Lastest Bradley-Mason and industry news.
Written on October 16, 2013 at 8:00 am , by bradleymason
Both residents and owners of commercial properties ought to be aware of the numerous building surveys that may need to be employed during their term. One such survey offered by chartered building surveyors such as …
Both residents and owners of commercial properties ought to be aware of the numerous building surveys that may need to be employed during their term. One such survey offered by chartered building surveyors such as Bradley-Mason LLP is the building defects or pathology survey, and it’s a particularly important process when it comes to retaining the structural integrity of a property and the safety of its occupants. So what is a building pathology survey, what is it for and what do we look out for when we visit your commercial property? Our short guide seeks to make the whole process that much clearer…
What is a building defects survey?
A building defects or pathology survey is essentially an overview of any weaknesses a commercial property might possess. Such surveys are important when a property changes hands – either through sale or lease – or when any occupants or owners have identified what they believe to be a problem. Building pathology surveys are necessary to keep both occupants of and visitors to a property safe, whilst maintaining the structural integrity and security of the building in future. There are different levels of building pathology survey, with the specific details to be agreed ahead of time by the client. Once the chartered building surveyor has viewed and analysed your property, they will issue a detailed, clear report outlining any defects and the actions necessary to remedy them.
What defects do we look out for?
During the course of a building pathology survey, the chartered building surveyor will look out for a number of potential defects that could undermine the safety of staff, customers or visitors, as well as the value of the property. Below are just a few of the issues we look out for on our surveys:
Timber decay – Timber decay is an issue that affects many commercial properties, particularly older or listed buildings. In some older properties, roofs and ceilings are supported by robust timbers; should these rot or degrade over time then the structural stability of your property could be jeopardised.
Dampness – Damp is a pervasive problem in properties both old and new, and can cause any number of different health and safety issues: from respiratory problems to infection. Damp can also damage the structure of your building, undermining floors, walls and ceilings.
Cracking – Cracking is a problem that often hints at more serious issues, including subsidence. Building pathology surveys can determine the cause of cracking and offer suggestions as to how to rectify the issue in future.
Flat / metal roofs – Flat and metal roofs are particularly common in commercial properties, but both can cause problems for occupants and owners alike. Inclement weather conditions can take their toll on the roof of your property, but building pathology surveys can help to work out the extent of the problem.
Cladding – Certain materials are more suitable for external cladding than others, particularly in areas of increased exposure. Timber cladding has become increasingly fashionable in commercial properties of late, and so building defects surveys need to be on the lookout for water ingress.
Non-structural defects – Whilst the above examples all deal with structural elements, surveyors may also note more cosmetic defects such as damaged gutters, broken windows or collapsed property fences. These will rarely impact the structural integrity of the property in question directly, but may have knock-on effects if not corrected to value and long-term upkeep.
The above are just a few of the potential issues your commercial property could encounter, and defects surveys are necessary to ensure that such problems are not allowed to progress unchecked. If you should be in need of chartered building surveying services this year, contact us to find out more about how we can help.
Written on October 2, 2013 at 9:43 am , by bradleymason
Dilapidations are complex agreements, and disputes between landlords and their tenants are common. Significant amounts of money can be involved in leasehold liability settlements, and unless both parties know exactly where they stand, amicable conclusions …
Dilapidations are complex agreements, and disputes between landlords and their tenants are common. Significant amounts of money can be involved in leasehold liability settlements, and unless both parties know exactly where they stand, amicable conclusions can often remain elusive. In some instances where Dilapidations are particularly hotly disputed, the matter may even need to be settled in court. Is it in your interests to pursue legal action, however, or should you endeavour to reach a more amicable agreement? Find out more about the process of settling dilapidations disputes with the help of our expert chartered building surveyor advice.
Settling out of court
Fortunately, the majority of dilapidations will be settled out of court. Dilapidations agreements are written into tenancy contracts before they’re signed, so most tenants of commercial properties will understand what is expected of them once they occupy their new premises. Should those tenants alter your property in any way, through accidental damage, refurbishment or redecoration for example, they will be required to restore said property to its original state. Most tenants will be amenable to such agreements, and only very occasionally is there cause for any dispute. Bradley-Mason LLP has an excellent track record of settling claims out of court and before lease termination, allowing both Landlords and Tenants the chance to secure fair and reasonable settlements.
