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Seasonal Property Maintenance Checklist: Protect your home for winter

 

As we approach the end of the year and the onset of chillier winter weather, now is the ideal time to ensure your home is prepared and equipped to handle the more extreme conditions. We’ve pulled together our essential winter home maintenance checklist to put you in good stead for the colder weather, so there are no nasty surprises come spring.

Heating Systems and Sources
Now the heating season is here, high priority for property owners should be to maintain and service your heating system. It’s best to check this early to avoid any issues once the cold weather hits.

Have your boiler serviced. The most important check is to make sure your boiler isn't leaking carbon monoxide and burning efficiently for economy. Your local Gas Safe Engineer can carry out a service or annual inspection to ensure the whole system is working properly – but don’t forget gas fires.

Check your radiators. You should check all of your radiators and any thermostatic valves to ensure they turn on and off and provide heat effectively. If the radiators are warmer at the bottom than the top you’ll need to bleed them to release any trapped air. This will help improve the system’s efficiency and reduce energy bills - and if air is trapped, the radiator can rust internally.

Regulate the temperature. If you’re away from your property for any length of time, ensure that you keep the heating on constantly at a minimum temperature – cheaper than frozen pipe damage. 10c/50f will ensure there’s a consistent temperature around your pipes to stop them freezing, reducing the risk of condensation and mould growth.

Clean your chimneys. It’s recommended that chimneys are cleaned at least once a year and before increased use to remove residue and prevent home fires. Employ a local sweep to inspect and clean your fireplace chimneys and wood-burning stoves. Gas fires should also be cleaned and safety inspected before use.

Plumbing & Pipework
As the water circulating through the plumbing system gets colder, avoid potential issues and huge amounts of damage by preventing pipe freezing.

Insulate pipework. Ensure pipes, especially those in the loft and those outside are well insulated to prevent bursts. Fit vulnerable pipes with insulation sleeves or wrapping, ensuring any gaps in the sleeves are under the pipe.

Check the stopcock. Regularly check that main supply stopcocks are working easily so the water supply can be turned off if required. If the tap is stiff to turn, a coat of Vaseline on the tap spindle near the body will often free it. This could prevent serious structural damage!

Insulation & Draught Exclusion
Next up is insulation. Ensuring that you have efficient insulation and draught measures in place can vastly improve your homes EPC rating, saving you money. Fit low-energy light bulbs too.

Inspect your loft. Ensure that your loft insulation is fitted to a depth of at least 270mm/ 11” thick over ceilings, but do not fit any insulation underneath water tanks – they must have good lagging fitted as well.


• Look for leaks. Check inside the roof, especially around chimney joints.

• Insulate draughty areas. Insulate areas that could allow in draughts, such as under doors, loft hatches and between floorboards. Replace draught-proof covers around the front door letterbox and keyhole if necessary. • Repair damaged seals. Repairing door and window-frame seals that are damaged is one of the cheapest ways to save energy. If you find any gaps or holes, fill them with non-hardening caulk – available very cheaply from do-it-yourself shops - or replace the draught-proofing strips.


Roofs & Exterior Surfaces
The exterior of your property is the first line of defence against bad weather. It’s therefore vital to ensure that exterior surfaces are all as robust as possible before winter sets in.

Inspect the roof. A roofing professional can replace any missing, loose, cracked or buckled tiles, slates and flat roof coverings. Pools of water remaining on a flat roof are indications of weak drainage, which can also increase the risk of leaks. Sufficient insulation, moisture barriers and ventilation can help prevent trouble.

Check the soffits and facias around eaves. Repair or replace any potential areas where rainwater could get in and cause internal damage to your property. That will also keep out insects like wasps looking for somewhere to hibernate.

Check for cracks. Not only in house or garage walls! A good sealant that’s reapplied to gaps and joints every two to five years can help prevent this damp risk too.

Look for cracks in your driveway or uneven ground. These can be exacerbated by frost.

Check exterior paint. Cracked or peeling paint may mean moisture is making wooden surfaces swell.

Gardens & Exterior Maintenance
The front and back gardens shouldn’t be neglected either. Overgrown trees, bushes and shrubs can damage fences, brickwork, window and door frames, leaves will block gutters and even drains, and root action can lead to movement damage tor foundations of the house itself.

Prune, trim and tidy. Prune and trim any overhanging shrubs and trees and don’t forget to rake leaves to prevent grass from dying. Growing season begins in a few more months and any existing issues will only be exacerbated by vigorous growth.

Clear the gutters. Empty guttering of sludge, especially if you see weeds growing! - and drain covers of fallen leaves to ensure the free flow of rainwater into drains and away from your home. Collections or overflows of water can weaken brickwork and cause leaks and damp to appear inside your home.

Treat your surfaces. Seal your outside timber such as fences, decks and sheds to ensure it remains weatherproof and robust through the changing seasons.

Check exterior lighting. Ensure that exterior lights all are working, particularly any security lights, for your own safety during dark afternoons and short days, so you can rest assured that your property is well protected.

For free advice and to speak with our highly experienced team on any property concerns, call Eyesurvey on 01206 545 139.

 

                               

What’s the Difference between a Survey and a Valuation?

 

At Eyesurvey, we strive to make things simple, which is why whenever a customer asks us about the difference between a valuation and a survey, we’re happy to help them with the answer. If you’ve found your dream home and are keen to find out what lies beneath the surface, a valuation along won’t cut it. Here’s why.

Many people wrongly assume that a valuation is the same as a survey and they use the term interchangeably, however, the two are very different. Before you exchange contracts on a house, make sure that you understand these differences so you can make an informed decision about your purchase.

What is a mortgage valuation for?

The purpose of a valuation is to satisfy the lender that the property you are buying is worth the amount you’re paying for it. While this information is useful for buyers, mortgage valuations are conducted for the benefit of your mortgage provider.

If you are purchasing a property outright (without a mortgage), you will not need to get a valuation done, unless you want to be advised if the proposed price is reasonable. But that isn’t the same as having advice on the condition of the property.

