Advice Hub: General

Our advice hub is an essential read for homeowners, property owners, landlords and tenants. We have a range of articles covering issues you might have with your property both inside and out, as well as general advice. We look at property maintenance and general health, safety and building regulations advice for when you are having work done, We also show our relaxed personal side with some more light hearted articles about the how to investigate the history of your home, and specific articles about the local areas we work in across Kent and London.

Gallows Bracket

When should gallows brackets be used?

When do I need to use Gallows Brackets?

You may have read our article about removing a chimney breast and the requirements by law to ensure you have the correct agreements in place with your neighbour if the chimney breast is on a party wall, never mind a decent builder who understands structural concerns. What we don’t talk about much in that article are chimney support brackets, or gallow brackets, which you might need to consider once you have removed Read more...

student questionnaire for surveyors

Advice for students undertaking questionnaires for their dissertations

As final year construction and surveying students begin research for their dissertations, building professionals are inundated with unsolicited email requests to complete surveys or questionnaires. Like many other surveyors, architects and other construction professionals, I am happy to give up a couple of moments to assist the next generation.

However, more often than not, the standard of the introductory emails and the surveys or questionnaires is terrible. More than 70% of those I receive have basic errors. And that makes … Read more...

Flooding in hythe kent - Flood map

Hythe and the risk of flooding

Last winter (2019/20) saw some terrible rainfall and flooding across the UK.

Along the coast in Folkestone and Hythe (near to our Kent office), we had some fairly high tides too. It’s eight years since I wrote the original version of this article about Hythe and the risk of flooding in the area, so I thought it was probably about time it was updated.

ABI flooding report 2012

Without wishing to underestimate the heartache and damage that comes with flooding, … Read more...

fair faced brick wall

Do I need a Party Wall Surveyor to get a party wall agreement?

A large proportion of Collier Stevens’ work is serving party wall notices, agreeing awards and resolving disputes. We have a dedicated section in our Advice Hub that may help you answer any other party wall related queries. We’re often asked what we actually do, so this article aims to help you understand why a surveyor is needed and what the parameters of the role are.

Who can be a party wall surveyor?

There is no restriction on anybody calling themselves … Read more...

surveying during corona virus

Surveying during Coronavirus

Are surveyors and valuers still doing surveys during the UK lockdown caused by COVID-19?

Yes. Government guidelines permit surveyors to carry on surveying and inspecting houses during the COVID-19 crisis.

What do the Government guidelines for surveyors say?

The guidance advises surveyors should not expect to carry out non-urgent surveys in homes where people are in residence, and no inspections should take place if any person in the property is showing symptoms, self-isolating or being shielded.

They say it may …

Bomb damage springbank road hither green lewisham building survey report

There’s more to your home’s foundations – pt 1

January is the one month of the year that seems to be endless. Christmas and New Year  has been and gone and we’re looking forward to the days getting longer and maybe planning a summer break. I don’t know about you, but I find myself at a bit of a loose end this time of year. I wanted something to get my teeth into – which didn’t involve exercise or ‘Dry January’.

So I got to thinking. As a chartered

broken rat run garden wall; party fence wall; blackheath; london

When garden walls lean, collapse and go bad

When was the last time you checked your garden walls or if you are buying had a look to see what the walls are like? The cost of repair or replacement of brick and masonry garden walls can be considerable – the most recent wall reconstruction that we managed on behalf of a client cost over £10,000 for a 14m run of brick and block retaining wall on new footings and it wasn’t that high!  Sometimes the cost of repair … Read more...


What do we know about chancel repair liability?

That’s what we got asked this morning. So we scratched our heads and had to agree that we didn’t know much at all about chancel repair liability except that it can result in rather nasty surprise bills.

We then did what anyone else would do – Googled it. This turned up a very helpful guide from Clutton Cox Solicitors – Chancel Repair Liability – The Full Monty.  Then, shortly after we discovered this, Clutton Cox advised that they had … Read more...

garden wall failure

The power of roots and poor retaining walls

Here’s a garden retaining wall that garden wall we found on a single defect survey.  A retaining wall is intended to hold back ground on one side of it that is higher than the ground on the other, the load of that supported land can be considerable and retaining walls do need careful design and construction. In this case the garden wall was apparently a well-built retaining structure, but on further examination we found it wasn’t quite as good … Read more...

cottage in dungeness; kent; building survey

Surveying Homes in Dungeness

As local Chartered Surveyors we’ve done a number of building surveys and reports in Dungeness where most of the homes and properties are quite strange or unique as is the environment. Set in a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Bird Reserve it is no surprise that Dungeness is used as the location for Doctor Who and other out of this world programmes.

It is a special place and so are the properties, nothing ordinary there with buildings of … Read more...

Solar panels dangerous workmanship HSE Health and Safety CDM

Loft conversions – your responsibilities for health and safety

I was recently approached for advice by a friend who is considering converting their loft into a third bedroom. She had so many questions and it made me realise just how tricky it is for non-building professionals to understand all the ins and outs of this type of work. There’s a whole article on this part of it if you want to read more. The key thing from my point of view is that any work on a loft or … Read more...