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 is Subsidence?

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Subsidence is the steady downward movement of a building or structure caused by changes in soil conditions or underlying ground movement. As the ground moves lower, the foundations of the building can become misaligned. This process may cause the walls and floors to move, which can lead to cracks and cause the building to be unstable.

There are several common reasons for building subsidence:

  • Following a drought, the soil can dry out causing subsidence
  • Vibrations in the ground caused by passing traffic or excavations
  • Heavy rain or leaking drains have damaged the soil and its foundations
  • Old mines or quarries can cause instability as the material used to fill the site will move as it decomposes
  • Trees might be planted too close to the property, plants drain the moisture from the soil causing it to dry out and sink
  • The age and construction of the building can be a risk as the older the building is the more risk that the foundations are shallower. However, older buildings tend to be built from bricks and lime mortar which tend to be more flexible
  • New homes or extensions can often experience cracking as the structures settle under their own weight.

Subsidence usually occurs in majority clay or silt soil as these are both cohesive, which enables them to swell and shrink when wet or dry. This is the surface where the biggest changes can be seen. Subsidence can also be mistaken for heave; however, this is the opposite, as this is when the ground swells upwards. This is usually due to the clay soil becoming wetter than usual.

Signs of Subsidence

There are many signs of subsidence that can either occur on the outside or the inside of the building. The severity of the problem can be identified based on the visible signs.

If subsidence has occurred, cracks are likely to have appeared in the walls. Not all cracks can be a sign of subsidence. The cracks will usually be diagonal and be visible on both the internal and external surfaces. They tend to be wider than 3mm and can usually be found in close proximity to a door or window.

Another telling sign is sloping or sinking floors. These can be easy to identify as the floor may appear uneven and gaps may emerge near the skirting. A further key indication is sticking doors or windows. This can be due to movement within the building or due to the warping of the frames as the building sinks.

The image next image show’s movement between the slab joints to a distance of approximately 60mm. Repairs had been carried out previously however the movement continued thereafter.

 

The image to the below shows substantial stepped cracking down to the floor slab level, which is an indication that the wall is pulling in different directions. Based on information we received from a structural engineer the site is located in a high risk area for coal mining, which is a possible cause for the subsidence.

What affect does subsidence have on the building’s operation?

If subsidence occurs beneath a business structure, it must be addressed quickly and effectively to avoid any revenue loss and associated costs to the owner or occupier. The loss is frequently substantially more than the cost of repair. Sloping floors can be disruptive for machinery and similar operations which can slow down productivity. To ensure there is no risk to the business or the staff and to keep a safe working environment action must be taken as soon as it has been identified.

How to prevent subsidence?

Whilst not all subsidence can be prevented, a few measures can be taken to ensure the building is protected and prevent longer term difficulties. Tree management is a crucial but easy solution to preventing subsidence. Depending on a number of factors such as the ground surface material, tree species and the tree location can determine whether a building is at risk of subsidence. We would recommend seeking professional advice from a tree specialist before any work is undertaken. As well as this, it is also a good idea to prevent any leaks by ensuring that the gutters, plumbing and pipework are all maintained can be a quick solution to a bigger problem.

What to do if subsidence occurs?

While identifying a fix for subsidence isn’t quick or easy, if the damage is only minor and can be easily determined then repairs can usually be carried out immediately.

Research has shown that tree roots are the cause of the majority of subsidence cases. This is due to the roots drawing in the moisture from the ground surface beneath the building, this issue can worsen when there is a dry period. In certain situations, the tree can be removed and this may solve the problem, however this could lead to heave. A tree specialist should always be contacted to provide advice regarding this issue.

In a worst case scenario, the building may need to be underpinned. This is a disruptive procedure and can be expensive with costs reaching £50,000 is certain circumstances. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) estimate that less than 10% of properties that are found to have subsidence need underpinning.

In the case of the above and if damage is severe then the movement of the building may need to be monitored over a longer period. This is to help structural engineers determine a longer term solution to help solve the issue.

Regardless of the fix your insurer should be contacted straight away so that they can arrange a survey and help you come to the right solution.

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What are the pros and cons of renting business premises?

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Business location and premises are vital factors of any commercial operation, and one of the key decisions business owners have to make is whether to rent the property or invest in purchasing the freehold. At Bradley-Mason LLP, our experienced team of Chartered Building Surveyors are on hand to provide commercial building surveys and a full range of property services across many sectors to help our clients make the right decision.

Buying a commercial property can have its advantages, though these may arguably be greater for businesses that have been established for a few years. A lease or rental agreement is often a simpler arrangement and, although it constitutes a financial liability, the lower set up costs may make this more attractive for smaller companies. Let’s take a closer look.

Renting business premises

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Recent start-ups and SMEs may find it harder to predict cashflow, meaning a shorter rental agreement or a flexible lease may be the best option to secure premises. The ideal agreement is one where the responsibility for repairs and renewals remains with the landlord. That way, the tenant’s dilapidations liabilities are kept to a minimum and the risk of being faced with large, unexpected bills at the end of the term is substantially reduced.

Bradley-Mason LLP can help with recording the property’s condition at the start of the term via a Schedule of Condition and we are proud to be one of the leading Dilapidation Survey specialists in the UK, with an experienced team available to advise both landlords and tenants.

The process of moving into rented premises is usually fairly straightforward, making a business relocation quicker and easier than mortgaging a commercial property. What’s more, there is no need to tie up large sums for a mortgage deposit to secure the property, and any decrease in property value won’t affect the balance sheet.

