Case Studies

An important part of our work here at Eyesurvey is making sure our website is up to date with a wide range of projects that we carry out on a weekly basis. This shows how vast our expertise is and the range of problems customers come to us with. With numerous years of experience in the trade our team can help/advise you on just about anything property and building related! 

 

 

Our principles of Chartered Surveying still stand strong in over 45 years of supporting our clients… 

 

At Eyesurvey we have been using the Sherlock Holmes emblem for a number of years, and we believe it reflects our meticulous attention to detail. It was something once quoted to us in reflection of the detailed analysis we provided to a client for a property that had a number of underlying problems. 

 

We may not don the Deer Stalker Hat, long gown and carry the unlit pipe nowadays, but having looked at thousands of properties and producing countless surveys, detail is something we very much pride ourselves on. It’s that detail which creates informed decisions for our clients! 

 

To quote Mr. Holmes… 

“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” 

One of the key aspects of Chartered Surveying is reflected in obvious identifiable problems. Damp is a typical issue. It is easy to identify a property has damp, but not so easy to identify the cause of the damp issue. The arch-enemy Professor Moriarty may even have invented damp problems himself. The identification of damp causes can sometimes be deceiving and require further investigation. A buried leaking pipe, a damp-proof course that isn’t effective, or indeed a misplaced roof tile that is perfectly aligned to embrace the rains carried on a westerly wind. It could even be a lack of ventilation, and all reasoning has to be explored to identify the cause.

 

 “Education never ends. It is a series of lessons, with the greatest for the last.” 

Even after forty-five years, every day in the world of Chartered Surveying is certainly a school day. Your experience can tell you one thing, or point out what may be the seemingly obvious, but further investigation can sometimes surprise you. 

 

Les recalls a comment made to him in his student days. “When I was a student, my Building and Construction lecturer told the class - “Every building has a secret. It is your job to find it.” 

 

We learn never to be complacent with our analysis, and only to make sure we have absolute clarity! 

 

“To a great mind, nothing is little,’ remarked Holmes, sententiously.” 

We will have to disagree with Mr. Holmes over confident mindset on this occasion. It could initiate complacency, and that is certainly something we cannot afford to do when our findings and recommendations have financial implications for our clients. However, nothing is too little, and when investigating a property, we certainly look at the little details. Typically, a small problem can become a larger problem in the future, so it is our job to point out any issues that need to be dealt with promptly.

 

 “Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?” 

This quote reminds us very much of a common issue where a property is suffering from subsidence or significant movement. We can count numerous occasions where people have tried to cover up these issues, and it certainly does take a keen and experienced eye to work out when they have. It could be costly affair for clients if we don’t. 

 

A great example of this from a very recent survey –

 A case we worked on recently was a great example when Eyesurvey were asked to survey a “fully refurbished and extended house” and found some cracks over 15mm/ 0.6” wide in a main exterior wall. They had been filled with a soft (non-hardening) flexible mastic, and then painted over. Most potential buyers will never notice it, but it showed major movement damage that could carry on shifting and become a serious problem to a future owner, and it was reported. It may reduce the house value by many thousands of pounds, until repaired at huge costs. 

 

Crime is common. Logic is rare. Therefore it is upon the logic rather than upon the crime that you should dwell.” 

We haven’t as yet found some highly valuable stolen art created by a famous Renaissance painter, so crime fortunately isn’t very common in the world of Chartered Surveying, but logic is most certainly common-place. Every property we investigate is logical, but sometimes a little unpredictable. It is the attention to detail and meticulous understanding of the dynamics of a property we believe gives us the edge amongst our competitors. 

 

We hope you enjoyed our bit of fun that has been perfectly integrated into the Eyesurvey philosophy for the art of Chartered Surveying… and so to close -

 

 “Holmes and Watson are on a camping trip. In the middle of the night Holmes wakes up and gives Dr. Watson a nudge. "Watson" he says, "look up in the sky and tell me what you see."

 

 "I see millions of stars, Holmes," says Watson. 

