Vickery Holman has Building Surveying as a core service, underpinning our reputation as the leading property consultancy in the South West. Having both a dedicated team of building surveyors and general practice surveyors based out of our four offices in Truro, Plymouth, Exeter, and Bristol, we can provide a broad and more specialist service than other property consultancies. Our teams work closely with colleagues within different specialities, tapping into their professional and local knowledge, allowing us to provide our clients with informed and holistic advice on their property assets.

How we work in practice

Our Building Surveyors are able to manage the overall property as an asset in conjunction with our Property Manager colleagues to offer building surveying services which can ensure that the property is insured correctly, meets relevant DDA requirements as well as provide asset management plans in order for investors to get the best return on their properties, whilst keeping their tenants demands considered and viable.

Building Surveying services range from individual surveys, which can be on specific areas, in order to assess the condition of a building, through to one of our senior building surveyors acting as an Expert Witness as part of a property related dispute. We can provide building surveys on both commercial as well as high end and historical residential properties.

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Surveys

The nature of the building survey undertaken will depend on the purpose of its requirement. For example, our building surveyors can assess the condition of a property, look at schedules of dilapidation, contribute to a planned maintenance strategy, or provide a reinstatement cost assessment.

A property is a significant asset and needs to be maintained to hold its value. Investing in a building survey can help you to protect your property assets and maximise on your investment. To find out more about our Building Surveys, please click here.

Construction Management

Construction Management includes managing a project’s schedule, costs, quality, safety and scope. We can work with clients to oversee an entire construction project and to work with sub-contractors and architects to keep the project on track, or we can undertake specific elements on the construction project. We would work with clients to understand their level of requirement and apply our years’ of experience to avoid any potential project pitfalls.

To find out more about our Construction Management services, please click here.

Neighbourly Matters

‘Neighbourly matters’ refers to the issues that can arise during the planning or construction phases of a project, which can affect the neighbouring properties. While many of our instructions arise during a dispute, we advise clients to involve us before an agreement is signed, so that we can advise on potential areas of conflict. We understand matters of this nature can be emotive and use our years of experience to apply our knowledge to reach a decision based on the evidence available to us objectively.

Neighbourly matters include the right to light, Party Wall Agreements, access agreements and licenses needed for building works. To find out more about our services, please go to the Neighbourly Matters page.

Conflict & Litigation

Each of our Building Surveyors has a specific area of expertise so that we can maintain an exceptionally high level of knowledge and awareness of changes in legislation. Vickery Holman works with property developers, building owners and their neighbours, landlords and tenants to provide clear and practical advice on matters such as boundary conflicts, Party Wall Agreements, dilapidations, leases, access agreements and licenses. We have one of the most renowned teams within the South West for dealing in this area who have many years of experience within this area.

To read more about our services including expert witness and adjudication, please click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a building surveyor do?

A building surveyor is responsible for assessing the quality and condition of buildings, for example historic buildings, hotels, leisure complexes, houses and commercial properties. Building surveyors are a crucial part of any construction or property maintenance team, advising on safety issues, tenders, contractors, maintenance schedules, energy regulations, boundaries, party walls and licences, as well as project managing building schemes. They will also advise on the condition of properties in relation to leases to provide dilapidation assessments for landlords and tenants, or in relation to contracts, should there be disputes between parties. To be a building surveyor, you need a degree in building surveying or a postgraduate conversion course accredited by RICS.

Since anyone can call themselves a surveyor, if you want a qualified building surveyor, you need to make sure that they do have the RICS accreditation.

What are 'dilapidations'?

Dilapidations refers to the condition of a property which has been let to a tenant and includes the condition both during and after the period of the tenancy. Lease agreements stipulate the levels of repair or maintenance that is required during, or on completion, of a tenancy. These are called dilapidations and relate to any breaches of the obligations of the tenant to repair, redecorate or reinstate elements of the property. Landlords and tenants can disagree on the levels of work required during, or on giving notice on a lease, and it’s worthwhile getting expert advice from a building surveyor before entering into a lease, as well as during, or at the lease end, as costs can be significant for either landlord or tenant.

What work should a tenant do to a property when they leave?

When a tenant gives notice to their landlord, they will have to comply with the dilapidations clauses in their lease. It’s a good idea for a tenant to commission a Dilapidations Liability Assessment in order to allow a tenant to budget for repairs or decoration costs before they end the lease. A tenant who has ‘to keep in repair’ may find they incur considerable costs, so it’s worth having your lease evaluated before you sign it. Tenants often feel that repairs required are less than the landlord will ask for, which can lead to a dispute. Our building surveyors can advise you on defects and fabric repairs along with the impact on value.

What dilapidations is a landlord responsible for?