Taking legal action
When disputes do occur, however, they can be fiendishly difficult to resolve. If you have a dilapidations agreement in place and your tenants have altered the property through direct actions of their own, you’ll be in a strong legal position to ensure that they fulfil their obligations and pay to have your property restored. Problems arise, however, when damage occurs to your property that could conceivably have come about through no fault of the tenant’s. For example, cracks in interior walls may have occurred due to poor maintenance or as a result of refurbishment, but they may also have been called by subsidence, age or other natural actions. If you can’t agree between you who is liable for the damage, you may need to take the matter to court.
Needless to say, a courtroom battle is the last thing you need in this instance. If you take your tenants to court and lose, not only will you have to end up paying to repair the damage to your property anyway, but you’ll have to cover your legal fees and perhaps those of your tenants too. On top of this, a courtroom dispute can often damage a landlord’s reputation and make new tenants harder to come by. Many of these same points hold true in reverse for tenants disputing claims too.
Steps you can take
It is possible to avoid such trauma, however, and settle your dilapidations out of court. First, it’s important to ensure that the dilapidations agreement in your tenancy contract is clear and legally binding, leaving your tenants no wiggle room with which to exploit your lack of preparation. When your lease is due to expire, call on Bradley-Mason LLP’s Dilapidations Surveys to help resolve the matter as quickly as possible. In the last twelve months we have settled 75% of all landlord claims within the first three months. If you’re anticipating a lengthy dilapidations dispute between yourself and your tenants, contact us and find out how we can help save you money and time this year.
Written on September 4, 2013 at 11:04 am , by bradleymason
When you’re buying a property, it’s all too easy to fall for the look, feel, or even price of the place, and ignore the things such as damp corners or gurgling sounds that perhaps only …
When you’re buying a property, it’s all too easy to fall for the look, feel, or even price of the place, and ignore the things such as damp corners or gurgling sounds that perhaps only your subconscious had picked up on. Unfortunately, these are the things that could result in the building needing a large amount of work, possibly before you’ve even settled in. Research by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors revealed that many buyers unknowingly set themselves up for an average of £5,750 in repair bills when they move into their commercial properties, due to a wealth of hidden problems many of which only a trained chartered building surveyor would be able to identify.
Buying a commercial property is a huge commitment, and therefore requires the best support available. While you may believe money spent on a commercial property survey could be better spent elsewhere, you have to think objectively. The money spent on a survey could save you thousands, not only in repairs, but in the actual price of the property should a survey reveal grounds for renegotiation. A building survey is a comprehensive report that provides a full breakdown of the fabric and condition of the property, with diagnosis of defects, repairs and maintenance advice. Below are just a few examples of the problems that can be identified during one such survey…
You may think that any structural problems with your property would be obvious; whilst this is sometimes true, often they can be overlooked or disregarded as something else entirely. External and internal cracks may be noticeable, but a building surveyor will be able to determine how problematic they might be, and while doors and windows that stick could be thought of as nothing by occupants, experts could discover that they are part of a much wider problem, such as subsidence. Leaning building and uneven floors are also two defects you might assume you would notice, but in fact could be so slight that they are only determined by those using special tools. Structural defects can cause insurance quotes to soar and devalue the property, so it is imperative that you have your prospective commercial property surveyed so that these problems can be identified.
Damp and rot
When someone is attempting to sell you a property, they will do all they can to endear you to the look of the place. A lick of paint and some open windows can make a building appear clean, fresh and new, but can also mask the pervasive problems of damp and rot. Building surveyors will do more than simply look around your property; they will closely expect the condition and examine the seriousness of any defects. If not fixed and prevented, damp and rot can continue to cause damage to your building, as well as risking its contents and the health of occupants. Again, insurance quotes are likely to skyrocket in the presence of these issues.
Whether they are dated or rushed, unsafe installations, including plumbing and electricity, can be extremely dangerous to your property and the people that might frequent it. Without a full building survey, such problems can be discovered too late, such as when an exposed live wire leads to a fire, when boilers break down or when a nail is hammered into the wall and bursts a plastic central heating pipe that has been placed too high. To ensure the safety of yourself and others, see that your property is fully inspected before you inhabit it.
