Commercial Surveyor Services

Bradley-Mason LLP is a Chartered Building Surveying practice who offer the full range of Surveying, Building Consultancy and Project Management Services throughout the UK.

Our senior level team provide expert advice, with a focus on a quick turnaround service to maximise value and to fully understand our client’s businesses and property requirements. Ranging from investment funds and private Landlord’s to High Street retailers and commercial Tenant’s, we offer advice on the whole life cycle of their property interest from acquisition to disposal. Our aim is to predict your needs and ensure your expectations are exceeded. We question your requirements to ensure that our services are tailored to your current and future needs.

What to do if your building has ACM cladding

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The Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 was one of the UK’s worst disasters in living history. It is a tragedy that would see 72 people lose their lives, and a further 70 injured as they attempted to escape their high-rise tower in North Kensington. This horrific event shone a devastatingly stark light on the dangers of cladding and the importance of putting the right regulations in place to ensure people’s lives are not endangered by the buildings they live in.

Following the fire in 2017, two terms became notorious among society: ACM cladding and ACM panels. But is this justified and what happens if you have this type of cladding or panelling on your building?

 

Are aluminium composite panels safe?

Aluminium composite panels (ACM) are lightweight cladding panels that are meant to be ideal for external building facades and fascia to improve the aesthetic appeal and durability of buildings. The flat panels consist of two thin aluminium sheets bonded to a non-aluminium core. When correctly specified, installed, and officially certified according to regulations, this building material has several advantages.

These include:

  • Robust durability and light weight
  • High weather resistance, particularly against rain
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Easy installation
  • Low maintenance

ACM panels are often made with various types of cores that should be strictly reviewed and assessed for suitability and safety. These include mineral fibre (usually stone mineral wool), PUR (polyurethane) foam, PIR (polyisocyanurate) foam, polystyrene and PF (phenolic foam). The key criteria here are the height of the structure the panels are used for and their fire-resistant capabilities.

 

Was cladding the cause of the Grenfell Tower fire?

ACM cladding became notorious following the disastrous Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017, when cladding with a polyethylene core was thought to be at least partly to blame for the rapid spread of the fire around the outside of the 24-storey block of flats.

In the wake of the disaster, it was declared that an electrical fault was the cause of the fire. Following an official inquiry by Sir Martin Moore-Bick, it was deemed that the ACM cladding “acted as a source of fuel”. ACM cladding was also linked to several other fires, notably the Lakanal House fire in Camberwell in 2009, where six people died.

 

Does my building have ACM cladding?

If you suspect ACM cladding on your building, the first step is to identify the material. Aviva has produced a handy checklist that highlights key observations when reviewing composite materials.

Check for:

  • Two sheets of metal – one external, one internal
  • Evidence of core material from joints, damaged sections, holes left from removed services etc.
  • Panel identification marks (e.g. UV identification code on internal face, or printed identification tape on panel edging)
  • Labels attached to the composite panels
  • Panel profile indicating the type of cladding system

The Department for Communities and Local Government has been working with the Building Research Digest to enable fire testing of samples of cladding from high-rise buildings of concern. Shortly after Grenfell, the Department announced that in buildings with a floor over 18 metres above ground levels, and where ACM panels were identified, it would now be necessary to establish whether the panels comply with Building Regulations guidance, i.e. the core material should be a material of limited combustibility or Class A2.1.

In the five years following the Grenfell disaster, close to 500 buildings were identified as needing cladding remediation to ensure the safety of those who use them. As of February 2023, 95% of all identified buildings have either completed or started remediation work according to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

 

Finding ACM cladding: what’s next?

If you have identified ACM cladding on your building, here are some essential steps you should take:

  • Check installation and support documentation to verify that the installation and the panels are approved by LPS 1500 and LPS 1531, and that the approved panels will perform adequately in case of fire.
  • Ensure that your building is insured, bearing in mind that each insurer will have their own strategy in respect of underwriting risks containing Aluminium Composite Material. Make sure that you seek your insurer’s direct advice.

For specialist guidance and advice regarding cladding testing and your property portfolio, please get in touch with a member of the team at Bradley-Mason to discuss your requirements in detail. Our senior team provides expert advice throughout the lifecycle of your property, from building surveys and acquisitions to Reinstatement Cost Assessments (RCAs) and asset disposal. We combine our deep Building Consultancy skills with commercial awareness to fully understand and serve your business needs with a bespoke service to meet your current and future challenges.

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What is Dry Rot?

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What is Dry Rot?

 Serpula Lacrymans, otherwise known as Dry Rot is a type of fungi that grows on timber.  There are six groups of fungi that are generally recognised to grow on timber, which include Brown Rots, White Rots, Soft Rots, Stains, Moulds and Plaster Fungi.  Only brown and white rot breaks down timber hence leading to serious damage, with Dry Rot being classified as a type of Brown Rot.

