Monika Grzankowska

storm damage

How to prevent storm damage to your property

Even in the UK, where we consider our weather reasonably tame, we are seeing increasingly frequent, more severe storms.  Rain, wind and temperature fluctuations can all damage property, and it is important to protect our homes to avoid problems and unexpected bills. What is storm damage? In this context, storm damage is a broad term to describe damage to property caused by: Strong winds Rain Floods The kind of damage includes: Lost roof tiles and damage to roof structures Broken guttering Broken windows and doors Damaged fences, boundary walls, gates and outbuildings Flood damage Tree damage to property Climate change and storm damage The warmth of the air and movement of weather patterns changes the type of weather we experience. For every 1°C the air temperature increases, it can hold approximately 7% more water, leading to more intense downpours.  The effects of climate change are likely to lead to more frequent, stronger winter storms in the UK.[i]  We are also likely to see wetter winters and drier summers, with the rainfall in summer more extreme, leading to potential surface water flooding.[ii] While we should all be taking steps towards storm damage prevention now, it seems likely we will need to become even more proactive in the future. How to prevent storm damage Storm damage prevention need not be arduous, and it is much better to stop the damage than face the (often costly) consequences. Here is our checklist for how to prevent storm damage: Regularly visually inspect the outside of your house, checking for damaged/missing tiles; blocked/damaged gutters and downpipes; damage to facias, walls, cladding, window frames, etc.; and blocked gullies/surface water drains. Make any repairs necessary in good time. Taking action before a storm can prevent the problem from becoming much worse. Practise good property maintenance. Little and often is a good rule when it comes to maintenance. Particularly pay attention to boundary walls, gates and fences, as loose panels are likely to suffer damage and possible collapse in strong winds. Keep plants and trees in good order e.g. remove dead trees and overhanging branches that could blow around in strong winds. Planting wind-resistant trees and shrubs at a safe distance from buildings can offer some protection. If you know a storm is on the way, take some time to secure/bring inside outdoor furniture and loose items such as BBQs, bins, toys, garden equipment and plant pots. These could blow around and break, and even become dangerous projectiles causing damage/injury. How to prevent flood damage Some areas are more prone to flood damage than others and the potential for flash flooding is increasing. If you know you are in a high-risk zone, it is a good idea to download a weather alert app which should give you warning of potential storms.  You could also install flood barriers, keep sandbags handy, and keep important documents and precious items etc on upper floors. Another good step to take is to prepare emergency supplies and keep them in a waterproof container. Ideas to include are torches, spare batteries, tinned food, tin opener, water, blankets, spare clothing, a first aid kit and any essential medication. Prevention is better than cure While we do not need to panic about storms generally, it is a very good idea to take small steps to prepare our properties to withstand them. Regular inspections and the odd repair can really pay off. Get in touch At Trinity Rose, our Chartered Surveyors offer a range of property surveys. If you would like to better understand the physical state of your home to prevent or following storm damage, we will be happy to help. Please get in touch to discuss your options. [i] https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/climate/understanding-climate/uk-and-global-extreme-events-wind-storms [Accessed 21/6/24] [ii] https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/climate/understanding-climate/uk-and-global-extreme-events-heavy-rainfall-and-floods [Accessed 21/6/24]

commercial lease

What is a break clause in a commercial property lease?