 

"And what do you conclude from that, Watson?" Watson thinks for a moment. "Well," he says, "astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Meterologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. Theologically, I see that God is all-powerful, and we are small and insignificant. Uh, what does it tell you, Holmes?" 

 

"Watson, you idiot! Someone has stolen our tent!”

 ― Thomas Cathcart, Daniel Klein

 

 The End! 

The year at eyesurvey - a wide range of projects!



We often get asked… “Is that something you can help with?”


In fact, it is difficult to show just how varied our workload is - and a Surveying practice covers so many things from the typical Homebuyer report when purchasing another home, but also very many things you may not expect. We may be working on Business Rates reviews, or advising a business on the possible acquisition of a new business premises. Every year we have a wide variety of cases, covering many facets of a Surveyor’s expertise. We thought we would give you a taste of some of the work we are doing and have done in the past year. Here are some examples of our work, and our experiences as Chartered Surveyors, to give you some idea of what services we can offer… 


Homebuyer’s Surveys – perhaps our most frequent form of instructions, which we carry out on flats, terraced, semi-detached or detached homes, from those built in the last few years up to 120 years old – yes, there are flats which are conversions in late Victorian houses of that age! This kind of report is sufficiently detailed and also comprehensive for the vast majority of properties and buyers, yet is also good value for money. 


Building Surveys – This kind of more detailed report is provided for the very large, far older (maybe from 15th Century onwards) or complex buildings, either being used as private homes, or non-domestic properties used for commercial activities. More complicated to inspect, and thus takes longer to prepare this type of report, and is significantly more expensive. 


“Help To Buy” Valuations – these are coming in more frequently, as the Government-backed scheme has now been running some years. We have carried out a very large number in the last three years – when you want to sell your home, or simply change lenders, and to pay off the Help to Buy loan, a particular form of valuation report is required, to show the Market value at the time of that later transaction. It cannot be used for a mortgage lender to give a fresh loan, and likewise the lender’s valuation is not suitable for the Help to Buy Company! 


Valuations for Buildings Insurance – when you arrange insurance, you should not simply use the Market Value – if the house is destroyed say, by a fire, and must be rebuilt, you still have the land on which it stood. Blocks of flats are far more complicated to assess. A specialist calculation must be done to reflect costs of demolition and site clearance; of the actual rebuilding; and for professional supervision by an architect or surveyor (probably with VAT on those fees). A mortgage lender will normally have their own valuer carry out that calculation, but if you’re a “Cash buyer”, you need to take your own advice. 


Rent Reviews and Lease Renewals – Commercial premises – This is a process governed either by the Lease under which the premises are occupied for rent reviews (adjusting rents at intervals as the Market Rental Value rises), and most Renewals are regulated by the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954 (Part 2). Briefly, the building is carefully measured to calculate floor areas of each part; then evidence of rents on equivalent premises is gathered and applied to estimate the current rental for the subject property – usually with some negotiation following to reach a finally agreed figure. It may take several months as it is a complicated process. Our fees are structured to reflect the actual benefit to the client, based either on the actual increase we can obtain, or on an effective reduction/ saving against what the Landlord was asking for before negotiations started – the amount the tenant will not have to pay…… We have dealt with reviews in the past year on shops, and on industrial units, and lease renewal negotiations on premises occupied by Government Departments! 


Schedule of Dilapidations – When you take on a commercial lease, there will be some form of responsibility for maintenance and repairs to that building. If these duties are not actually carried out by the tenant, the Landlord (or his Surveyor) will have a right to inspect and compile a list of failures to carry out those matters and by which the building is thus considered to have become “dilapidated” as a result. The tenant then must carry out the work listed within a period that is set down in the lease, or the Landlord can actually come in with workmen and do that work, then charge the costs back against the tenant. 