The Dry Rot feeds off the cellulose in the timber which allows it to spread, leaving the timber dry and brittle.  A usual tell-tale sign that Dry Rot has attacked timber is the distinct cuboidal cracking across and with the grain of the timber. Other visible signs include darkening of the timber, the timber becoming brittle and a distinctive ‘mushroom’ odour.

Dry Rot requires specific conditions in order to grow and spread.  Key requirements include damp or wet wood (moisture content above 20%), a suitable temperature of around 15-22°C and the presence of oxygen.  The most common situation Dry Rot is identified is where Timber is in contact with wet brickwork.

The life cycle of Dry Rot is typically described in four main stages;

  1. The life cycle begins when collections of dry rot spores come into contact with the timber in the correct conditions. Although individual spores cannot be seen with the naked eye, collections of spores form a reddish dust.
  1. Once in contact with the timber, the spores will germinate, producing Hyphae, which is a tube like thread and resembles fine strands or roots. A mass of Hyphae eventually form,  known as Mycelium.  As the Hyphae multiply and feed on sugars within the timber known as cellulose, the timber gradually decomposes and loses strength.
  1. Mycelium looks like a cotton wool type mass and spreads from timber through other building materials such as bricks and mortar to find new timber to feed on.
  1. The fungus also produces sporophores which is a self-reproduction organ. The sporophore sheds orange-coloured spores into the      atmosphere, which can then land on timber and if the environment is right, the life cycle of the rot begins again.

 

Dry Rot in the floor

Wet Rot in the floor

 

 

 

 

What are the differences between Dry and Wet Rot?

 It is a common question we get asked as building surveyors; what the difference between dry and wet rot is.  Both forms of rot are caused by fungal spores in timber which develop when the conditions are optimal.  The main difference between the two is, Wet Rot, as the name suggests requires a much higher moisture content (50%) in the timber than Dry Rot (20%).  This means that Wet Rot is more likely to form on timber that has been exposed to a persistent source of water such as leaking pipes etc.

There are also visible differences between Dry and Wet rots.  Wood rotted by Dry rot is light in weight, crumbles under touch and the wood often cracks in a cuboidal pattern.  Dry Rot Mycelium has the appearance of white turning grey silky sheets.  If the appearance is light in colour, this is known as a White Rot.  As all White Rots are types of Wet Rot, this can be used to distinguish Wet from Dry Rots.  Strands of Dry Rot Mycelium can become brittle if dried overnight, which can be used to distinguish between similar coloured Wet rot Strands.

 How to treat Dry Rot?

 As Dry Rot will only effect damp timber, removing the source of water ingress must be the first priority to eradicating an outbreak of Dry Rot.  Common causes of water ingress include leaking pipes, shower trays and baths, condensation, leaking roofs or penetrating damp through walls.

Once the source of water ingress has been removed, the affected area of the building should be left to fully dry out, ensuring the moisture content of the timber is below 20% to stop the growth of the fungus.  This can be a very time-consuming process, depending on the level of dampness, however specialist drying methods could be adopted to reduce drying times.

It is not always possible or practicable to wait long periods of time for the area to dry out completely. The use of secondary measures will therefore need to be relied upon, however in cases where these measures are required or damage is extensive, the cost of treatment will be high. The full extent of the outbreak should be determined, before removing all rotten wood, cutting away 300 – 400mm beyond the last indications of rot.  Remaining sound timbers may need treating with chemicals and replaced sections of timber should be preservative treated.

If you believe you may have a Dry or Wet Rot which is affecting your property, our experienced, chartered surveyors can help.  We will diagnose the cause of the Rot and provide expert advise on how to deal with it.

 

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Dilapidations and VAT Update

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As many are aware, the HMRC has revised their approach surrounding the treatment of VAT on payments relating to damages and compensation i.e. dilapidations. The new approach we understood will come into effect from 1st March 2021, after the HMRC have advised a push back from the initial date of 1st February 2021.

Following recent rulings in the European Courts of Justice, compensation and damages payments for exiting a contract early have been considered as a payment which is envisaged under the contract, hence should be consider for VAT. Previously, HMRC classified such payments as outside the scope of VAT because they were not paid under the contract.

Whilst there is still uncertainty regarding the impacts to dilapidations settlements, it is considered that such payments of damages, will fall within the scope of VAT. Landlords and Tenants therefore need to plan for this and consider the implications of VAT at an early stage, including making allowances from a cash flow perspective.

We appreciate dilapidations can be a mind-field, never mind the complexities surrounding VAT and here at Bradley Mason, we are well placed to advise how best to exit your property. Please do not hesitate to contact the team for further assistance.

Dilapidation House

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TJX Comic Relief Walk

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Julian joined the team at TK Maxx for their 2019 Comic Relief Property Thames Bridges Walk.  The walk started at Putney Bridge to Tower Bridge and included walking across every bridge in between, a total of 20km.  Julian then managed to slot in a couple of surveys, and walking a total of 32miles in the day.

The walk raised a fabulous £15,510 for Comic Relief.

 

Comic Relief Walk

 

 

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