What does a mortgage valuation entail?

Your valuation will be carried out by a specialist surveyor, or a valuer, who is knowledgeable about the prices of comparable homes in the area. Typically, they will only spend 15 – 30 minutes at the property, and will only consider superficial details.

Having a local valuer is key to an accurate valuation. At Eyesurvey we know our local area like the back of our hand. So, things like school catchment areas, development plans and level of demand can all be taken into consideration to give you the best quality and reliable valuation possible.

Where can I get a mortgage valuation?

Your lender, a bank or Building Society, will arrange the valuation, usually charging you a fee.

Eyesurvey do not do valuations for ANY lenders.

We will do valuations for many other purposes though, such as for Buildings Insurance cover, or Probate/ Inheritance Tax, and for Matrimonial proceedings.

Les Long FRICS of Eyesurvey is a member of the RICS Valuers Registration Scheme. If you need a private property valuation for your own purposes, call us and be assured that you will receive the most comprehensive and accurate valuation possible.

 

What is a property survey for?

Your property may look pretty perfect to the untrained eye, but our highly experienced team can often find things hidden under the surface. We offer many different types of surveys, but they all have one thing in common, to find any property issues that may cost you down the line if left unfixed. Our team will advise you on the best survey type for your property to ensure you receive all the information you need.

Learning about these defects before exchanging contracts with the seller gives you an opportunity to re-negotiate your deal, possibly saving you thousands of pounds in remedial work.

 

It’s not uncommon for buyers to ask the vendor to make repairs prior to the sale, or to lower their offer (for example, if the problem will cost £5,000 to repair, they will reduce their offer by the same amount).


What does a property survey entail?

There is more than one kind of property survey, and the exact process will vary according to which one you choose. In every case a Chartered Surveyor will visit the property and conduct an investigation, however the time spent and the level of detail provided depends on the survey you choose.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors provide three levels of property survey;

Condition Reports (Level 1) – the most basic option, providing a snapshot of the property’s condition to give buyers peace of mind. The surveyor focuses on superficial items and any obvious problems that need to be addressed. This form of report is intended ONLY for recently built properties apparently in good general order, and not others or older types.

HomeBuyer Reports (Level 2) – A non-invasive survey which results in a reasonably detailed report. It will normally include any roof spaces. This will include structural observations or evidence of building movement, and information about issues that should be urgently addressed. Suitable for typical homes, at a mid-range fee.

Building Surveys (Level 3) – Ideal for large, unusual or historic buildings, building surveys are the most thorough investigations on the market. The surveyor will check all reachable or visible areas of the building and make recommendations about how to repair and maintain them. You will understand this is the most costly form of report.


Do I really need a survey?

Of course, you could purchase a property without arranging a survey, but may later find out the entire roof needs a complete rebuild, landing you with a bill of around £15,000. Consequently, once contracts have been exchanged, the vendor is then no longer liable.

If you are paying £400,000-500,000+ for you next home, would you risk not having a survey carried out for the sake of around £400–1,000 in most cases? It really isn't advisable, but it is your choice – and risk – to take.

Where can I find out more about which property survey I need?

Here at Eyesurvey we aim to provide the best service possible to all customers as well as the best prices, and we believe that we have the fastest, friendliest response available.


With over 45 years of experience in the property profession, residential and commercial, there’s nothing much we haven’t encountered! Contact the experienced Eyesurvey team on 01206 545 139 for a free chat today about which property survey is suitable for your needs, and help on obtaining a personal valuation.

 

                               

What's all this about Ground Heave?

 

Ground heave is a real concern if it happens on your property, that’s why it’s important to understand what it is and recognise the signs and act quickly to limit the damage to your home’s structure. 

 

As Chartered Surveyors with over 45 years of experience in the profession, there is practically nothing we haven’t dealt with. That’s why we’ve outlined all there is to know about ground heave, and how you can prevent it.

What is ground heave? 


Ground heave is the upward movement of the ground, usually associated with the swelling of clay sub-soils that expand when wet. Clay shrinks slowly as it dries out, so that doesn’t usually damage buildings. However, when it is wetted again, it expands rapidly, and that action will fracture walls and foundations. The result is that the exposed upper sub-strata and perhaps the surface of the ground rises up. It’s also less often known as ‘swelling’. 


You may have heard of subsidence, this is where the ground is unstable and weak, then sinks downwards – ground heave is the opposite effect of this.


What are the causes of ground heave?


As Chartered Surveyors, we would generally categorise ‘ground displacement’ as less than 150mm, but it’s important to consider than even far less than this amount can lead to severe structural damage to the building walls and their foundations. 


A common cause of ground heave is the removal of a tree, as once the tree has been removed from the soil water is no longer being absorbed by the tree roots. A large tree may extract a hundred gallons a day. This causes the soil to start to swell as it gets wet. 


This swelling can then cause the soil to uplift, sometimes to an even greater volume than when the property was built! The dead weight of the new building crushes the ground on which it stands – that’s “initial SETTLEMENT”.


Ground heave can also occur in soils vulnerable to frost, leaking drains and/or water supplies.

Common signs of ground heave: 

 • Cracking to brickwork and windows, often vertical, sometimes diagonal, and widest at the top.

 • Doors sticking as their frames have become gradually out of square

 • The lifting of paths and patios in surrounding buildings 


Cracks found on your building walls and foundations are more likely to be vertical if ground heave is the culprit, and normally widest at the top, whereas subsidence cracking is more likely to be diagonal, and widest at the bottom.


Prevention and remedying


If you’re worried that ground heave may be a problem in your property, Eyesurvey will begin with a visual inspection as investigation to determine whether that is the case. 


This is likely to lead to more visual inspections, include historic research and drilling boreholes or ‘trial holes’ to determine the type of soil present and access its plasticity or how shrinkable the ground might be. Tree roots might be found too. 