A tenant is responsible for maintaining the property during their tenancy but not for improving the property or carrying out work on the exterior. As the end of a tenancy approaches, it is recommended that landlords appoint a RICS building surveyor to carry out a dilapidation survey, and to present the tenant with a Schedule of Dilapidations in advance of the lease ending. The intended use of the property may affect the extent of work that a tenant may be required to undertake. If a financial settlement is to be agreed (as opposed to the landlord undertaking work of repair at the end of the lease) the money to be paid by the tenant might be limited to the loss in value to the property as opposed to the cost of repairs. Landlords usually want a property ready to go back on the market as fast as possible, so agreeing the work in advance is sensible. There is the possibility, in some leases, for a landlord to undertake work on behalf of the tenant prior to the lease end and recover this money via the lease. Careful assessment of the options available to a Landlord in advance of the lease end is advised.

What is a Party Wall Agreement?

A Party Wall Agreement is compulsory for anyone carrying out physical construction on site, where they share a wall with a neighbour. A formal written notice needs to be submitted, preferably a few months before the work starts. Typical projects requiring a Party Wall Agreement are foundations, loft conversions, extensions and removing a chimney stack.

If you do the work without a Party Wall Agreement, your neighbour can seek a Court Injunction to stop you proceeding. If any damage is incurred to your neighbour’s property, and there was no Party Wall Agreement, you may have to pay additional costs in compensation.

There is no formal qualification to be a Party Wall Surveyor, even a chartered surveyor may not be conversant with the Party Wall etc Act, you should ensure any advice you receive is from a suitably experienced surveyor, other affiliations such as being a member of the Pyramus and Thisbe Club may also indicate a surveyors interest and wider involvement in the Act.

What can you do if there isn't a Party Wall Agreement?

If your neighbour is starting work that is along your boundary or along a shared wall, and the work is covered by the Party Wall etc Act 1996, but you have not been served Notice, we recommend you talk to your neighbour immediately and ask if they intend to serve a Party Wall Notice. While you can decide to consent anyway, you must be given the opportunity to consent or not. If you are concerned, work is proceeding without notice or agreement, the remedy is to apply for a Court Injunction to halt the work. If damage is incurred by you, and the neighbour didn’t apply for a Party Wall Agreement, the Courts will nearly always favour the other party over the neighbour who has not been compliant with the Party Wall Act.

How can I resolve a boundary dispute?

To resolve a boundary dispute requires a lot of patience and attention to detail. The cases can be very complicated, which is why we recommend using an experienced surveyor to advise you. Land Registry offers a process for resolving disputes, but it’s still worth getting expert advice on the validity of your claim. RICS have a mediation service to help neighbours avoid litigation, which can be a good option since it explores the dispute and helps both parties achieve an outcome that suits everyone.

What does a 10 year guarantee cover on a new house?

New homes usually come with a 10 year structural warranty which covers the cost of fixing structural faults or damage, including weatherproofing. You may have a building warranty which acts as an insurance policy covering defects and structural insurance. A builder is only responsible for major problems with the structure such as external walls or roofs. It’s important to check the small print on any guarantee or warranty.

How can I get a valuation on my commercial property?

RICS Registered Valuers are the recommended route for an impartial, informed valuation on your commercial property. Vickery Holman has one of the largest team of RICS Registered Valuers in the South West with over 20 valuers. Our team benefit from in-depth local knowledge as well as our shared regional knowledge.

How can I get an estimate of maintenance costs on a property?

Our RICS qualified building surveyors can assess the condition of your property and draw up a schedule of maintenance including time and costs required. Owners or tenants can put in place a Planned Preventative Maintenance schedule, allowing them to budget and plan for ongoing maintenance.

What is an Expert Witness?

An Expert Witness is a highly experienced and qualified surveyor who can give evidence in a court or at a tribunal, on matters regarding land, property or construction. Disputes can arise during any property project and may be based around matters involving boundaries, access, planning, valuations, dilapidations or damage incurred. Vickery Holman has a team of expert witnesses who have a large area of specialisms and experience.

Case Study - Church, Dawlish

Conservation Works at a Grade II Listed Church

Dawlish

We were instructed by the client to carry out works that involved masonry repair and mortar joint repointing, through ‘like for like’ replacement, and were likely to be very visually prominent. Works to this church were covered by diocesan ecclesiastical exemption from listed building consent. Previous site visits had revealed at least four different methods and materials used for original work and subsequent repair.

Acting conscientiously and in the client’s interests, we consulted the local authority Conservation Officer to comment on the correct choice of method, material and particularly mortar pigment to work in sympathy with the existing building, and advised the client accordingly. The contractor completed a small area of repointing work, which was then photographed as a record and issued for review and approval by the Conservation Officer.

Case Study - Exmouth Seafront

Planning Applications

Exmouth

We were instructed by a client to complete the submission of two planning applications for shop front alterations and the addition of dormer windows at a property in Exmouth.

The application forms were completed on the Planning Portal, with all the supporting documents prepared and attached prior to submission. These supplementary documents included a Land Registry location plan, a Design and Access Statement, a Flood Risk Assessment and a CIL application form. Lengthy correspondence took place with the local authority planning officer to establish the correct fees for the application and the CIL charge. Consent was granted following the normal consultation period.

Any questions? Call us

Our experienced team is ready to assist with unparalleled regional advice

TRURO

Tel: 01872 245600

PLYMOUTH

Tel: 01752 261811

EXETER

Tel: 01392 203010

BRISTOL

Tel: 0117 428 6555

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