Chartered Building Surveyors
A J Hodge Associates

A J Hodge Associates

Telephone:
0117 377 5860

Mobile:
07722 089664

Email:

Address:
12 Phoenix Grove
Henleaze
Bristol
BS6 7XY

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Federation of Small Businesses

Services

Services

Agreement for Lease

Often a business will take an option to buy or lease a building before it has even been built or fitted out. At this stage, there are many unknown factors which would normally be apparent when dealing with an older established property and could be picked up through a building survey. This aspect gives many pitfalls but also numerous opportunities, not least the possibility to redesign aspects of the layout, specification or colour schemes to suit a tenant’s particular requirements. It is however imperative that a tenant seeks professional advice to ensure that they are getting what they expect in terms of quality and standard of occupation. A J Hodge Associates can be appointed to oversee the building surveying and construction aspects of an agreement to lease to ensure that the tenant is represented during the negotiation and construction phases, so that they are fully protected and ultimately get the quality of building that they deserve and expect.

Building Condition Surveys (Commercial)

A commercial assessment of the condition of a property is an essential precursor to all our clients’ decision-making processes.  This is important whether acquiring an interest in property as an investor, an owner/occupier, tenant, or when accepting property as lending security.

We provide a prompt and efficient property inspection service, wherever the location, with reports tailored to clients’ specific needs.

We have written a number of articles on this subject that you may find both interesting and useful.

Building Conservation and Listed Building Advice

A J Hodge Associates provide a professional, tailored service for the repair and adaptation of historic buildings. The historic environment is our heritage. It is essential that appropriate advice be sought to ensure historic buildings are suitably repaired and maintained.

A core team of qualified and experienced Chartered Building Surveyors at A J Hodge Associates offers particular expertise in the repair, maintenance and adaptation of the historic environment.

A J Hodge Associates is committed to the appropriate and sympathetic life cycle development of historic buildings. This tailored approach ensures that works are compatible with conservation requirements, economic constraints and the need to maintain the effective and efficient use of the building.

Building Reinstatement Cost Assessments

A Building reinstatement cost assessment (BRCA) is not a building valuation, but an assessment to determine the cost of reinstating a building to a similar standard in the event of complete loss of the building fabric/structure. The assessment report considers and applies re-building costs and formulae to the information collated on site.

A building reinstatement cost assessment involves a site inspection, measured survey to establish a building's net/gross areas and an assessment of construction, specialist features' (such as architectural features, monuments, underground parking, water features, specialist plant or lifting equipment). During the inspection an assessment is also made of building age, condition of fabric/finishes and current/previous building use. These assessments are used along with current BCIS construction rates to create a detailed numerical assessment. Provision is also included for addition or deduction of special factors, for site, location, listed building/conservation areas, regional locations and professional fees likely to be incurred as well as building cost inflation.

We provide professional reinstatement valuations for insurance purposes giving clients the assurance that adequate cover is maintained on their buildings without incurring excessive premiums.  We provide BRCA’s for owners or occupiers of large buildings or property portfolios - for all property types, from blocks of flats, offices, banks, shops, commercial and industrial premises. We are skilled at undertaking assessments for large corporate entities, management companies, pension funds and individuals on mixed use sites and individual buildings.

We understand the importance of thoroughly researching the likely impact of the complete loss of a building, and make an early assessment as to whether consultation with local authorities, listed building representatives and/or conservation area representatives will be beneficial. This ensures expectations are fully met and no risks arise from the building being under-insured.

Our Chartered Building Surveyors have the expertise to negotiate the optimum settlement of claims on behalf of clients who have suffered loss and can subsequently organise any necessary reinstatement works.

Contract Administration

At A J Hodge Associates we are highly experienced in managing construction, alteration and refurbishment works. Acting on behalf of clients commissioning construction projects, be they new build offices, industrial units, house extensions or loft conversions as well as full scale refurbishment of commercial and residential properties our Chartered Building Surveyors assemble and manage selected teams of consultants and contractors throughout the building process.  A detailed understanding of construction processes, sequencing of works and their possible impact on the outcome of a project are required in order to achieve the optimum result and careful co-ordination ensures successful completion of a project in accordance with pre-agreed cost, time and quality criteria.  The process includes consultation and discussion regarding the client’s project requirements, preparation of a detailed specification to go out to tender, planning and building control advice, party wall advice if necessary, monitoring of construction works on site and administering the contract aspects of the project if employed to do so and not undertaken by other representatives. These aspects are explained more fully below.

Through our experience we can add value from the outset; advising on design, preparing detailed technical specifications for pricing and managing the procurement process. Once the contract is in place we will monitor the works against the project plan and budgets, ensuring quality of work and deadlines are met.

A large proportion of clients who undertake construction work wish to employ a professional representative to provide a complete service administering the project on their behalf, using a specific expertise in the area, which the client may not possess.  The representative is usually appointed to administer a JCT Form of Building Contract between the client and contractor, specific to the works to be carried out, and in this regard, the representative is referred to under the Contract as the Contract Administrator.

The Contract Administrator’s main tasks can be summarised as follows:-

  • Inception – Assessing the client’s requirements including timescales and financial limits.
  • Feasibility – Determining the feasibility of the client’s requirements.  Advising on the need for Planning Permission or Building Control Approval.

  • Scheme Design – Developing a scheme design from the outline proposals and submitting Planning and Building Regulations Applications if necessary. Once the client has approved the design, a full technical specification detailing each item of work is produced.

  • Product Information and Bills of Quantities – Preparing information including drawings, schedules and specification in sufficient detail to enable a contractor to prepare a tender.

  • Tender Action – Inviting tenders from approved contractors; appraising and advising on tenders submitted.  Alternatively, arranging for a price to be negotiated with a contractor. Where time allows, we recommend competitive tendering to ensure the best value for money is obtained. However, where time constraints preclude the tender process, we can negotiate direct with contractors, ensuring that costs agreed reflect market prices. When a price has been agreed, we produce formal contract documentation for signature by both parties and the physical work on site begins.