Whether you are a landlord or tenant, it is important to understand the details of your lease contract at the beginning of a commercial lease. Break clauses are a common feature of commercial leases, but what are they and are they good or bad? Let us find out more… What is a break clause in a lease? A break clause in a lease is the contractual provision allowing early termination of a commercial lease under specific circumstances. It basically allows the tenant or landlord to bring the lease to an end part way through. Do all contracts have break clauses? No. Break clauses are not automatically featured in all commercial lease contracts. The inclusion of a break clause must be agreed by both parties and specific provision must be made in the lease setting out the terms upon which the break may be exercised, and any conditions that need to be fulfilled to ensure the break is valid. Can I end the tenancy early without a break clause? It may be possible for a tenant to end the lease before it reaches the end of its contractual term and outside the scope of a break clause. However, this process, known as ‘surrendering the lease’ is a complex process and will need to be carefully navigated due to the potential costs and legal implications the tenant may face. Specialist legal advice should be sought prior to considering such a course of action. Benefits of break clause tenancy Tenants – break clauses offer flexibility to tenants which is attractive if they want to see how the business fares at that location. They have the option to downsize / upsize or even relocate, if needed. Landlords – providing a break option can often be used as a means of attracting tenants due to the increased flexibility this offers to them (see above). How do break clauses work? If your lease includes a break clause, it will normally state the exact date that either the tenant or landlord can terminate the contract early. In addition to this there will normally be a specific notice period that has to be given to exercise the break option. Furthermore, there may be specific conditions stated in the lease about how the notice needs to be served, and the party to whom the notice must be given. It is critically important that notices must be served at the correct time, in the correct form, and to the correct party. Failure to adhere to the provisions of the break clause can mean that the option is invalidated, and the tenant could lose their right to break the lease and face the remainder of the term (or the next period of the term, if there are multiple break dates) at the property bound by the terms of the lease. For this reason, we would always recommend that specialist legal advice is sought in the preparation and service of a break notice. Get in touch Whether you are a landlord or tenant, understanding the terms of a commercial property lease can feel overwhelming. We are here to ensure all parties are happy with the details and understand what they are agreeing. ‘What is a break clause?’ is a question we are often asked. Hopefully you now have a better idea of what break clauses are and how they affect a lease agreement. If you have any further questions or would like help drawing up a commercial tenancy agreement, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We will be happy to lend our expertise.

Do I Need a Party Wall Agreement for My Extension?

If you want to build an extension, you may be wondering if you need a party wall agreement before getting started. It is certainly worth making sure you have an agreement in place if needed, as otherwise you could face huge issues down the line. At the very least you could seriously fall out with your neighbour. A party wall agreement is the written consent between neighbours regarding works at or near their joining boundary. If you want to carry out certain work, you will need to serve a party wall notice. However, this is not necessary for all work. Projects such as hanging new kitchen cupboards on a party wall are fine to complete without informing your neighbour. However, something more major such as demolishing and rebuilding that wall or extending the wall for a loft conversion would certainly require you to serve a party wall notice. Are you wondering if your extension project requires a party wall agreement? Follow our simple flowchart to help you decide… Real world examples We all want to get along with our neighbours and we certainly want to stay on the right side of the law. That is why it is so important to follow the correct procedure regarding party wall matters. We can not possibly cover every type of extension project but we have included a few more examples to help you decide if you may need to serve a party wall notice and seek a party wall agreement: Knocking a wall down between two rooms and adding a steel beam to create one room If a party wall is not affected, you do not need a party wall agreement. However, if the steel beam will sit in or on the party wall then you will need an agreement. Building an extension or garden room If you are digging foundations within 3m of any of your neighbour’s buildings or even their garden wall, you will need a party wall agreement. (Fences do not count.) Also, if your building is on the boundary line or impacts a party wall, you will need an agreement. Creating a basement If your work is within 3m of your neighbour’s buildings/structures you will need a party wall agreement. Get in touch Hopefully, you are a little clearer on whether you need a party wall agreement for your extension or not. If you need help making sure you follow all correct procedures, please get in touch. Our team of Chartered Surveyors are experienced with the Party Wall Act and can help you decide the best course of action while keeping on good terms with your neighbours. We can also provide schedules of conditions before and after work, which can be invaluable if disputes arise. Please get in touch to find out more.