At Bradley-Mason LLP, we cover all aspects of building surveying and can perform a survey in a single visit to save you time and money. We can provide advice on the full life cycle management of your property, to reduce unnecessary costs and support your business. Get in touch with us today to see how we can help ensure you don’t receive any nasty surprises when buying your next commercial property.
Written on August 28, 2013 at 11:06 am , by bradleymason
Dilapidations can be extremely contentious processes following the termination of a commercial lease agreement, but as a landlord you must remember that dilapidations are there to help protect you and your property from the actions …
Dilapidations can be extremely contentious processes following the termination of a commercial lease agreement, but as a landlord you must remember that dilapidations are there to help protect you and your property from the actions of your tenants. Towards the end of your lease agreement, you may find it necessary to undertake a dilapidations survey on your commercial property. What are your rights as a property owner, and how will your property be protected? We have all the answers to those questions and more here…
What are dilapidations agreements for?
Dilapidations agreements are primarily put in place for the benefit of you, the property owner. When you presented your tenants with the initial lease contract, it will most likely have contained repairing obligations, making your tenants liable for the condition of the property, decoration covenants designed to ensure that they keep the building in a presentable state, and alteration and reinstatement clauses, stipulating that any amendments to the property be restored to their original state once the lease comes to an end. These legal clauses are designed to ensure that, when your current tenants vacate the building, your property remains in the same rentable condition it was before they moved in.
What happens when your tenants move out?
At the end of the lease agreement, your tenants will vacate your commercial property. Before this, it may be necessary to notify your tenants that you plan to enforce any dilapidations agreements to return the property to the same condition it was in before they rented it. A building surveyor will produce a schedule of dilapidations that sets out what repairs, renovations or redecorations are necessary, and how much each will cost. If a tenant refuses to honour this agreement, either party may pursue legal action to determine what a fair settlement is and enforce payment.
What processes must you follow to pursue dilapidation payments?
If you feel that the terms of the dilapidations agreement have not been met or that any repairs and amendments are not of the required quality, you may find it necessary to take further action. It’s in the favour of both parties to settle the matter out of court, but if your tenants refuse to make the changes you’ve requested and you feel you may have been wronged, it could be necessary to take the matter to the proper authorities. Typically, we advise our clients to carry out property inspections prior to the end of an agreement, which allows time for dilapidations disputes to be settled out of court, in a shorter timescale and at a lower cost.
What happens should the matter go to court?
If your dilapidations dispute goes to court, you’ll need to provide evidence of the agreement itself and also evidence of the condition of the property following the most recent tenancy. Based on the evidence and testimony provided by yourself and your tenants, the court will hopefully rule in your favour and the tenants will be required to pay for the dilapidations and often also cover your legal fees. There are instances, however, when natural processes such as subsidence or the poor condition of the property itself have resulted in a dilapidation, sparing tenants from the responsibility of repairs. In some instances, all is not lost here as some insurance agreements may cover the cost.
As you can see, dilapidations are often complicated, contentious and difficult to resolve, but with the help of our dilapidation surveys you’ll have nothing to worry about. Our dilapidation surveys will help to identify where your property has been damaged or altered and where your tenants are liable for repairs, and they can even be used to help you win any resultant court case. To find out more about how our dilapidation surveys can help you, contact us today and we’ll be happy to share more details.
Written on August 21, 2013 at 3:47 pm , by bradleymason
When granted, planning permission can give you free reign to develop your property as you wish and exercise your creativity, ultimately transforming its value. Unfortunately, to receive planning permission, you often have to go through …
When granted, planning permission can give you free reign to develop your property as you wish and exercise your creativity, ultimately transforming its value. Unfortunately, to receive planning permission, you often have to go through a painfully lengthy process full of hassle and uncertainty. This can put people off attempting to make any changes to their building, or even contemplate buying a building that needs work. A simple consultation or building survey could advise you whether you might need planning permission and provide you with the information you need when applying for it. However, knowing more about the process yourself could help you make important decisions and better tackle the situation in future…
When you need planning permission
You’re likely to need planning permission if you want to build something new, make a major change to your building i.e. expand it, or if you change the use of your building. Your building surveyor will advise you whether you will need to apply for planning permission; it is highly recommended that you investigate the likelihood of receiving your planning permission before purchasing a property, particularly if you are only doing so with the intention of changing it. If you attempt to go ahead with work to your building before receiving planning permission, you will be served an enforcement notice and be liable for any remedial action, which could include demolition or restoration.