Where heave is likely to be a problem, cellular structures – often called piles – similar to stilts sent deep in the sub-soil may be installed beneath foundations and floor slabs to reduce the upward force of heavy clay from transmitting to the structure above. 


Need further advice on ground heave and repairing your home? Please contact the experienced Eyesurvey team on 01206 545 139 for a free chat today.

 

                               

The Party Wall Act: What Is It & Why Does It Matter?

 

If you’re planning any building work that will affect a shared wall between you and your neighbours, then you’ll need to know all about the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

If you live in a terraced or semi-detached house or flat, then it’s likely that you will have a shared wall with a neighbouring property. In this article, we explain all about this important legislation and how it could potentially affect you and your renovation plans.

What is The Party Wall etc. Act 1996?

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is a legislative framework intended to prevent (or resolve) disputes in relation to party walls, party structures, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings.

It prevents building work undertaken by one neighbour undermining the structural integrity of shared walls or neighbouring property.

Will it affect my plans to renovate?

The Party Wall etc. Act comes into effect if someone is planning to do work on a relevant structure, for the purposes of the Act 'party wall' does not just mean the wall between two semi-detached properties, it also covers:

  • A wall forming part of only one building but which is on the boundary line between two (or more) properties.
  • A wall which is common to two (or more) properties, this includes where someone built a wall and a neighbour subsequently built something butting up to it.
  • A garden wall, where the wall is astride the boundary line (or butts up against it) and is used to separate the properties but is not part of any building.
  • Floors and ceilings of flats etc., and chimney breasts forming part of a Party Wall
  • Excavation near to a neighbouring property.

If you plan to undertake any work covered by the Act, you’ll also have to give ‘Notice’ of the commencement of work to your neighbour, or neighbours.

 

How Do I Give ‘Notice’?
If your project is covered by the Act, you give Notice with a letter and clear documents including drawings setting out your intentions, sent to all the owners of every neighbouring property affected.

A sample letter is included within The Party Wall Act booklet (download or order your copy at communities.gov.uk). Remember to include all the key information, including:

  • the date the Notice is served
  • the provisional date work will start – this should not be before an agreement is reached
  • all parties’ names and addresses
  • a description of the proposed work

What happens if a dispute arises?
Talk to your neighbours and explain your plans in detail to reach an agreement.

If approval is impossible, then you will have to assign an ‘agreed surveyor,’ or two surveyors, to prepare a Party Wall Award. It is permissible for one surveyor to represent both parties in the case. This ‘Award’ covers:

  • the work that can be carried out
  • how the works will proceed
  • timings
  • measures for preventing damage
  • the payment of surveyors’ fees
  • the current condition of both properties – the condition will normally be re-inspected several months after works are completed to confirm any damage that may have resulted, or see there is none
  • most importantly, costs payable to the adjoining owner if damage occurs

Remember:
Reaching an agreement with the adjoining owner or owners under the Act does not remove the possible need to apply for planning permission and/or to comply with Building Regulations procedures.

Equally, gaining planning permission or complying with the Building Regulations does not remove the need to comply with the Act where it is applicable - it is usual for any approval under Building Regulations to be conditional on agreeing a Party Wall Award.

Our highly experienced team can offer free advice over the phone on many building and property-related subjects, including the Party Wall etc Act.

Please contact the Eyesurvey team on 01206 545 139.

 

                               

Brick Bonds & How Do They Work?

The way in which a brick is laid, the brickwork bond, strongly influences the appearance of the façade, as a well thought out brickwork bond gives a project extra style and character.

As well as having an effect on the aesthetic, the choice in brickwork bond can also influence the budget. More complicated bonds, which usually necessitate more grinding work, can substantially raise the price.

 

What are brick bonds?

Bonding is the interlocking arrangement of bricks in a structure such as a wall or column. That interlocking gives the strength to that wall.

Bricks are typically laid to an offset pattern to maintain an adequate lap between joints from one course to the next and to ensure that vertical joints are not positioned above one another on consecutive courses.

Bricks can be laid as soldiers (standing upright), stretchers (laid lengthwise along the wall), or as headers (laid width-wise along the wall).

Flemish bond

The traditional Flemish brick bond has alternative stretchers and headers on every course, with the headers centred over the stretchers underneath. From the beginning of the 18th century, the Flemish bond superseded English bond. It is sometimes found with contrasting headers of different colour to the stretchers, simply as decoration.

What are different types of brick bond patterns?

Most of the brick bonds demand the same size or at least compatible sizes bricks or other masonry units. Uniform size bricks or masonry units create even, repeatable designs which can be applied over any area size. Bricks are now made in factories, to provide uniform size and textures.


Stretcher bond


With the Stretcher bond, courses are laid as stretchers with the joint of one course falling midway between the joints of the courses below. 


Stretcher bond has become the most popular bond as it is time and cost effective to use. This is the most common arrangement if the wall is to be “cavity built” – we’ll cover that in future.


Header bond


Popular during the 18th century, the header bond pattern often employed contrasting brick colours to give a decorative effect. This bond uses so many bricks that it is usually reserved for very high-quality buildings.


English bond

The traditional English brick bond alternates between stretcher and header courses, with headers centred over the stretchers underneath. This is the oldest pattern, and was commonly used until the end of the 17th century. This is among the strongest of bonds. A variation is called “English Garden Wall bond” – see later.

English garden wall bond

The decorative English garden wall bond has three courses of stretchers between every course of headers, often in a different colour, and is often found in garden walls.


Stack bond

In vertical or horizontal stack bonds, the bricks do not overlap. As this arrangement is inherently weak, it is typically used as a decorative laying pattern which delivers a striking visual effect. This bond is rarely used, unless for a non-structural wall.


Why is the brick bond important?

The composition, formation of the bricks themselves, and the pattern in which they are laid, ‘the bond’, can make a great difference to its strength and stability, as well as the overall aesthetic.

They can be decorative, can even be used to date a property, but they can also be an indication to the quality of build of the property.

