Party Wall Matters
A party wall is the wall between adjoining buildings.
Since the latter part of the 19th century, there have been laws controlling work to party walls. Party Wall law also applies to situations where one is excavating close to neighbouring property – even where there is no party wall.
The most recent legislation was the Party Walls etc Act 1996. The Act involves some legal formalities, but the intention is purely practical. It gives building owners rights to carry out works that may affect neighbouring buildings. It gives the owners of neighbouring buildings the right to some control over those works, so as to ensure that the risk of damage to their property is minimised. In essence, the Act provides a process that minimises disputes between neighbours, and allows disputes that do arise to be resolved quickly and easily without the need for litigation or lawyers.
If you intend to carry out building works on a Party Wall, or close to a neighbour’s buildings or structures, you will need to serve formal Notices on your neighbour and all other owners of their land (lessees and freeholders), to comply with the Act. We can do this for you, and then take the Party Wall matter forwards to completion.
If you have received a Party Structure Notice, a Line of Junction Notice or a Notice of Adjacent Excavation, your neighbour is planning to build and you will need to respond to the notice appropriately. If you are unsure how to respond, you can call us in confidence for free advice on your options.
Peter Scott & Associates offers advice and assistance to individuals and organisations having problems with their buildings. Examples of recent problems we have helped to resolve include:
We genuinely like to help. If you are having problems with your building, we can often offer some helpful advice - free of charge - over the telephone.
All buildings have some defects, and require repairs and replacements from time to time, to keep them in satisfactory condition. Roofs, walls, windows, plaster, electrical and heating systems: These and all other part of buildings have limited lives.
Housing in Britain is often poorly maintained. Often one finds that superficial modernisation of kitchens, bathrooms and decorations is not matched by modernisation of the electrical and plumbing systems, renewal of failing plaster or other ageing parts of the building.
We can assist you with clear information about repairs that are required, their cost, timing and priority. Appreciation of these factors will allow you to negotiate the purchase price and plan for future expenses.
We offer the following types of survey:
Full Building Survey
Often referred to as a structural survey, this is the most detailed survey and the format allows your particular requirements to be accommodated. The report will give detailed advice on the nature and condition of the building, on future maintenance requirements, their timing, cost and priority. Our full building survey also includes some advice on energy efficiency, security, safety and (where applicable) management of repairs. If you intend to carry out alterations to the building we can advise on their practicality and likely cost.
Concise Building Survey
The concise survey format is designed for people who want a shorter report than a full building survey. It is much shorter. We achieve this in two ways. Firstly, we reduce the amount of descriptive text. Advice in the concise survey is relatively terse, compared to the full building survey. Secondly, the concise building survey omits relatively minor defects.
Surveys of New Homes
Inspections of buildings undergoing construction can be helpful in identifying omissions or errors that might cause problems in the future, or simply to advise on quality of workmanship. Periodic inspections can be arranged during the construction. Reports can be provided in the most helpful format for your purposes. For example, we can produce a list of defects in the work that should be corrected before the job is considered complete and payments are made.
We inspect and give recommendations on problems such as subsidence, damp and rot, without carrying out a survey of the whole building. This approach is best used by home owners, rather than prospective purchasers. See our page on this subject.
All buildings have some defects, and all buildings require repairs and replacements from time to time, to keep them in satisfactory operational condition. All parts of buildings have limited lives: roofs, windows, drainage systems, plaster, electrical and heating systems to name just a few. The consequences of defects can be particularly serious to commercial occupiers, as business operations may be disrupted.
Buyers of commercial property must therefore consider the condition of their buildings, ensuring that it is satisfactory for effective use and that unavoidable maintenance expenses are allowed for in business planning.
Freehold purchasers will wish to ensure the value and amenity of the building is properly maintained, by effective maintenance at the right time.
Leasehold purchasers will be aware of their liability to pay for repairs to the building, perhaps even a whole estate, as dictated by the landlord under the terms of the lease. Leasehold purchasers must also allow for dilapidations at the end of the lease term, as the landlord will inevitably seek to have outgoing tenants carry out as much work repair work as practical.
