What are the FOUR steps when carrying out an inspection?
- Consider your personal safety (firms Health & Safety procedures for a site inspection)
- Inspection of the local area
- External inspection
- Internal inspection
What should you take on an inspection with you?
- Mobile phone
- Tape measure/laser
- File, plans and other supporting information
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) such as a fluorescent jacket, steel-toed boots, non-slip soled shoes, ear defenders, gloves, goggles and hard hat
- Pen and paper / Dictaphone
What should you consider in the immediate surrounding area of the property when conducting an inspection?
- Location / aspect / local facilities / public transport / business vibrancy
- Contamination / environmental hazards / flooding / high voltage power lines / electricity substations
- Comparable evidence / local market conditions / agents’ boards
What should you consider when conducting an external inspection?
- Method of construction
- Repair and condition of the exterior
- Car parking / access / loading arrangements
- Defects / structural movement
- Check site boundaries with OS map and / or Title Plan
What should you consider when conducting an internal inspection?
- Layout and specification - flexibility and obsolescence
- Repair and maintenance
- Services - age and condition
- Statutory compliance e.g. asbestos, building regulations, health and safety, Equality Act, fire safety and planning
- Fixtures and fittings and improvements
- Compliance with lease obligations
What are the different ways that you could date a building?
- Asking the client
- Researching the date of planning consent or building regulations approval
- Land Registry
- Local historical records
- Architectural style
- Architects certificate of practical completion
What are the THREE different purposes of inspection?
- Valuation - valuation influencers
- Property management - policing the lease
- Agency - marketability issues
If inspecting a property for valuation purposes, what would you be looking out for?
Valuation influencers -
Factors which can influence the valuation of a property such as location, tenure, aspect, form of construction, defects, current condition, occupation details
If inspecting a property for property management purposes, what would you be looking out for?
Policing the lease -
• Occupied: check the lease compliance, statutory compliance, state of the building, requirement for repairs/redecoration, user and details of the actual occupier
• Unoccupied: check statutory compliance, state of the building, repair and maintenance issues, security arrangements, landscaping, risk of vandalism and damage to the building
If inspecting a property for agency purposes, what would you be looking out for?
Marketability issues -
Current condition of the building, repair and maintenance issues, statutory compliance, services, presentation and flexibility of the accommodation and its marketability
What are the FOUR common forms of foundation?
- Trench or strip footings - generally used for residential dwellings, for walls and closely spaced columns
- Raft - a slab foundation over the whole site to spread the load for lightweight structures. Usually used on made up/remediated land and sandy soil conditions
- Piled - long and slender reinforced concrete cylinders (piles in the ground to deeper strata when less good load-bearing ground conditions/high loads
- Pad - a slab foundation system under individual or groups of columns so that the column load is spread evenly
What determines the type of foundations used?
- Age of the building
- Ground conditions
- Size of building and loadings required
What are the TWO types of wall construction used?
- Solid wall construction
2. Cavity wall construction
What is a solid wall construction?
Solid brickwork with headers, normally at least one brick thick, with different bricklaying patterns incorporating headers (e.g. Flemish bond) to tie together the layers of brick
What is a cavity wall construction?
- Two layers of brickwork are tied together with metal ties, with a cavity that may be filled with insulation.
- No headers used
- Evidence of a cavity tray, air brick or weep holes may be seen
What is a stretcher?
Brick laid horizontally, flat with the long side of the brick exposed on the outer face of the wall
What is a header?
Brick laid flat with the short end of the brick exposed
What is efflorescence?
- White marks caused by hydroscopic salts in the brick work
- Formed when water reacts with the natural salts, by way of a chemical process, contained within the construction material and mortar
- Water dissolves the salts which are then carried out and deposited onto the surface by the natural evaporation that occurs when air meets the surface of the wall
What is spalling?
Damaged brickwork where the surface of the bricks starts to crumble because of freeze/thaw action, after it has become saturated in the winter months
What are the institutional specifications for shops?
- Most are constructed either of a steel or concrete frame
- Services i.e. gas/water/electricity are brought into the unit and capped off at source
- Concrete floor and no suspended ceiling
- Let in a shell condition with no shop front, ready for the retailer’s fitting out works
What are the two main methods of construction for new office buildings?
- Steel frame: have less columns and a wider span between the columns
- Concrete frame: more columns, lower floor heights and a shorter span between columns
What can you refer to if you’re unsure about what form of construction is?
- Architect’s drawings and specification
* Building manual
What is the current institutional specification for offices (as defined by the British Council for Offices Guide to Office Specification, 2019)?
- Full access raised floors with floor boxes
- Approximate ceiling height of 2.6-2.8m
- Ceiling void of 350mm and a raised floor void of 150mm
- Maximised opportunities for daylighting, with 300-500 lux average
- Approximate floor loading of 2.5 to 3.0 kN / sqm with an allowance of up to 1.2 kN / sqm for partitioning
- Air conditioning and double glazed windows
- Passenger lifts
- Planning grid of 1.5m x 1.5m
- Maximum depth of 12-15m (shallow plan) or 15-21m (deep plan) to allow for natural light to the office area
- 1 cycle space per 10 staff and 1 shower per 100 staff
- 8-10 sqm general workspace density
What are the different types of air conditioning systems?