The kind of bricks used and location can also indicate why that particular wall was built, such as to retain a raised earth bank, or in wet ground conditions, each requiring great strength – “retaining walls”, often built with very hard Engineering bricks.


How are brick bonds important in Chartered Surveying?

An experienced surveyor can look at a wall and deduce a lot of information from it. The bond of the bricks alone can show him just how thick the wall is, and with the type of mortar used, its age and consequently including any later maintenance conducted.

Any holes drilled and plugged later may also show us a “chemical damp treatment”, or perhaps if cavity wall insulation, has been injected. We can then consider how well it was carried out and will it remain effective?

Our highly experienced team can offer free advice over the phone on many building and property-related subjects.

Please contact the Eyesurvey team on 01206 545 139.

 

                               

Asbestos: The Slow and Silent Killer 


 As late as in 1999, the use of asbestos was terminated in the UK but despite this, asbestos still kills around 5,000 workers each year. Few people realise the extent to which asbestos has been used in buildings, both commercial and residential, and for many other purposes. With around 20 tradesmen dying each week as a result of post exposure, asbestos is not just a problem of the past. It can be present today in any building built or refurbished before the year 2000.


When materials that contain asbestos [“Asbestos containing materials” - ACMs] are disturbed or damaged, fibres are released into the air. When these fibres are inhaled they can cause serious diseases. These diseases will not affect you immediately; they often take a long time to develop, but once diagnosed, it is often too late to do anything. 

This is why it is important that you educate and protect yourself now.

What is asbestos? 

 Asbestos is a term for a group of minerals made of microscopic fibres. All are composed of long and thin fibrous crystals, and are made mainly of silicon and oxygen. 


Although an excellent electrical insulator that is highly heat-resistant, it is now a well-known health and safety hazard. Inhalation of asbestos fibres can lead to various serious lung conditions, including asbestosis and cancer.

Where is asbestos commonly found?


Asbestos may be found in insulation, drywall, ceiling and floor tiles, cement, paint, and more. In fact, asbestos can be found in any industrial or residential building build or refurbished before the year 2000, and naturally occurring asbestos can be found in some types of marble and other stone. 


Textured ceiling and wall finishes [such as “Artex”] with ACMs present are extremely common. Roof panels or tiles/ slates, gutters, downpipes, soffits, and for other board materials are often encountered as ceilings, pipe enclosures, and door linings for airing or boiler cupboards, for example.

Although the large-scale use of asbestos didn’t begin until the mid-19th century, archaeological studies have found evidence of asbestos being used as far back as the Stone Age to strengthen ceramic pots!


How do you know if you have an asbestos related health problem?


The most common signs of asbestos exposure include shortness of breath, cough and chest pain. Unfortunately, the first signs of asbestos exposure are the symptoms of related diseases, as there are no signs of asbestos exposure that a person could identify before a disease develops.

Symptoms of Asbestos Exposure: 

  • shortness of breath
  • dry cough or wheezing
  • cracking sound when breathing 
  • pain your chest or shoulder
  • respiratory complications
  • in more advanced cases, clubbed (swollen) fingertips

There’s no cure for asbestosis once it has developed, as it’s not possible to reverse the damage to the lungs. However, there are treatments that can help, such as pulmonary rehabilitation and oxygen therapy.

How quickly can asbestos affect you? 


Asbestosis has a long “latency period” - around 12 - 60 years , which means the disease usually does not develop until many years after the asbestos exposure that caused it. In most cases, symptoms of asbestosis take 20 to 30 years to present.


Is it dangerous to live in a house with asbestos?


Living in a home with intact asbestos doesn’t necessarily pose an immediate health risk. However, when these materials in your home deteriorate over time, or become disturbed, asbestos fibres can be released into the air.

It is most common that those among us suffering from asbestos related illnesses have had extensive exposure to the product over a period of time. However, it is still as dangerous now as it was many years ago; small fibres can hide themselves away in your property for years upon years without you knowing but still having the same affect! These small fibres can easily make their way into your lungs once moved.  

 

Is asbestos dangerous when wet?

 

No, whilst studies have clearly demonstrated that asbestos is a serious health risk when it is dry and inhaled, there’s little evidence to show that asbestos fibres will case any harm when they are wet.

 

 

 

Does asbestos need to be removed?


Removal may be required when re-modelling or making major structural changes to your home that could potentially disturb asbestos-containing material. Removal may also be called for if asbestos containing material is damaged extensively and cannot be otherwise repaired. 


Where can I find out more about asbestos and get advice on its safe removal?


The extensive advice provided by the Health and Safety Executive including as to Regulations in force can be found here


Our highly experienced team can offer free advice over the phone on many building and property-related subjects. Please contact the Eyesurvey team on 01206 545 139.


 

                               

Leasehold vs Freehold – What is the difference? Why does it matter? 


In February 2020, the competition watchdog says it found evidence of potential mis-selling and unfair contract terms in the leasehold housing sector. We explain the differences between leasehold and freehold, and the ongoing government review on banning new-build houses being sold as leasehold. These systems do not exist in Scotland; they have quite different arrangements, on which we will not comment.

What is a leasehold property?

 

A leasehold property is a home that’s owned for a fixed period of time under a legal agreement with a landlord called a lease. This tells leaseholders how many years they’ll own their home for, before the ownership of a property returns to the freeholder.

 

Leases tend to be long term – and can be anything up to 999 years. In some cases, however, they can be as short as 40 years. It’s more common for flats to be held on 99, 125, or 150-year terms. A “Ground Rent” is paid to the Landlord annually for the use of the land. 

 

In addition, it’s usual for the external and common areas of the building including halls, stairs and lifts to be maintained jointly, by each leaseholder contributing though what are called “Service Charges”, paid to a Management Company who arrange those works in return for a fee, included in the Service Charges. 

 

 What is a freehold property?

 

A freehold property is when a home, including its land, is owned outright on a permanent basis. The homeowner is able to lease the property to others. The freeholder, who is named as such in the Land Registry, is usually responsible for the repair and maintenance of the exterior and garden areas of his or her building. Generally, houses are usually held as freeholds. 