However, the pros must be weighed up against the cons, which can be significant, and include the following key considerations:

While the business will be sheltered from any fall in property values, it won’t benefit from any capital uplift either. The rent you pay will never offer you a return. In addition, rent increases can be both steep and unexpected, and they may be entirely out of your control. While there is always the option to up sticks and relocate if no acceptable solution can be negotiated with the landlord regarding rent increases or lease renewals, this is likely to be a highly inconvenient and costly pathway for the business.

Buying business premises

When it comes to investing in commercial property, lenders may exercise extreme caution when dealing with businesses that are not well established. Assuming a mortgage offer is made at all, it is highly likely that a larger deposit will be required and premium interest rates charged, as a way to mitigate the perceived lending risk. In any event, a deposit of 25-30% of the purchase price is not uncommon. Add to that stamp duty, legal fees and valuation fees and the upfront outlay may be substantial.

Variable mortgage rates can mean a sudden increase in payments without any protection. And, of course, we all know that property prices can go up as well as down. The worst case scenario is that you could find yourself in negative equity.

That said, buying the freehold does have some clear advantages, including the following points:

If the property increases in value, so does the value of your investment asset. Gone are the risks of unpalatable rent increases and periodic lease negotiations. Mortgages can be fixed for up to 10 years, enabling smoother cashflow projections than are possible if you are a tenant. What’s more, mortgage interest payments can be offset against your net profits, making your investment tax deductible.

As a freeholder, you can make alterations to the property as you wish (subject to planning regulations). At Bradley-Mason LLP, we have a dedicated project management team to advise on all aspects of a scheme, from the feasibility stage to the finished build. You can also sub-let part of the building without issue, which is usually not permitted when you are renting premises.

Prime commercial spaces tend to come with long leases of 15+ years, which is a long-term commitment that may not work for your business, especially if there is no workable break clause. As a freehold owner you have much greater flexibility and can choose to sell whenever you decide.

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Each business has its own unique set of requirements, which makes the decision to rent or buy entirely dependant on your individual circumstances. At Bradley-Mason LLP, our expert team of Commercial Chartered Surveyors and Building Consultants can provide valuable advice and guidance to businesses of all sizes and across all sectors. Why not contact the team and discuss your property requirements to see how we can help?

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What to Expect from a Commercial Building Survey

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Commercial property surveys are different from residential surveys in a number of ways, not least because they are far more comprehensive. These types of surveys also tend to focus on more than just a monetary valuation, taking into account the client’s business needs. For those involved in commercial property, whether you’re a landlord or you’re buying or selling commercial premises, here’s our guide to commercial building surveys, what they involve and the benefits of investing in one.

An Overview of Commercial Building Surveys

Commercial building surveys differ depending on the client’s specific needs – at Bradley-Mason LLP, we firmly believe that the reports and surveys we provide should be tailored to the specific requirements of the client. However, there are certain types of building surveys which are more common than others and cater to clients in a host of different industries and sectors.

A commercial building survey provides a detailed report of the building, from the condition of each aspect to any defects that have been observed and the maintenance that may need to be addressed in the future. The report will include any implications of Listed Buildings or liability concerns, as well as helping to assist with negotiations.

A building survey report is designed to focus your attention on any potential problems that may arise in the future and to identify if further investigations are needed. This may include looking at the energy efficiency of the building, mechanical, electrical and plumbing investigations and drainage investigations.

Commercial building surveys are the most comprehensive reports and are conducted by Chartered Building Surveyors. Every element of a property will be examined, from the roof to the floors and the walls. This report will inform you of the construction type and provide you with as much information about the property as possible, whether you already occupy it or you’re about to take on the lease.

A schedule of condition survey is an important document for commercial properties, which describes and records images of the condition of the building. It can be used as evidence for any claims of damage or dilapidation, and it will also describe the condition of each aspect of the property in detail to use as a reference in the future. For those leasing a commercial lease on a property, it’s likely that dilapidation surveys will also be required.

The nature of commercial leases means that a tenant can often be liable for repairs to the premises, so a building survey is a worthwhile investment that clarifies, in detail, the condition of the building and its composite parts. For anyone involved in commercial buildings, it’s important to understand the potential liabilities and the implications of taking on that property.

Why Should Businesses Invest in a Commercial Building Survey?

When it comes to commercial property, having a survey is an essential that will provide confidence in your financial investment. One of the primary reasons to have a commercial building survey on your property is to understand the construction of the building – commercial properties are typically different to residential buildings in how they are constructed.

The materials used, from reinforced concrete and curtain wall systems to cladding and steel frames, differ considerably from how residential properties are built and this can raise unique issues. With a trained surveyor carrying out a commercial building survey, you’ll be better informed about the investments you’re making.

Owning a building also comes with legislative obligations, such as health and safety risks which need to be taken into consideration. A claim can be detrimental to your brand’s reputation and your profit, so it’s important to be clear about any safety risks that the property poses.

For those leasing a property, a building survey also provides you with a record of the state of the building at your time of signing on to the time your lease expires, so that you’re not liable for repair costs and refurbishments. A surveyor will identify unavoidable issues and any defects so when the lease comes to an end, you’ll have a credible schedule of repairs that will help prevent any conflict.

If you need advice from a professional surveyor or you would like to book a commercial building survey for your property, Bradley-Mason LLP will be happy to help you. Get in touch today with one of our highly trained professionals to learn more today.

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