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What does a Surveyor do?

Surveyors are highly-trained, property professionals who can offer expert advice on the value and condition of a building. Chartered is the mark that shows a surveyor has achieved the ‘gold standard’ of professional competence. In the UK, they are usually members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Why do I need a survey if I have a mortgage valuation?

Mortgage valuations are not in-depth surveys. They don’t take long (about 15 to 30 minutes) and involve only a brief look at the property to assess its value. The valuation report is prepared for the benefit of your lender – bank or building society – and not you, the borrower, even though you may have to pay for it. The sole aim is to assess if a property is worth the agreed sale price before the lender approves your mortgage. The evaluation report may note obvious problems affecting the property’s value but it won’t give you a full picture of its condition.

Lifetime ISA

With rising property prices, first time buyers are finding it increasingly difficult to save for a deposit without asking parents for help. The new Lifetime Isa has been launched by Government as a way to get a foot on the property ladder and save for a pension at the same time. So how does it work and what is the catch? Lifetime Isa

A guide to Conveyancing

Ten years ago, most people saw a local solicitor in their high street. Today there is more choice available. In addition to traditional lawyers with training in different aspects of the law, there are also licensed conveyancers who have less legal training but specialise in property. Conveyancing services are also available online or through call centres. So how do you choose – and what are the pros and cons?

How to save for a deposit

Home ownership has fallen to its lowest level in 25 years, partly due to rising deposits required to get a mortgage. House prices are more than five times the average wage - up from three in 1997. Unless you have family willing to stump up large cash sums, raising the deposit can be the biggest hurdle to homeownership. So how can you save for a deposit?

10 Top tips to sell your home

First impressions really do count when it comes to selling property. Most prospective purchasers know if they want to buy a home within a minute or two of walking through the front door. So what can sellers do to boost the attractiveness of their homes without spending a fortune? Follow these simple steps to present your home at its best.

Help To Buy Schemes

The Government launched the Help to Buy scheme in April 2013 to help people struggling to get on the property ladder as well as home owners with not much equity who want to step up. The initiative makes it possible to purchase a property priced up to £600,000 with as little as a five per cent deposit. The government will then step in to boost this either with a loan or a mortgage guarantee.

Arches and Lintels

Part 1 - Arches

Arches and lintels are found wherever it is necessary to support a wall etc over an opening which is usually not more than about two metres wide. They provide support in completely different ways and an understanding of this is fundamental to selecting, specifying and assessing them. Arches depend for their support on the masonry surrounding them. This provides the resistance to the forces generated by the shape of the arch and the loading on it. This Paper focuses on the arches themselves and does not include problems arising in arches from external causes such as subsidence or movement of the building itself.

Defects by Decade

This paper examines the home as an evolving product. Over the passage of time, the changing tastes of the population coupled with emerging technologies have fashioned the simple house into a series of stereotypes which reflect their era of building. Some changes in techniques, materials and form have brought benefits to homeowners, unfortunately others have not. An examination of these changes has characterised their influence on structural defects found in real properties. This paper seeks to list those defects most commonly seen in particular eras and charts their origin.

Flood Risk Explained

The summer of 2012 was the wettest on record with over 7,000 properties flooded in the UK. 5 million properties are at risk from flooding from rivers or the sea with a further 2.4 million at risk from surface water flooding. Climate change is making flooding more frequent and today's extreme event may be the norm in the future. Flood risk is now a major concern for home owners, potential home buyers and developers.

Negligence and Error in Surveys and Valuations: The Margin for Error Revisited

As is always the case in a downturn, lenders and borrowers tend to turn to the one party in the process who holds professional indemnity insurance to try and recoup some of their losses; the valuer. The period of instability following the onset of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) has been no exception. Although few negligence cases actually reach court, there have been a number of cases where some key aspects of the negligence and error issues have been developed and refined recently. These have included developments in the 'margin for error' question – what level of valuation is deemed to be negligent, a question that the courts and valuers have been arguing about for many years, as well as rulings on contributory negligence, the extent of loss and on valuing in thin and unstable markets.

Tree Related Subsidence Damage

Low rise buildings on shrinkable clay soils are vulnerable to movement and structural damage due to moisture abstraction by trees and other vegetation groups. Over the last 10 years domestic subsidence claims number between 28,000 to 55,000 costing the insurance industry £140M - £400M annually. A significant proportion of these claims relate to the influence of trees and other vegetation groups. Tree loss due to subsidence damage claims to low rise buildings is a contentious issue in the UK. Undoubtedly tree removals can have a high negative impact on amenity and the environment at the local level. At the wider level, the impact is generally less than commonly thought. The issue is frequently covered in the national press with hysterical claims of mass tree removals instigated by insurers and exaggerated evaluations of risk from trees based on ignorance, limited data and lack of evidence.