 

Leasehold and ground rents scandal

 

It is quite usual for flats to be sold on a leasehold basis, but in recent years, more properties (houses) have initially been sold on a leasehold with, perhaps only verbal, confidence from their home developer that they can later purchase the house on a freehold basis for a reasonable sum. This is known as “Leasehold Enfranchisement”, with the lease and ongoing payments then being extinguished. 

 

However, in some circumstances site ownership is then sold on by the initial builder to another investor organisation, who then insists that the freehold would cost substantially more than the original owner first had indicated to them. 

 

 

Likewise, due to onerous clauses in leases some leaseholders are also facing ground rents – which they pay to the freeholder – that double in cost, usually every 10 years, but sometimes more frequently. This drastic increase in ground rent means that a lot of owners were faced with the inability to pay such sky-high costs, or to sell the property. 

 

Many mortgage lenders will not agree to lend on this type of arrangement. Cash buyers are not likely to consider purchasing either – their solicitors must warn them of the risks. Both of these factors meant that leaseholders are ‘locked-in’ with little wiggle room nor options to create stability and security within their homes. 

 

Government response

 

In June 2019, the Housing Minister said that all new-build houses will be sold as freehold, and although the ban wasn’t to be applied retrospectively, if buyers were incorrectly sold a leasehold they would be able to get their freehold outright at no extra cost.

 

However, with no official legislation coming in to effect, an ongoing investigation into the leasehold property market found “worrying evidence” that buyers are being treated unfairly and charged unreasonable fees. 

 

Whilst leasehold ownership is logical for a block of flats, where properties are owned by many different people, Freehold continues to make sense for houses. The government is also planning to outlaw doubling clauses for ground rent under proposed legislation.

 

We are hoping that some comprehensive proposals will be devised to help those already locked-in to the unfair escalating Grounds Rents explained above – though English Law is normally not made retrospective. 

 

For the latest on the government’s project to make leasehold property ownership fairer, head to the Law Commissioner's site here.


If you have questions concerning leasehold vs freehold and need expert advice, please contact the Eyesurvey team on 01206 545 139.


 

                               

How Much is a Survey on the Property I Want to Buy? 


 If you’ve had an offer accepted on a property, you’ll be wondering whether you need a house survey and if so which one. We look at different types of home surveys, which type is right for your property and – the likely home survey costs. 




What is a property survey?

 

A property survey is a detailed inspection of the property’s condition. With almost 50 years in the property industry, at Eyesurvey we know what a major issue is and can pick out the smallest of details that you may not have noticed.

 

As RICS Chartered surveyors, we are able to tell you if there are structural problems like an unstable wall or subsidence, as well as providing skilled commentary on the property itself. 

 

Do I need to get a survey?

 

Although not mandatory, a property survey can go a long way in helping you avoid expensive and unwelcome surprises. Given the hundreds of thousands of pounds it costs to buy a new home, a few hundred pounds on a survey to have the comfort of an independent, expert surveyor looking over it feels like a good investment. 

 

The information from the survey also provides impartial information that you’re able to act on within the negotiation of the price of the property you’re hoping to purchase. We would particularly recommend a survey if:

 • you have any specific worries about any part of the property

 • you feel unsure about what sort of condition the property is in

 • you are looking to buy an old or unusual property

 • the property has a thatched roof or is timber framed

 • the building is Listed, or stands in a Conservation Area

Which survey is best to get?

Do remember – a Valuation, carried out for mortgage or similar purposes, is NOT A SURVEY!


Now that property prices have spiked again many people overpay for a comprehensive survey when that money could be used for something else. However, you do not want a cheaper survey that misses out a fault within the property that later causes you problems. 


Most surveys we offer do not have a set price like most would think. The cost comes down to a lot of different factors such as the properties location, size, the level of detail you would like the survey to be carried out to amongst others. Each survey we carry out is tailored to you, to ensure you receive everything you need for the best price possible.


To help our customers with this there are three main surveys that our company carry out, the details for each are listed below: 

 

RICS Condition Report (Level One) 

A Condition Report is the most basic survey you can get, and the cheapest. Based on a traffic light system, this report focuses on the condition of the property only and flags up any areas that need attention. It does not give advice or a valuation.

 

 

Suitable for: Fairly recently built, small properties, such as new builds or conventional homes in good condition that you're not planning to do any extensive work upon.


RICS Homebuyer Report (Level 2)

This report is more detailed and gives you a Market valuation of the property, and also a calculated Valuation for Building Insurance purposes. It includes an extensive inspection and highlights defects or anything which may affect the property's value with the traffic lights system, but the Homebuyer report can't look beyond the floor coverings, floorboards or behind the wall finishes, but does give advice on further inspections or investigations needed. Does include loft areas, damp checks, any signs of building movement found. 


Suitable for: Most conventional properties built around 1900 onwards, in a reasonable condition and/ or on which you are considering small scale alterations but does not include advice on the alterations or extensions to be made..


RICS Building Survey (Level 3)

This survey gives an extensive inspection of the property condition including detailed information about the fabric of the property and its structure. The report also includes descriptions of visible defects and warns of potential hidden flaws together with an outline of additional investigations and repair options. 


Suitable for: Unusual, older or non-traditional buildings or those that have been significantly altered. Buildings that are conventional but in poor condition or that you are planning major alterations to - but does not include advice on the alterations or extensions to be made.


How much is a survey?


Our team has been working on commercial and residential properties for the over 30 years meaning we have dealt with numerous cases ranging in size. In our experience, it doesn’t matter if you are downsizing, buying a property for business purposes or are a first-time buyer, it can be difficult to decide on which survey would be best to carry out, which in turn, will affect the cost.


To ensure that we’re advising on the correct report for your potential new purchase, we require as much information on the property as you can share to effectively help you choose the best survey for your particular needs. Although costs can differ depending on the survey you require, here at Eyesurvey we aim to provide the best service possible to all customers as well as the best prices.