Everything you need to know about dilapidations assessment reports

Whether you are a landlord or tenant, the process of dilapidations is a crucial part of your contractual agreement. In the traditional course of events, a dilapidations claim is prepared at lease end, whereby a terminal schedule of dilapidations will normally be prepared and issued in the last year of the term.  In certain circumstances however, a Landlord may prepare and serve a claim in the currency of the lease – an interim schedule of dilapidations – typically, this is when there may be a concern on how the Tenant is performing against its lease obligations. In addition to this however, dilapidations assessment reports can be produced for business strategy purposes; most commonly, in acquisition or merger situations where a company looking to acquire a business may be seeking to assess its potential position when it takes on the role of either Landlord or Tenant, to a lease in progress. Sometimes a diligent Tenant will commission an assessment so that it is armed with the relevant knowledge to be able to fulfil its obligations under a lease.  This is often carried out as part of a financial provisioning process, whereby a Tenant is allowed to make a provision in its accounts for dilapidations matters, which can offset their tax liability. What is a dilapidation assessment report? A dilapidations assessment report is compiled following a detailed review of the relevant documentation pertaining to the lease – i.e. a lease (and any relevant head or sub leases), a Schedule of Condition, Licence(s) to Alter (and accompanying drawings / specifications), Deeds of Variation and relevant side letters.  This process enables the surveyor to establish the extent of the Tenant’s obligations in relation to repair, decoration, reinstatement, compliance with statute and yielding up (giving back) the property at lease end. The dilapidations survey records the current condition of the property as defined by the lease documentation.  It focuses on the building fabric, fixtures and fittings and service installations.  The surveyor will typically take detailed notes, measurements and record photographs to illustrate their findings and support their advice. The final report will set out the accrued dilapidations liabilities incurred by the Tenant from the lease commencement up to the report date, and forecast liabilities expected between the report date and lease end.  These will be costed to present the client with a reasoned overall assessment of the Tenant’s financial liability under the terms of the lease (accrued + forecast). Do I need a dilapidations assessment? Although there is no legal requirement to carry out a dilapidations assessment, it is often a cornerstone of any due diligence process relating to a business merger / acquisition.  Furthermore, a professionally prepared assessment would be expected to be in place to support any financial provisioning made in a set of business accounts.  The benefits of the assessment are: A prospective landlord can quickly establish the likely extent of its Common Law claim against its Tenant and, in the process will establish a true, up-to-date picture of the current state of the property, measured against the Tenant’s obligations set out in the lease. The report will clarify any protections afforded to the Tenant as a result of the wording of the lease and associated documentation. From this, they can make strategic decisions on the basis of the hard evidence supporting the performance of the Tenant. A prospective Tenant will be able to establish the true position of the dilapidations liability accrued by its predecessor, as well as a forecast of its financial liabilities for the remaining period of the lease. This will assist in financial negotiations relating to the proposed business transaction. A well-advised Tenant can use a professionally produced dilapidations assessment to accurately mitigate their tax position during the currency of their lease. Who conducts the assessment? A Chartered Surveyor will carry out the document review, property inspection and compile the report.  They will have experience in dilapidations procedures and ensure their reports are thorough and accurate. Who pays for the report? Who is responsible for the costs of the survey and report will come down to the instructing party.  Costs will depend on the size, type of property and complexity of the lease arrangements. General tips on dilapidations protocol Landlords: Provide a Terminal Schedule of Dilapidations in a timely manner before the lease end date, whenever possible. Be transparent in your intentions for the property at lease end. Any proposed improvement or redevelopment works must be disclosed to the Tenant under the principle of supersession. Instruct an experienced Chartered Surveyor to carry out any dilapidations work on your behalf, so that your expectations can be managed from an informed viewpoint. Be reasonable in your negotiations with the tenant when it comes to repair work. Tenants: Be proactive. Read the lease and make sure you are aware of your obligations – some of these will be ongoing during the lease term, and not just confined to lease-end. Understand your responsibilities when it comes to property maintenance. Look after the property according to your agreement for the duration of the lease. Engage a Chartered Surveyor experienced in dilapidations matters as you advisor upon receipt of a schedule of dilapidations at the end of the lease, to ensure your legal position and potential exposure to costs is protected. Make adequate financial provision for, and uphold your responsibility to your lease obligations, to avoid potential legal proceedings. Get in touch At Trinity Rose, our team of experienced Chartered Surveyors are experts in dilapidations protocols and here to help with your dilapidations requirements.  If you have any questions or would like to find out more, please get in touch.