  • Project Planning – Advising the client on the appointment of a contractor.  Where required, preparing the Building Contract and arranging for it to be signed by the client and the contractor. Our project managers are expert in programming the works around the continued occupation of the client. We recognise that our clients are busy running their lives and businesses. The aim of our project managers is therefore to ensure that the work is completed with the minimum of fuss and disturbance and with as little inconvenience to our client as possible.

  • Operations on Site – Administering the terms of the Building Contract during operations on site.  Visiting the site periodically to view the works. Our project managers will be involved in the project from inception, allowing smooth progression of the works when the contractor starts on site. One of the most important roles of the project manager is to maintain the highest possible workmanship standards during the works. To this end, our project managers, who are experienced Chartered Building Surveyors, monitor the works to ensure that all snags are rectified prior to Practical Completion. At all stages of the works, rigorous cost control is maintained by our project managers so that the cost of the works does not exceed the agreed contract value. Regular cost progress reports are produced and invoices from the contractor are valued and certified by us prior to being submitted to the client for payment. Employing professional services in this area is especially valuable in relation to unexpected or additional works; ensuring that contingencies are planned and that any additional works are secured at a competitive rate.

  • Completion – Administering the terms of the Building Contract relating to the completion of the works.

The success of any project will depend upon how well the works are managed and controlled. A J Hodge Associates have an unrivalled track record of bringing projects in, on time and on budget. The appointment of a good project manager / contract administrator will undoubtedly pay dividends.

A J Hodge Associates have extensive experience in administering most suites of building contract. As well as the standard forms of JCT contract we are adept at fulfilling the Employer’s Agent role in both new build and fit out works under the JCT Design and Build Contract 2011. We also have experience in acting as Client Representative under the PPC 2000 Partnering Agreement.

DDA Compliance Works

A J Hodge Associates is adept at assisting with the DDA compliant needs of businesses and service providers to comply with their obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. We work one to one with our clients to achieve the best and most cost effective solution in meeting your access needs. Saving you money by implementing reasonable adjustments is our priority along with achieving safe disabled access and egress and of course DDA compliance. We have a sensible and cost effective approach to obtaining compliance.

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) is a serious act with serious consequences for non compliance. We remove that worry and in turn improve your disabled access. Avoiding unnecessary expensive changes and meeting your needs and the needs of the disabled in a sensible manner is our priority. We implement Reasonable Adjustment measures to help you comply with the DDA. Compliance should be painless as well as improving access for all disabled people. Access and egress planning is written into your detailed access statement as a continued plan towards achieving full DDA compliance in both new and old buildings.

Each accessibility report contains recommendations that are easily followed and understood with realistic and manageable timescales. Each report is personally written to meet your individual needs as well as available finances. We are here to make your life easier not bombard you with regulations and recommendations you cannot meet.

Defect Analysis

A J Hodge Associates are able to undertake full defects analysis of buildings and their component parts, for both commercial and residential buildings. We provide a professional service to identify, diagnose and remedy building defects
Properties often suffer from such defects as damp, cracking, subsidence and rot etc, Our Chartered Building Surveyors can determine what works will be necessary to rectify any problem. We understand buildings and their technical make up and as a consequence we also understand building defects, how they arise and how to rectify them. We are able to assist you in getting repair or maintenance works instigated in a professional manner ensuring that the appropriate specification of work is carried out at a reasonable cost level.

A building defect can adversely affect the value and use of a building. A J Hodge Associates fully and clearly diagnoses building defects to mitigate loss. Our services include a detailed survey, report and recommendations including budget costs. We can also subsequently organise and monitor remedial works. Our reports are written in a concise, jargon free form so that they can be clearly understood by clients and builders alike.

Design and Build

A large proportion of new build and in particular, fitting-out works are undertaken by specialist design-and-build contractors, who often provide a complete relocation or “Turnkey” service.  Whilst some contractors are appointed under a simple letter making reference only to the contractor’s own proposal document, most Clients prefer there to be a formal legal relationship between themselves and the contractor.  The usual form of contract for this type of work is the JCT Design and Build Contract (2011 Edition), which creates a clear contractual framework within which the works are undertaken.  Furthermore, the contract enables the Client to appoint a surveyor to act on his/her behalf in a well-defined co-ordinator’s role, known as the Employer’s Agent.

The Employer’s Agent’s main tasks can be summarised as follows:-

  • Developing the Client’s brief
  • Preparing the Employer’s Requirements document which sets out basic standards which must be met by the contractor.  This is the most important document in the contractual package, as it takes precedence over any ambiguity with the Contractor’s Proposals.
  • Obtaining competitive quotations from suitable contractors
  • Negotiating costs/amending the scope of works to meet budgetary constraints
  • Preparing the building contract and arranging for it to be signed by the parties
  • Administering the terms of the building contract including Practical Completion, Handover and Final Certification of the works
  • Advising on project cost reports distributed by the contractor
  • Carrying out periodic valuation of the works and issuing Certificates for Payment, including the agreement of costs for changes requested by the Client
  • Visiting the site as appropriate to monitor and review the progress and quality of the works and reporting on the same to the Client

A J Hodge Associates have extensive experience in fulfilling the Employer’s Agent role in both new build and fit out works. We also have experience in acting as Client Representative under the PPC 2000 Partnering Agreement.

What are Dilapidations?

A tenant or landlord client acquiring, in occupation or disposing of property will undoubtedly benefit from dilapidations advice to ensure legal obligations are identified, understood and complied with. Dilapidations are breaches of covenant to repair a building as contained in the terms of a lease. Such breaches can take many forms, but a leaking roof or a broken window are two obvious examples. Dilapidations are often wrongly considered by tenants as insignificant in comparison with rent, rates and service charges when they are seeking new premises. However, the liability to repair can have serious financial implications and therefore the tenant would be advised to seek the advice of a Chartered Building Surveyor on opportunities to avoid, limit or mitigate dilapidations before entering into a lease, or how to deal with a claim when a schedule of dilapidations has been served upon them.

