General Building
Surveying Services

Specialist Reports / Expert Witness

photoIn the event of a building dispute for alleged defective workmanship or the requirement for a specialist Single Joint Expert report, we have experience in acting as an Expert Witness in preparing reports in the appropriate format for the Courts, acting strictly in compliance with the ‘Surveyors acting as Expert Witness’ practice statement produced by the RICS, acting under the revised Civil Procedure rules, Associated Practice Directions and Pre-Action Protocols. Written reports addressed to the judicial body as required are prepared with the appropriate declarations with the surveyor representing their party in Court or as a Single Joint Expert if necessary.

Design and Specification of Building Works

photoWe are able to offer a full one-stop-shop for building surveying and general architectural services, undertaking measured surveys and preparing the necessary drawings for obtaining Planning and Building Regulation Approvals, as required for new build and the conversion/alteration and extension of all types of residential and commercial property with particular emphasis on work to period buildings.

This service can be tailored to suit the individual client’s requirements stopping at any of the main stages. Proceeding beyond the Planning and Building Regulation stage to the preparation of a detailed specification and Schedule of Works, we will act as Contract Administrators for the subsequent monitoring of the project on site under the auspices of an appropriate JCT Building Contract, issuing all site instructions as required, certifying payment to the contractor and negotiating and agreeing the final account, with a view to avoiding the type of building practices recently observed in Egypt!

The JCT documents have recently been amended and re-issued and we use the latest documentation available.

Planning and Building Regulation Approvals

photoAs a practice we have considerable experience in the preparation of detailed Applications for general Planning and Listed Building Consent, carrying out initial feasibility studies and Pre-Application enquires with the Local Authority producing sketch layout plans prior to the Application stage as required. At the submission stage we will prepare all the necessary drawings, forms and certificates, preparing and submitting the now required detailed Planning and Access statement, monitoring the Application through its determination stage by regular checking on the website and discussions and correspondence with the Local Planning Officer.

We often find it helpful to arrange meetings with the Local Conservation Officer for projects that require alterations to Listed buildings, having a particular affinity and desire to protect and enhance period property yet find appropriate alternative uses and design suitable extensions and alterations.

The Planning process is becoming increasingly onerous, but we have the experience and expertise to negotiate the Application through the various stages having a good rate of success in Approvals.

Whilst occasionally a Planning Application may only be required for the sale of a development site, we prepare all our schemes with a view to their ultimately being built and are therefore able to ‘work up’ any drawings annotating additionally as necessary and to submit for Building Regulation Approval.

The Building Regulations, as set out in the approved documents A – P, are constantly being upgraded and re-issued and we are continually updating our knowledge to ensure that current and relevant advice is given so that the Applications can be readily Approved.

We provide a competitive fee structure for this service and will provide plans and obtain Consents for schemes that will be built by others if requested.

Party Wall Surveyors

photoThe Party Wall legislation, that originally only existed in London, was extended throughout the country following the coming into force of the Party Wall etc Act 1996. The intention of the Act was to ease the resolution of disputes between neighbours or even prevent disputes all together, allowing neighbours to carry out building works without undue difficulty or objection. We will act for either the Building or Adjoining Owner, serving Notices and preparing the Awards as required, along with inspecting the properties and carrying out the required Schedules of Condition.

As Party Wall Surveyor we are not involved with the design process and can provide all the necessary advice, drafting and serving of Notices and Awards required under the Act in a truly independent and impartial manner as is necessary.

Jeremy Gainsford is a member of both the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors and the
Pyramus and Thisbe Club.

DDA Advice

photoThe Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995, the provisions of which have steadily come into force over the following years, is basically a legislation that has been put in place to overcome the discrimination encountered by those using and employed in all types of publicly accessible buildings. Part M of the Building Regulations sets the minimum legal standards for access and use of buildings by all building users and as a Practice we have considerable knowledge and experience in the outworking of the Act and its various implications.

Whilst ‘service providers’ of buildings are required to ensure that discrimination against the disabled user is avoided, this does not always involve the need for physical alterations and we will advise on alternative means of providing the service also indicating, during commercial surveys for example, where such requirements would be required and will suggest feasible ways of carrying out such works.

On this basis we will carry out an Access Audit, with a view to assisting in the preparation of Access Plans and Strategies, designing building projects with accessibility in mind, to ensure that the provisions of the Act and Building Regulations are put in place.

A popular misconception is that disability is all about a wheelchair user, but the Act extends to all sorts of disability including sight and hearing impairment and even mental health and we are able to give practical and realistic advice on the provisions of the Act.

CDM Co-Ordinator – CDM Regulations

photoHealth and Safety is becoming increasingly paramount in our society and in order to regulate Health and Safety in the construction process, the Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations came into force in 1994. In April 2007 these were superseded by new CDM Regulations.

The general duties, however, still apply with all construction work over thirty days ‘notifiable’ to the Health & Safety Executive with co-ordination of H&S issues with the client and designer, obtaining of Method Statements from the contractor and compilation of the Health & Safety File at the end of the project.

The Regulations require the appointment of a Co-ordinator for such matters as Working at Height Regulations 2005 and also site welfare facilities, with the preparation of a Construction Phase Plan on any notifiable project. A Health Safety file is not, however, required for domestic projects.

As a Practice we can act as Planning Supervisors (now referred to as the CDM Co-ordinator) advising the client and notifying the HSE, liaising with the principal contractor and managing the early Health & Safety communication, ensuring that the principal contractor does show how risks are to be addressed in the construction phase plan.

Jeremy Gainsford and Dan Raymond of this office are suitably ‘Competent Persons’; this office being able to provide the full service required under the amended Regulations.

Insurance Reinstatement Valuations

photoAs Building Surveyors, we are able to provide advice on the likely rebuilding cost of both residential and commercial buildings in the event of their total loss for insurance purposes.

Commercial Reinstatement Cost Valuations are carried out using average building prices sourced from quarterly reviews published by the Building Cost Information Division of the RICS, including for such factors as demolition and site clearance fees and for inflation over the rebuilding period.

A similar Reinstatement Cost Assessment can be provided for residential property using the BCIS Guide to House Rebuilding Costs, also published by the RICS.

Whilst we do not provide the detailed cost analysis of a Quantity Surveyor we can prepare valuations in sufficient detail for general insurance purposes.