Compulsory Purchase and Land Compensation Where a “Statutory Authority” such as the Highways Agency needs to acquire land for the building of a new road, or a Project like “HS2” rail link, or a local Council has to rebuild a housing estate and must “buy-in” any private ownerships, they normally do so by Compulsory Purchase authorised by Act of Parliament. The price paid is set by Market Value, and we have recently acted for a flat owner whose Council wanted to redevelop the estate in which the flat was situated. We achieved a price £40,000 above the figure initially offered by the Council


Land Compensation - will arise when an existing road is enlarged, or an airport becomes more than just a centre for private aircraft and will be used by more major carriers, as happened with Southend-on-Sea airport in Essex a few year ago. If a nearby owner finds his property is “Devalued” because of factors like extra noise, vibration, “light pollution”, fumes and smells, he is entitled to Compensation amounting to the difference between what the house was worth before that “new scheme” and after that came into being. We acted for some 36 owners whose homes were down-valued by improvements to a major road junction near Stanway, Essex due to additional noise and the continuous lighting installed at that junction disturbing their use of the properties. We achieved compensation payments ranging from around £1,500 to £15,000! 


Building faults and defectswe were asked to advise the occupiers of a block of flats, where garden boundary walls were becoming badly cracked and were subsiding at their site, which was on sloping land. As the flats were over ten years old, and the cracks had appeared only in the last year to 18 months, we had to find a cause for the walls to start moving and breaking up, with cracks up to 40mm/ 1.5” wide and over 3 metres/ 10 feet in length appearing. No significant trees were found nearby that could cause the problem, but we found the house owner down the slope had recently had a large part of his garden excavated to level it off. That had removed support from the walls around the flats, so they started to move and crack.


An owner of a 1930s house had been having damp problems. This was built with conventional “Cavity walls”, meaning the outer walls of the house have two skins of brick or blocks fixed together with a gap or cavity between them, so the moist outer wall is isolated from the (should be) dry internal wall, while still giving a strong main wall. After investigation, we diagnosed blocked cavities, with debris from the original building works and later alterations allowing dampness to be passed from outer to inner wall. We arranged for the bricks to be removed at intervals, so the debris could be removed in stages, and for the dampness to gradually dissipate over a few months. Though that form of cure is not instant or a “magic bullet”, that is actually the proper remedy, which could not be dealt with by the well-known, but often ineffective, “chemical damp injection treatments” widely advised by some firms. Basic good building practice comes first for Eyesurvey! 


Eyesurvey have been looking after the people of Essex & Suffolk towns and villages now for well over forty-five years. What is interesting to clients is our unique knowledge of domestic and commercial properties in the region. We deal with Local and public Authorities, residential property owners and buyers, commercial business owners, and many others who all look for a professional surveying service.


Eyesurvey says – “If the question’s property, the answer is YES – so where’s the problem?” 

 

 

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

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

 

 

japanese knotweed (and other invasive plants)

         how your sale or purchase could be affected

 

 After a cold and long few Winter months, Spring is most definitely here and the garden is starting to burst into colour. As we start to enjoy our gardens over the coming months it provides the ideal opportunity to regularly inspect for signs of invasive plants such as Japanese Knotweed which can wreak havoc in your garden and affect your chances of selling or buying a home. 

 

What is Japanese Knotweed?

Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia Japonica) lies dormant during the Winter months but during late April and May reddish-pink buds start to sprout. Throughout the Summer months it can grow at a rate of 1ft per week and its bamboo-like stems shoot upwards to over 7ft tall, strangling all other garden plants in it’s destructive path. The leaves are heart-shaped – with sprouts having a reddish tinge with “knots” at stem joints, and turning a lime green. In the Summer months they produce clusters of cream flowers. It is most commonly found alongside roads, wasteland including development sites, rivers and railway lines and spreads through underground stems called rhizomes which can lay dormant for up to 20 years. It’s not illegal to grow Knotweed, but it must be kept under tight control to prevent is spreading to neighbouring gardens. To allow the plant to spread is a criminal offence. 

 

Why is it such a problem?

 

Japanese Knotweed is such a problem due to the invasive nature of the plant. If it is penetrating your garden or land most mortgage lenders will refuse to give you a mortgage as they will not know the extend of the damage the Knotweed has caused. It can also cause numerous problems for your house or property including the foundations, drains, paths, driveways, outbuildings, conservatories and that is just to name a few. A patch the size of a fingernail is capable of re-growing and destroying everything in its path! 