Submitting your planning permission application
After submitting your application, it could take up to eight weeks for a decision to be made. Your local planning authority will make the final decision of whether or not to grant you planning permission for your project based on its development plan. They will look at the number, size, layout, siting and external appearance of buildings, the infrastructure available (e.g. roads and water supply), any landscaping needs, what you want to use the development for, and how your development would affect the surrounding area. If your application is refused, you can resubmit it for free.
Appealing the decision
If your planning application is refused, the best thing you can do is to try to come to an agreement with the LPA by adjusting your plans. If you cannot reach an agreement then you can appeal, but this must be done within a specified time limit. Unlike the initial planning permission decision, appeals can take several months to be decided. The application will be reviewed and decision made by an inspector acting for the Secretary of State, for whom you will be expected to provide information to support your case, while the LPA will provide information to support theirs. An appeal should be the last resort as if it is refused again, it will be even more difficult for you to develop your property in the future.
At Bradley-Mason LLP, we aim to make the development of your business as straightforward as possible, providing a proactive hands-on approach, offering a full range of building consultancy and project management services, including organising planning applications. So, let’s get to work on building your dream office together, today.
Written on August 14, 2013 at 2:20 pm , by bradleymason
Every now and again, your commercial property will become in need of a little TLC. As with all things, properties can begin to show their age over time, eventually becoming unsafe, impractical or merely a …
Every now and again, your commercial property will become in need of a little TLC. As with all things, properties can begin to show their age over time, eventually becoming unsafe, impractical or merely a little tired as materials age and wear out. Inevitably, the time will come when your workspace could benefit from refurbishment, and although your company will undoubtedly profit from a newly-refreshed workspace, the short-term disruption caused by the refurbishment process can be considerable. How can you maintain a positive atmosphere and productive attitude in your workplace when builders and chartered surveyors are clattering about at all hours? Well, here at Bradley-Mason LLP we thought we’d impart some helpful words of advice to help you deal with future refurbishments more effectively…
Plan your projects carefully
Every construction project, whether it’s a refurbishment or a refit will benefit from careful and professional project management. Thoroughly planning your projects in advance will always help to minimise disruption, and there are numerous variables you need to consider in advance to ensure that your company’s trade isn’t too profoundly affected. Accurate job costing will ensure that your refurbishment doesn’t go over budget, while establishing a realistic and achievable deadline will mean that delays are less likely to occur and employees’ expectations more likely to be fulfilled. Project management will help you to tell your staff and customers exactly what to expect, removing nasty surprises and minimising disruption during the works.
Find a temporary alternative
Inevitably, some refurbishments represent bigger jobs than others. You should always, however expect to have to relocate a number of employees on a temporary basis as your workspace is refurbished. It is simply not practical to expect workers to use their workplace as normal during a refurbishment, even if a separate area of the building is being worked on. There are, of course, health and safety issues to consider, but even aside from these you will have the noise and distraction of a team of workmen, foremen and chartered surveyors descending on your property to contend with. It makes sense, then, to temporarily relocate your workforce during a refurbishment. It may sound like an impractical expense to uproot your employees and supplant them elsewhere, but in the long run it could prove far less disruptive than simply expecting them to work through a refurbishment.
Ensure that the job is done properly
The absolute worst-case scenario for your company is that you’ll spend tens of thousands on a refurbishment and temporarily relocating your workforce, only to find that the contractors have done a shoddy job once you move back in. We’ve all heard the refurbishment horror stories before: poor-quality building materials are used, uneven flooring and patchy paintwork abounds, and you may even encounter a safety hazard or two. Again, such nightmare scenarios can be avoided, however, with quality project management. It can be difficult to organise all the practical aspects of a refurbishment whilst simultaneously seeking out a reputable contractor, so do seek professional assistance to manage your refurbishment if required, particularly if you will be refurbishing a number of different properties across the country, all of which will require their own workforce.