At Eyesurvey we are more than happy to talk you through any questions you may have regarding our services and if they are right for you, including which survey you may need. To find out more about our services and to book yours with Eyesurvey, get in touch with us on 01206 545 139 or drop the details - location, type, size and other details - of the property on which you require the survey via our website Contact Us page.

 

                               


Understanding Help to Buy Valuations If you have bought a home with a loan from the Help to Buy scheme you may be looking to repay, remortgage or sell your property in 2020. 


To do this successfully, Target, who had been selected by the HCA to manage the scheme, require you to get an independent Help to Buy Valuation report.


Introduced by the government to support first time home buyers get a foot onto the property ladder, the Help to Buy scheme launched in April 2013.


 


At Eyesurvey, our experience spans over 40 years, and we’re always keeping our finger on the property pulse in the UK. That’s why it’s no surprise that we’ve carried out already over a hundred Help to Buy Valuations! 


Why do I need a Help to Buy Valuation

As the homeowner of a Help to Buy property, if you’re looking to repay the loan, remortgage the house or sell the property, you’ll require a Help to Buy ValuationA Mortgage Valuation Report is not sufficient and cannot be used. This valuation provides an independent assessment of the market value of the property, as required by the government appointed administrator, Target (HCA).


From this valuation, the administrator of the loan can effectively work out what needs to be paid back to settle the debt. The amount that you must pay back will be calculated on the independently assessed value of the property at the time of repayment, not the original purchase price.



 

Who are Target (HCA)?

Target is an organisation which has been appointed by the government to process the loan administration services on behalf of the Home & Communities Agency

 

Target require a specific RICs valuation to be sent to them referencing a detailed valuation of the Help to Buy property. 

 

How long is the Help to Buy Valuation valid for? 

Timing is vital, your Help to Buy Valuation is only valid for 3 months. It is therefore very important that you have planned ahead and have everything in place prior to instructing your Chartered Surveyor to proceed.

 

Who can carry out a Help to Buy Valuation? 

To conduct a Help to Buy Valuation, the Chartered Surveyor will need to complete the Report, strictly following the valuation requirements laid down by Target, and must also fit the following criteria:

 

- They must be regulated by RICS

- they must be RICS Registered Valuers

- They must be independent if an Estate Agent


As an Independent Chartered Surveyors, that's us!


To find out more about a Help to Buy Valuation and to book yours with Eyesurvey, get in touch with us on 01206 545 139.

  

 

                               



At Eyesurvey, our expertise stretches across all manner of properties and building works, and just last week we conducted a thorough Building Survey Report on a beautiful thatched cottage.


Inspired by the charm and characteristics of this property, we wanted to give an overview of owning a house with a thatched roof and the duty of care involved to ensure that we continue to see these attractive homes in our communities.

Which methods and materials are used?

 In most of England, thatch remained the only roofing material available to the bulk of the population in the countryside, in many towns and villages, until the late 1800s. Although thatch is popular in Germany, The Netherlands and Denmark, there are still more thatched roofs in the UK than in any other European country!


Thatching methods have traditionally been passed down from generation to generation, and numerous descriptions of the materials and methods used in Europe over the past three centuries are present in archives. 


You’d most likely come across “long straw” as the material used in most of the country, however, in Norfolk especially you’re likely to find water reed.


How long will the thatch last?

The life expectancy of a thatched roof will vary according to several factors, including regular maintenance, the quality of the materials used, pollutants in the environment, and of course, the skill of the Thatcher. 


As thatching is a natural roofing material it will decay and has a far shorter life-span than that of tiles and slates. As it decays, moss growth is commonplace, and that will slow drainage, accelerating the decay by retaining more water. 


If birds are nesting they are also likely to pluck out straws, adding to the problems! 

  • Water Reed (also known as Norfolk Reed) 50 – 60 years
  • Combed Wheat 25 – 40 years
  • Long Straw 15 – 25 years

Ridges (the coping or apex capping), whatever their design, style or type, have a life-span of 10 -15 years. 


What general maintenance does it require?

Repairs may extend the life of certain areas of a thatched roof, so it’s important to keep an eye on your roof and any changes, especially before and after the chilly winter period. To keep the roof in best condition:


 • Allow it to dry well, by ensuring you remove or cut back nearby trees and plants which may hinder the sun and wind drying it or rain dispersing. Damp will increase the likelihood of moss and algae growth!


• Do not allow other trades to damage the roof, either with ladders or by walking on the thatch. Thatch being lighter material than slate or tile, the structure beneath is less strong, and may not bear your weight – you could fall through. 


• Do not assume that because the roof looks new or recent, that it is in prime condition. A thorough inspection to fully understand the condition may be crucial.


What are the fire risks?

Fortunately, thatch fires are nowhere near as common as some would have us believe. Thatchers will tell you that thatch, being quite dense, rarely catches fire and starts to burn quickly, and can be regarded “as like trying to set fire to a closed book”. 


Clearly, once a fire does take hold, it is hard to stop before major damage occurs, so calling the Fire Brigade early is vital – and tell them it’s a thatched building. 

However, it’s important to have chimneys swept annually, not to light bonfires near to the thatched property and to avoid having bad electrical wiring in the loft area, if any – thatched roofs often do not have roof spaces, or are built so the ceilings follow the roof timber structure.


Future-proofing your thatched roof

It’s important to know that competent and reputable thatching contractors are now rare and in great demand. It is usually necessary to book them for any work up to several years in advance, including only minor repairs or temporary patching.


It must be understood that can lead to damp-related damage. It is thus essential to make pre-emptive arrangements for all such work now and without delay, if the roof is showing age and erosion or moss growth is heavy. 


Joining a thatched roof to a newer extension, if permitted, since a majority of thatched buildings are likely to be “Listed”, restricting alterations, and is also a difficult area. It’s important to consider the layout of your potential home and what, if any, permitted changes you would wish to make and the challenges that may be involved. Special permissions, like “Listed Buildings Consent” may have to be obtained; the local Authority Building Control and perhaps the Heritage Officer, may have placed various conditions, with which you must comply. 


