Party WallsDilapidationsDefects AnalysisPlanning and Building ControlBuilding Rehabilitation and RefurbishmentSurveys and InspectionsProject ManagementHealth & Safety

1. Party Walls

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 requires that any works to a wall deemed to be a party wall must be advised to all adjoining owners prior to commencement of the works. Additionally, the Act states that where excavations are to be undertaken in close proximity to a neighbouring structure, a similar notice to comply with the requirements of the Act must be served to the neighbouring owner.

The Act is specific about the contents of the Notice that when received by the adjoining owners may be acknowledged, providing consent to proposals as detailed in the Notice.

The Act also provides that adjoining owners may dissent to the proposals. Although they cannot prevent someone from exercising their right provided to them by the Act, they can influence when and how the works are completed. In these circumstances a party wall agreement, called an Award, is required. This will entail an investigation to the property in respect of the proposals by party wall surveyors acting on behalf of the parties.

As the Act is a statutory requirement the surveyors must act impartially to administer the Act and ensure that the interests of all parties are protected. Such impartiality permits a single surveyor to act for all parties and make the Award. When finalised this is provided to all parties to ensure that those items awarded are adhered to. The surveyor(s) may inspect the works in progress for compliance with the Award and also upon completion.

2. Dilapidations

Most Leases on all types of property will provide a requirement for the tenant or lessee to maintain and repair the building. The content of the lease documentation will identify the requirements for these obligations to either the interior and exterior or interior only.

It is essential that the full extent of the repairing covenants are identified before entering into a lease. There will also be an implied requirement for the building to be put to the appropriate condition before it may be maintained in accordance to the lease requirements.

A schedule of dilapidations that identifies the breach of covenant and provides the remedy required may have a serious affect on cash flow of a business during the occupation of the building. A schedule of dilapidations served at the end of the term would likely also contain reinstatement requirements subject to the obligations of the outgoing tenant.

Often a schedule of condition that records the condition of the building at the commencement of the term can have an affect of reducing the tenants obligations if this is agreed with the Landlord.

Any proposed alterations and adaptations of the property must receive the consent of the freeholder/lessor and will usually state that if necessary the building will be reinstated at the end of the term.

We provide advice in respect of the lease covenants relevant to the repairs and condition of the building, and on any proposed alterations and requirement for Licences, complete inspections and provide schedules of dilapidations or schedules of condition for both lessors and lessees.

Maintenance programmes may be prepared to coincide with the length of the lease allowing a regular programme of maintenance to be applied to the building, thus spreading the cost of the works during the term and allowing the property to be returned to the lessor in the required condition.

3. Defects Analysis

A relatively small defect to a property that does not receive correct remedial works can lead to extensive disrepair of the property, escalating costs of those repairs and possibly causing further disrepair to the building.

Often a defect will become apparent and the cause may be attributed to another part of the building with other more serious defects hidden from view.

The correct identification of the cause of the problem is necessary with the preparation of a correct specification of works for repairs. These repairs may be relatively minor or may require extensive repairs leading to disruption and inconvenience.

We complete full investigations leading to appropriate diagnosis of the disrepair and provide advice in respect of appropriate remedial works to all types of property.

Additionally, we monitor and approve works in progress and provide a full contract administration service and deal with contractors to see works are completed correctly.

4. Planning and Building Control

All building works, whether it be a loft conversion, residential extension, new build, change of use of a property, or rehabilitation and adaptation of existing buildings, may be required to comply with Town and Country Planning legislation.

We provide advice in respect of Planning Applications and will liaise with the Local Authority to determine the requirements in respect of the proposals of the client, and prepare and complete necessary applications.

We advise on the various types of Planning Applications and prepare drawings suitable for requirements of the Planning Office of the Local Authority.

Some works will also require Building Control Approval. Perhaps even if Planning Consent is not required the Local Authority Building Control Office should be notified and the appropriate application made.

We advise on various types of Building Control Approval and are able to prepare necessary application details for works with a Building Control requirement.

Even works that do not have a material affect on the external appearance of a property, may still require Building Control Approval.

5. Design

Regardless of the type of building and the nature of occupation any alterations or reconfigurations will benefit from the appropriate design process that, if necessary, can extend to preparation of applications for Planning and Building Control purposes.

From the smaller single storey extension to a residential property through loft conversions and space planning we can prepare sketch details, layout plans, elevations and section drawings suitable for all purposes including contractor tender invitation and application to Landlords/Freeholders.

As the design evolves we are mindful of the methods of construction to achieve the required result, the legal requirements for the application of health and safety consideration during construction and upon occupation and the on costs for routine maintenance works after construction works are complete.

