the specification to different contractors to get the best price (often referred to as a competitive tender), appoint the contractor and oversee works through to completion. They will liaise with both you and the loss adjuster at all critical stages of the building reinstatement process.

IT’S YOUR PROPERTY – IT’S YOUR CHOICE

Some loss adjuster companies often seek to appoint their own in-house surveyors to project manage. The loss adjuster’s fee is usually set very low; profits are therefore generated through their in-house surveyor’s fees. Their in-house surveyors will only ask ‘approved’ building contractors to quote for the work. The building contractors sometimes pay these large loss adjusting companies a percentage fee for each project they successfully procure, in order to remain on the ‘approved’ list.

Because of this, we have found some loss adjusters from some large loss adjusting firms can be obstinate in approving the appointment of anyone other than their in-house surveyors. When an independent surveyor becomes involved, the loss adjuster’s company does not generate any additional fees. It is very important to know that you are free to appoint your own independent Chartered Building Surveyor to act on your behalf. You are in no way obliged to use a surveyor appointed to you by your loss adjuster. It is your property and you decide who works on your behalf.

Some in-house surveyors working for some large loss adjusting firms are overworked, juggling over forty projects at any one time, and over seventy projects in peak crisis periods; whilst covering a wide geographical area. These in-house teams are often not regulated by a professional body such as the RICS.
Flood waters in residential Berkshire

STEP 3 – ASSESSING THE DAMAGE & INITIAL RESTORATION

Flood waters can contain sewage, waste and the accompanying bacteria and disease. At the same time as appointing a surveyor your loss adjuster should appoint a restoration company to assist in the initial clean up. They will remove all soft furnishings and flood damaged contents and take an inventory of flood damaged items. These items will be covered under your contents insurance and will be treated as a separate claim from your buildings insurance. The restoration company should also install fans, dehumidifiers and heaters to assist the drying of your property.

As well as the obvious water damage to the visible elements of a property, unseen damage may also have occurred. For example, all service installations should be thoroughly checked and any voids, such as those in timber stud partitions should be exposed, to allow these areas to thoroughly dry out. Damage can also occur to other elements of the property while the property is drying out, due to the high humidity levels and differential rates of drying to timber elements, caused by dehumidifiers. Plaster often needs to be removed from walls, where it has been contaminated with bacteria, soluble minerals and salts in the ground water. A building contractor is also frequently appointed at this early stage, to strip out such items as plasterboard, kitchen units and other elements to assist the drying of the structure.

This stage can take anything between two weeks to over two months, depending on the extent of damage and the approach to drying adopted. The restoration contractor will return frequently to monitor drying and empty dehumidifiers. They will provide regular updates to your surveyor and loss adjuster.

STEP 4 – SPECIFICATION & TENDER PERIOD

While the property dries out, the surveyor will provide a schedule of works detailing the extent of the reinstatement required. They will provide a cost estimate of works to the loss adjuster. This can take a week to ten days. The schedule of works will then be issued to a few different building contractors. A two to four week period is usually required for the contractors to return a price (or tender) for works.

Once tender returns are received the surveyor will report back to the loss adjuster, making a recommendation as to which building contractor should be appointed. When the loss adjuster has agreed the costs the project manager will then appoint the building contractor on your behalf.

STEP 5 – THE CONTRACT PERIOD

You may already be in temporary alternative accommodation or need to move out of your property whilst repairs are in progress, which will be a matter of negotiation with the loss adjuster.

There is usually a mobilisation period of around four weeks from appointing the building contractor, allowing the contractor to plan resources and labour. Reinstatement works can then begin. This can take anywhere between six to eight weeks on a typical domestic claim.

The whole process can take much longer where the building is larger or more complex. For example if a building is listed, approvals will be required from the local authority, which can take eight weeks from the date the application is processed.

THE SURVEYOR’S ROLE

The surveyor will oversee the contract. Providing valuations, issuing instructions, certifying works as they proceed and agreeing works are completed satisfactorily. The surveyor will report back to the loss adjuster at key stages agreeing interim payments be made to the contractor.

The work should be undertaken under the framework of a formal building contract, such as the JCT minor works form of contract. A contract defines the duties of you (the client), the contractor and the surveyor.

The reinstatement process can be long and involved. Many factors can come into play that delay or frustrate the process, particularly where there are so many claims being processed concurrently. In our experience it is better to have an experienced Chartered Building Surveyor appointed to steer you through this lengthy and sometimes frustrating process. If you need the assistance of a qualified and experienced Chartered Building Surveyor please call on 01635 579 208 or contact us via our contact page.

Flooding Insurance Reinstatement

If you’ve recently put a call into your insurance company regarding a claim re flooding or water damage, then now is the time to take a closer read through your policy.

Often your insurance policy usually allows you to appoint your own Chartered Building Surveyor to project manage reinstatement works – on your behalf.

For example; a typical Aviva policy wording states “…If we accept a claim under The Buildings we will also pay for the following: a. Architects’ and surveyors’ fees to repair the buildings. These fees must not be more than those recommended by the relevant professional institutes…

In our experience, victims of flood damage are often further stressed-out by the reinstatement process; having to deal with overworked, under resourced insurance loss adjusters and their equally overstretched (sometimes less qualified) in-house surveyors.  At a time when many properties are affected, often these individuals are difficult to contact and do not have adequate time to devote to their clients.

