Removing a chimney breast is a tricky task that requires professional attention and appropriate paperwork. The chimney breast is part of the building's structure, and the remaining sections of the chimney and stack must be adequately supported, so building regulation approval is necessary. Moreover, a party wall agreement is required if the chimney stack is on a shared or party wall. The Party Wall Act requires serving a written notice to your neighbours at least two months before starting the work.
Houses crack sometimes due to regular thermal and moisture changes in the structure and brickwork. However, if you see diagonal cracks that are wider at the top than at the bottom, it may be subsidence. The most common cause of subsidence is tree roots, which take water from the soil and cause it to dry and shrink. Other potential causes are a broken drain or prolonged dry weather. You should also do annual checks of your property to ensure there are no blockages.
Ensuring accessibility in the built environment can be challenging for contractors who lack training in the area. It is a common problem for contractors to get the final detailed design wrong when left to their own devices. For example, installing tactile blister paving studs at the top and bottom of a flight of stairs, or obstructing accessible parking bays. Accessibility should not be just a tick box exercise; it is a legal requirement that must be maintained even after the project is completed.
Buying a new home is one of the biggest decisions anyone will make in their lifetime, and it's essential to make sure that the house is worth the investment. Even experienced buyers can make mistakes, but it's especially difficult for first-time buyers to know where to start. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors found that many buyers do not have a survey, leading to costly faults. When selecting a surveyor, it is crucial to choose a chartered surveyor regulated by the RICS.
Staircases can often be overlooked when buying or maintaining a property, but they are one of the most crucial things to consider. There are practical problems, such as the stairs leading to a loft conversion, but also dangers such as missing handrails and asbestos being present. Safety regulations for domestic staircases specify the maximum gap between spindles, step height, and tread depth. Surveyors often find structural problems in poorly maintained or altered staircases.
Buying a home is a significant investment, and it's essential to have the property inspected to avoid costly potential bills. Commissioning a survey highlights any defects or structural problems, enabling buyers to make informed decisions. It's important to note that a mortgage provider's valuation survey is not a building survey or homebuyer report and may not uncover underlying problems like damp or faulty electrics. Even new-build homes should be independently inspected to avoid future issues.
A report by the Association of British Insurers in 2012 highlighted the flood risk in Folkestone and Hythe. The report was seized upon by the popular media, but it should be noted that the assessment was made for the whole of the local authority area, not just Hythe. Hythe, which is built on a hill and has sea defences, has not been seriously flooded since 1999. A majority of the affected homes are in the flat coastal part of the town.
Adding a basement to your property can be a cost-effective alternative to buying a bigger house or expanding upward, and is becoming increasingly popular among homeowners. It's important to use a reputable firm and to employ chartered architects and structural engineers who are experienced. Additionally, obtaining party wall agreement, decent insurance, planning permission, and building regulation approval are necessary steps for a successful basement project.
Service charges are fees that cover costs of management, maintenance, and repairs on the common areas of the building or land. Leaseholders should be aware that they have an undertaking to pay service charges as agreed within the lease. If leaseholders are contesting a service charge, they must seek professional legal advice and understand that the freeholder will be fighting hard to demonstrate that the costs are reasonable and that they must pay.
Regular maintenance of your home is essential. Don't put off cheap DIY jobs or small repairs that can lead to major repairs later on. Make sure to keep the exterior paintwork in good condition, and fix any leaky drainpipes and guttering. Clear blocked gutters, fix dripping taps and overflow pipes, and have an annual boiler service. By taking care of these key maintenance jobs, you can prevent costly repairs and problematic survey reports.
Homeowners planning to renovate or undertake a construction project should be aware of party wall agreements as they are often overlooked. A party wall is a wall that straddles a boundary line or divides two premises and forms part of both. Homeowners need to follow the Party Wall Act if their work requires any structural changes to a party wall. Excavations near neighbours and building on boundaries also require a party wall agreement.
Cavity wall insulation is recommended as a means of improving a building’s thermal efficiency. However, not all cavity walls are suitable for insulation. The problem with this process is that it fills the cavity with a material that can allow water in causing dampness and condensation. The installation of retro fit cavity wall insulation is covered by the Building Regulations and must be carried out and designed by a person in a competent installer scheme.