At the end of a lease it is important that the property is handed back to the Landlord in the condition set out under the terms of the lease, or that adequate compensation is made if this is not the case. Repairing obligations may be technically complex and hold potential pitfalls for landlords or tenants.  Our professional Chartered Building Surveyors are highly qualified and experienced in the examination of buildings and the interpretation of repairing covenants of all types of commercial leases. We provide clients with informed advice and services relating to property dilapidations, legislation and protocol. As part of this process we are able to advise landlords and tenants how best to protect their position including the preparation of dilapidations assessments to identify dilapidations liabilities and corresponding budget costs either before or during a lease term. The advice can often lead to the production and agreement of a detailed schedule of condition which we also have the expertise to produce.

We have successfully represented many landlords in the preparation and negotiation of dilapidations claims, both large and small.  Equally, we have successfully represented many tenants in defending and negotiating dilapidations claims. A J Hodge associates has expertise in the assessment of dilapidations liability, the preparation of schedules of dilapidations, the negotiation of schedules of dilapidations and financial settlements and the specifying and monitoring of repairs to comply with leasehold obligations; acting for either the tenant or landlord.

Landlords
A landlord has a number of avenues that he can follow during the course of a lease and subsequent to the end of a lease to ensure that a tenant complies fully with the repairing obligations. If the building is in a particular state of disrepair during the lease term the landlord may be advised to serve a notice to repair and A J Hodge Associates are well versed in advising on such action and the likelihood of success. More common however is the service of a schedule of dilapidations at, or near to the end of a lease where the tenant has not carried out any repair to the building. The  Schedule of Dilapidations should be drawn up by the Landlord's surveyor to accurately reflect the terms of the lease but at the same time landlords should be sure to include everything to which they are entitled. A J Hodge Associates have considerable experience in preparing both costed and uncosted schedules of dilapidations to reflect the full extent of justified repair required, A J Hodge Associates can help landlords maximise the levels achieved from their dilapidations claim whilst complying fully with dilapidations protocol.

Tenants
Dilapidations are a complex and contentious aspect of the landlord and tenant relationship. No two dilapidations claims can be identical because no two buildings are exactly the same, nor will the lease covenants or other circumstances necessarily be similar either. It therefore follows that a tenant is always prudent to seek the advice of a Chartered Building Surveyor ideally before contracting into a new lease, or certainly when served with a schedule of dilapidations in respect of an existing or historic lease.

A schedule of dilapidations often comes as a shock to a tenant who sees the works deemed necessary and the costs associated as being highly excessive for the size and condition of the unit. In most circumstances however the breaches claimed and costs apportioned are valid and come about because the lease terms were not properly considered at the start of the term. Dilapidations claims can run into tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds, therefore the right advice when negotiating a lease can literally ‘save a fortune’. A J Hodge Associates can advise tenants on the condition of a property before undertaking a lease, advise on the implications of the proposed repairing obligations, carry out a dilapidations assessment to determine the likely outlay at the end of the lease term and if appropriate, prepare and agree a schedule of condition of the property which may limit the future repairing liabilities of the tenant.

If your circumstances are such that you have already signed a lease and a schedule of dilapidations has been served upon you it does not mean to say that there is no negotiating stance. Dilapidations can be a complex art as opposed to a science and as such there are many technical arguments and contradictions that can be called upon by a Chartered Building Surveyor acting on behalf of a tenant to negotiate a reduced settlement. At A J Hodge Associates we have extensive experience in advising tenants on how to limit liability before a lease is entered into, reduce any potential claim before the end of a lease term and in negotiating a reduced financial settlement after the lease end by employing reasoned technical arguments based upon many years of experience in dilapidations negotiations.

We have written a detailed article on this subject that you may find both interesting and useful.

Expert Witness

When members of the public, their legal representatives, and the courts have a technical problem, it is usual to seek advice from an expert. The expert’s primary job is to give an opinion on the contested issues. The facts of the case should have been established by the witnesses of fact provided by each party to the dispute, although of course the expert may turn up new evidence in the course of his (or her) investigations. Since it is an opinion, it is not uncommon for different experts to give different opinions. If the matter goes to court, the court will want to know the relevant qualifications and experience of each expert so that it can weigh up the authority of each. Consequently it is a false economy to choose an expert solely on the basis of cost, since the evidence of a poorly qualified and/or experienced expert may easily be given less weight than that of his opponent. Also, writing an expert report and then justifying it under pressure in court is not easy, and experience is extremely valuable.

If legal proceedings have been started, the expert is termed an Expert Witness and is subject to stringent rules laid down in the Lord Chancellor’s Civil Procedure Rules Part 35. These, together with the Practice Direction which explains the Rules, can be found at on the internet at http://www.justice.gov.uk/civil/procrules_fin/current.htm. The Practice Direction sets out the general requirements of an Expert Witness:

1.1 It is the duty of an expert to help the court on matters within his own expertise (rule 35.3.1). This duty is paramount and overrides any obligation to the person from whom the expert has received instructions or by whom he is paid (rule 35.3.2)
1.2 Expert evidence should be the independent product of the expert uninfluenced by the pressures of litigation.
1.3 An expert should assist the court by providing objective, unbiased opinion on matters within his expertise, and should not assume the role of advocate.
1.4 An expert should consider all material facts, including those which might detract from his opinion.

This may come as a surprise to many members of the public. Surely, if someone pays an expert to make a case for them, the expert should do the best possible job for them? The answer is that, even though they pay the expert, his first priority is to assist the court. He is obliged to discuss all aspects of the case within his expertise, even when this goes against what the client wants him to say. Ultimately this is in the best interests of the client, since it is better to know the real strengths and weaknesses of a case early when something can be done about them, rather than have them exposed in court when it is too late.

Many experts will be members of professional bodies such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), and will be subject to their rules. These will mirror the Lord Chancellor’s rules, but may be even stricter. For instance, the RICS Practice Statement “Surveyors Acting as Expert Witnesses” 2nd edition states: “The primary and overriding duty of the surveyor is to the judicial body to whom the evidence is given (para.2.1). The duty is to be truthful as to fact, honest and correct as to opinion and complete as to coverage of relevant matters…(para.2.2). The surveyor’s evidence must be independent, objective, and unbiased. In particular, it must not be biased towards the party who is responsible for instructing or paying the surveyor. The evidence should be the same whoever is instructing the expert or paying for the evidence” (para.2.3).

