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Frequently asked questions

Qualifications

Are you a qualified surveyor?

Yes. I qualified in 1971 as a Chartered Surveyor (MRICS) and am a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, 12 Great George Street, London WC1.

Are you an independent surveyor?

Yes, I have been in private practice for 30 years and currently run my own private practice from Maidenhead in Berkshire.

Area you work in

How far do you travel to carry out surveys?

Most of Southern England. I operate mainly in the Berks, Bucks and Oxfordshire counties, but have surveyed properties as far as Wales, Scotland and both north and south of France. My original practice was in north London and I still practice there.

Insurance

Are you insured to carry out surveys and valuation work?

Yes. I am required to maintain Professional Indemnity Insurance for all my work as a condition of being a member of the RICS. This is controlled and monitored by the Institution.

Do you operate a “Complaints Procedure”?

Yes, this is a requirement of the RICS. A copy of this can be supplied on request.

What type of survey

I am buying an old house, should I have it surveyed?

Buying a house or flat is one of the most expensive outlays most people make during their lives. Every house and flat is different in both construction and condition and many properties have been altered and extended over the years. The report will cover all these areas with appropriate advice. Unknown defects and problems can also be expensive to resolve. A proper survey is a good independent written record of the condition of the building at the time of purchase. The report can also be used to re-negotiate the price. The conclusion of the report provides advice on the condition of the property for its age with a list at the end, of defects, repairs, maintenance requirements and points to be aware of. The report is also useful on subsequent re-sale as it can be the start of a “logbook” on the property providing a history of the building which can be added to which will help to allay future purchaser’s concerns. See Building Condition Survey.

Buying a flat

I am buying a purpose built flat or a flat converted from an old building. Do I need it surveyed?

In general, yes. If you take a lease on a flat you will normally be responsible for the maintenance, repair and redecoration of the flat.

You will also normally be responsible for contributing towards the Landlord’s costs of repairing, maintaining and redecoration of the exterior and common parts including the insurance of the block (The Service Charge).

If I am surveying a flat I probably spend as much time - if not more - on inspecting the remainder of the building or block to advise you of any likely future expenses to be incurred by the landlord and paid for by all the lessees.

I always ask for a copy of the lease to be supplied to me prior to carrying out the inspection so that I can refer directly to the repairing covenants.

About the survey

How long does it take to inspect the property and to prepare a Homebuyer’s or Building Condition report?

Depending on size and location I normally allow a morning to a full day to inspect the property. The turn round on the report is usually between one and two days, depending on work load.

Can I come along when you are surveying the property?

This depends on the seller of course. I am always pleased to meet the purchaser at the property, after the survey has been carried out. I can then give you advice on the condition and maintenance of the property and also recommend any improvements whilst the property is still fresh in my mind. This will help give you a more balanced view on the building and hopefully help you to appreciate and understand the report.

Can I use the report as a bargaining tool when buying the property?

Yes of course, but bear in mind the report is prepared in confidence for your eyes only. I suggest that the report is filed safely away after purchase, as it can be used as a reference for future maintenance and can be invaluable when you come to sell the property. It is amazing how much work is carried out on properties over the years and how much we forget, speaking from personal experience.

Cost of a survey

Is there a fixed price for a survey?

No, a fee is quoted for each property. You will be asked basic questions regarding the size of the property, its age, number of floors and rooms and any extensions or alterations, type of services, access into the loft and floor coverings so that I can build up a picture and quote a fee.

Do you test services?

No, however I do examine the electrical supply, fuse box, earth bonding, cables where exposed and recommend a test if thought necessary.

The drain covers are lifted and water run through the drains where covers are not screwed down or corroded in place!

The water supply and tanks are inspected and taps turned on and general advice is given.

If the property is on a septic tank or cess pit sewage system can you tell me what to do?

Yes, I will lift all manhole covers and inspect the tanks and system and advise you what type of system is installed, the likely age and condition and any works / maintenance necessary.

Cracking

Some cracks have developed in my walls and ceilings. Can you advise on the cause(s) and what I should do?

Yes, there are many causes for cracks in brickwork, masonry and plaster surfaces. I can inspect and provide a report. If they appear severe you may need to contact your insurers and consider a claim.

Flooding

My house was flooded out in the heavy rains last year. Can you advise me on what work needs doing and whether it is drying out?

Yes, I have inspected many properties damaged by flooding over the years. I will advise on remedial works, and monitor the building as it dries out, ready for repair and redecoration.

Dampness

There are patches of damp on my walls and mildew growing on the windows in my bedroom and bathroom and tiles in my shower - and there is a large damp patch on the solid floor in the living room. Can you advise?

Yes, there are many causes of dampness in buildings, ranging from high ground levels outside, defective masonry, leaking roofs and flashings to chimney stacks, leaking pipes, drains, baths as well as lack of ventilation.

An inspection is usually needed to determine the cause and a report provided. Often there are several problems especially in older buildings. Condensation is also becoming a problem in modern buildings, depending on how they are constructed and used.

Timber decay

I have a bouncy floor in the bay in my house and some of the floor is loose in the rear room. What can I do?

Some floors are lightweight in construction, some have large notches cut out of them by electricians and plumbers, some squeak where chipboard sheets have been nailed down and lifted. Some floors are loose where floorboards have not been nailed down properly. Some are suffering from decay in the sub floor timbers due to wet rot caused by the timbers being in contact with damp brickwork. If air bricks are blocked up and there is no movement of air under the floor, conditions may have developed for dry rot to break out and thrive in suspended timber floors. An inspection would be needed to determine the cause and remedial works necessary. In older properties, flooring may have to be lifted to allow an underfloor inspection. A report can be provided and you can then obtain estimates for repair. There are many firms specialising in timber repairs offering 20 – 30 year guarantees.

Party wall matters

I have obtained Planning Permission and Building Regulation approval to extend my house and there is a note saying I should deal with any party wall matters arising before I start works. As I am doing work on the party wall and also digging new foundations, what do I have to do?

The Party wall etc Act 1996 was passed to deal with these matters. You can download the entire Act from the internet for nothing, however, the Act is wordy and appears complicated.

It is likely that you will have to serve one or more Notices on the Adjoining Owner(s), up to 2 months before you start work. There is a set procedure for this and I can advise you and represent you if needed. I would need to see all the drawings and make a site inspection to discuss the procedure with you and advise on likely timing and costs.

Qualifications
Area you work in
Insurance
What type of survey
Buying a flat
About the survey
Cost of a survey
Cracking
Flooding
Dampness
Timber decay
Party wall matters