We receive the initial brief from the client and develop the requirements appropriately into scheme proposals leading to final drawings.

6. Building Rehabilitation and Refurbishment

Often the life of a building may be extended by the application of modern systems and techniques. Opening up areas internally, replacement roof or wall claddings and improvement to the services installed can alter the appearance and use of a building, subject to planning approval where necessary.

Whether the property is a Victorian terraced house or a multi storey office building we provide advice on proposed refurbishment and prepare specifications of work and drawings suitable for submission to contractors for tender purposes. Our wide ranging experience allows us to develop the scheme to include all relevant issues including party walls, landlord and tenant relationship, planning and building control.

7. Surveys and Inspections

The purchase of a new home, the signing of a lease document, or any commitment to property is one that should be considered seriously and entered into with as much information as possible in respect of the condition of the property before commitment.

A thorough and detailed investigation to the building will identify the condition of the property externally and internally and provide an indication of the likely costs of repairs and maintenance during occupation. During the inspection we consider any proposals the client has for the building in respect of alterations or other changes either internally or externally.

After works have been completed by others we can complete a snagging inspection. This is an inspection to the finishes and fixtures installed to the building to ensure that the quality of the works completed is to an acceptable standard. A schedule is prepared identifying the items deemed to be unsatisfactory such that these may receive attention before commitment.

Our inspections may be as detailed as the client requires and we shall, if necessary, arrange for the attendance of specialist consultants and contractors during our inspection and issue instructions on behalf of the client, thus ensuring that a full and comprehensive report as to the condition of the building is provided.

We complete investigations and calculations to all property types for insurance reinstatement purposes.

8. Project Management

We receive instruction to act as project managers to ensure the efficient running of the project from inception to completion. As project managers we fully discuss the client requirements in respect of time, cost and quality, appoint on behalf of the client the relevant and appropriate consultants and contractors to ensure the smooth running of the project to completion.

Whether the project is a small building operation to a residential property, a large office refurbishment or a complete company re location, the correct application and timing of the various components of the project are essential to minimise costs and avoid delays.

As project managers we regularly report to the client and discuss any proposed amendments as necessary and ensure that the appropriate parties of the project team are advised and comply in accordance with the agreed time frame.

9. Specification and Schedule Preparation

Specifications and schedules of work are prepared and will identify the requirements of the client and may form the basis of a legally binding contract. The documents are prepared in accordance with the clients requirement and include control measures to be adopted by the contractor and other consultants during the contract.

Specifications and schedules will identify the method of the works to be completed, stipulate the finishes and name proprietary systems and appliances to be utilised as necessary.

A schedule of works is less 'specific' and identifies the work to be completed but would not advise the contractor as to how to achieve the end result.

We discuss requirements with the client and advise on the appropriate methods to achieve the client requirement and prepare all relevant documents for the contract.

If required we maintain our involvement in the project and monitor and approve works in progress in accordance with the specification and schedules and deal with any unforeseen difficulties and changes that arise through the contract period.

10. Health & Safety

There is much Legislation, Codes of Practice, and European Directives etc. that apply to the building industry and none more essential than that affecting the health and safety during the work and upon completion in respect of use and maintenance.

There is a legal requirement in the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 1994 that works of a specific size must have a risk assessment completed and a health and safety plan prepared and provided to the contractor. This document will identify the risks that the contractor must assess during the work to ensure that all site operatives work without, or with a reduced risk.

Any designer of a project has strict liabilities in respect of methods of construction and must consider use and maintenance thereafter.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 requires that providers of goods and services must make reasonable adjustments to their property to ensure that less-abled persons are able to use those services without discrimination or barrier.

To ensure that a property complies with this legislation an Access Audit must be completed. This is a report that identifies where, if any, potential barriers exist that will prevent the use of the building. The report will also provide recommendations as to how the property may receive reasonable adjustment to ensure that barriers are removed and discrimination does not occur.

An employer has an unconditional responsibility for the safety of employees. Thus, most work places are subject to legal requirement of The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO) effective from October 2006.  The RRO repeals previous fire safety certificates and consolidates the legislation.  The RRO requires a responsible person to complete a Fire Risk Assessment that includes steps to control fire risk, comply with Means of Escape, Fire Fighting, Lighting and Signage requirements and to control possible Fire Spread.  The Assessment must be in writing if five or more persons are employed at the property.

These are just a few examples of the sometimes onerous obligations on occupiers and users of buildings to comply with legal requirements and ensure that the safety and well being of employers, visitors, occupants and users is maintained.