The expert may however feel some tension between his duty to the court and his duty to the client. One way in which this becomes apparent is with regard to the disclosure of documents. Generally, when litigation starts the client must disclose to the other side all documents on which he relies, including any documents which might adversely affect his case. The only documents which are excluded are “privileged documents”. These are communications between a client and his solicitor, and between the solicitor and the expert. If an expert prepares a report on a boundary and sends it direct to his client before legal proceedings are contemplated, the report may be subject to disclosure. This means that he must be careful of what he says even before proceedings start. It might be safer to send the report to the solicitor, since this will not be subject to disclosure. During the run-up to a trial, the expert might prepare a report for disclosure under normal CPR35 rules, and accompany this with a covering letter to the solicitor. Since this letter will not be disclosed to the other side, the expert can be considerably more forthright about the strengths and weaknesses of the case. This may have a great deal more influence over the client than the neutral report! In this way the expert discharges his duties to both the client and the court.

Finally, the court will only allow a specified number of experts on each side. This is to maintain the principle that the costs incurred must be proportional to the value of the case. Usually in boundary disputes the value of the land is negligible, and the court will only allow one expert on each side. Sometimes the court will direct the appointment of a Single Joint Expert, agreed by both parties, to advise for instance on the surveying aspects of a boundary dispute. This is a lonely job. No longer can the expert have cosy discussions with the solicitor as to the progress of the case; all communications must be to both parties. Instead of being cross-examined by the opposing barrister if the case comes to court, there is the daunting possibility of being grilled by both parties. And finally, when there are experts for both sides there will be a process of Meetings of Experts with discussions leading to a Joint Statement of issues agreed and disagreed. Poor arguments are quietly dropped and the better ones refined, so that the optimum solutions are likely to have been established by the time the matter comes to court. For the Single Joint Expert there is none of this: he has to “get it right first time”. Consequently the role of Single Joint Expert calls for considerable ability, experience, and confidence.

In summary, the role of the Expert Witness is not easy. He must be able to explain complex technical matters so that all can understand. He must put his duty to the court above his natural desire to please his client. And finally, where boundaries are involved he must be an accomplished diplomat in order to calm the inevitable tensions which arise between feuding neighbours.

Fund and Development Monitoring

Development monitoring is generally undertaken on behalf of funders, owners and potential occupiers of property – giving a voice to those who, under the common forms of building contract, often have no channel through which to raise their concerns over issues concerning specification compliance, quality, cost and programming of a development.  For them it is vital that the development work is properly executed. Ultimately they will have a far greater exposure to risk than the developer or his professional team whose interest will typically come to an end when the building is completed, sold on or let. In essence development monitoring is about ensuring that the end product meets with expectations.

A wealth of experience enables us to protect the interests of third party investors, occupiers and financiers of development schemes.  Maximum protection is afforded if we are appointed early and before clients enter into purchase or lease agreements for schemes that are not yet on site. Our service can be tailored to suit a wide variety of client-specific needs.  Typically, it includes a preliminary appraisal of the developer’s proposals and regular progress inspections and reports to highlight material departures from the programme and specification.  Where required, the scope of service is extended to cover control of financial expenditure.

Crucially, we also have considerable hands-on experience on the ‘other side’ – that is, in running construction projects ourselves as project managers or contract administrators.  This means that, as development monitors, we are adept at analysing project documentation and anticipating risks.  One of the most important rules of a development monitor is to verify the accuracy of certificates of valuation (which is the mechanism by which the contractor gets paid for his work as the development progresses), and here too our experience of monitoring and administering projects of all sizes is also invaluable.

Aside from the more obvious design and construction issues sometimes even the simplest developments will require unavoidable specialist input - for instance in rights of light and party walls.  As specialist Chartered Building Surveyors offering a complete range of services we are, where it is required, able to draw on much of this technical knowledge  in-house.

Although we are, as development monitor, independent from the construction team we work hard to ensure that we are not viewed as project ‘policemen’ or obstructive to the overall process but rather as development facilitators.   Whilst naturally we are familiar with the detail of a scheme we are also uniquely placed to stand back and look at the wider picture.  This, coupled with our experience, allows us to identify and address potential problems and to minimise and positively mitigate risks for the benefit of all parties before they become major issues, thus avoiding unnecessary delays.

Insurance Claim Monitoring and Advice

Buildings insurance claims can be made for a number of insured events as specified in your insurance terms. However subsidence has in recent years become the main risk associated with buildings insurance claims. In particular since 1971, when cover for subsidence within household policies was generally introduced. Those defects associated with subsidence by the insurance industry normally include heave, landslip and water damage (typically leakage from below ground drainage or water supply services). These events may all be encompassed as causes of ground and foundation movement with associated damage affecting the building or structure.

Subsidence has been generally associated with problems caused by soil make up and conditions and the affect of trees. However, it should be appreciated that this is by no means the only or principal cause. Problems of major foundation movement and damage can be due to other causes including subsidence in mining areas, collapse and movement of solution features in chalk, adverse groundwater affects upon loose or granular / sandy soils, settlement or failure of made ground, landslip or retaining wall failure etc.

A J Hodge Associates regularly advise upon all aspects of subsidence, including initial appraisal, investigation, recommendations, design and control of remedial measures. In many circumstances provided the cause of damage comes within the scope of an insured event, professional fees for necessary investigation and remedial works are normally included within the claim by Insurers, subject to any policy excess applicable and the particular terms of each policy, therefore it makes sense to employ the services of a Chartered Building Surveyor as soon as possible to protect your position and ensure that the insurance company is carrying out the works to the correct standard and specification. We are independent from insurers and loss adjusters and can look at the issues from an impartial perspective.

The first an owner / occupier knows about any movement or defect within a house is often through cracking or distortion in the fabric of a building. This can be a particularly worrying time for any number of reasons but it is important that a structured approach be taken, whether or not you ultimately submit an insurance claim. The process followed can broadly be broken down into a series of individual tasks.