- VAV - variable air volume (highest capital cost but most flexible)
- Fan coil - usually 4 pipe (lower initial costs and good flexibility but higher operating and maintenance costs)
- VRV - variable refrigerant volume. Invented by Daikin (lower capital costs but higher operating and maintenance costs)
- Static cooling - chilled beam and displacement heating. Natural approach to climate control (lower capital cost and operating costs but less flexibility
- Mechanical ventilation - when fresh air is moved around the building
- Heat recovery systems
- Comfort cooling - a simple form of air cooling system
What became illegal to use in air conditioning systems from 1st January 2015?
Use and replacement of the low temperature refridgerant R22
Existing R22 refridgerant systems needed to be modified to become more environmentally friendly
What is a shell and core fit out?
Where common parts of the building are completed, and the office floor areas are left as a shell ready for fit out by the occupier
What is the difference between a Category A and Category B fit out?
- Category A: basic level of finish above that provided in shell and core. May include raised floors, suspended ceilings and internal surfaces, along with basic mechanical and electrical services
- Category B: fit out complete to the occupier’s specific requirements. May include installation of cellular offices, enhanced finishes and IT
What is the main method of construction for industrial buildings?
Steel portal frame building with insulated profiled steel cladding walls and roof
What is the current institutional specification for industrial buildings?
- Minimum 8m clear eaves height with 10% roof lights
- Minimum 30 kN / sqm floor loading
- Plastic coated steel profiled cladding with brick or blockwork walls to approximately 2m
- Full height loading doors (electrically operated)
- 3 phase electricity power (415 Volts)
- 5-10% office content and WC facilities
- Main services capped off
- Approximate site cover of 40%
What is the difference between an inherent and a latent defect?
- Inherent defect: defect in the design or a material which has always been present
- Latent defect: fault to the property that could not have been discovered by a reasonably thorough inspection of the property
What is the purpose of snagging a newly built property?
- Check the newly built property to identify defects in the build
- Enables you to highlight them to the developer to allow them to fix the issues
What FOUR steps should you follow if you identify any building defects during an inspection?
- Take photos of the defect
- Try to establish the cause of damage whilst on site
- Inform your client of your investigations
- Recommend specialist advice from a building surveyor or in the case of movement, a structural engineer
What are the THREE common causes of defects?
- Defective / non-performance / deterioration of building materials
What is subsidence?
The vertical downward movement of a building foundation caused by the loss of support of the site beneath the foundation. This could be as a result of changes in the underlying ground conditions
What is heave?
Expansion of the ground beneath part or all of the building. This could be caused by the removal of trees and subsequent moisture build-up in the soil
What are the common causes of cracks in a property?
- Cavity wall tie failure (indicated by horizontal cracking in brickwork)
- Shrinkage cracking (often occurs in new plasterwork during the drying out process
- Settlement cracks
- Thermal expansion / movement
What is wet rot? What are the signs of wet rot?
Caused by damp and timber decay
Signs include wet and soft timber, a high damp meter reading, visible fungal growth and a musty smell
What is dry rot? What are the signs of dry rot?
Caused by fungal attack. Can destroy timber and masonry. Signs include:
• Fungus (mycelium) which spreads across the wood in fine
• Fluffy white strands
• Large, often orange mushroom-like fruiting bodies
• Strong smell and red spores
• Cracking paintwork and cuboidal cracking / crumbling of dry timber
What is rising damp? What are the signs of rising damp?
- Caused by moisture from the ground travelling up through the wall by capillary action. Usually caused by the failure or absence of the damp proof course
- Signs include tide marks of salts, dark patches on walls that can be damp to touch, damp and musty smell.
- Usually stops around 1.5m above ground level
What can condensation be caused by? What are the signs of condensation?
Caused by lack of ventilation and background heating
Signs include mould and streaming water on the inside of windows / walls
What are the causes of damp?
- Wet rot
- Dry rot
- Rising damp
- Leaking plumbing / air condition units / pipework
What are the common building defects associated with period residential / office / shop buildings?
- Dry rot
- Wet rot
- Tile slippage on the roof
- Death watch beetle
- Damp penetration at roof and ground floor level
- Water ingress around door and window openings
- Structural movement / settlement
- Regent Street disease - water penetrates the building and rusts the steel frame. Can damage the masonry attached to the outside e.g. Portland stone, terracotta or brick
What are the common building defects associated with modern industrial buildings?
- Roof leaks around roof lights
- Damaged cladding panels
- Cut edge corrosion
- Blocked valley gutters
- Water damage from poor guttering or burst pipes
- Settlement / cracking in brickwork panels
What are the common building defects associated with modern office buildings?
- Damp penetration at roof and ground floor level
- Water damage from burst pipes or air conditioning units
- Structural movement
- Damaged cladding
- Cavity wall tie failure
- Poor mortar joints in brickwork
What is the key legislation on contamination?
