Advice Hub: Building works

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Image of conservatory interior

Conservatory planning, construction and problems

Conservatories are a relatively simple and cost effective way of extending your home. There are so many styles available to choose from, in different materials such as timber, aluminium or uPVC. The more luxurious your choice and size or conservatory, the more the price will vary and so will the range of problems that may occur.

We often receive calls from people asking for advice on their decision to build a conservatory. Do they need party wall agreement, or planning … Read more...

use a Party wall surveyor not Bob the Builder

Who can act as a Party Wall Surveyor?

An enquiry this week from a building owner who had appointed their builder to act as their party wall surveyor, having been told by the builder that it was easy and he could do it… no need to pay expensive Party Wall Surveyor’s fees.

The Party Wall etc Act makes no requirement to use an experienced or trained practitioner, just a “surveyor”.  In section 20 of the Act a “surveyor” is defined as “any person not being a party to … Read more...

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...

attic conversion, dormer, rooflight, neighbour agreement

Planning a loft conversion? – Party Wall Agreements

If you plan to do building works that may affect a party or structure (a ceiling for instance) between you and a neighbour then the provisions of the Party Wall etc Act may apply.

For a loft conversion this will almost certainly be the case if you live in a terraced or semi-detached house.

A typical loft conversion incorporates a dormer on the rear or side of the house and the insertion of some structural steelwork to support both the … 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...

HSE health and safety worker on roof dangerous CDM

Health, safety and the small builder

There is of course no reason why a jobbing builder working on houses and other small projects should be immune from Health & Safety legislation, and as far as the HSE is concerned, they’re not.  The HSE is particularly concerned about accidents that involve working at height, noting that every year 4,000 people are injured in this way. In fact, if you are in the construction industry you cannot fail to be aware of this unless you have been hiding … Read more...