We offer a full suite of surveys for purchasing properties depending on type and age of property and budget.
Level 1 Survey
This service is designed for clients (buyers, sellers, and owners) seeking a professional and objective report on the condition of the property at an economic price. As a result, it is less comprehensive than survey level two and survey level three.
This level of service includes a visual inspection that is less extensive than for the other survey levels. No tests of the building fabric or services are undertaken. The report objectively describes the condition of the building, its services, and the ground. It highlights relevant legal issues and any obvious risks to the building, people, or grounds. The report is succinct and provides an assessment of the relative importance of the defects and problems. Where the surveyor is unable to reach a conclusion with reasonable confidence, a recommendation for further investigation should be made.
A level one report does not include advice on repairs or ongoing maintenance and this, combined with the less extensive inspection, usually means it is better suited to conventionally built modern dwellings in satisfactory condition. It will not suit older or complex properties, or those in a neglected condition.
Level 2 Survey
This level of service is for clients who are seeking a professional opinion at an economic price. It is, therefore, less comprehensive than a level three service. The focus is on assessing the general condition of the main elements of a property. This intermediate level of service includes a more extensive visual inspection of the building, its services, and grounds, but still without tests. Concealed areas normally opened or used by the occupiers are inspected if it is safe to do so (typical examples include roof spaces, basements, and cellars).
The report objectively describes the condition of the different elements and provides an assessment of the relative importance of the defects/problems. At this level, although it is concise, the report does include advice about repairs and any ongoing maintenance issues. Where the surveyor is unable to reach a conclusion with reasonable confidence, a recommendation for further investigations is made.
This level of service suits a broader range of conventionally built properties, although the age and type will depend on the knowledge and experience of the RICS member.
This level of service is unlikely to be suitable for:
- complex buildings, for example those that been extensively extended and altered
- unique or older historic properties – although survey level two services may be appropriate for some older buildings, the decision will depend on the RICS member’s proven competence and knowledge and the nature of the building itself. For example, a survey level two report on homes with traditional timber frames or those built much before 1850 is likely to be inconclusive and be of little use to the client or
- properties in neglected condition
Level 3 Survey
This level of service is for clients who are seeking a professional opinion based on a detailed assessment of the property. The service consists of a detailed visual inspection of the building, its services and the grounds and is more extensive than a survey level two. Concealed areas normally opened or used by the occupiers are inspected if it is safe to do so (typical examples include roof spaces, basements, and cellars).
Although the services are not tested, they are observed in normal operation – in other words, they are switched on or off and/or operated where the occupier has given permission and it is safe to do so. The report objectively describes the form of construction and materials used for different parts of the property. It describes the condition and provides an assessment of the relative importance of the defects/problems.
Additionally, it should:
- describe the identifiable risk of potential or hidden defects in areas not inspected
- propose the most probable cause(s) of the defects based on the inspection
- outline the likely scope of any appropriate remedial work and explain the likely consequences of non-repair
- make general recommendations in respect of the priority and likely timescale for necessary work and
- give an indication of likely costs (this aspect would not normally form part of the level three service, but some RICS members may choose to include it). Where costings are included, this must be reflected in the terms and conditions
A new property should not require a formal survey in the homebuyer’s suite. A ‘snagging’ survey is more appropriate for new builds. This involves inspecting every part of the property and advising on any noted building defects or ‘snags’ that should be addressed by the developer prior to exchange of contracts.
Our snagging surveys are undertaken by a Chartered Surveyor and reported on a room by room / elevation by elevation basis to make them easy to identify to both the purchaser and developer.
The death of an individual with assets either in a company or privately held require a valuation. It is often the case that the largest asset held is a property and we are able to undertake both residential and commercial valuations for this purpose. A formal valuation must be carried out and an assessment prepared reflecting the value of the property on the date of death for the executors or trustees. This report is prepared in accordance with RICS guidelines. It will include information as to the general condition of the property and incorporate comparable information justifying the property’s value, enabling a reasoned and informed valuation to be submitted to the Office of the District Valuer. Should the need arise, we would be able to negotiate on behalf of the estate any subsequently correspond with the District Valuer’s to settle an outstanding assessment.
It is often that a valuation of property is required for use in divorce proceedings. It would be preferable and normal in current circumstances to be jointly instructed by both parties’ solicitors or by the court to act as a single joint expert in providing valuation advice in accordance with Part 35 of the Civil Procedure Rules. We are experienced in doing so and regularly undertake such work. Where a joint appointment could not be agreed or is inappropriate, we can formally advise a single party in the proceedings.
Commercial properties held informal pensions schemes require valuations to be undertaken of their assets every two years. We regularly undertake such work for our commercial clients preparing RICS Red Book valuations on their behalf.
Housing Association / Right to Buy / Staircasing
We provide such valuations to both housing associations and registered providers as well as individuals. We proudly work with a number of local and national associations and undertake Red Book valuation reports on their behalf for their clients, shared owners, tenants and others. This work involves valuations for staircasing, voluntary right to buy, right to buy, right to acquire, etc.
Commercial valuations are often required by owners of buildings to assist with their tax planning and to assess the value of their property portfolio. They are also required by intending purchasers of freehold or leasehold interests in commercial property or indeed for investment purposes taking into account the value of the rental income. We are experienced in undertaking these valuations for numerous established clients and for clients of our legal contacts.
Our surveyors have extensive experience in party wall matters, acting for either side, and often independently for both. Our initial consultation is free and without obligation and will provide clear advice on what is required under the Act for both parties carrying out the works, and the neighbour that may be impacted by them.
What is the Party Wall Act?
