Advice Hub: Residential

Our residential services cover all elements of surveying work for properties (single defect surveys, full building surveys, ISVA Reports (Level 2) or Homebuyer reports), as well as party wall advice, disabled access audits, expert witness work when they are in dispute with neighbours or landlords, and also project management. We receive lots of enquiries from residential clients and these articles help to answer some of them.

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...

Eccentric Foundations

Extensions: maximising space with eccentric foundations

Eccentric Foundations – a guide

If you live in a semi-detached or terraced property you have a right to build up to the boundary, and ‘if necessary’, a right to put foundations on your neighbour’s land, however, you will almost certainly need party wall agreement. So, for example, if you want to extend to the back or side of your house you must get a party wall agreement. Your neighbours can say no to you putting foundations on their Read more...

Chimney breast removal party wall act

Taking out a chimney breast – Party Wall Agreements

Removing a chimney breast and why you need a party wall agreement

Taking out a chimney breast. It can look like an easy way to make a room bigger in an older house. At first glance it seems easy, knock it out with a sledgehammer, bag up the rubble, plaster the wall, decorate and hey presto a few extra square metres of living space.

But… it isn’t that easy. And you also need to do a fair bit of paperwork. Read more...

“Help! My house is subsiding!”

Is my house subsiding?

We can’t tell you how many times in a month we get a call from a homeowner expressing concern about cracks in their walls. In fact, people often tell us their house has cracked over the weekend. It hasn’t. What has happened is that you suddenly start noticing cracks because you’re looking for them and assume that they are all new. 

Here we explain what subsidence is and how you can identify if you should worry Read more...

new home survey

How do homebuyers know which survey to have and how do you find the right surveyor?

For a home buyer it can be difficult to know where to start in the property market, and if you’re a first-time buyer it can be a minefield. Buying a new home is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make, yet one thing that isn’t always top of the agenda is making sure you get a house that’s worth the investment. Excitement can sometimes override realism, especially if you’re a first-time buyer, but even for those on their third … Read more...

What problems do surveyors find with stairs?

How often have you considered the staircase in your home? Or if you’re looking to buy, do you really take note of the condition of the stairs?

Unless you own, or wish to buy a bungalow, the stairs are in fact one of the most crucial things to look at. There are so many things to consider – their placement, how steep they are, whether they have banisters, what material they are, if they have carpet, do they have a … Read more...

Building Surveys & Homebuyer Reports

The importance of a building survey or homebuyer report

For many people, buying a home is one of the biggest decisions they will ever make so it makes sense to have the property inspected by an independent expert. Unless you are totally confident in the condition and construction of your intended purchase, failing to commission a building survey or homebuyer report means you could risk potential bills running into thousands of pounds. Think for a minute – when you viewed, did you lift the inspection chamber lids to check … 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...

Image inside basement undergoing renovation

Can I add a basement to my property?

Homeowners continue to add basements to their property, often because it is a cost-effective alternative to buying a bigger house, and options for building higher or outward might be limited.

The process of constructing a basement is actually quite straightforward – underpin the existing walls (including any party walls shared with neighbours), dig out the hole, cast a floor slab and fit out the space (oh, and make sure it is properly waterproofed). But, a basement project also comes with … Read more...

service charge dispute leasehold freehold

Challenging a local authority service charge

We have dealt with several instructions to assess the reasonableness of service charges presented by both local authority and private freeholders to private leaseholders – the service charge demand can be very high and with the current cladding issues can be crippling.

Since August 2014 social landlords / freeholders are limited in the amounts that they can claim – £15,000 within London and £10,000 outside London (as at 2015). Social landlords also have the power to vary, waive or reduce … Read more...

small repairs matter - broken drain pipe - building survey chislehurst

Small repairs matter

Do you have a regular maintenance plan for your home? Do you fix problems when they arise? Perhaps you should.

We’ve seen some significant problems caused by the homeowner putting off small maintenance jobs or fixes. We know there’s always something more fun to do on your day off, but sometimes the jobs just need doing, or there could be trouble ahead.

Put off a cheap job now, expensive repair later

Here are some classic examples of how homeowners put … Read more...

cavity wall

Identifying cavity wall insulation problems

Poorly installed cavity wall insulation can cause problems. In July 2020 the Chancellor announced a Green Homes Grant to give up to £5,000 in vouchers for insulation (BBC News, July 2020)

A few years ago, we wrote this article about the problems (usually damp) associated with cavity wall insulation. At the time it was thought the issue could be widespread as numerous news articles demonstrated. One newspaper reported: : “1.5 million homes are blighted by damp after cowboy Read more...