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.

Residential Extension Advice

Residential extension postWe recently undertook design, specification and project management of a residential extension, in Winslow, Buckinghamshire.

Our client required a kitchen and partial re-design of the ground floor bathroom. The property had a lean-to timber addition, which was in a dilapidated condition.

The extension we provided was a single storey kitchen extension with attached shower room, bathroom and utility room. We re-designed the ground floor layout to make better use of the floor space and enhance the new kitchen extension.

We provided a design and specification which we successfully took through the planning process, as the property is located in a conservation area, and also through the building regulations building control application process. We took the specification through the competitive tendering process and identified a contractor capable of undertaking the project. We also dealt with Party Wall matters, under a separate instruction, and dealt with any on-site queries the contractor had.

The project budget was approximately £60,000 and the contract period was approximately 3 months.

If you would like advice regarding a residential extension, please contact us on 01635 579208 or complete the form and we’ll get back to you.

 

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.

Project Managers for Repairs

Project Management. Repair & Redec Block of FlatsRMA Surveyors Ltd acted as project managers for an external maintenance and repairs programme to a block of flats in Cockfosters, London.

The contract included roof repairs; including repairs to parapet walls and the repair of roof coverings, maintenance to external doors and windows; including repairs and redecoration, providing insulation to tank rooms located on the roof, internal plaster repairs to common areas and redecoration and masonry repairs; including crack stitching and repointing repairs to arches and lintels above openings.

The contract value was for £70,000; we provided specification, tendered the works and oversaw the works in two phases. Unfortunately the initial contractor went into liquidation between phases, so we were required to re-tender the works and oversee phase two using a different contractor.

We saw the work through to completion, awarded final certification and ensured the work was undertaken to a satisfactory standard.

If you require a project manager for any similar repairs, redecoration or refurbishment contracts, please contact us using the form below or call us on 01635 579208.

Contact Us

Fill in the below form to contact us today.
  • If you are requesting a survey quotation please provide the address and postcode of the property.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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.

Contact Us

Fill in the below form to contact us today.
  • If you are requesting a survey quotation please provide the address and postcode of the property.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Leaning Tower of South Korea

Leaning Tower in KoreaTake a look at this seven-storey building – still under construction in South Korea – leaning 20 degrees.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2014/may/13/south-korea-building-leans-video

Hopefully your building doesn’t have concerns of this magntitude. But if you are concerned about a defect, take a look at our Defects page to see how a Chartered Building Surveyor could undertake a defect specific survey and report on a property, or contact us to discuss your situation further.

Project Management on Property Extensions and Refurbishments

An old Pumping Station for rennovationIt is frequently seen on self build tv programmes when the building owner dispenses with their professional team and announces they are going to take on the role of the project manager.

Often with little or no experience. Generally the end result is unsatisfactory, with conflicts with the building contractor, a lack of technical understanding, projects going over budget or well beyond the contract period, contractors not getting paid, legal disputes and all manner of stress to everyday life.

In short being a project manager is hard work. So why not let a professional help – in the long term, it will save you money, time, stress and heartache.

How can a professional help?
By enlisting the services of a Chartered Building Surveyor you will receive guidance and knowledge that will help your project to run smoothly. You’ll receive no nasty surprises and the outcome will be a refurbishment, extension or renovation that will be an asset.

RMA Surveyors Ltd will act on your behalf to specify, design and manage the building works. In addition to certifying works, assessing costs and liaising with the building contractor at every stage. We will use our professional skill, expertise and understanding of buildings and construction to administer and manage building contracts. We will supervise the building contract to ensure a smooth running of the project and a satisfactory outcome for all involved.

The Process
Once a project (e.g. a refurbishment, extension or reinstatement) has been designed and specified, we begin the process of procurement, usually via competitive tender. We issue the tender documents to several building contractors, who provide a quote for the works. Once tenders are received, we make a recommendation as to which building contractor should be appointed. We ensure you have the best building contractor for the job, at the best price.

We then manage the construction phase of the project, chairing regular on-site meetings, dealing with any issues as they arise, valuing works and certifying stage payments, as well as monitoring the overall quality of the build.

Finally, we certificate works when they have been satisfactorily completed and ensure any outstanding issues are dealt with after completion.

For further information on whether RMA Surveyors Ltd can help with your project, give us a call on 01635 579208. See our project management page for further details.

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

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.