Vickery Holman’s building surveying department provide detailed and specialist advice as part of a personal and flexible full-range local service.

Full building commercial and residential surveys in Plymouth, Truro, Exeter & Bristol

Company-wide specialist support is provided as required by individual instruction and circumstance. The strength of the team means they can take on large commissions and complete them in a timely, cost-effective and consistent manner. 

Whether it is domestic or commercial, a full building survey provides a detailed picture of the condition of a building. All elements are surveyed throughout a property and its grounds to ensure a purchaser fully understands the extent of disrepair. 

For any property purchase, this type of survey is essential to ensure a full understanding of potential liabilities is obtained. This is where our Plymouth, Truro, Exeter and Bristol teams can help, wherever you are based in the South-West. 

Surveys - Vickery Holman

Asset Management Plan

The asset management plan is designed to advise building owners and occupiers specifically on maintenance and repair works. The report sets timescales for works to be undertaken and provides budget costs, enabling the user to accurately cost-plan maintenance work over a desired timeframe. The schedule is a useful tool for landlords and occupiers by providing a structure to manage maintenance and repair works. 

Major Elements Survey (Commercial)

This survey focuses on the main elements of the fabric of a commercial property, looking primarily for signs of movement and structural failure. The survey also concentrates on identifying rot, decay, damp and other deteriorations in building fabric.

The survey is aimed at people who want to purchase a commercial property but who plan on undertaking major refurbishment works so have no need for information relating to general condition. 

Reinstatement Cost Assessment

This assessment provides the figure insurance companies require for the demolition and rebuilding of the property in the event of fire, flood etc. The insurance companies may require this to be updated anything from two to five yearly cycles in order to avoid the property being under or over insured. 

Stock Condition

The stock condition survey and report is aimed at organisations with multiple properties that want to gain a picture of the general condition of their buildings. 

Quinquennial Survey

This is a survey of all elements of a building on a five-year cycle. Most churches and chapels across the country require these to be undertaken, along with historic buildings, scheduled ancient monuments and historic ruins. 

Access audit

An access audit reviews the accessibility of a building and benchmarks it against the relevant accessibility standards. This format is used for buildings with public access or where a building owner needs advice on where the access provisions fall short of standards and where improvements can be made.

Audits are also useful for employers to ensure their facilities are appropriate for the requirements of their employees. Our reports identify shortfalls in the accessibility, and make recommendations on the best, most appropriate remediation. 

Defect analysis

This survey is targeted at owners and occupiers of buildings that have a specific defect and who need to understand the cause and most appropriate method of remediation. 

Key Contacts

Building Surveys Case Studies

Building Surveys FAQs

A building surveyor is responsible for assessing the quality and condition of buildings and 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.  A qualified building surveyor is likely to have a degree in building surveying and a chartership (MRICS) or association (AssocRICS) with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Dilapidations relates to a commercial property that has been let to a tenant and refers to the condition both during and after the period of the tenancy. Lease agreements stipulate the level of repair or maintenance that is required from a tenant during, or on completion, of a tenancy, and the parts of the property that are the responsibility of the tenant. Dilapidations relate to any breaches of the obligations of the tenant, including to repair, redecorate or reinstate elements of the property. Landlords and tenants can disagree on the levels of work required and it is 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 both landlord and tenant. 

When a lease comes to an end, the tenant will have to comply with the clauses in their lease, especially the repairing and decoration requirements.  It is a good idea for a tenant to commission a Dilapidations Liability Assessment well before the end of the lease term in order to allow a tenant to budget for repairs or decoration costs before the end of the lease.  A tenant who has ‘to keep in repair’ may find they incur considerable costs, so it is 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.

A “full repairing and insuring” lease will require the tenant to be responsible for the whole of a commercial property, while an “internal repairing and insuring” lease will leave the responsibility for the external building fabric (walls, roofs, soft and hard landscaping etc.) with the landlord. 

As the end of a tenancy approaches, it is recommended that landlords appoint a RICS accredited building surveyor to carry out a dilapidations 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, the money to be paid by the tenant for repair work might be limited to the loss in value to the property. If the landlord chooses to undertake dilapidations work at the end of the lease, they can reclaim the cost of doing so from the tenant.

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.

A Party Wall Agreement is compulsory for anyone carrying out certain work to shared structures or within 3-6m of neighbouring structures.  A written notice needs to be submitted, preferably several months before the work starts. Typical projects requiring a Party Wall Agreement are excavation for 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, so 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.

If your neighbour is starting work to a shared wall  or excavation within 3-6m of your property, 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 that 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, you can sue for damage under Common Law.  The Courts will nearly always favour the other party over the neighbour who has not been compliant with the Party Wall Act.

To resolve a boundary dispute, you should first assess the land in question, review your Title documents and any other conveyance information, and try to have a conversation with your neighbour about their understanding of the boundary.  Resolving 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 if you cannot resolve the dispute directly with the neighbour.  Land Registry offers a process for resolving disputes, but it’s still worth getting expert advice on the validity of your claim. RICS have mediation and dispute resolution services 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.

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. 

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