London Surrey Surveyors hope to have done our best to create a Web site that anticipates and satisfies our customers’ needs. With that goal in mind, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions. If you can’t find an answer to your question here, contact us today!

If you wish to discuss any aspect of these matters, further, please do not hesitate to call us on 01784 452 465 or send an enquiry by email.

More FAQs are being compiled and will be listed shortly.



What Types of Survey are there? (click for more information)

There are three main types of survey undertaken for a prospective purchaser, before the contract purchase price is finalised and contracts exchanged. These are, in ascending order:

  • A valuation survey
  • A Homebuyers Report (including open market valuation)
  • A full building survey (aka structural survey) with or without open market valuation advice

Do I Need a Survey and If So Which Type?

Valuation Survey:
If you are purchasing with the aid of funding from a lender (bank, building society or other financial organisation) then they will wish to establish that the property is adequate security for the advance. The lender will commission a valuation survey, which seeks to identify the location and condition of the property to determine its value and whether it is adequate security for the advance. Whilst more serious items (which will directly affect the value) will be noted, the purpose of this exercise is merely to protect the lender in the event that you (the purchaser) default upon the loan.

If you have paid the lender, or their chosen surveyor, for this survey to be undertaken you are entitled to receive and consider a copy of this, however, it will give you little protection from expenditure, particularly as in our experience most properties are devalued mainly by the aggregate effect of small items, rather than through serious structural problems, such as subsidence of the site.

The Homebuyers Report:
This is a ‘package’ type report based on a standard format prepared by the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors). Guidance in compiling such a survey is to list defects but to make no diagnosis or interpretation of that damage or defect. If further advice is required then this would be the subject of a separate report. The Homebuyers Report package contains as an integral part, an open market valuation of the property. This information you will probably already have received from the lender’s valuation survey and is therefore duplicated. This is, however, unavoidable.

The Homebuyers Report is suitable only for relatively new properties which are in generally good order.

The Full Building Survey:
The inspection carried out for this is the same as that undertaken for the Homebuyers Report, however, this is a full ‘text based’ report which discusses the type of construction, its condition and any problems which might potentially raise costs for repair to that particular element.

The inspection for this type of report (and the Homebuyers) relates to everything that can reasonably be accessed (subject to certain limitations) and where items cannot be accessed (eg; suspended timber ground floor voids) based on the evidence which could be gleaned.

Where there is damage or defect we would provide what advice could be given within the limits of the survey, concerning probable cause and an outline indication of what might need to be undertaken, to correct this.

We would recommend this type of survey report for most properties and, to encourage its use, we have set our fee for the Full Building Survey (without open market valuation advice which may in any event be redundant) at the same price as the Homebuyers Report.

How Does this Help Me?

Dependent upon the housing market and your negotiating skills, we would anticipate that you should be able to at least recover our fee for undertaking the survey (and often much more), as a result of previously unseen items being disclosed.

If the vendor will not negotiate, you can at least decide whether to proceed with the knowledge of your likely potential risk, or withdraw.

How Long Does it Take?

We endeavour to carry out the inspection, following receipt of instructions, within three to five working days. This is of course subject to the vendor/estate agent providing access.

Typically the report will be prepared and issued to you (the purchaser) within two to three working days following the visit to the property.

How Would I Instruct You?

We receive most instructions (particularly for pre-purchase surveys) by telephone.

We need to take your details, details of the prospective property to be purchased and how access can be achieved, which typically is arranged by us liaising directly with the selling agent. We will then write to you, forwarding our standard Terms and Conditions and Guidance Notes – which discuss in some detail how the survey is undertaken and what limitations apply.

We require a non-returnable deposit when taking your instructions and the fee account, for the balance, will be sent with the completed survey.

If you need further information or would like to discuss any aspect of the surveys which we can provide, please do not hesitate to contact us today.



Do I need a Party Wall Award?

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 requires you to issue ‘Notices’ to your neighbour if you are doing one or more of the following:

– Cutting into, raising or altering an existing Party Wall (Section 2 of the Act)

– Excavating within 3m of your neighbour’s property, to a depth that may be deeper than their property’s foundation (section 6(1) of the Act.

– Some other minor matters; however, those above at the main items

What is a Party Wall?

The Act describes a wall which stands astride the boundary or which is enclosed upon on both sides of the boundary as a Party Wall.

How much work can I do to a Party Wall before I need to issue notices?

The Act is not specific about this aspect. It could be argued that even removal of wallpaper should be the subject of Notices, but clearly this would be nonsensical. It is usually presumed that any action which might reasonably be considered to potentially, cause damage to the adjoining owner’s (neighbour’s) property, should be the subject of a Notice.

What is a notice?

A Notice must be a written document, telling your neighbour what you plan to do and quoting the Party Wall etc Act 1996. If possible, this should also include reference to which section of the Act applies to the works which are to be undertaken.

Having Issued a notice, what happens next?

The neighbour (the Adjoining Owner) has two principal options. The first is to consent (which must be in writing) in which case the Act requires nothing further and works can simply proceed. In such circumstances we would suggest that an informal Photographic Schedule of Condition of the neighbour’s property be undertaken in any event to provide a record.

