Advice Hub: Surveys

Building surveying is the largest service provided by Collier Stevens to residential clients. These articles look at the wide variety of surveys we undertake from homebuyer reports (ISVA Level 2), full building surveys and single defect surveys.The articles consider common problems we find and also advice for homeowners on how they can prevent problems from arising in their property. There's advice about the importance of undertaking a survey when you buy a property and the true value they provide - especially if having a survey undertaken can save thousands of pounds on the asking price.

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...

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...

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...

loft conversion - party walls, planning, building regulations

What are the rules and regulations for loft conversions?

We’re seeing an increasing number of homeowners considering home improvements rather than moving. People want to increase the size of their current home rather than taking the next step on the property ladder, or they might want to push up the value of their property.

A loft conversion is a great way to add a bedroom to your property without increasing the footprint or losing garden space with an extension. Generally, in the South East and London, you might be … Read more...

how long does a building survey take

How long does a building survey or homebuyer report take?

One of the most common questions we are asked is: “How long does a building survey or Homebuyer report take?”

The answer is usually: “It depends.” It can take anything from 1.5 to 6 or more hours, depending on the property, then our report is usually back to you within five working dates, quicker if you have an urgent requirement.

The time taken always varies based on the size and type of the house, the age of the property, the … Read more...

building on the boundary - hoarding , site safety, protection

Advising neighbours of building work

We are often called by homeowners asking what they can do when their neighbour starts building work without telling them. Quite often your neighbour doesn’t have to notify you, but here are some situations where they are obliged to. This article tries to answer a few of the more common queries we receive.

boundary hoarding - neighbour doing building work

Does my neighbour have to notify me of building work?

Unless the work that is being done falls within the notification requirements of the Party Wall ActRead more...

Asbestos health risks image

Asbestos in houses

Asbestos is identified in quite a few of the properties in which we undertake surveys. We particularly find it in those houses that were built between 1930 and 1980 and older flat conversions. Asbestos can appear in the most unlikely of places. Care needs to be taken if you have it, or suspect you have it, in your home.

Where is asbestos found in houses?

Generally speaking, we most often find asbestos in houses in the following locations:

  • Roof soffits
building collapse

Home Insurance and Building Work

Whether you have bought a property to ‘do up’, or you’re planning to do some renovation work on your home rather than moving, you should always make sure you have the right insurance in place. You will need to think about protecting your property and the public. There are so many potential issues that could crop up. It is important that you take the advice of your insurance broker as this can be a specialist area, especially if there are … Read more...