Purchasing a thatched property

When looking to purchase a thatched home, buyers should be aware that more than 75% of all thatched properties in England and Wales are “Listed’ by English Heritage. This means that they have been put onto a register and graded according to historical or architectural importance. 


PLEASE NOTE that, if the property is found to be “Listed”, or standing within a “Conservation Area”, a proportion of the advice given in any survey report as to repairs and maintenance is likely to need approvals to be obtained from local Heritage and/ or Building Control Officers, who may often vary their requirements concerning a “Listed Building”. Here is a list of questions that it would be helpful to have answered if you are buying a thatched home:


• When was the roof last thatched?


• Has there been any repair work carried out over the past 10 years?


• When was the ridge re-thatched?


• When was the roof last surveyed? 


 Have any of the roof timbers been replaced or repaired?


• Is the chimney lined? No Building Survey will reveal the answer – this will be concealed, so it is essential to make written enquiries via your solicitors!


• Who was the Thatcher who carried out the work?


• Are there any types of fire-resistant barrier? 


A Building Survey from Eyesurvey will inform you about any major problems with a thatched property. To find out more about our HomeBuyers’ Survey, get in touch with us on 01206 545139.

10% Discount on all our services

Do you serve in the Military or have done so in the past, including Gurkha regiments, perhaps now retired? All serving and retired Armed Forces personnel receive a 10% discount on all our services, all you need is your military ID Card. Just inform our team when enquiring about our services. Eyesurvey is happy to support all our armed forces both past and present. For more information on support for military staff and retired personnel please see www.britishlegion.org.uk.


WE COVER ALL ESSEX AND SOUTH SUFFOLK POSTCODES, IP, CO, CM, SS, RM & IG

 (IPSWICH, COLCHESTER, CHELMSFORD, BRAINTREE, SOUTHEND, ROMFORD, ILFORD, ETC.)

Showing you what we do best

Here at Eyesurvey we believe that showing customers the cases our team have dealt with allows us to broadcast our knowledge and put faith in new customers that when choosing us we will do our very best to find the solution to your problem. As well as heading over to our ‘images and videos’ page which shows the types of problems we deal with, have a look at our ‘case studies’ page where it shows how our team identify and aid the customer in finding a solution that works best for them; after all customer satisfaction is our number one priority.

27/11/20

Ensure you plan ahead

Although you do not see many thatched roofed houses nowadays, if not maintained they can still be a huge problem for some. With highly skilled thatcher’s very hard to come by it is vitally important that you maintain the property and be prepared to book them far in advance if you start to see a minor problem occurring. It is hard to know what may eventually turn into a major problem but having a building survey carried out by a member of our staff gives you time you need in order to contact the necessary people.

13/11/20

Don’t take your chances when dealing with Asbestos

Although the use of asbestos was terminated in the UK in 1999 many still come across it regularly and the danger is still as great. When the asbestos is dislodged the fibres move and can then be inhaled which is when the damage starts. If you believe that there is asbestos within your home or property please feel free to give our team a call today and they can tell you how to proceed ensuring everyone is safe.

06/11/20

Ensuring everyone's safety

Ensuring the safety of our customers as well as our staff has always been a top priority, but now more so than ever. Our team are taking many precautions to make sure they are minimising the spread of coronavirus. We now try to discuss with property owners a time in which the property will be vacant so our team can go in and carry out their job, in between clients our team will shower and change clothes as well as always wearing disposable masks and gloves. All of this will still be accompanied with our high standard of work.

23/10/20

Prepare your property for winter

Your property takes what mother nature throws at it in its stride, however during the winter months is when the damage is likely to occur. The harsh cold months can do severe damage to your home, that is why preparing is vitally important. The growing cracks in the walls or missing roof tiles are better to be fixed now than during or after winter when the problem will be much more costly to fix. If you would like a member of our highly qualified team to take a look around your home please contact us today.

09/10/20

Making sure you don't overpay

When talking about the leasehold on a property it is usually in regards to a flat, not so much a house nowadays. The term in a nutshell refers to a person owning the flat they live in, but not the land it is on and the surrounding area. As a result this means you have to pay a ‘ground rent’ charge. Our team can carry out a survey on a property that you are thinking of purchasing to ensure that the purchase price corresponds to the term left on the lease as it can be difficult to sell a property in the future with a short leasehold.

25/09/20

Don't allow that damp patch to become permanent

Not many people love the colder winter months, especially the battering your home gets with the forever changing weather. The colder months are prime time for damp to creep its way into your home. It can be caused by a lack of ventilation or rain finding its way through cracks in your walls. Damp can spread quicker than you may think and can be very tricky to get rid of; the sooner our team take a look and assess the damage the sooner we can advise you on the best course of action.

11/09/20

What are Dilapidations?

Over-paying when a dilapidation report comes through is a common occurrence among people who rent properties in particular commercial ones; especially if they know nothing about the term ‘dilapidations’ itself. It simply means the money you may have to pay to put the property back to its original state before you started renting. To ensure you do not have to part with more money than is necessary a member of our team can carry out a building survey of the property so you know exactly what you have to pay.

28/08/20

Take it from our customers

Whether it is helping a customer win a civil case or carrying out a Homebuyers Survey on a property to ensure the client knows its correct value our team will do their best, so you get the outcome you want. We provide the best service possible, always taking the needs of the customers into account, but don’t take it from us take it from our customers. If you head over to the page titled ‘What our clients say’ you will see for yourself the great work we carry out on a regular basis.

14/08/20

Choosing what is right for you

When choosing any company to carry out a service it is important that you look around to see what each business has to offer in terms of pricing, range of services and recommendations. So when looking for a Chartered Surveyor it is no different. One key point to remember is cheap pricing doesn’t always mean it is accompanied by the best service and when it comes to your property you want to know you are getting the very best. Our team have over 45 years of experience in dealing with numerous different issues and will always tackle your problem head on.