Not all movement and damage is abnormal or of such seriousness that it requires remedial measures to be undertaken. The majority, if not all buildings and structures are subject to movement throughout the seasons and this can cause some associated damage. Such defects are often caused by thermal or shrinkage movement and not necessarily caused by ground or foundation movement. The key issues to determine are whether the movement and associated damage is unacceptable and / or is likely to continue or deteriorate without remedial measures being implemented. Having assessed the seriousness of the movement it can be determined whether immediate remedial works are necessary.

Initial Visual Inspection and Reporting
Where requested we will advise and diagnose problems of suspected subsidence or settlement. In the first instance, we would usually carry out an initial visual inspection to assess the extent and seriousness of any movement and damage, general conditions prevailing, probable causes, further investigation and immediate remedial or temporary works required to maintain safety. Following an initial inspection and appraisal we would normally provide a brief but well detailed report to explain the possible causes of the defects, if known, and propose a course of action for implementing remedial measures etc.

Detailed Investigations and Reporting
Once the likely causes of the defects have been determined, it is often necessary to carry out further detailed investigations in respect of hidden elements. Proper investigation of the ground and foundation conditions should be undertaken. This may include detailed investigations with trial pits to expose foundations. The location and condition of below ground drainage and services may also be necessary through CCTV surveys or more intrusive investigations. The influence of environmental factors including the presence of trees, often important on clay soils, will also be determined if trees are in close proximity to the defect.

Following completion of investigations we would normally provide an appropriately well detailed report setting out our findings and a further course of action. The report would be set out in such a way as to satisfy the insurers that all measures were being covered.

Remedial Measures
Having conducted sufficient investigation to conclude the exact cause of the problem and appropriately specified remedial work. We can instigate repair works and monitor their implementation.

This work may include the need for foundation stabilisation works such as underpinning or injection grouting or may simply be measures, not directly affecting the foundations, to avoid or limit ground movement to tolerable limits. For example these may include tree management in clay soil areas and avoidance of undue groundwater by preventing water leakage from defective below ground drainage or water supply services.

Monitoring
Subsidence and associated crack investigations will often involve accurate monitoring of the building subsequent to remedial works having been carried out. Indeed, if an insurance claim is being made it is normally a specific requirement that any cracks or movement are monitored for a period of not less than 12 months to ensure that the repairs have been successful.

License for Alterations

Tenant alterations either before or during a lease term are usually carried out under a “Licence for Alterations” – a legal document annexed to a lease which sets out the reinstatement requirements at lease expiry. The document also details specification and quality of workmanship.  Badly drafted, however, these licences can provoke some of the most significant and contentious disputes between landlords and tenants.  Being established experts in dilapidations we know that dealing properly with alterations at the time they are carried out can significantly reduce the scope for dispute for both parties.

Appointments are generally carried out on behalf of landlords to review tenant’s proposals for adaptation and fitting out of properties in order to comply with lease documentation but frequently tenants appoint their own Chartered Building Surveyors to ensure that not only is their position protected but all legislation is correctly followed to avoid any future disputes. Upon vacation of a property at lease end it is advisable for a landlord to appoint a Chartered Building Surveyor to identify repairing liabilities under the terms of the license previously granted and ensure that the tenant is fulfilling his obligations under dilapidations. Equally, it is advisable for a tenant to appoint a surveyor to ensure that their position is equally well protected.

This role can be carried out independently at the time when works are proposed but near to the end of the lease term, where reinstatement is required, it normally forms part of a greater dilapidations role that A J Hodge Associates are highly equipped to undertake.

Getting a licence for alterations right is essential for landlords and tenants. We have dealt with terminal dilapidations claims and, time and time again, we find that licences for alterations are inadequate, ambiguous or both. Ironically our experience in dealing with the aftermath of poor licences means that we are very well-placed to undertake objective reviews of draft licences before any alterations work is started. Careful assessment at this crucial stage, including ensuring that detailed record drawings of the property both existing and proposed are well documented, will ensure that the reinstatement provisions will be unequivocal at lease determination. 

Working for either landlord or tenant, a thorough understanding of the construction process and the landlord and tenant relationship enables us to take a practical approach to dealing with the issues, whilst minimising risk and maximising opportunity for all involved. Significant alterations to a building can pose a risk to investment value. We can deal with the technical and contractual aspects of large-scale tenant alterations and monitor alterations on behalf of landlords and tenants to ensure that, for example, statutory consents are obtained, warranties provided for, variations documented and works carried out to an acceptable standard.

Monitoring of Construction

A J Hodge Associates are experienced in the monitoring of construction works in progress. 

Most clients, especially within the domestic markets, do not have construction knowledge, and therefore will not know whether construction is being carried out correctly or to the required standard. A J Hodge Associates can be appointed to monitor and report on the works in progress, making appropriate comment to the Contract Administrator, therefore being the 'quality control' for the client on site.

A J Hodge Associates have experience of carrying out snagging inspections of construction work. An example of this is where a client is buying a new home, and requires the home to be to the correct standard. He appoints A J Hodge Associates, in agreement with the contractor, to carry out a snagging inspection prior to purchase. This is often called a 'pre-handover inspection'. The contractor can then attend to the snagging items as identified, ensuring the client buys the property in the correct completed condition. A 'handover inspection' is often carried out, listing snags that remain at completion to be attended to after purchase.

When a dispute arises as to quality, or correct construction, A J Hodge Associates can carry out an inspection and provide an independent report. This can often settle disputes between contractors and clients, particularly in the domestic market. 

A watching brief is a role where the surveyor has no power to influence works or make comment on site, but purely observes on construction works and reports back to his client on items such as quality, suitability and progress. This role is used where a client proposes to acquire a property following construction works, although until they purchase, have no direct interest. By appointing A J Hodge Associates to operate under a watching brief, the client can make decisions based on the reports on such important matters as to whether the quality is of a standard for the purchase to go ahead. A watching brief must be agreed with the contractor, as obviously the surveyor will require access to the works at regular intervals.