Different types of commercial building surveys explained

If you are thinking of buying or leasing a commercial building, you may feel a little overwhelmed at the process and your responsibilities. You may have heard terms such as ‘schedule of condition’ and ‘measured building surveys’, but it can be tricky deciding if you need a survey and if so, which one. Different surveys are designed for different situations and points of a purchase/lease, and we are here to help you navigate this process. Let us take a look at the different types of commercial building surveys and when they are needed… What is a commercial building? A commercial building is a property owned/rented with the intention of making a profit, such as shops, restaurants, hotels, offices, apartment buildings, industrial units, or warehouses. When do I need a commercial building survey? It is essential to conduct thorough, relevant surveys before entering any contracts or carrying out major works. Failure to do so could result in unforeseen issues and unexpected expenses further down the line. The benefits of getting a survey: Informed decision-making Negotiating leverage Planning for maintenance Avoiding unexpected costs Protection of the purchaser’s / tenant’s interests Types of commercial building surveys There are a few different types of commercial building surveys which are required in different situations and target specific outcomes. They are all the result of comprehensive property inspections that focus upon condition of the property asset, but they each have a slightly different focus. It is worth understanding the differences between the options so you can choose the right survey for your situation. Type of building survey What it covers When it is needed Schedule of condition A detailed ‘snapshot’: records the property’s condition at a specific point in time.   Most commonly prepared at the start of a lease, as a marker of the property’s condition. It is used to compare the property’s condition at lease end when determining if the tenant must pay for/fix anything according to the terms of the lease.   Schedule of Dilapidations Similar to a schedule of condition, it provides a highly detailed ‘snapshot’, focusing on the current condition of the property. It covers physical structure, fixtures and fittings and building services in terms of their state of repair, decoration, statutory compliance matters.   This survey is most commonly conducted at the end of a lease (‘terminal schedule’)although, in certain circumstances may be carried out during the course of the term (‘interim schedule).  It may, where relevant, be compared with a schedule of condition.  A dilapidations schedule supports a breach of contract claim made by the Landlord against a Tenant for damages arising from failure to observe the Tenant’s obligations stated within the lease.   Measured building survey An accurate survey during which many measurements are taken for the purpose of recording the arrangement of the property on scaled drawings such as floor plans, elevations or sections.   Measured building surveys serve a variety of purposes, establishing the true / accurate size of a property (for example, to establish rental value or in connection with a dispute between parties to a lease), or in connection with statutory consents (planning, Building Regulations) normally associated with proposed work to a property. Technical due diligence survey A thorough investigation into the risks a buyer/tenant may face with a property. It focuses on the physical condition of the building, its services, fixtures and fittings as well as external areas, outbuildings, grounds and boundaries.   This survey should be carried out before entering into a legal commitment to buy/rent a commercial property.  The survey will identify current and anticipated future repair / maintenance issues to enable the purchaser / tenant to make a reasoned and informed decision to proceed.  In the case of a proposed lease, the survey will consider the obligations of the tenant under the terms of the lease.  The report can be tailored to include forecast repair / maintenance costs to assist the purchaser / Tenant in negotiations over the purchase price or may be used to agree an incentive / concession to the Tenant so that the cost of remedial work is accounted for. Planned preventative maintenance survey (PPM) An analysis of a property’s condition to ascertain any repairs needed, how urgent they are and how much they are likely to cost.   A planned preventative maintenance survey is useful asset management tool at any point during lease/ownership of a commercial property. It helps the building occupier / manager to create a maintenance plan for the short and long term, allowing effective longer-term budgets to be established at an early stage to reduce the concern of future ‘unforeseen’ costs. At Trinity Rose, we have years of experience carrying out the full range of commercial building surveys detailed able, helping our clients to negotiate transactions effectively; avoid unexpected costs and in turn, ensuring they enter contracts from an informed position. Hopefully, this blog helps promote a better understanding of your options when it comes to surveys of commercial property.  We understand it can be tricky deciding if you need a survey and which is the most appropriate.  We are here to help you at every step. Get in touch If you have any questions or are ready to arrange a survey with a trusted Chartered Surveyor, please get in touch. Our friendly and highly experienced team will be happy to help.

RICS Launches its Residential Retrofit Standard

With rising energy prices and a net zero emissions target set by the government, many homeowners are looking to retrofit their properties to boost energy efficiency. RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) recognise the need for robust guidance when it comes to surveying properties in preparation for retrofitting, and their team of experts has developed the new residential retrofit standard. Using this standard, trusted, qualified Chartered Surveyors will offer reliable advice to customers, helping them safely and effectively retrofit their properties. What is the RICS retrofit standard? The RICS residential retrofit standard provides a framework for retrofit surveyors to comprehensively survey properties and advise customers on their retrofit options. It sets a benchmark, ensuring a high level of knowledge, service and guidance is offered as standard. When is the standard being implemented? The new standard will come into effect from 31st October 2024. What is PAS 2035 and is it different to the new standard? You may have heard of PAS 2035 in relation to retrofit projects. This document aims to define a quality standard for the retrofit of energy efficiency measures in houses. It is different to, yet complements and supports RICS’ new standard in many ways. RICS states that their standard provides a comprehensive framework for its members, ensuring a relevant and reliable service for customers. It also details the expected conduct, manner and different roles a RICS retrofit surveyor may offer. What is a retrofit survey, and do I need one? If you are thinking about retrofitting energy saving measures at your property, it is extremely important to first seek professional advice. Some houses are not suitable for certain measures and installing the wrong thing (or installing it improperly) can result in: Ineffectiveness of implemented measures Dampness Mould A reduced EPC rating A decrease in property value Obtaining a professional retrofit survey by a RICS qualified surveyor gives peace of mind that the property’s construction type and any pre-existing defects are identified. These can then be considered before relevant energy efficiency measures are installed. Find out more It is estimated that 25 million UK homes require a form of energy improvement and professional advice.[i] The great news is that the technology and expertise is available, it is just a case of identifying where and how to apply it.  The rewards are reduced energy bills and a healthier planet, which are certainly incentives for us all to consider some form of energy efficiency retrofitting. At Trinity Rose, we are excited about the new RICS residential retrofit standard and what it means for the industry. We are confident it will help homeowners upgrade their properties with decisions enabled by reliable advice. They will ultimately save money and work towards that net zero emissions goal. If you are interested in finding out more about retrofit surveys, our team of trusted Chartered Surveyors will be happy to answer all your questions. Please get in touch to find out more. [i] Residential retrofit standard (rics.org) [Accessed 24/4/24]  