 

There are several varieties of knotweed out there and identification is important. The RHS have a fantastic guide here.

 

Treatment

There are a number of ways which Japanese Knotweed can be eradicated which include: There are a range of available including: 

  • Chemical treatment
  • Relocation and herbicidal programme 
  • Reduced dig and herbicidal programme
  • In situ capping
  • On site burial 
  • Excavation and removal

Japanese Knotweed can be treated yourselves (though we do not recommend this) and this is best done in June and July when the plant will draw in the chemical treatments the best. Recommendations include cutting the Knotweed back so there is an 8 -12 inch hollow stem above ground height and then dripping a glyphosate-based weed killer inside the stem. This may have to be repeated annually to ensure that the Knotweed is dead.

 

Japanese Knotweed is classed as ‘controlled waste’ under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 so it must be disposed of at a licensed landfill site - do not put it on a compost heap or leave it out for bin collection. Incineration is not a reliable method of disposal. If you prefer, you can call in the experts – the local Environment Agency should be able to provide a list of local contractors who are licensed to get rid of Knotweed. Costs can very from £1500-£3000 depending on the severity of the problem and treatment can involve repeat visits for at least five years. Any professional contractor work should come with an insurance backed guarantee and may also involve the removal of contaminated soil. If Knotweed is spotted on a property survey then a mortgage provider is likely to insist on you hiring a professional to handle the problem before granting you a home loan. 

 

Buying and selling property: The legal position Since 2013, the seller is required to state whether Japanese Knotweed is present at the property through a TA6 form (the property information for used for conveyancing). Ultimately, you must seek legal advice from your solicitor but a summary of your position is here: 

 

Vendors:  You are responsible for checking whether your garden has Japanese Knotweed (bearing in mind that it can die back in winter). The TA6 form asks you to confirm whether your property is affected by Japanese Knotweed and, if it is, to provide a management plan for its eradication from a professional company. 

 

Purchasers: The presence of Japanese Knotweed will be stated in the responses to the TA6 form. This often results in your mortgage lender requiring assurances that it will be eradicated before agreeing the funds. A management plan by a professional eradication company, backed by a transferable guarantee, is usually sufficient. It is most common for this plan to be provided by the seller before the purchase is completed. Whether a buyer or seller, it is also worth being pro-active and checking the property for Japanese Knotweed and other invasive plants. Disputes over the identity of a plant, the failure to disclose its presence, or the lack of a management plan can result in delays, increased costs later in the buying process, or even a possible misrepresentation claim after the sale, so this approach will help avoid problems

 

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

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

 

 

leasehold, councils & compulsory purchase

  

I am acting for someone who has a long leasehold on a flat, which was granted in 1992, in Barking, Outer London. The flats are 1960s built, and the local Council have decided the entire block and estate needs updating and renovation, as not all are privately owned and many are still rented from the Council. The Council have indicated they want to buy back the private leasehold flats, so as to carry out the overall scheme, as they could not do so without having all flats in these several blocks. They are currently offering to do so by individual negotiations, but if necessary will take powers for Compulsory Purchase, under the Compulsory Purchase Act 1965,(as amended) or alternatively by using the Land Compensation Act 1973 if the property is adversely affected by a "public scheme", but land is not actually taken.

I am acting in the negotiations for the owner to agree the price to be paid, which must be at full Market Value under that Act. The council are not entitled to any discount or reduction, although they are the Landlords. Various additional payments may be due, such as the "Disturbance costs" and costs of purchasing a replacement property, even if that one taken by Compulsory Purchase is an investment, such as "Buy to Let". 

ROOF PROBLEMS


The house front clearly showed a sag in the roof slope, which had concrete tiles fitted to replace slates. Concrete tiles are about three times as heavy as slates (which absorb hardly any water), but concrete tiles are more absorbent and heavier once they are wet, so the roof structure normally has to be strengthened. If not, it is likely to sag, or even collapse if stress is high enough - snow fall can be the last straw to break the camel's back. 