Maintenance, Repair, Refurbishment, Alteration and Fitting Out

We deliver a complete, cost effective and professional advisory planning and management service for all types of work to both commercial and residential properties regardless of type, size and location.  We are able to manage the instigation of swift maintenance and repair works and carry out extensive refurbishment, alteration and fitting out works where a landlord / owner needs to enhance the appearance of a property.

Measured Surveys and Design Drawing Services

A measured survey accurately records the dimensions of a building or land for construction, valuation or legal purposes. A measured survey prepared by A J Hodge Associates is an essential tool in supporting building or land acquisition, development, refurbishment, space planning, maintenance, building reinstatement cost assessment, boundary dispute resolution and disposal. Measured surveys are undertaken professionally in accordance with the RICS Code of Measuring Practice and the survey data collected is produced in a standard AutoCAD format.

We can provide a stand alone package for clients wishing to have a project designed and drawings prepared, but who do not wish to have a project fully managed or we are able to incorporate our measured survey and drawing expertise within our role as project managers on new build and refurbishment projects in both the commercial and residential sectors. We are able to prepare plans for all aspects of construction including drawings required for planning and building regulation applications as well as lease plans or record drawings.

Office Relocation and Fit-out

The modern business environment is constantly changing and developing. The forward thinking business will adapt to meet the changing needs of its customers and clients, evolving its working practices accordingly. It is also an accepted concept that an attractive, well planned work environment improves staff performance and creates a lasting, positive impression with clients and visitors. Couple to this the increasing financial pressure to utilise space to its maximum and European Health, Safety and Welfare legislation placing additional responsibility upon the employer and it is obvious that effective office design is more important than ever.

The relocation of a company, whether a single office or an entire business, can prove to be one of the most expensive and time consumptive exercises that many organisations ever undertake. The majority of businesses in the UK are not transient in nature and will often therefore relocate on a single occasion, usually as a result of size/space constraints. For this reason, few companies employ staff with any experience of moving at scale and are subsequently forced to rely upon the service of those who operate in this unregulated arena.  A J Hodge Associates can provide a core team of qualified and experienced Chartered Building Surveyors that specialise in providing a full relocation management service to bring added professionalism to the process.

Our designs result from understanding the needs of office management, listening to the requirements of office staff and observing office practice. The first stage of our service is therefore to undertake a detailed audit and assessment of client requirements and produce a project appraisal. Once the appraisal has been discussed, agreed and client approval obtained, the detailed design is progressed by our space planners.

In-depth knowledge of the latest products, working practices and technology ensures that we provide the optimum solution to our client’s requirements utilising sophisticated computer based design packages and the latest space planning techniques. Because we are independent Chartered Building Surveyors, we are not tied to specific manufacturers, suppliers or contractors. The result is an individually tailored design representing the best solution to our client’s needs. The design phase results in a package of information including detailed scale plans, schematics, sample boards showing materials selected and suggested colour schemes and a further pre-tender estimate to check the anticipated cost against budget.

Once the client has approved the design, a full technical specification detailing each item of work is produced. Where time allows, we recommend competitive tendering to ensure the best value for money is obtained. However, where time constraints preclude the tender process, we can negotiate direct with contractors, ensuring that costs agreed reflect market prices. When a price has been agreed, we produce formal contract documentation for signature by both parties and the physical work on site begins.

Our project managers will be involved in the project from inception, allowing smooth progression of the works when the contractor starts on site. One of the most important roles of the project manager is to maintain the highest possible workmanship standards during the works. To this end, our project managers, who are experienced Chartered Building Surveyors, monitor the fit out to ensure that all snags are rectified prior to Practical Completion. At all stages of the works, rigorous cost control is maintained by our project managers so that the cost of the works does not exceed the agreed contract value. Regular cost progress reports are produced and invoices from the contractor are valued and certified by us prior to being submitted to the client for payment.

Our project managers are expert in programming the works around the continued occupation of the client. We recognise that our clients are busy running their businesses and keeping their own clients happy. The aim of our project managers is therefore to ensure that the fit out is completed with the minimum of fuss and disturbance and with as little inconvenience to our client as possible.

Party Wall Issues

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 provides formal procedures for works undertaken to, or in close proximity to party walls. The Act is particularly relevant to residential extensions and loft conversions where properties often adjoin, but can be equally relevant to commercial property where new build or extensive refurbishment projects are undertaken. More often than not where building work is being carried out adjacent to neighbouring properties or even within a distance of 6m of a property, including its boundary walls The Act will come into play. Therefore we recommend that before carrying out any construction work the conditions are assessed to ensure that you do not fall foul of the Act and its obligations. In a similar vein we would recommend that where a neighbour or adjoining owner is carrying out construction work the circumstances are assessed to see whether the act is applicable and whether the neighbour should serve notice on you under the Act. If it is applicable, then as an adjoining owner you are entitled to appoint a surveyor to act on your behalf and the fees for that surveyor would normally be picked up by the person carrying out the construction work. The technicalities can be bewildering but we provide specialist advice to both the individual/company wishing to undertake the work and those sharing that party wall to comply with the requirements and procedures laid down in legislation.

We are experienced Party Wall surveyors with detailed knowledge of the act and can provide you with comprehensive advice to guide you through the process. We can assist, whether we are acting on behalf of the Building Owner (person carrying out the work) or Adjoining Owner (neighbour affected by the works). We are able to serve the relevant Notices, undertake Schedules of Condition, draw up and publish Awards etc as well as explain the Act in layman’s terms.

Building Owner:
If you are planning work which comes within the scope of the Act you must notify any affected adjoining owners. This should be in the form of a written notice and is served two months’ prior to commencement of the work in the case of work directly affecting the party wall, such as cutting into it to install a steel beam or roof flashings, or is served one month prior for excavation works within a distance of 6m where certain criteria apply. The notice gives adjoining owners the right to appoint a surveyor of their choice to help safeguard their property against damage. The building owner must generally bear the reasonable costs of both theirs and their neighbour’s surveyors unless it can be proved that the planned work will benefit both parties. The surveyors will prepare a document setting out the rights and responsibilities of the respective owners called a Party Wall Award - this is a legally binding document. As well as a schedule of condition of the adjoining property or party fence wall, the award will contain details of the planned works and guidelines on other matters such as permissible working hours and protective measures required etc.

