Need a surveyor or building engineer?

There are many aspects to undertaking a works on the structure and fabric of a building or to communal services. 

You will see from the steps below that the role of a managing agent and the surveyor/engineer overlaps, in part, as technical diagnosis needs a public relations offensive to achieve understanding and ensure the leaseholders see their share of costs as a "reasonable".

Step 1

Ensure that those paying for the works understand that:

  • it is the lease that sets out a duty & frequency to carry out cyclical works;
  • that there are Health & Safety, defects diagnosis, specification and contract matters which typically a Surveyor/Engineer takes care of;
  • there are up to 3 stages of statutory consultation that must be served, before works can begin, else recoverability of the cost of the works may be restricted to £250 per owner;
  • the Health & Safety Executive will probably have to be notified of the project;
  • that the lease sets out how and when funds can be collected towards a project, i.e. you may have to wait until the next year and include the amount required in your service charge budget.

Step 2

Consider what legal requirements apply:

  • Planning permission
  • Building regulations
  • Listed buildings consent
  • Section 20 consultation
  • Project notification to the HSE (Health & Safety Executive)
  • Appointment of a Planning Supervisor
  • Preparation of a Health & Safety file
  • Preparation of a pre-tender Health & Safety plan
  • Preparation of a Survey to confirm the presence of asbestos
  • Safe access to carry out the works as per the 1996 Health & Safety Regulations

Step 3

Structural & practical considerations prior to commencing your project. 

Surveyors and engineers are trained to be able to provide you advice on:

  • Service upgrades (electrical etc.)
  • Water mains replacement
  • Improvement & recoverability
  • Collapsed drains
  • Changing windows, (lintels may be inadequate)
  • Underpinning
  • Re-roofing

The Surveyor’s role spans:

  • defects diagnosis
  • preparing a specification of works (methods, materials & quantities)
  • analysing tender returns, contractor selection and managing the contract risk

Often the appointed surveyor will act as the CDM (Construction Design and Management) Co-ordinator as well. 

On site Contract administration includes:

  • Issue instructions in an efficient and timely manner.
  • Financial management - issuing interim payment certificates during a project.
  • Issue a final practical completion certificate. This is the end of works on site but incorporates a defects liability period.
  • Issue a final certificate (releasing any retained money at the end of the defects liability period).

Getting started

Care needs to be taken in contemplating major works or large refurbishment expenditure as for example without fulfilling the statutory consultation requirements of the Landlord & Tenant Acts which may include serving up-to three stages of consultation on persons responsible for paying service charges the maximum recoverable contribution from owners could be limited to £250!

Also, you need to be sure that you are not at risk of being prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive if you fail to notify a relevant project and the Construction Design & Management Regulations 1994 apply to the project. This may result in needing to consider appointing a CDM Co-ordinator.

Finally, with health & safety legislation and regulation seemingly increasing by the day the person in charge needs to be aware of the update to the Health & Safety Regulations Effective 1996 which limits what is considered safe access for working to any area above 2nd floor level or even 1st floor level in older buildings where the floor to ceiling height is above the modern standard of 2.3 - 2.4 metres. Else the risk is prosecution by the Health & Safety Executive.

We hope that this gets you started on understanding all the factors involved in contemplating a works project, should you require further assistance please contact us.