Daria Boruch

5 minutes with Daria Boruch

Can you tell us more about your role and what you do? I am a RICS registered valuer and residential surveyor. I carry out condition surveys of properties, I do advise about any structural and condition issues as well as provide a valuation of the property. I carry out market valuations on residential property, shared ownership, help to buy or probate valuations. What do you specialise in? I carry out Level One and Level Two Home Surveys. These include advice on defects that may affect the property and what maintenance, or repairs may be required. What is the most valuable piece of career advice anyone ever gave you? You will never know all the answers, so don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion. Sometimes the findings are not that obvious and we have to ask. What is your favourite part of your role? I do like to be in and out of the office. Every day is different, and every property is different. I enjoy inspecting the property and looking for any issues (or potential future issues) with the property. These issues may devalue the property or even convince the purchaser to withdraw his offer in severe circumstances; however, in my opinion, it is important to be aware of any issues relating to the property and to be sure the property is worth the effort or money required to purchase it. What advice would you give to someone who wants to enter the industry? There’s no such thing as an overnight success. You have to love what you are doing. It might be hard sometimes, but success will come as long as you are trying to be better every day. The surveying field undergoes continual changes, so you must keep up with the latest industry trends etc. What do you think the future of the residential property market looks like? The squeeze on available cash and uncertainty that consumers are facing will likely moderate the price potential homebuyers are willing to pay for a property. This will result in a smaller housing market in 2024; however, there is a growing feeling of optimism that the situation is improving as the house price inflation continues to slow. Therefore, I do believe people will be buying properties and we will be very busy.

Build to rent

The Rise of Build-to-Rent Properties in the UK

In recent years, the concept of Build-to-Rent properties has been gaining significant traction in the UK’s real estate market. This innovative housing model offers a unique approach to renting, providing tenants with a sense of community and high-quality living spaces tailored to their needs. What are Build-to-Rent properties? Build-to-Rent (BTR) properties are essentially housing developments specifically designed for renters, rather than for people to buy and own. Unlike traditional rentals which are often converted from owner-occupied properties, BTR developments are constructed from the ground up with renters in mind. This means the design and amenities may cater more towards renter preferences. Typically, BTR properties are owned by investment firms or property management companies, rather than individual landlords. Build-to-Rent (BTR) developments often come with perks you might not find in standard rentals, such as gyms, co-working spaces, or rooftop terraces. They tend to offer longer leases compared to traditional rentals, providing tenants with more stability. What are the advantages of Build-to-Rent properties? One of the key advantages of Build-to-Rent properties is the focus on long-term tenancies and professional management, ensuring a hassle-free renting experience for tenants. These developments often come equipped with a range of amenities such as gyms, communal spaces, and 24/7 concierge services, enhancing the overall quality of life for residents. Furthermore, Build-to-Rent properties promote sustainability and energy efficiency, incorporating eco-friendly features that appeal to environmentally conscious tenants. By adhering to modern building standards and design principles, these developments contribute to creating more sustainable urban environments. What are the disadvantages Build-to-Rent properties? They can be more expensive to rent in line with the additional amenities and professional management. Longer leases may not suit everyone if they crave flexibility or plan to move soon. BTR is a growing trend, but availability may be limited in certain areas. Why should landlords invest in Build-to-Rent properties? From a landlord’s perspective, investing in Build-to-Rent properties can offer stable and predictable rental income, as well as the opportunity to build a strong and loyal tenant base. With the growing demand for rental properties in the UK, particularly among young professionals and families, Build-to-Rent developments present a lucrative investment opportunity in the real estate market. Summary As the Build-to-Rent sector continues to expand, it is reshaping the rental market landscape in the UK, offering a compelling alternative to traditional buy-to-let properties. With a focus on quality, convenience, and community living, Build-to-Rent properties are set to play a significant role in the future of housing in the UK.