The Adjoining Owner:

Assuming that a neighbour follows the correct procedures under the act, the first point at which you become aware of your neighbour’s plans may be when a formal written notice from their representative drops through your door. When you receive such a notice it can be unclear as to what rights you may have under the Act. You should seek advice before signing an acknowledgement form and waiving your legal rights. The notice should offer you the opportunity to appoint a surveyor to limit the risk of any problems occurring and A J Hodge Associates is well placed to advise you of your rights and the implications that any development may have upon your property. Your surveyor’s duties will include agreeing a schedule of the condition of your property with the building owner’s surveyor prior to the work starting and checking it upon completion. These records will be essential if a defect comes to light which may be attributable to the party wall work. The building owner must pay the reasonable costs of your surveyor in most circumstances.

We have written a detailed article on this subject that you may find both interesting and useful. This explanatory booklet from Communities and Local Government also gives a laymans view of the act and is worth a read.

Planned Preventative Maintenance Surveys

Where owners / occupiers retain a repairing obligation on a building or are responsible for administering the service charge it is often beneficial to have a structured approach to repair and maintenance of a building so that any work is pro-active rather than reactive wherever possible.

We deliver a full professional service whereby all common areas of a premises for which no single tenant has a full repairing obligation can be surveyed, we assess the condition of specific building elements and subsequently prepare a repair and maintenance table/schedule to cover a specified period of years. This schedule indicates at which time elements of the building will, in our professional opinion require repair or replacement. The schedule will also provide estimated costs for carrying out this work.  These assessments are then used to calculate the potential funds required in any given financial year to be set aside by the owner / occupier or service charge element of a building to cover ongoing repair and remedial work.

Planned maintenance is only one approach to dealing with deterioration of components and focuses on the medium and long-term maintenance of buildings. Alternative and complementary strategies include:

  • Condition-based maintenance - maintenance is carried out when the condition of the component requires intervention.

  • Responsive maintenance - maintenance intervention takes place after the component has fallen below an acceptable standard.

  • Improvement - a maintenance policy may involve replacing failed components with components that better the original component.

The management of planned maintenance covers many issues from the strategic (ensuring the maintenance strategies meet the needs of the organisation) to the practical (managing maintenance activities).

A list of the type of issues which may be addressed as part of the management of planned maintenance includes:

  • Determining maintenance strategies to meet the organisation's aims and objectives.

  • Developing a maintenance plan.

  • Setting condition standards and asset performance requirements.

  • Establishing priorities.

  • Liaising with asset users.

  • Financial allocation of organisation's budget, costing and budgeting maintenance works.

  • Programming work.

  • Maintenance information - costs, technical information, maintenance manuals; reviewing and feedback on performance; annual reports.

The planned preventative maintenance survey will comprise inspecting the property to compile  a detailed schedule based on the visible condition of the property at the time of inspection.  The schedule will record and cost repair to defects and cyclical maintenance and redecoration items, although the cause of defects will not be commented upon but an estimated cost for repair will be given.

Planning and Building Regulation Submissions

Many projects will fall under planning restrictions and we can deliver a full planning service to include project design, preparation of drawings, submission of a planning application and consultation with the local authority to try and ensure that any application has as much chance as possible of being approved. Most projects of a large nature that encompass a broad spectrum of work will fall under the building regulations. We are able to prepare technical drawings and specifications as required by the building control team, submit a building regulation application and negotiate with the building inspector on site to ensure that any project is completed in accordance with the relevant regulations.

Where detailed plans, sections and elevations of a property are required we can take all the necessary measurements and prepare the drawings using our AutoCAD system to accompany the submission of a Planning and / or Building Regulation application.

Principal Designer

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 apply to all building and engineering construction work. Under certain circumstances they place an obligation on clients to appoint a Principal Designer to advise upon and ensure that the design and construction process is made safer.  A J Hodge Associates provides a complete service to satisfy these Regulations. A J Hodge Associates has Chartered Building Surveyors who are members of The Association for Project Safety and skilled in acting as principal designer for all types and size of project.

The aim of the regulations is to make Health & Safety an essential and integral part of the planning and management of projects and to make sure that everyone works together to reduce the risk to the Health & Safety of those who work on the structure, who may be affected by these works, or who will use it as a place of work once it’s completed.

The Regulations recognise that the client holds the power and influence to control those engaged on a project and that ultimate responsibility for a safe project is as much the client’s task as it is their project team. The principal designer is there to help the client carry out their duties under the Regulations and advise throughout the project on what needs to be done. The principal designer can help the client carry out all their duties, but until they make this appointment they will be deemed to be carrying out the designer’s duties themselves. An early appointment is not only required on many projects but also makes a lot of sense.

If a client fails to appoint a Principal Designer or Principal Contractor they will potentially leave themselves open to expensive civil action and face criminal prosecution by the Health & Safety Executive. Appointing A J Hodge Associates as principal designer can ensure that you limit your risks and satisfy your obligations.

A J Hodge Associates has highly qualified Chartered Building Surveyors with a significant degree of expertise as CDM Co-ordinator under the 2007 Regulations and principal designer under the revised 2015 regulations.

Project Feasibility

The appraisal of sites from the planning and design stages including environmental assessment and ground investigations. A site appraisal service comprises outline desk-top assessments and detailed site investigations tailored to a client’s development. Site appraisal evaluates the suitability of land for development. A J Hodge Associates provides site appraisal services to establish development potential and construction feasibility.

Project Management

At A J Hodge Associates we are highly experienced in managing construction, alteration and refurbishment works. Acting on behalf of clients commissioning construction projects, be they new build offices, industrial units, house extensions or loft conversions as well as full scale refurbishment of commercial and residential properties our Chartered Building Surveyors assemble and manage selected teams of consultants and contractors throughout the building process.  A detailed understanding of construction processes, sequencing of works and their possible impact on the outcome of a project are required in order to achieve the optimum result and careful co-ordination ensures successful completion of a project in accordance with pre-agreed cost, time and quality criteria.  The process includes consultation and discussion regarding the client’s project requirements, preparation of a detailed specification to go out to tender, planning and building control advice, party wall advice if necessary, monitoring of construction works on site and administering the contract aspects of the project if employed to do so and not undertaken by other representatives. These aspects are explained more fully below.