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 A Brief Overview for Surveyors

This paper was written to complement a talk given by Stuart Frame to a group of Surveyors on a training course in October 2012 run by CPD Conferences. The paper was primarily aimed at those practising as party wall surveyors. It discusses the applicability of the Party Wall Act where no initiating notice has been served, and in particular the use of retrospective awards. Surveyors' duties in administering the Act is also examined, with consideration to some of the difficulties that can arise in practice.

Whose land and which boundary - where?

This paper was written to complement a talk given by Carl Calvert to a group of Surveyors on a training course in October 2012 run by CPD Conferences. The paper covers the role of an Expert Witness relating to Boundary Disputes. In particular; Civil Procedure Rules 1999, Expert Witness rules (Expert Witness Institute), Practice directions. The differences between a legal boundary and a physical boundary? The paper also outlines the best assistance a surveyor can give the courts on boundaries?

CABE (Chartered Association of Building Engineers)

Formed in 1925, as the Incorporated Association of Architects and Surveyors, the Association of Building Engineers (ABE) is a leading body for professionals specialising in the design, construction, evaluation and maintenance of building construction. Its members practise across the United Kingdom, mainland Europe and around the World, and work in both the private and public sectors. The ABE provides the prime qualification of Building Engineer, a title that exactly reflects the professional expertise of members.

Thermal Improvement Techniques for Old Buildings

About 40% of the UK housing stock is of solid walled construction and this amounts to approximately 4.4 million houses that were built before 1920. Often built of lime mortar these buildings are of a vapour permeable construction and so function differently from modern cavity walled houses. With many of these old buildings being cold and energy inefficient, there is often a desire to thermally upgrade them, however, the latest research shows that many of the current refurbishment methods will lead to real problems, often damp and condensation. This talk gives an overview of thermal improvement techniques and the specification of breathable materials for old buildings.

Insuring Against a Subsidence Risk

Ensuring your property is insured against the risk of subsidence or other forms of structural movement is absolutely crucial. Because of the high costs involved, most insurers prefer not to quote for people who wish to insure their buildings in areas that are perceived to have a high risk of subsidence, even more insurers will decline to offer a policy for properties with previous subsidence damage. homeprotect is a specialist provider of insurance which caters for residential property with a history of subsidence.

Managing The Client

My brief today is to share with you some recollections of six projects which turned “bad” for the professionals involved because the client was not happy. As I am sure all of you are aware, keeping clients happy is not an exact science; they can become unhappy when you have done nothing legally, technically or personally wrong. I am not therefore aiming to set out for you a systematic method of keeping clients happy (although if any of you think this can be done, I’d be very glad to collaborate with you on another paper!): rather, I wish to explore with you the challenges for professional and client together of facing the unusual.

Water Damage to Buildings

The presentation will touch upon Smithers Purslow’s experience in this field and then look at typical sources of moisture in buildings, then explain typical effects on common building materials and construction techniques. Consideration will then follow as to how to restore water tightness to buildings and subsequent drying out that may be appropriate. This will be followed by an explanation of drying certification from specialist companies and typical qualifications in documentation that they prepare. The presentation will then focus upon repair methods following water and moisture damage to prevent recurring problems in the future. As the presentation continues various example projects will be referred to and in conclusion a number of interesting case studies will also be explained.

Ecology explained

Professionals working in planning and development related industries are increasingly encountering the requirement to consider the impacts of proposals on the ecology of and within the vicinity of a site. Initially the aspects of ecology such as protected species legislation, survey effort and mitigation schemes can seem difficult to negotiate within the planning process. This paper aims to explain why ecology needs to be considered in planning applications in terms of the governing legislation and policy and to provide an account of best practice in dealing with the most commonly encountered issues.

The Right To Light

The aim of this presentation is to give you a general understanding of daylighting/sunlighting and rights of light, provide you with the general terminology used and legislation that applies. Both daylighting/sunlighting and rights of light fundamentally deal with natural lighting to buildings. They both achieve the same objectives in that they aim to maintain good daylighting and sunlighting levels within buildings.

Local Surveyors Direct: The Story Of How The Company Came About

Local Surveyors Direct first went live in 2005 offering a price comparison service for Building Surveys. Over time a large number of Building Surveyors have joined the service and their details have been listed for customers searching for a survey in a particlular area. Since then numerous other services have been added and more and more suppliers have listed their details. The following article written by JJ Heath-Caldwell gives an overview of how this all came about.