Alternatively the neighbour may dissent, either by doing so in writing or by failing to respond within fourteen days.

In the event of dissent, both you and the neighbour should either concur in the appointment of one surveyor (an Agreed Surveyor under the terms of the Act) or each should appoint their own. In either event, the duty of those surveyors is to act impartially and not serve the interests of either Appointing Owner.

Unfortunately, if you are the person carrying out the work, you will almost certainly need to meet the fees of both the appointed surveyors.

How much will it cost me?

This will vary dramatically from job to job depending on the circumstances, complexity of the work and whether one or two surveyors are appointed. Typically, however, it can be anticipated in most routine circumstances that a fee for the Building Owner’s Surveyor (or Agreed Surveyor if this is the case) will range between £600 and £800. If the neighbour appoints his/her own surveyor, then a similar fee is likely to also be required by that second surveyor.

We have produced some standard sets of fees for loft conversion works in a number of standard circumstances, and for other works we would endeavour to provide a fee quote to which we could adhere, for the service provided, however, much does depend upon how full and detailed the drawings are for the works and the performance/attitude of the other surveyor.

What do I get for the money?

The service that the Agreed Surveyor, or the two surveyors, provides is to prepare a large document called a Party Wall Award, which discusses what is to be done, who the parties are, who will pay for the works, details of any making good, any restrictions on the work, the Agreed Surveyor or Adjoining Owners Surveyor fee will also be included. The Award will refer to drawings and include a Schedule of Condition of the neighbour’s property prior to the works commencing. This will invariably be supported by photographs.

After the works have been undertaken, a return visit to the neighbour’s property will be made to determine whether this has been damaged and, if so, an appropriate extent of making good or, more usually simply discharging the Award with no damage present.

Copies of Awards should be kept safely, as these will often be asked for, if the property is sold.



What services can you provide?

We aim to provide a full design service, from feasibility evaluation to building completion.

We will discuss the practicalities of an embryonic scheme with you and the likely or relative costs of the various options and make recommendations, on the basis of those discussions.

We will undertake a full measured survey and prepare drawings for planning and building regulations purposes and submit them for you. We will guarantee that those drawings will meet building regulations requirements (assuming this is possible) but planning is subject to decisions made by the Planning Department and is less predictable.

We can prepare a Specification and Schedule of Works and assist in obtaining tenders and appointing the contractor.

We can visit site during the course of the works, to check the contractors workmanship and to value the work undertaken and check it at completion. This is called Contract Administration.

We can provide almost any combination of the foregoing if you do not want or need the full service.

Can you provide a Bill of Quantities?

No, this is a service that requires a Quantity Surveyor. We could of course recommend someone who could provide this service for you or if appropriate, appoint them ourselves, on your behalf.



What is an 'Expert Witness'?

As the name implies this is a person with a specialist or otherwise expert knowledge of a subject. The need for input from such an expert, usually arises because of a dispute with another party, about whether work undertaken can be considered adequate or regarding its real value.

What type of matter would you provide expert advice concerning?

Typically we are consulted and instructed regarding building works which have been undertaken, where the client considers the work unsatisfactory, but the builder claims it to be satisfactory and is often demanding payment.

Relations between the parties to the dispute have usually deteriorated significantly prior to our involvement, nonetheless many matters are concluded without recourse to the Courts. We will of course deliver evidence to the Court both in writing and in person, where this is needed.

If I instruct you will you say what I want you to?

I’m afraid not. This type of advice is governed by not only an RICS Practice Note but also the Court Procedure Rules. Those documents require the advice to be objective and unbiased. We can be appointed by both sides to a dispute as a joint expert witness, which often provides a prompt and economic solution to a dispute.

If there is an expert appointed by the other party we will liaise with that expert to determine areas of agreement and then try to resolve, by negotiation, any remaining matters.

What will it cost me?

We can only realistically calculate fees for such work, on a time expended basis and this will vary on each matter. It may not however be as expensive as you might think (we tend to be cheaper than solicitors – although you may need one of those as well) and if you are successful, your costs may well be recoverable from “the other side”.



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Landline: 01784 452465
Mobile: 07885 748946

E-mail: enquiries@chartered-surveyors-london.biz

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We engaged London Surrey Surveyors as contract administrators on refurbishment works involving roof re-insulation, a kitchen extension, and a new heating system. We found Don responsive to our needs, knowledgeable about alternative approaches, and good at communicating the technicalities in terms that we could understand. He also advised us on the selection of a builder, and maintained a good relationship with our chosen builder while supervising the project at regular intervals through to completion.

Overall, Don helped us to identify the correct solution and complete it within our specified budget – we would unhesitatingly recommend his expertise and professional approach to other interested clients.

John and Joy, Wokingham

When we were looking for a Contracts Administrator to assist us with our extension and conversion of a large building into several flats we immediately felt that we had the right person in Don Varcoe of London Surrey Surveyors.

From the outset he provided a reassuring rock to whom we turned time and time again throughout the build. His professionalism and the ease with which he liaised between the builders and ourselves helped the project to complete very smoothly. Any concerns raised by either the builder or ourselves were dealt with by a measured, sensible and highly qualified approach. We would not hesitate to recommend Don!!

Mr & Mrs P, Hampton Hill