Finally, all business property occupiers need to consider compliance with statutory regulations relating to disabled access, asbestos, fire safety, and general health and safety issues, and whether ownership of a building will involve significant upgrade costs to meet statutory requirements.
We can assist you with the decision to purchase, supporting you with clear information about defects in the building, cost, priority and timing of repairs, and (for shorter leases) on dilapidations liability. Appreciation of these factors will allow you to plan for future expenses, and to take them into account when negotiating the purchase price.
We will be happy to discuss your particular requirements.
PSA offers a complete service for property owners and occupiers wishing to carry out repair or refurbishment projects to their premises. We also assist with new build and extension projects. Our objective is simple.We will help the project meet its objectives and run smoothly.
Typically on a maintenance or refurbishment project we will:
Inspect the premises and advise on repairs required, their importance and (if required) the likely cost.
Discuss your needs and wishes, on a 'one to one' basis or in larger meetings.
Advise on safety law and other statutory matters affecting the project.
Prepare a specification for the project, including drawings if required.
Suggest suitable firms of building contractors and obtain quotations for the work.
Analyse the quotations received for accuracy, adequacy and risk.
Set up a proper building contract for the work.
Monitor the quality and progress of work and ensure standards are satisfactory.
Liase with you during the work as required, to keep you informed of progress.
Agree all payments with the building contractor and administer the contract.
The service we provide can be tailored to your needs and budget. We will be pleased to discuss the options with you.
Statutory Safety Management
The 'Construction (Design and Management) Regulations' came into effect in 1994, and introduced new requirements for planning of safety in almost all building projects. The regulations have been updated a number of times since then, most recently in 2015.
The regulations apply where the project will last more than 30 working days, where five or more persons are at work on the site, or where demolition is involved.
The regulations set out to reduce unsafe working practices.
The regulations place new duties on building firms and designers, but most of all they require Clients to plan for and pay for improved safety on building sites. Clients must:
Appoint a safety manager (usually referred to as the planning supervisor, safety coordinator or principal designer) for the building project.
Appoint a principal contractor (a contractor who is responsible for safety planning).
Ensure that the appointees are competent and have allocated adequate resources to health and safety.
Allow enough time for safety planning.
Provide information about the site / building.
Ensure an adequate safety plan is prepared before work starts on site.
Ensure that a safety file is prepared on completion of the project, and kept available.
For a fuller explanation of client duties under these regulations, please download the HSE leaflet.
Peter Scott & Associates provides safety management services routinely when carrying out repair and refurbishment contracts on Clients’ behalf.
Rebuilding Cost Information
Many buildings in Britain are either over or under insured.
In the event of a claim on the building insurance policy, under insurance can obviously cause problems. Even if the amount of damage is less than the amount insured, most insurance companies will apply "averaging" rules to reduce their liability, leaving the property owner with an un-insured loss. Over insurance, on the other hand, simply results in higher premiums.
Disputes & Litigation
Obviously that is the last resort. We will try to help you resolve disputes before they become litigious.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 introduced new laws on the provision of equal opportunities for disabled people. The Act is probably best regarded as a set of laws for human rights.
Disability is very widely defined in the Act and it is clear that one must consider the suitability of buildings for people with motor difficulties, impaired vision or hearing, and other problems. Wheelchair users must also be accommodated: though this group tends to be first in mind when considering disability, they are far less numerous than others.
In terms of its relevance for surveying, the Act set out to encourage employers to carry out changes to their premises, where it is reasonable to do so, so as to make them as accessible and useable as possible for disabled people. The Act also set out to do the same for 'service providers', i.e. any organisation that provides a service to other organisations or individuals.
The Act laid down time limits for employers and service providers to deal with these issues, which have now expired. Employers and service providers that have not dealt with these issues are now liable to litigation by aggrieved disabled persons.
Peter Scott & Associates does not specialise in this area so we will not offer detailed advice on the subject. We can however provide some basic advice on disabled access in survey reports or other reports if requested.