Understanding Asbestos Containing Materials

Asbestos and asbestos containing materials have the potential to cause serious or fatal diseases. They can also have a significant implication on the value of a building, cause sales to fall through and in the case of commercial premises can leave the owner or employer in Court. Identification of ACMs part way through refurbishments also has the potential to cause delays and cost escalation. Some unscrupulous contractors and so called “asbestos consultants” can however use the concerns surrounding asbestos to carry out unnecessary asbestos removal. Similarly the presence or even the suspicion that asbestos may be present can unnecessarily devalue a property. Therefore as with other aspects of building maintenance and valuation it pays to obtain impartial advice from an independent expert.

Sustainable Construction: A Case Study Of The 'Monet' Bridge

A case study of sustainable construction using the building of a large garden bridge as an example. This Paper is in two parts. The first part describes sustainable construction, why it is needed, and how to achieve it. The second part is a case study of the design and construction of a ‘Monet’ style bridge, the design of which was required by the Client to look like the bridge over the pond in the garden of the famous French impressionist painter, Claude Monet.

An Holistic Approach to Assessing Damp and Timber in Buildings

Problems with rising damp, condensation and ingress of water BRE studies have shown 1 in 6 properties suffer with condensation. It is symptomatic of a problem with primarily insufficient ventilation together with irregular heating patterns, inadequate insulation and the occupant’s lifestyle. Each property is unique and has many variables affecting it. This paper shows how a basic audit can be conducted to define the key contributing factors and then propose appropriate solutions.

The Rise of Geospatial Data on the Internet

The rise of geospatial data and access to environmental information from the internet Impacts for the property professional Google Maps and Microsoft Live have made mapping familiar to us all. This paper looks at the impact of internet mapping, the sources and applications property professionals use mapping for now and what are the likely future developments. Barely a day goes by without the mention of the environment in the news. Professional bodies such as the Law Society and RICS produce guidance advising how their members should deal with the issues and advise their clients. We look here who is doing what currently and at what information can be ascertained easily from the internet and/or alternatively from the environmental market place. Impacts for the property professional

Condition Surveys of Historic Buildings

Condition surveys of historic buildings and sites often present the surveyor with different challenges to those experienced with other building types. Often the surveyor is confronted with materials, building elements and components that are in some way or another unusual or unexpected. Using a range of case studies, this session will look in a practical way at some of the potential pitfalls that may be encountered and seek to develop an appreciation of the art (and science) of surveying historic structures.

Boundaries, Rights of Way, Adverse Possession

Defining boundaries. A prespective from a Chartered Surveyor. The new Land Registration Act 2002 came into force on 13 October 2003 and the Land Registration Rules 2003 now apply. The questions that fall out of this are: I have a Land Registry Filed Plan does it really show me the legal boundary? I occupy more land than shown on my Plan. Is it mine? My neighbour has a right of way over my land. How wide is that way? The use of land surveying, mapping, photography and other documents is succinctly explained in this paper. Carl Calvert is a Chartered Land Surveyor and part-time university lecturer in law for Geographic Information Systems.

Foundation Problems Under Conservatories

Construction of most conservatories takes place without conformance to building regulations. Many installers of conservatories carry out excellent work however some don’t. This paper looks at a number of case studies examining the problems that sometimes result and the solutions to these. Mike Royal is a Civil Engineer with a great deal of knowledge of conservatories and in particular associated subsidence.

Does it really matter if there's a tree near a building?

Investigating large trees growing close to buildings Trees are commonly highlighted in building surveys for no other reason than the fact that they are there. As a result we lose a lot of trees where removal may not be necessary. This presentation examines some of the factors that determine whether trees really do pose potential threats to buildings. Trees on shrinkable clay can often cause subsidence problems in buildings but trees growing in chalk usually do not cause problems. This paper looks at lots of case examples to help understand what the issues are.

Avoiding Subsidence Over Abandoned Mine Workings

The legacy of past mine working in the UK poses many problems to both brown field and green field sites. This paper discusses the history, geology, technical aspects and design solutions to overcome these problems. Problems associated with abandoned mining workings occur throughout many regions of the United Kingdom and pose varying problems to many sites and developments. These factors should never be ignored when developing a site or the assessment of an existing structure for either sale or redevelopment purposes.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Trussed Rafter Construction - Part 1

Conservative estimates would suggest there is somewhere in excess of 60 million trussed rafters in service in the UK. To date, there has been no known failure of a trussed rafter in its “ex factory” condition, a remarkable safety record. However, experience has shown that trussed rafters are not always well understood by the people who specify them or who erect them. Such misunderstanding can, in some circumstances, lead to poor installation or worse unsuitable alteration.