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 came into force in England and Wales in July 1997. The main functions of the Act are to protect neighbouring structures within a certain distance of proposed works which include:
- Excavation within 3 or 6 metres of a neighbouring structure (depending on depth of proposed foundations)
- Works to a ‘party structure’ – a wall shared between two parties
- Works at the boundary – construction of a new wall at the property boundary
Further information can be found on the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors explanatory guide here.
How do I know if I need to serve a notice?
If you are undertaking any of the following works, it is likely that notice will be required:
If you are excavating (for any purpose, but typically foundations or drains) within 3 metres of a neighbours’ wall you will likely need to serve a ‘Three Metre Notice’. The same applies if you will be excavating significantly deeper than your neighbours’ foundations and within a distance of 6 metres (usually piled foundations).
Works to a Shared Wall
If you are undertaking works which involve cutting into or cutting away from a shared “party wall” you will need to serve a ‘Party Structure Notice’. Typically, these works include cutting into the wall to form a pocket for a steel beam to bear on, or removal of a chimney breast internally.
Building at the Boundary
If a new wall is being constructed at the boundary between two neighbours land, then a ‘Line of Junction’ notice is required to be served.
The flowchart on this link provides a useful illustration of the process from ‘serving notice’ to issuing of the Award document.
What if I have received a notice?
If you have received a notice from your neighbour, you must formerly respond to that notice within 14 days. You have 3 options to choose from (note the cost of the surveyors will almost always be paid for by the party carrying out the works, whichever option is chosen):
- ‘Consent’ to the works
No formal process is undertaken, but generally a condition survey is undertaken of the neighbours’ property prior to works commencing to act as a reference if damage were to occur.
- ‘Dissent’ to the works and concur in the appointment of your neighbours’ surveyor
The formal process is undertaken by a jointly appointed surveyor. This includes a condition survey of the neighbours’ property, and production of a ‘Party Wall Award’ which sets out the rights and obligations of both sides.
- ‘Dissent’ to the works and appoint your own surveyor
As with the second option, the formal process is followed, but undertaken by two surveyors, one representing the party carrying out the works, and the other the neighbour.
Planned Preventative Maintenance Surveys (PPM)
Our PPM surveys provide a high-level overview of the condition of all parts of a site, from key parts of the building fabric such as roofs and windows, to services including electrical and mechanical provision if applicable. This data is formulated into a medium and long-term plan which enables the client to make strategic decisions on maintenance expenditure.
Gaining an understanding of the need, cost and priority of maintenance and repair items is essential to forecasting and budgeting.
Defects diagnosis and reports
Not all issues with buildings can be addressed proactively. We are on hand to offer advice on building matters that crop up and require reactive action – from compliance advice following electrical surveys to attending to identify the source of leaks, structural defects and the like. We even have a drone to quickly view hard to reach areas without the need for expensive scaffolding / access platforms.
Every building and subsequent defects are different. We aim to undertake a visit to the property and undertake a visual survey, aided by a variety of non-intrusive surveying equipment and report to you on our findings. These will comprise a summary of the existing construction, and defect, and our opinion as to the cause. The report will conclude with a prescription of remedial work and an idea of cost.
Schedules of condition
Schedules of condition are used to provide a snapshot of the condition, both structurally and aesthetically, of a property at a given point in time. These are widely used by both landlords and tenants, of both commercial and domestic properties, to record the condition of a building upon occupation to use as a reference at the end of the let.
Our Schedules include a summary of the building and a detailed written and photographic report to provide a clear, accurate document that can be easily referenced in the future.
A schedule of dilapidations is a report which is prepared by a Freeholder prior to the expiry of a lease, which identifies items of disrepair to a building which must be rectified prior to the expiry of the lease. It is typically the tenant’s liability to return the property in good repair, and a schedule of dilapidations enables the Freeholder to quantify the works which are required and ensure that the tenant is provided with the required period of notice.
We can act for both freeholders (to prepare the dilapidations report) and leaseholders (to negotiate the scope and cost with the landlords’ surveyor).
Design and specification of works
We can provide a full design and specification package for a project, tailored to specific needs. This includes refurbishment, repairs and insurance reinstatement, extension and alterations and new build.
Once a brief is agreed with the client the design is built up with both drawings and a written specification of works, sufficient for tenders to be invited from contractors. We have partner consultants who can provide specialist mechanical, electrical and structural design all under one umbrella.
Once your project is ready to go, we can follow on with project management, being the liaison between the client and the contractor. This is usually in the role of “Contract Administrator” which involves, among other aspects, preparing the contract documents, undertaking a valuation of the works, processing applications for payment from the contractor by, regular site inspections and meetings, checking of workmanship, snagging and inspection following completion of the defects’ liability period.
CDM / Health and safety
The Construction Design Management 2015 (CDM) regulations put various responsibilities on the client with regards to health and safety throughout a building project. These include supplying all relevant information (asbestos surveys, existing health and safety information etc.) in advance of the works, and that the works are suitably planned to ‘design out’ risk wherever possible. As part of our consultancy service, these duties are passed on to us and, under the regulations, we become the ‘principal designer’ and responsible for all these elements of the project.
The principal designer role includes gathering of information at design stage to ensure all tendering contractors haver the relevant site-specific information. This includes co-ordinating all necessary surveys to gather information, a site visit and putting together a ‘pre contract information’ (PCI) document that is appended to the specification. Post tender, the role continues with review of the appointed contractors Construction Phase Plan (CPP) and confirmation to the school that this meets regulations, and compilation of the health and safety file on completion of the works.
Our team specialises in education projects, providing consultancy for a range of academies and multi-academy trusts under our education department, Education Consultancy Partnership. Visit the ECP website for more.
Commercial / Sales
Trend & Thomas Estate Agents is a separate company providing sales and lettings services under the same historic name.