Environmental Protection Act 1990 (as amended)
What guidance has the RICS offered on contamination?
RICS Guidance Note Contamination, the environment and sustainability, 2010
Who will generally pay for the remediation of a contaminated site?
Polluter or the land owner
What will a desktop contamination study comprise?
Consider the previous use of the site, local history and planning register
What materials generally cause contamination to exist?
- Heavy metals
- Radon and methane gas
- Diesel / oil / chemicals
What are signs of contamination that you should look out for?
- Evidence of chemicals and oils
- Oil drums
- Underground tanks
- Bare ground
What are the THREE phases of an investigation for contamination?
- Phase 1 - review site history with a desk top study and site inspection and investigation
- Phase 2 - investigation to identify nature and extent of contamination with detailed soil samples taken using bore holes (intrusive)
- Phase 3 - remediation report setting out remedial options with design requirements and monitoring standards
What should you do if there are concerns that a site has some contamination?
Suggest a specialist report
What approach should be taken if you’re instructed to value a site with contamination / hazardous materials?
- Do not provide any advice until a specialist report is commissioned
- Caveat the advice provided with an appropriate disclaimer highlighting the issue / use of a special assumption
- Deduct the remediation costs from the gross site value
What relief is available to those who spend money remediating certain contaminated or derelict sites, or those affected by Japanese Knotweed?
Land Remediation Relief (LRR) is a form of tax relief
Allows companies to claim up to 150% of the cost in cleaning up the site, against their Corporation Tax bill
What is the difference between deleterious and hazardous materials?
- Deleterious: degrade with age causing structural problems
* Hazardous: harmful to health
What are some tell-tale signs / clues of potential problems with deleterious materials?
- Brown staining on concrete
- Concrete frame buildings
- 1960s and 1970s buildings
- Some modern buildings
What are some examples of deleterious materials?
- High alumina cement (corrodes steel)
- Woodwool shuttering
- Calcium chloride
What are some examples of hazardous materials?
- Lead piping / lead paint
- Radon gas
How is water disposed of from a site?
- Surface water runs off into the water course, such as a soak away or storm drain
- Foul water drains from soil pipes into a sewerage system
What guidance has the RICS issues on Japanese Knotweed?
RICS Information Paper on Japanese Knotweed and Residential Property, 2015
What does Japanese Knotweed look like?
- Purple/green hollow stem
- Heart-shaped green leaves
- Clusters of white flowers
Why is Japanese Knotweed an issue?
- Invasive plant that can damage hard surfaces such as foundations and tarmac
- Not easy to control, costly to eradicate and a specialist company must remove and dispose of it
- Property lenders may refuse loans
What are the penalties for ignoring Japanese Knotweed and allowing it to spread onto adjacent land?
- Criminal offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Magistrates court can impose a maximum fine of £5,000 or a maximum prison sentence of six months, or both. Crown Court can impose an unlimited fine or a maximum prison sentence of two years, or both
- Local authorities can grant a Community Protection Notice (CPN) and fines of up to £2,500 per person (£20,000 for an organisation)
What did the landmark Japanese Knotweed case of Williams v Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd 2018 find?
Network Rail was liable for the cost of treating the invasive plant plus damages for the loss of use and enjoyment of their neighbour’s property (but not the reduced value of the property
What did the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report in May 2019 say about Japanese Knotweed?
- Physical damage to property from Japanese Knotweed is no greater than that of other disruptive plants
- Encouraged an evidence-based approach to ensure that the response is proportionate to the physical effects of the plant in the built environment
- Recommended that Defra commission a study on international approaches to Japanese Knotweed
What documents might your request before undertaking an inspection?
- Operation & Maintenance (O&M) manual
- Asbestos register
- Title plan
If remediation works are required at a property, how could you estimate the cost of these?
- Speak to contractors to get quotes to carry out the works
* Verify these estimates with building surveyors
How would you inspect the roof of a property?
- Avoid inspecting the roof if possible
- Ask a specialist contractor to undertake an inspection of the roof
- Need to have regard to the Work at Height Regulations 2005
- Would be conscious of roof lights when inspecting an industrial unit
What characteristics would you look for to determine the quality of a retail unit?
- Configuration and layout of the unit - preference for rectangular shape as otherwise makes it difficult to fit out and merchandise
- Masking - areas not visible from the shop frontage command a rental discount
- Frontage - typically apply a rental discount for hard frontage and rental premium for a return frontage
- Access arrangements - allow loading and unloading of goods
- Ancillary space
What can you look at as an indicator of the quality of the retail pitch?
- Proportion of retail tenants vs. non retail tenants (e.g. estate agents, banks).
- Local vs. national tenant mix
- Architecture of the buildings
- Proximity to key footfall generators
What document could you look at to confirm the construction of the property?
Operation & Maintenance (O&M) manual
What types of foundations are there? What will determine the type of foundations used?
- Generally split between shallow (trench, strip) and deep (piled) foundations
- Type of foundation used will depend on the age of the property, the size and the ground conditions
What could the disadvantages be of having a low site density on an industrial property?
- Increased security risk and risk of fly tipping
* More perimeter fence to maintain