31/07/20

What Japanese Knotweed can do to your home  

Japanese Knotweed can cause thousands of pounds worth of damage if left untreated as it can grow up to 3 metres below your home. It can destroy building foundations with ease and can cause havoc with drainage systems. This particular type of weed is especially difficult to get rid of completely, as the tiniest of spores left behind will develop into the biggest plants in no time at all. If you suspect you have Japanese Knotweed growing near or under your property, then call our team straight away and they will advise you on the best course of action to take.

17/07/20

Learn a little more about what we do best! 

Having over 45 years of experience in this sector our team know just about everything to do with properties and the troubles that can come with them. Over the years we have dealt with countless probate issues, carried out numerous ‘Homebuyers Surveys’ and ensured businesses are not being over charged on their business rates. These are only a handful of the issues we come across; for more information on the cases we have dealt with and the services we offer take a further look around the website for more information.

19/06/20

Best in the business!  

Our staff have over 45 years of experience in this sector so have dealt with just about everything concerning properties. We deal with boundary disputes, subsidence issues, carry out Homebuyers Surveys and those are just to name a few! If you are unsure on how to fix a problem or what course of action to take, our team can help you get the outcome you deserve. All problems are handled quickly so you are able to get back to normality.

05/06/20

Did you know that you might be owed money?  

It is a common occurrence that a company’s business rates are set too high without them knowing, so pay a vast amount more over the years as a result. This happens so often that the government are expecting to pay back £4.2 billion to those that have overpaid. If you know that your rates have been set too high or you are unsure on the matter, our team are the best people to help sort this out. They have been working in this sector for over 45 years so will be able to arm you with the right information to get you the money back you deserve.

22/05/20

How to prevent being affected with Subsidence  

Subsidence generally occurs when the ground underneath your home is loose allowing it to move around very easily. The warm summer months helps to contribute to the movement of the ground as we have little rain, so the ground is dry for many months. Too prevent your property being affected by subsidence, over the summer regularly check the pipes and drains around your home to ensure there are no blockages and the water is flowing freely into the ground. In addition, if you have any trees in and around your property, ensure they are pruned regularly as this minimises the water uptake.

08/05/20

Have the colder months done more damage than you thought? 

Over the colder months’ houses have a tendency to deteriorate and by the time spring comes around there are new cracks on walls and damp patches that were not there a few months ago. Our team have comprised a list of things you can check in and around your property to ensure there aren’t any hidden surprises that may cost you further down the line. Any issues that you may find our team will be on hand to help you decide the best route to go in order to sort everything out as quickly as possible.

24/04/20

Neighbours are not always friendly  

Most of us have neighbours that we can rely on and get along with for many years, but it is not always that plain sailing. Disputes can arise over many things, even things as small as having a tree overhanging onto their driveway. When this situation arises, many do not know the first steps to take to resolve the issue. With over 25 years of experience in this sector our team will help you to resolve the issue in no time, meaning both parties can get back to normality.

10/04/20

Checking your home from head to toe! 

Have you noticed that the small damp patch in the corner of your ceiling has grown over the winter months or that the crack on your bedroom wall has grown in length? With spring fast approaching it is the perfect time to assess the damage and fix it right up. Our highly qualified team will asses every inch of your property to ensure everything is in working order and if it isn’t, we can guide you in the right direction of how to rectify it.

27/03/20

Let us help you 

With the passing of a loved one being a difficult time for anyone, especially when there are many things that need to be sorted out, let our team take something off your hands for you. Dealing with probate can be a lengthy process particularly when you have money and belongings to take into account alongside property. Our team have dealt with many probate cases over the years so know exactly what they are doing; your case will be handled with care and our team will help you every step of the way.

13/03/20

Do you need Valuation Advice? 

Carrying out a valuation or market appraisal factors such as school catchment areas, level of demand and even smaller things like public service access all has to be taken into consideration, so getting an accurate result is easier said than done. Many get Estate Agents to carry the valuation out for them but if it proves to be invalid you cannot hold them accountable. To save you all this hassle our highly experienced team will deal with everything and get you the correct valuation you deserve. .

28/02/20

Helping you receive what is rightfully yours 

When it comes to inheritance tax it can be very easy to be overcharged as the property isn’t valued correctly. As it stands the current tax is 40% above a certain threshold. That percentage is very high, so it is vital that the property value is given correctly so you receive the correct amount of money that is rightfully yours. Over the years our team has gone through this process countless times so will always know what to do when you don’t.

14/02/20

Is an Expert Witness what you need? 

It is difficult going through any form of civil action on your own especially when you do not know the best course of action to take. Our team here at Eyesurvey have over 45 years of knowledge in handling a vast range of cases. Anything from landlord and tenant disputes, appealing to get your business rates lowered to boundary disputes with your neighbour our team will be on hand to help and will do the best they can, so you receive the outcome you want.

31/01/20

Happy New Year! 

Happy New Year to all of our customers from our team here at Eyesurvey, we wish you all the best for you in the year to come. As always, the team will be on hand to help you with any property related issues that may arise throughout the year. All jobs will be completed to the very best of standards always leaving each and every customer 100% satisfied.

03/01/20

Do you really know what Enfranchisement is? 

In the simplest of terms the definition of enfranchisement is where the leaseholder is in the process of extending their lease on a property or buying the freehold of a property. This process will determine the mortgage options that you will have available to you on either your domestic or commercial property. If you are unsure of the legalities of enfranchisement, then please do not chance it and contact a member of our team; after all they have over 45 years of experience.

20/12/19

What survey is best for you? 

The three main surveys that are mentioned when dealing with both commercial and residential are: RICS Building Surveys, Homebuyers Report and Condition Report but only the real experts know exactly what they mean. Unless you know how old the property is or if it has been extended for example can impact the survey needed, knowing the right one to choose is nearly impossible. With countless years within the trade our team will always know the right one for you, making the whole process hassle free.

06/12/19