Here at Bradley-Mason LLP, we understand just how disruptive a refurbishment can be for British businesses. We make it our business, however, to minimise such disruption, ensuring that your projects are executed on time, on budget and to the high standards you would expect. Take a look at the chartered building surveying services we offer for more information, or contact us to find out how we can help.
Written on July 31, 2013 at 2:27 pm , by bradleymason
If you’re in the process of refurbishing either a single commercial property or a series of properties, it’s highly likely that you’ll be working to strict deadlines. The old adage that time is money frequently …
If you’re in the process of refurbishing either a single commercial property or a series of properties, it’s highly likely that you’ll be working to strict deadlines. The old adage that time is money frequently rings true in the business world, and the ability to work to the deadlines established at the outset of a project allow more efficient planning. When so many refurbishment deadlines are delayed, knowing the typical traps and failings in advance can help to ensure your own projects stay on track. Here’s a rundown of five common project deadline delays and how to avoid them.
Perhaps the most common cause of a project deadline delay is, in fact, an over-optimistic deadline. When a project needs doing you’ll want it doing quickly, but tying yourself to an unnecessarily stringent deadline is guaranteed to cause problems. Allowing yourself and your subcontractors enough time to complete the job to the required standard and to account for any other additional delays down the line is a much more efficient way of working.
Inaccurate job costing
Before you undertake your construction or refurbishment project, you’ll inevitably have to establish a budget as well as a deadline. When offering project management for a refurbishment or upcoming construction project, as Building Surveyors we are able to provide realistic budget costs based on your outline brief. It’s crucial that job costing is executed with the utmost accuracy at this stage, as otherwise a project can run over budget resulting in cash flow problems and likely delays.
Unprofessional contractors / subcontractors
While some project deadline delays occur as a result of poor preparation on behalf of the client, others are perhaps more difficult to avoid. There are, of course, reputable contractors, but we’ve all seen the fabled ‘cowboy builders’ who cost individuals and businesses thousands of pounds with their unprofessionalism. The wrong contractor can see your project beset with lengthy delays you couldn’t have accounted for. Because of this, it’s important to do your research thoroughly and act on reliable recommendations and accreditations. A project management team such as our own should also be able to recommend contractors they have worked with in the past.
Unforeseen logistical issues
Most construction projects will be beset by the occasional ‘acts of God’ that could cause a delay. Depending on the severity of the problem, the delay may be minor or it may be significant. Structurally unsound buildings, the presence of hazardous materials or even extremely inclement weather can hold up projects, and sometimes it’s impossible to prepare for such occurrences. You need to establish a deadline and a budget that can account for a worst-case scenario should something go wrong; with our experience, we can assess the project programmes, produce a risk register and build in contingencies that will help to reduce the impact on the project.
Miscommunication between parties
A lack of communication can quickly derail a project, causing lengthy, inconvenient and expensive delays. Several parties will be involved in the refurbishment of a commercial property, from your business to building surveyors, contractors, sub-contractors and local authorities. If you want your project to go ahead without a hitch and to avoid delays in future, ensure that channels of communication remain open and clear throughout the entire process. Things might be ‘all clear’, but sometimes ensuring that you have a weekly call to confirm this means that any minor challenges can be flagged before they become full-blown problems.
There are numerous factors that can derail or delay a project deadline, but a well-drilled and well-organised project ought to have the momentum to get over the line on time. Here at Bradley-Mason LLP we offer client-specific Project Management services that will ensure your deadline and budgetary requirements are met from the ground up, providing you with one point of contact to simplify the process as much as possible. If you have a project to undertake this year, contact us to ensure that it gets done on your terms, not anyone else’s.
Written on July 15, 2013 at 4:30 pm , by bradleymason
One of the roles of a chartered building surveyors’ practice such as Bradley-Mason LLP is to analyse older buildings for the presence of potentially dangerous materials. For decades, the construction industry has prioritised certain materials …
One of the roles of a chartered building surveyors’ practice such as Bradley-Mason LLP is to analyse older buildings for the presence of potentially dangerous materials. For decades, the construction industry has prioritised certain materials over others for their desirable properties – be they strength, insulation, flame retardance or more besides. Sometimes, however, this search for the ideal building material leads contractors to use products that may be unsafe. Here are just five such hazardous materials that we need to look out for when conducting building surveys and dilapidation surveys here in the UK…
Everybody knows the risks caused by asbestos. Throughout much of the 20th century, until it was finally banned in 1999, asbestos was widely used as a building material due to its excellent insulation and fireproofing properties, but there was a catch. The fine fibres present in asbestos – so excellent for the retention of heat – are incredibly harmful to humans. Asbestos is now known to cause respiratory problems known as asbestosis and is even a carcinogen; the material is, of course, no longer used in modern buildings.