hamwic trust schools

Why Planned Preventative Maintenance Surveys Are Essential in the Winter

Owning and managing a property is a big responsibility.  Maintaining the building’s infrastructure and appearance is essential to its very purpose, but knowing where to start with upkeep can be daunting. It is often in the winter months, with their freezing temperatures and harsh conditions, that serious and costly problems arise. As the saying goes: ‘prevention is better than cure’, and it really pays to get ahead of any potential issues with any property. This is where a survey and preparation of a planned preventative maintenance (PPM) schedule comes into its own. What is planned preventative maintenance? Planned preventative maintenance is exactly what it sounds like maintenance work that has been scheduled before serious problems can arise. It is the art of anticipating issues such as leaks, boiler failure and electrical issues, and taking action to avert a more significant issue arising in the event of a problem. Do I need a planned preventative maintenance schedule? Any owner or manager of a commercial or residential property would benefit from having a planned preventative maintenance schedule in place, as it will enable them to: Avoid unexpected problems Plan for works Budget Book your preferred tradespeople Save money by preventing an issue rather than fixing it (and having to deal with any resulting damage caused) What is a PPM schedule? The thought of planning a maintenance regime for a property can feel daunting, but that is where your Chartered Surveyor can help. They can professionally inspect a property and, based on their knowledge of building defects, repair and maintenance measures they can compile a planned preventative maintenance schedule which details: The location and type of defects being suffered by the property The most effective repair, and its recommended timing Frequency of cyclical maintenance and redecoration Property-related obligations affecting the building users/managers Most efficient grouping of repair works, to make use of access / specific tradespeople Projected costs of works Priority categorisation of works The schedule offers maintenance advice over a prescribed time period (typically this is 5-10 years), giving budgetary peace of mind.  It lists in detail the different work that needs doing and prioritises them into categories based on the severity of the condition identified at the time of the inspection (good, fair, poor, hazardous).  This will determine when the work is proposed to be completed. The schedule provides an overview of expenditure in each year of the prescribed period.  This provides the building manager with accurate cost information that enables them to plan and collect scheduled contributions from their tenants/residents and assists them in the allocation and management of these funds. What is checked in a PPM survey inspection? Your surveyor will thoroughly check the property from top to bottom and evaluate the key elements of the building structure and fabric, including: Roofs Gutters, downpipes and drains External walls Windows and doors Communal areas (halls, lobbies, corridors) Electrical systems Heating Plumbing and water systems External areas, outbuildings, roads, paths and terraces Is a PPM Schedule worth it? The comparatively small cost of a schedule utilises the specialist knowledge of the surveyor and their ability to accurately forecast / programme and assess the costs of remedial works. PPM schedules are invaluable tools for building operators and managers, as they give substance to the financial planning of service charges and sinking funds.  The implementation of timely property maintenance prevents unnecessary deterioration of a building which in turn, saves money through the ‘stitch in time’ principle. Consequently, the asset value is maintained, whilst managers and occupiers alike are assured peace of mind that a responsible proactive approach is being taken towards care of the property.  This will assist stakeholders in the event that their interest in the property is transferred. Get in touch Many property owners and managers are caught out by maintenance issues they never knew existed.  This is often more prevalent in the winter when the cold, damp conditions can compound a whole host of property issues, so now is a great time to ask a surveyor to help. If you are a property owner or manager and are interested in arranging a planned preventative maintenance survey, our team of Chartered Surveyors at Trinity Rose are here to help. With years of experience and a wealth of knowledge in this field, we will be happy to answer all your questions and arrange a survey for your peace of mind. Take steps today to protect your assets and save money.

