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.

Insurance Reinstatement Experts

Impact damge to house We keep hearing from clients that they never knew they could use an independent building surveyor to oversee the insurance reinstatement of their property. Here are a few reasons why it is better to use RMA Surveyors Ltd, an independent chartered building surveyor, to oversee the reinstatement of your property.

Larger insurance brokers offer their own in-house surveyors to oversee fire, flood, water and impact damage claims to property. These companies will appoint the services of their surveyors, to act on your behalf, after they have undertaken their initial assessment of the damage to your property. Often these brokers do not fully explain that you are not obliged to use their in-house surveyor’s services. You are free to appoint your own independent surveyor to specify, tender and oversee works on your behalf under your policy cover. Because your insurance policy covers the fees of an independent surveyor, like RMA Surveyors Ltd , it will not cost you a penny to get impartial, qualified and quality advice and management for the duration of the insurance reinstatement works.

Using an independent chartered building surveyor like RMA Surveyors Ltd is a better option for many reasons. Firstly, using RMA Surveyors Ltd guarantees you are using a qualified professional who is regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). As RICS surveyors we are governed by a code of conduct and must act reasonably and impartially at all times.

Secondly, as chartered building surveyors we are professionally obliged to undertake projects diligently and must have the resources and capacity to fulfil a project. Large insurance broker surveyors often have many projects on the go at any one time over a large geographical area. They do not have the time to provide a tailored, bespoke service to each project. Consequently they cannot provide the same attention to detail, often missing important elements critical to the smooth completion of the project. A high turnover of staff and reallocation of resources in these companies can mean you deal with a number of different surveyors. Often works can be specified by the broker’s in-house surveyors by using template documents that do not fit the criteria of an individual project. RMA Surveyors Ltd provide a personal service with a meticulous approach, tailored to each individual property.

Thirdly, RMA Surveyors Ltd provide a fully accountable service which is efficient, detailed and comprehensive at all stages of the project. We also understand the stress and upheaval caused by such events as flood, fire, impact and water damage and endeavour to provide swift reinstatement of your property. As a result of their limited resources, broker’s in-house surveyors are often difficult to contact, do not properly oversee the quality of materials and workmanship on site, are slow to react to problems that arise and provide incomplete documentation.

Lastly, RMA Surveyors Ltd ensure that all works are undertaken by quality independent building contractors, using industry standard building contracts which protect you and clearly define your rights. Therefore, in the unlikely event that something does go wrong you are protected. Often broker’s in-house surveying departments use contracts that heavily favour themselves and their own approved contractors; effectively absolving them of responsibility should a problem arise.

If you have an insurance claim that is causing undue stress or you need some free advice please contact us. We would welcome the opportunity to help you.

A Cold Snap Could Snap Pipes

Bird box in the snowWith weather warnings announced for snow in parts of south Wales, the southwest of England and with a small fluttering of snow on cars this morning here in Berkshire, it’s forecast that we’re in for another cold snap this week.

A survey last year showed that over three million of us suffered damage to our homes in the winter freeze of 2010/2011. The extreme winter weather that occurred between October 2010 and February 2011 damaged 6% of all homes in the UK.

Often the biggest damage caused is the result of escape of water caused by frozen and burst pipes. Extreme cold can cause internal and external water pipes and drainage systems to freeze up, when this happens the water in the pipes expands and can cause the pipes and fittings to split or burst open. When the frozen water melts, damage becomes obvious as water leaks out of the system.

Leaking water can cause severe damage to properties. There is potential for ceilings to hold water, causing bowing and the possibility that the ceiling could collapse. Plaster may become soft and fall apart once it gets soaked with water. Floors, stairs and timber joinery often swell, disintegrate and can rot if left.  Tiles, paint and wallpaper can crack, lift, and peel off when water gets behind.

If you find yourself the victim of such water or flood damage, it’s likely you’ll need to make an insurance claim.

Once you put in your claim, an inspection will be required to assess the damage to your property. A detailed inspection is not something that a loss adjuster is always fully qualified to do and while your insurance company may offer you their in-house surveying service, it’s worthwhile knowing that you are not beholden to use their services. You are entitled to appoint your own independent building surveyor to assess, specify, tender and oversee reinstatement works. In our experience you will receive a far higher level of service when you use an independent construction professional to act as your project manager.

The independent and impartial expertise of RMA Surveyors Ltd, chartered building surveyors,  can determine the real extent of the damage to your property and ensure that your home is reinstated to a professional standard. If you are comprehensively insured there should be no direct cost to you.

If the cold weather results in you having to submit a claim, then contact us. We’ll be pleased to look at your claim and offer an initial free consultation. We have a proven track record in getting insurance claims moving and homes reinstated professionally and efficiently.

Richard Mountain MRICS

HOW TO PREVENT FREEZING PIPES
It’s never too late to go about protecting your home from the extreme cold weather. Why not implement these ideas to help prevent pipes from freezing:
– Lag exposed pipes with insulation
– Install loft and cavity wall insulation (special attention should be taken over pipes in loft spaces)
– Stop any dripping taps and valves, the water could freeze in the waste or overflow pipe and cause a blockage
– Keep your property warm, and if you are going away consider leaving the heating on low
– Try to stop any draughts
– Make sure you know where your stopcock is, should you need to turn off your water supply