Bats and Buildings

The UK has 18 species of bats that range from common to rare. As they can be found roosting within a building they are a material consideration when submitting a planning application and therefore planning officers will need to be satisfied the development will have no net impact on bats.

Buildings Behaving Badly: Acoustic Noise

The revision of the 1992 ADE version was long overdue, and it introduced pre-completion testing to ensure that residential properties and uses complied with the requirements. The revision has given ‘teeth’ to the ADE regulations and after some initial teething troubles with the scheme, builders have responded very positively to the challenge. ‘Compliance’ rates for the properties tested are now more than 95% for the basic ‘minimum standard’ required by ADE. Higher standards of performance are now rewarded by the points system associated with EcoHomes and the Code for Sustainable Homes. The performance standards of Robust Details are also generally significantly above the minimum standard, particularly for walls. Is the ‘minimum standard’ required by ADE too low when the current market expectation is for better sound insulation performance?

Invasive Weeds: A Barrier To Development

Environmental catastrophe or manageable nuisance? This paper reveals the dangers of allowing invasive weeds such as Japanese knotweed to remain untreated. This can lead to damage to hard structures, public health issues and further liabilities can also be incurred if the plants are allowed to spread to adjacent properties. Current legislation, identification, effective methods of eradication and pitfalls are described, allowing the delegate to understand all pertinent issues when they encounter invasive weeds on the sites they consult on in the future.

Lime Mortar, Plaster and Render

Modern builders seem to talk mainly about Portland cement mortars and Gypsum plaster, only a few know that the use of lime mortar dates back to the Neolithic Period some 8500 years ago. Furthermore, mortar of that period survives today. One of the best examples is the water tanks built to maintain the supply of water for Herod’s Palace at Ramallah. These tanks, built of stone and rendered internally with lime mortar, still hold water today. The reason being, that the plasterers understood ‘working a partially cured lime’. Other well known examples of the use of lime include the use of volcanic ash to act as pozzolana to produce hydraulic lime.

Bricks and Brickwork

Everything you have ever wanted to know about bricks for building

There are Buildings still standing around the world, from Roman times and before that, confirming that brick is a durable material. Until recent years, most buildings were built from a limited range of local bricks, employing traditional well tried methods and details. Today, modern manufacturing methods and a nationwide road and rail system make bricks from all manufacturers available everywhere. To achieve long-term durability of brickwork in modern buildings, account must be taken of the physical properties of the bricks and mortars, as well as the degree of exposure to which parts of the building will be subjected. Knowledge and experience of local bricks and building methods is now supplemented by the wider collective experience which has been built up over the years within the brick industry, and forms the basis of the guidance offered in this paper. Saturation by water is the commonest potential enemy of brickwork, but recognition of this by appropriate design, specification and workmanship will ensure that modern brickwork will remain relatively maintenance free.

The Party Wall etc Act 1996

Bickford-Smith and Sydenham in their book "Party Walls Law and Practice", 2nd Ed, trace the origins of party wall legislation to the Great Fire of London in 1666. A statute was passed the following year to regulate the construction of party walls between adjoining houses in the City of London to prevent a further conflagration. Subsequent legislation, culminating in the London Buildings Act 1894, conferred rights in respect of the alteration or demolition of party walls. This legislation was re-enacted in the London Buildings Act 1930 and then the London Buildings Act (Amendment) Act 1939, but the provisions only applied to the inner London boroughs. It was not until 1 July 1997, with the bringing into force of the Party Wall etc Act 1996 that the legislation was extended to the whole country. The Party Wall etc Act 1996 basically re-enacted the law as contained in the 1930 and 1939 Acts. Little attempt was made to clarify the law and deal with anomalies in the previous legislation. Decisions on the interpretation of the old law are thus relevant to the present Act. Suggestions for reform have been made, for example, by the Pyramus and Thisbe Club on behalf of surveyors and by Bickford Smith and Sydenham. Despite the setting up of a working party by Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, there has so far been no reform.

Basement Waterproofing Using Cavity Drain Membrane

For several decades the incorporation of Basements into residential schemes has been neglected. Today with increased land prices and shortages of large building plots the domestic Basement is now back in fashion. This paper demonstrates how modern basement waterproofing techniques can be employed to create dry usable basement spaces for both new build and refurbishment situations.