Lead paint had been used in commercial and residential properties for decades before it was first banned back in 1978. Lead was used as an additive to improve the durability and appearance of house paint before the true toxicity of the metal was fully understood. Alarmingly, lead-based paint can stunt growth, damage the central nervous system and hold back development in young children, and unfortunately, the product tastes sweet encouraging children to put lead paint products in their mouths. While lead paint has been banned in the UK for decades, some older properties still contain rooms treated with the product.
Lead is an incredibly versatile material, and aside from being used as an additive in paint it was the primary material for domestic and commercial plumbing for centuries. The same knowledge that spelled the end of lead-based paint in the 1970s also stopped the material from being used to make pipes, so no new buildings utilise lead-based plumbing today. A high proportion of old buildings still contain lead piping, however – a fact we need to be conscious of when conducting Building surveys and Dilapidations surveys here in the UK.
Pressed wood panelling
Pressed wood panelling was extremely popular in commercial offices and even many homes throughout the ‘70s, but the material has mercifully slipped out of fashion in the years since. As well as looking desperately dated, many pressed wood products contain urea-formaldehyde resin – a highly toxic product associated with respiratory problems and perhaps even cancer. Modern pressed wood products are strictly regulated to reduce the risk of formaldehyde exposure to humans.
Fibreglass insulation was initially introduced as a replacement to asbestos, as the man-made product boasted many of the same attributes that made the natural insulator so popular in the first place. Fibreglass insulation, however, is not without its detractors. Despite the fact that numerous healthcare organisations have deemed the product safe to use in homes and commercial properties, there are those who believe that the tiny fibres can contribute to significant health problems in humans, particularly in areas where it’s likely to be disturbed frequently. It’s certainly an irritant, and must be handled with great care when being installed or removed.
As you can appreciate, even many newer buildings can contain dangerous substances, such as the five mentioned above, that must be carefully handled when commercial properties are surveyed here in the UK. Contact us to arrange a building survey or dilapidation survey of your commercial property – we know exactly what we’re looking for and will ensure that your business remains safe and compliant throughout the process.
Written on August 17, 2012 at 8:11 am , by admin
The days of inflated claims, ‘golden handshakes’ for Landlords at Lease expiry and ‘horse-traded’ dilapidations settlements bearing no resemblance to actual loss are over!
After 10 years since initial conception and a number of revised …
The days of inflated claims, ‘golden handshakes’ for Landlords at Lease expiry and ‘horse-traded’ dilapidations settlements bearing no resemblance to actual loss are over!
After 10 years since initial conception and a number of revised draft versions the Property Litigation Associations’ Dilapidations Protocol has finally been formally adopted and came into force on 1 January 2012. The Protocol has been endorsed by the RICS and incorporated into the latest Guidance note for ‘best practice’ when carrying out a Dilapidations Survey.
The Protocol applies to Terminal Dilapidations claims for damages on expiry of Leases for commercial properties in England and Wales. Its aim is to reduce litigation by preventing exaggerated claims and by requiring both Landlords and Tenants to act within a procedural framework-promoting co-operation and the disclosure of information.
Written on August 14, 2012 at 8:36 am , by deepblue
As Building Surveyors and Asbestos Consultants dealing with commercial property issues on a daily basis, it is somewhat concerning that, despite Asbestos Legislation being well established, many commercial organisations both small and large are still …
As Building Surveyors and Asbestos Consultants dealing with commercial property issues on a daily basis, it is somewhat concerning that, despite Asbestos Legislation being well established, many commercial organisations both small and large are still not fully compliant and, in extreme cases, are completely oblivious to both asbestos risk and legal requirements. Whether you’re in London or Leeds Asbestos Surveys must be done professionally by qualified Asbestos Surveyors who adhere to the most recent legislation.