chimney

The Party Wall Etc Act 1996 and Chimney Breast Removal – The Facts

A good way to increase space in an older property is to remove a chimney breast, particularly if the room is constrained in size. Once you have considered the merit of removing an original feature of the property and have come to terms with the inevitable disruption that will result, your thoughts must turn to the technical and legal considerations associated with this work. Structural Considerations and the Building Regulations It is important to note that the chimney breast is an important structural element of the building, typically built of masonry and in many cases extending up the full height of the building, providing essential support to the chimney at roof level. The implications could be disastrous if the work is not approached correctly. Therefore, whether you are taking out the entire chimney breast or just a small part, it is essential that the effects that this work will have on the adjacent structure are fully considered. In a terraced or semi-detached property, or a flat, the structural considerations may affect adjoining property owners, and their interests must also be accounted for – more on that later. Building Regulations approval is required for such structural adaptations. As part of the process of gaining approval, a Structural Engineer’s advice will be required. The Structural Engineer will consider the effects of the proposed works and will design/specify appropriate measures to safeguard the integrity of the surrounding structures. They will provide supporting calculations which will form part of the document pack submitted for Building Regulations approval. Building Regulations approval documentation will be required when the property is sold in future, to prove to a prospective purchaser that the relevant due diligence has been carried out in relation to the chimney removal works. Many people forget or choose not to get Building Regulations consent for this type of work. You must appreciate that trained surveyors carrying out a future building survey of the property for a prospective purchaser will pick up on the removal of chimney breasts. They will direct their clients towards obtaining proof of relevant statutory approvals for such work before they commit to the purchase. By acting appropriately at the time of carrying out the work, a good deal of potential disruption to the smooth progress of a future sale of the property can be avoided. Neighbour Agreement and The Party Wall Etc. Act 1996 If the chimney stack/breast is a shared structure sitting on or astride a shared or party wall, or forming part of a shared structure within a block of flats, it is likely that the provisions of The Party Wall Etc. Act 1996 will apply. The Act covers work proposed to a party wall, of which the removal of a chimney stack or chimney breast structure is specifically covered. This means that any Building Owner contemplating such work must adhere strictly to the procedures set out in the Act. Find out what would happen if they ignore the party wall act. Most importantly, the party wishing to carry out the work must serve notice correctly, in an appropriate form, and a suitable period of time in advance of commencing the work. In the case of a shared chimney structure, the Act provides that at least  two months’ notice should be given. In a leasehold property, the proposed removal of a chimney breast will also require Landlord’s consent, as well as a Party Wall agreement. The purpose of the Act is to ensure that the rights of all parties are considered and provided for in respect of the proposed works. In some cases, an Adjoining Owner cannot stop the works from taking place, but they may be able to influence what work is carried out, and how it is to be undertaken. Essentially, the work should only take place once full consultation has taken place with all parties that are identified as legitimate Adjoining Owners under the Act, and whereby appropriate Party Wall Award agreements have been put in place. Any party contemplating this work must consider the following: Although a minimum two months’ notice is required under the Act, the Adjoining Owner(s) have a right to appoint a surveyor to administer the Act on their behalf. Subsequent discussions and exchanges of information between surveyors may mean that the minimum notice period is exceeded. There may be situations where multiple Adjoining Owners are involved. This could further draw out the process of reaching agreement under the Act. If you are the party carrying out the proposed works, you normally bear the costs of your Adjoining Owner’s surveyors, as well as third party consultants (such as Structural Engineers) in certain situations. In cases where there are multiple Adjoining Owners, the costs could be significant. Landlord’s consent may not be forthcoming, regardless of whether agreement with other Adjoining Owners can be reached. Getting the right advice As detailed from our simple summary above, this is a potentially complicated process which has implications from a technical, legal and financial viewpoint. Therefore, when contemplating work of this nature, it is essential that you engage with a suitably skilled and experienced professional. A Chartered Building Surveyor will carry the relevant technical skills required to evaluate the proposals, advise upon the correct course of action about technical approvals, legal procedures, and the correct application of The Party Wall Etc. Act 1996. At Trinity Rose we have a team of RICS Chartered Building Surveyors and provide advice to both Building Owners (wishing to undertake works under the Party Wall Etc Act 1996), and Adjoining Owners who are served with notices from their neighbours. Our technical expertise enables us to quickly get to the heart of the matter and liaise effectively with third parties, ensuring the correct application of the Act and resulting in thorough, accurate and well-considered Party Wall Award agreements. Of course, the Act reaches far beyond work to chimney breasts and is a complex legal instrument.  If you have any questions on this subject and would like to speak to a member