The two roof pictures show the small struts added lower down as an inadequate attempt to strengthen that roof slope, and circled is where the purlin (horizontal timber) has bowed downwards with the weight, causing the sag. The short struts running up from the ceiling level should have been longer and actually bearing on the purlin to support it properly. The cost to do it correctly at the time tiles were fitted was about £200 - cost to put right now is many, many times more and involves jacking up and then supporting the formation without damage!

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

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


Dilapidations Claim


"Eyesurvey have recently completed a case concerning a "Schedule of Dilapidations" on a shop unit at Lakeside Shopping Centre, West Thurrock. This is a notification under a commercial lease of breaches of the covenants (promises) to repair or maintain the premises and to keep decorations in good order. The amount of the claim involved, and alleged to be the Landlord's loss, was over £41,000, including the Landlord's surveyors fees.

 

Les Long FRICS, our Principal, inspected the unit, then checked the claim document against the lease. He found that the shop front fitted, various modifications inside the shop, all approved by the Landlord many years ago, had to be returned to the original "shell" state as at entry, when the lease ended. That was around two months after the claim document was served.

 

The items listed in that claim simply amounted to an intimation that those items were to be removed on vacating, and no breaches of the lease were actually involved. The Landlord's surveyor had not prepared the correct form of notification to carry out those works. Consequently, no costs or surveyor's fees could be claimed, if the tenant actually carried out the work as they vacated. The work was completed on time by the tenant's contractors, on the advice of Eyesurvey, saving the client the entire amount of over £41,000, as had been claimed for the Landlord."


Expert Witness Case

 

"Eyesurvey Principal, Leslie J Long FRICS, has just completed a Retrospective Valuation report as at September 2008, as Expert Witness for solicitors concerning a High Court case. Strict Court Rules of Conduct apply to any Expert Witness, even in reporting for the preliminary legal negotiations leading up to a Court Hearing. This all took many hours of careful work to prepare, including finding historic evidence of property values.

 

The case hinged on alleged over-valuation of a property for mortgage purposes, where the lender lost substantial moneys on a re-sale of the mortgaged property following that being re-possessed. They claimed against the original valuer for negligence, and for damages of over £90,000, plus interest. The Claimant had produced a valuation from another surveyor acting as their expert, but on a detailed reading of that report and background research, Les was able to show the original valuation was both reasonable and within a fair margin of "allowable error".

 

In addition, the other "expert report" contained errors of fact, and showed an unbalanced analysis of market evidence of values at the relevant date, so this report was misleading and not proper guidance for the Court to rely upon. We are confident the Court will reject that other report for those reasons, and that the Claim will be withdrawn. Only by considerable attention to detail and checking of facts, which Les had to carry out, can his work be offered to a Court in acting as an "Expert Witness. He is willing to receive similar commissions from any legal advisers with similar requirements."


Cavity Wall Insulation 


Eyesurvey have recently been engaged to advise a property owner in North Essex, as to problems with the cavity wall insulation installed by injection methods around 2004. There were damp areas found inside the property. Inspection showed the injection holes in the outside walls were incorrectly spaced.

 

On removing two bricks in different locations carefully, so as not to disturb the insulation between the skins of the wall, we were able to see that no insulation was visible. Then, by feeling around inside the wall cavity, we found that the cavity had no insulation material inside for some distance from both the openings we had made.

 

 

A Thermal Imaging camera survey was arranged, producing the image shown below. The green areas show good heat retention: red areas show serious heat loss, indicating incomplete insulation. Red areas can be seen above and below the main window. Similar images were found on each of the four walls around that property. This is strong evidence of incomplete insulation.

 

This can cause dampness, due to the cold spots at points of poor insulation which tend to concentrate moisture. That will lead to damp-related mould troubles. These faults have now been reported to CIGA (Cavity Wall Insulation Agency) for remedial work.