Through our experience we can add value from the outset; advising on design, preparing detailed technical specifications for pricing and managing the procurement process. Once the contract is in place we will monitor the works against the project plan and budgets, ensuring quality of work and deadlines are met.

A large proportion of clients who undertake construction work wish to employ a professional representative to provide a complete service administering the project on their behalf, using a specific expertise in the area, which the client may not possess.  The representative is usually appointed to administer a JCT Form of Building Contract between the client and contractor, specific to the works to be carried out, and in this regard, the representative is referred to under the Contract as the Contract Administrator.

The Contract Administrator’s main tasks can be summarised as follows:-

  • Inception – Assessing the client’s requirements including timescales and financial limits.
  • Feasibility – Determining the feasibility of the client’s requirements.  Advising on the need for Planning Permission or Building Control Approval.

  • Scheme Design – Developing a scheme design from the outline proposals and submitting Planning and Building Regulations Applications if necessary. Once the client has approved the design, a full technical specification detailing each item of work is produced.

  • Product Information and Bills of Quantities – Preparing information including drawings, schedules and specification in sufficient detail to enable a contractor to prepare a tender.

  • Tender Action – Inviting tenders from approved contractors; appraising and advising on tenders submitted.  Alternatively, arranging for a price to be negotiated with a contractor. Where time allows, we recommend competitive tendering to ensure the best value for money is obtained. However, where time constraints preclude the tender process, we can negotiate direct with contractors, ensuring that costs agreed reflect market prices. When a price has been agreed, we produce formal contract documentation for signature by both parties and the physical work on site begins.
  • Project Planning – Advising the client on the appointment of a contractor.  Where required, preparing the Building Contract and arranging for it to be signed by the client and the contractor. Our project managers are expert in programming the works around the continued occupation of the client. We recognise that our clients are busy running their lives and businesses. The aim of our project managers is therefore to ensure that the work is completed with the minimum of fuss and disturbance and with as little inconvenience to our client as possible.
  • Operations on Site – Administering the terms of the Building Contract during operations on site.  Visiting the site periodically to view the works. Our project managers will be involved in the project from inception, allowing smooth progression of the works when the contractor starts on site. One of the most important roles of the project manager is to maintain the highest possible workmanship standards during the works. To this end, our project managers, who are experienced Chartered Building Surveyors, monitor the works to ensure that all snags are rectified prior to Practical Completion. At all stages of the works, rigorous cost control is maintained by our project managers so that the cost of the works does not exceed the agreed contract value. Regular cost progress reports are produced and invoices from the contractor are valued and certified by us prior to being submitted to the client for payment. Employing professional services in this area is especially valuable in relation to unexpected or additional works; ensuring that contingencies are planned and that any additional works are secured at a competitive rate.
  • Completion – Administering the terms of the Building Contract relating to the completion of the works.

The success of any project will depend upon how well the works are managed and controlled. A J Hodge Associates have an unrivalled track record of bringing projects in, on time and on budget. The appointment of a good project manager / contract administrator will undoubtedly pay dividends.

A J Hodge Associates have extensive experience in administering most suites of building contract. We are adept at fulfilling the Employer’s Agent role in both new build and fit out works under the JCT Design and Build Contract 2011. We also have experience in acting as Client Representative under the PPC 2000 Partnering Agreement.

Schedules of Condition

A schedule of condition is a document that simply records the condition of a building at a particular moment in time. A schedule of condition has two main uses: firstly, to record the condition of a building at lease commencement – usually prepared on behalf of a tenant to limit their future dilapidations liability. If you acquire a lease of business premises in the UK you may find that you have accepted a repairing liability which will mean that you have to leave the property in better condition than it was at the start of the lease. A schedule of condition is used to limit this liability when it comes to dilapidations. A J Hodge Associates are also highly experienced dilapidations surveyors and can advise tenants in this capacity.

To avoid this, well represented business tenants are advised to document the condition of premises before they acquire a lease and ensure that the lease limits their liability by reference to the Schedule of Condition. The reasoning behind this is that most business premises in the UK are let on Full Repairing and Insuring Leases. This means that the tenant is usually liable for ALL the repairs required to keep and put the premises in good condition, regardless of the condition at the commencement of the lease term.

To avoid the liability of putting the premises into a better condition than they were at the start of the lease it is necessary to have a professionally prepared schedule detailing the Condition of all the elements of the accommodation and for this Schedule to be attached and referred to in the lease documentation.
 
We frequently deal with Dilapidation Claims which can range into hundreds of thousands of pounds. Even on the smallest property claims can run into tens of thousands of pounds. The cost of preparing a Schedule at the commencement of the lease to limit any future liability is a fraction of the costs of repair which the tenant may otherwise be liable for.

A well-advised tenant can save thousands of pounds at lease termination by requesting a schedule of condition be attached to their lease. A J Hodge Associates can give expert advice on when a schedule of condition is appropriate.
The second situation where a schedule of condition is often used is where the works involve The Party Wall etc. Act 1996. If a building owner wishes to carry out works to party walls or floors, or undertake certain excavations, then a Party Wall Award may need to be produced. A schedule of condition is prepared on the adjoining owner's building to record its condition prior to the building works commencing. The schedule of condition is later re-examined to determine whether the building works have caused any damage to the adjoining property. If any such damage is noted when compared with the schedule of condition, the 'building owner' carrying out the works would be obliged to compensate or remedy the defects on the adjoining property. This schedule will not only ensure that the adjoining owner is protected, but will also protect the building owner from spurious claims where historic cracking has previously been overlooked and only noticed as work has taken place next door. A J Hodge Associates are also highly experienced at acting as party wall surveyors for both landlords and tenants.
A Schedule of Condition records the condition of a property to confirm its state of repair and condition at a specific point in time.  A Schedule of Condition comprises written and/or photographic evidence of the condition of a property, to provide a client with a detailed record of the property ‘as existing’.