Author Archives: Support

Asbestos

My father was in the Navy and it, on visits on board, it was quite a common sight to see ‘fluffy’ and textured asbestos insulation wrapped around pipework. Today, its presence is likely to be more subtle, though you would be surprised to find out how widely it has been used. 

 

For example, asbestos content is to be found in some roof slates; artex type ceiling and wall finishes; certain types of floor tiles; asbestos composites such as bath panels, WC cisterns, etc;

 

It is important not to react emotively to the thought that this potentially harmful material may be present – in most cases, and when managed appropriately, asbestos in a domestic property should offer minimal risk. 

 

It is essential, however, that you correctly identify what is there and for that you will need to have the opinion and help of a specialist or a surveyor, or other professional, who is competent in such matters. They will make an assessment of the material and advise you as to what action is appropriate. Disposal of asbestos is expensive and needs specialist input, but in many cases, you will be advised how to treat the material to avoid any health risks.

 

 

 

 

Boundary Disputes

The problem with boundary disputes is that they can become personal very quickly and ‘lines are drawn’ (literally sometimes) in a way that makes discussion and negotiation all the more difficult. Sometimes matters are unclear from the historical data available and often issues are complex. 

 

A professional who can offer an objective (and honest) view, quickly get to grips with the issues involved, and be able to suggest a clear path towards resolution can save you considerable time, angst and money.

 

Determining boundaries positions can be a difficult process. Research of Title Registers, Deeds and Plans may be necessary as well as an onsite survey and measurement. Assessment of historic changes (which can occur by agreement or encroachment) may also be required.

 

Thorough research, though, provides a more certain outcome and will help define the accurate placement of the boundary in question.

 

Taking early advice from a competent surveyor is essential.

 

 

Party Wall

The Party Wall Act 1996 is designed to help prevent and, should they occur, resolve disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings. The key is to if the planned work might affect the structural strength and support of a party wall, or cause damage to the adjoining owner’s side of the wall. It’s an important issue that is well regulated and compliance is essential.

 

Apart from the obvious construction and demolittion of buildings or parts of buildings sited on party walls, other matters that fall under the Act include such things as – removing a chimney breast from a party wall and digging below the foundation of a neighbour’s property.

 

If you are in doubt about whether your planned work requires a notice you might wish to seek advice from a qualified surveyor who is experienced in party wall work.

 

For further information, the government issue an explanatory leaflet which you can read online. This  gives good background to the main principles, though best to discuss your circumstances with a professional. The leaflet can be found as below.

 

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/207310/Party_Wall_etc._Act_1996_-_Explanatory_Booklet.pdf

 

 

Rising Damp

Buildings have incorporated damp proof courses since the early 1900’s . This is to protect against the natural tendency of water in the ground rising through the pores of building materials (capillary action).

 

If the dpc fails for some reason, or was not present originally, then walls can become wet and affect internal plaster finishes.

 

Correct identification of the cause of dampness in walls is important. (Condensation, for example, can sometimes be mistaken for rising dampness and can be a problem caused by lifestyle choices as much as defects in the building).

 

And correct understanding of the cause is essential to ensuring that the remedial works are appropriate. There is no benefit injecting a new dpc, for example, if the problem is caused by high ground levels on the outside of the wall – reduce the levels and let the wall dry out. Likewise, there are occassions where it is necessary to insert a new dpc and replace previously wet plaster.

 

Correct diagnosis and remedy become even more sensitive when dealing with older properties or those of unusual construction. Although techniques are improving and changing, a holistic approach is usually the best, based on a sound understanding of how older properties work and of the materials used in their construction.

 

Water and most buildings do not represent a great mix. Rising dampness along with other forms of dampness within the building fabric are seldom welcome. So, early assessment and appropriate repairs are the order of the day.

 

Be sure to take advice from a surveyor or professional who understands the type of property in question. When you use a contractor, they should be registered with the PCA (Property Care Association).

 

Radon Gas

Radon is a It is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally and is colourless, odorless, and tasteless. . The gas is particularly concentrated in parts of the country which have a granite rock formation. Homeowners in the South-West and Derbyshire, for example, are well versed in the risks posed by radon and the measures needed to control it.

 

Radon can be harmful if it is allowed to become concentrated within a bulding it can cause damage to tissues increasing risk of cancer, particularly lung cancer.

 

The good news is that, although it is invisible, the presence and concentration of radon can be tested and there are remedial works that will reduce the risk it poses dramatically. These works will often involve the use of a ‘sump’ which will pump air from under the floor out to roof height externally where it is dispesed safely. Improvements to ventilation are also commonly recommended, sometimes using a fan to blow clean air into the building from the roof space.

 

Some of the best advice re Radon is available online on the Public Health England Radon site as below –

http://www.ukradon.org/information

 

Rights of Way

Rights of way can take various forms – roads, tracks paths. Some are well maintained while others are barely visible. The issues arise where rights of way impinge on a property owner’s use of their own land, or conversely, someone restricts a right of way used by others. The result can mean that the relevant rights need to be identified and agreed on and the positioning of boundaries then need to be determined.

 

Easements give rights to use, or have access over, land which belongs to someone else, while not enjoying ownership of that land. A typical example is when two properties share a driveway, owned by one property with a right of access granted to another. Often there are easements allowing service to pass across someone else’s land. Easements can come about in a number of ways and it is necessary to understand the legal standing and extent of what exists.

 

If there is a dispute or issue that needs to be resolved, it may involve a surveyors carrying out an on-site inspection and possibly preparing a plan;; researching historic evidence; advising as to a potential solution and, working with your legal advisors, providing advice as to your position.