Business Rates case

 

Our client ran a shop in Colchester Town centre, which consisted of three small units combined many years ago. He felt the Business Rates (“Non-Domestic Rates”) he was paying were too high, and asked our advice. He had already had two other “Rating Advisers” carry out the same exercise, each without success.

 

The chaotic state of Britain’s business rates system has been revealed by newly-published figures which show that the Government is expecting to pay £4.2bn back to businesses that appeal against their tax bill. This huge figure reflects how concerned businesses are about the burden of the tax – which brings in roughly £25bn for the Treasury every year. Since the latest revaluation of business rates was enforced in 2010, there have been appeals on 590,850 of the 1.8m commercial properties in the UK eligible to pay business rates. Businesses have appealed their rates bill on one in three commercial properties in the UK.

 

We carefully measured and calculated floor areas, then compared them to the Rateable Value calculations shown in the Rates Assessment on the Valuation Office website. We found the figures they had used were incorrect, due to mistakes in “zoning” the shops, from changes in floor levels caused by the slope along the street, and by incorrectly classifying certain areas within the shop units. The resulting Rateable Value as assessed was almost £10,000 too high.

 

We negotiated with the Valuation Office and finally, after many months and just before a Rating Tribunal Hearing, agreed a proper re-assessment of the Rateable Value. As the revised assessment corrected errors that had been applied over two “Valuation List” periods our client then received, not only Rates Rebates for almost ten years overpayments, but also Statutory Interest on that overpayment in addition – some £7,000 in all.

 

Rent Reviews

 

Our Estate Agency client had a shop used as their offices in west Colchester, on a side road adjoining a local shopping parade. The Landlord gave them notification of a Rent Review under the Lease, seeking a substantial increase in the rent. The lease did not allow for a rental reduction, only “upward or equal” rents on conclusion of any Reviews. He relied on nearby shops in the parade, arguing the rent should be similar. Evidence showed that the main parade had greater visibility and footfall than the Estate Agency shop had, and that there was reason to consider the existing rent was actually already too high.

 

We were then able to successfully argue for, and to agree, a “Nil Increase” in the rent. The same situation arose three years later, and once again, we successfully negotiated a “Nil increase”.

Can I “Pass-on” my survey or other report?

 

This concerns a buyer who recently lost the house he wanted to purchase due to another buyer making a better offer, after we had carried out a survey of the property for him. He wanted to “sell” the report on to the new buyer, and asked us if that was all right. That would let him recover most of the fee he had paid.

 

Actually, it can’t simply be handed on in return for a payment between the two persons, as the second one has no “contractual relationship” with the surveyor. He has no possible claim on the surveyor, or the surveyor’s work.

 

That relationship must be created, or the surveyor’s Terms and Conditions of Engagement will exclude or prevent the second person making use of that report.

 

For reasons especially of Professional Indemnity insurance, he will have inserted a term to say that “is only for use by only the named person [ie, the first client] and no third/ other party can use, reproduce, rely” or make use for other purposes, such as in a mortgage application, in the case of a valuation report.

 

The Insurance Company involved will not allow that or any report to be used “by the world and his wife”. The report has to be limited as to who can use it. The surveyor will ask the new person to agree his original Terms of Engagement, and who must accept them in writing, as well as agreeing that no fresh inspection of the property will be made. The report could then be transferred.

 

The surveyor can make a reasonable charge for giving his WRITTEN consent to the second person, allowing the first client to pass-on the report, and the second can then use it, just as the first client would have done.


LAND COMPENSATION


The Highways Agency carried out a new lighting installation scheme on part of the A12 main road at Stanway. The method of supporting the light standards caused increased road noise to be experienced by residents in nearby houses and bungalows. As a result, the Market Values of their properties were reduced, giving rise to claims for compensation under the Land Compensation Act 1963.

 

A group of the residents instructed us to act in negotiations with the Highways Agency, who were then represented by the Valuation Office.

 

Following long negotiations, over more than two years, this finally resulted in nearly forty of our property owner clients near that scheme on the A12 receiving compensation payments varying from £1,500 to almost £12,000.