RMA Surveyors Ltd are professionally qualified, RICS Regulated and experienced in flood reinstatement works. We never take on more work than we can manage. We will provide you with peace of mind and ensure your property is returned back to normal as swiftly as possible. We will liaise directly with your loss adjuster, so you don’t have to.

If you are unfortunate enough to have suffered from flooding and feel a little overwhelmed as to how you will get your property back to normal please contact us.

Is your property affected by flood damage?

If so, get advice from a Chartered Building Surveyor.

A chartered building surveyor is an expert in buildings. Their professional knowledge and expertise as to how buildings are constructed, and how they perform, can assist you in a swift and satisfactory reinstatement of your flood damaged premises.

If you have water entering your building then RMA Chartered Building Surveyors can undertake an initial assessment, report the damage to your insurance loss adjuster, specify, tender and oversee works to their conclusion. At all times we can be your first point of contact and liaise with your loss adjuster directly in the reinstatement of your building.

Call RMA Surveyors Ltd on 01635 579 208 for advice regarding flood or water damage and we’ll be happy to help.

Flood Waters Cause Property Damage & Threaten Thousands

Road closed due to flood water in Compton

Road closed due to flood water in Compton

After two very wet winters river levels are at bursting point. The Thames is dangerously high. Local roads are closed and road surfaces are damaged. According to the BBC news the army have been posted to critical locations on the Thames to help with sand bagging and flood defence operations. Berkshire is particularly badly affected. With the residents of Datchet feeling the brunt of the excess water. See here for the BBC news article.

Submerged wier at Goring

Submerged wier at Goring


Passing through Goring today and it is clear just how worrying the situation is. The locks and weirs that are such a prominent vista as you pass over the Goring and Streatley bridges are completely immersed in water. The Swan hotel has undertaken flood defence measures and water is literally lapping at the doors of some properties.

Flood defenses - The Swan Hotel Goring

Flood defenses – The Swan Hotel, Goring

The forecast is that water levels may get higher still as more rain is said to be on the way. We know first hand from past clients of the emotional devastation that flooding brings. We also know that in critical times like this insurance loss adjusters and their in house surveying teams are extremely overstretched. If you are unfortunate enough to suffer damage to your property from the floods you are usually entitled to appoint your own chartered surveyor to oversee the reinstatement works on your behalf at no cost to yourselves. If you do need the services of a professional chartered building surveyor with experience in flood damage reinstatement please contact us.

Goverment boost pledged for flood repairs

High water in Reading, Berkshire

High water in Reading, Berkshire

An extra £30m has been pledged for flood repairs and maintenance, which is on top of the £100m announced by David Cameron earlier this week. Full story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26061795

If your house or building has been affected by flood or water damage, give RMA Surveyors Ltd a call for some professional advice on your situation.

No Flood Insurance Deal May Leave Thousands at Risk

A flooded townThe current flood agreement between the Government and the Association of British Insurers comes to an end at the end of June 2013. Negotiations to continue providing affordable premiums to those most vulnerable to flooding are seemingly at a grinding halt.

Under the present agreement, insurers are committed to offering existing consumers universal flood insurance at affordable rates, providing that the Government invests in flood defenses. However, government spending on flood defenses is reported to have reduced. The Guardian reported last July that 294 flood defense projects have not received funding.

Talks between DEFRA and the ABI over a new deal have been ongoing for months. As many as 200,000 households could find it difficult to source reasonable premiums on flood insurance if no agreement is reached.

Buy-to-Let Boom

Brook House, Northbrook StreetThe move is over the dust is settled and I have found some time to write a long overdue web update. So, what’s new?

The fanfares are out. RMA Surveyors Ltd have moved into Brook House in Northbrook Street. We now lease offices with Young Associates, an independent, specialist property management and consultancy firm. The move is a positive step for us, and we are sure it will be of benefit to both ourselves and other businesses in Newbury, now we have a presence in the heart of the town centre.

The RICS released an article this week formally recognising we are in a but-to-let boom. “Boom” is not a word we have heard in recent years and the activity in this sector is a clear indication that property is still a good investment. For those landlord’s or speculators who are making such investments I would add a cautionary note to invest in a detailed Building Survey or Home Buyers Report to prevent your investment becoming a liability. This service is an asset not a burden.

Older properties can require far more than a fresh coat of paint or a new kitchen or bathroom. Without the surety of a qualified surveyor’s opinion, investors could find themselves subject to all sorts of defects brought about by inherent poor design and previous lack of maintenance. I find the surveys I produce for my clients are a fantastic tool for negotiation. As such the survey pays for itself, and if it doesn’t bring the price down it should provide peace of mind that a property professional has cast their expert eye over it.

In the same vein, I have had plenty of experience of producing life cycle cost assessments to help commercial property building managers and businesses plan their budgets and maintenance cycles. In the residential market this approach is rarely taken. However, as landlord’s investments grow, commissioning of a stock condition survey of the entire portfolio is an invaluable tool. Allowing assessment of the current and future maintenance liability.

Good news for potential sellers. We now offer a presale survey, aimed at potential property sellers designed to make them aware of any defects their buildings may have prior to sale. This benefits a seller by identifying items requiring repair and defects likely to affect the sale or purchase price prior to marketing the property.

If you have any questions or need some professional property advice please contact us. An initial consultation is free and you will benefit from our advice.