Building Surveying

Building Surveyors are knowledgeable in a wide range of property and construction related matters.

At times a building surveyor’s skills overlap with other professions such as architecture, structural engineering or quantity surveying. However, their core skills are in defect diagnosis, building survey and dilapidations work.

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If you need to understand or record the condition of your built assets we can help.

Chris Milnes, Head of Expert Services – Building Surveying

Defect Diagnosis

Building pathology is the investigation and diagnosis of the causes of defects in buildings. Our team of building surveyors is highly skilled and experienced in assessing buildings to establish the source of defects and advise on repair strategies. Where necessary we are able to offer specialist testing and investigation methods utilising the latest technology in order to provide the most accurate diagnosis of the problems. We can arrange for the use of specialist access equipment or utilize mobile cameras so that a full inspection of normally inaccessible areas can be made. With our knowledge of building construction and technology used over the centuries, we can advise on properties of any age and provide our clients with a comprehensive report on defects occurring, repairs required and formulate planned maintenance programmes. Our client instructions have included diagnosis of defects to Grade 1 historic buildings through to defects occurring in brand new domestic housing – defects can occur in any building of any age or type. The diagnosis and repair of defects in buildings will ensure that the life of your property is prolonged and the investment protected.

Expert Evidence

Gateley Vinden's experienced building surveyors regularly provide expert technical evidence in relation to property and construction disputes. This includes a comprehensive analysis of the matter in dispute followed by either initial informal advice or preparation of an expert report for submission to the court as part of a claim or defence. Our building surveyors are trained in giving evidence under cross examination and have courtroom experience. A number of our surveyors are also members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ Expert Witness Registration Scheme. Our clients range from private householders to national PLC companies.

Our areas of expertise:

  • Boundary determination and party walls
  • Building surveying
  • Construction standards, specifications and defects
  • Construction disputes and claims
  • Dilapidations and housing repair
  • Professional negligence
  • Management of construction health and safety

Property Acquisition

Buildings can harbour an array of defects. At Gateley Vinden, our team of Chartered Building Surveyors provide a range of services which will help you identify such problems. Information is always presented in a clear and understandable format in order to assist your understanding of our advice. Pre-Purchase Surveys If you are considering the acquisition of a property and demand peace of mind, we can help. You may need to know the property’s condition, any defects present (and their remedies) and the need for specialist investigations before you complete the purchase. We can carry out a comprehensive inspection of the property and provide a bespoke report which will be tailored to suit the type of property and your specific requirements. Measured Surveys A measured survey will provide dimensional information on land or property. This can be useful to determine space requirements at the feasibility stage.

Commercial EPCs

The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive came into effect in 2008 and has had a major impact on the UK property industry for new developments, sales or lettings. The legislation states that property developers, landlords and owners in England and Wales are not able to construct, sell or lease a commercial building without providing an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) to a prospective buyer or tenant. Non-compliance will result in failure to complete conveyancing or possible action by Trading Standards Officers, including fines of up to £5,000. Gateley Vinden is accredited to provide Energy Performance Certificates for commercial buildings which are to be leased or sold.

Landlord & Tenant

Dilapidations Dilapidations have significance for any person letting a property or any person occupying a property under a lease agreement. Dilapidations claims arise from breaches of repairing covenants contained in a lease. At or near the end of a tenant’s lease, the landlord may instruct a surveyor to prepare a schedule of dilapidations which outlines building repairs that the tenant is responsible for under the terms of the lease. We will use our expertise to identify and comment on breaches of lease covenants before suggesting appropriate remedies, preparing schedules and negotiating with other parties to achieve settlement of the claim. Acting as an advisor to wither landlord or tenant, our aim is to provide objective advice in order to achieve settlement of the claim. We are also to act as expert witness in dilapidations matters where out of court settlement is not achieved. Schedules of Condition We advise all our commercial clients who are entering into a lease agreement to commission a Schedule of Condition. This survey can be appended to a lease to provide a property condition benchmark. The Schedule can be re-visited at the end of the lease term in order to help establish a tenant’s responsibilities to repair the property. Lease repairing obligations advice Using our expertise in settling dilapidations claims, we are well placed to advise businesses on the impact of repairing obligations contained in their lease. To aid financial planning, we are also able to inspect premises and provide projections of likely dilapidations liabilities at the end of a lease term.

Asset Management

Maintaining property can be expensive. At Gateley Vinden we can help you develop or improve your property maintenance strategy to help reduce unnecessary long term costs. Condition Surveys Establishing the physical condition of property is essential as it enables maintenance works to be prioritised and costed. We work closely with clients in order to formulate a condition survey brief which is specific to their requirements. In the past we have carried out detailed condition surveys on school and nursery buildings, manufacturing facilities, retail premises, historic buildings and leisure facilities. Planned maintenance schedules and budget costs In addition to our property condition assessment services, we are able to advise clients on future property maintenance liabilities. We can also advise on strategies to improve the effectiveness of a maintenance regime and further likely costs of maintenance works over a given period. In this way, we can help improve the cost and operational effectiveness of a business.

Property Refurbishment

We believe that all construction projects require detailed planning and sound management from inception through to completion.

Our Building Surveyors can provide a complete property refurbishment service to suit your needs including the following services:

  • Design and specification
  • Principal Designer
  • Contract administration
  • Project management
  • Feasibility and space planning
  • Preparation of Planning, Building Regulation and Licensing Applications to the Local Authority.

Insurance Cover and Claims

Reinstatement cost assessments We can inspect and measure premises, preparing cost estimates to cover the demolition and re-building of the premises to determine the appropriate level of insurance cover required. Claim management Our surveyors have expertise in recovering loss in accordance with policy terms. WE are regularly retained to provide opinion in relation to causation of loss and quantum.

Conservation of Historic Buildings

We are both qualified and experienced in providing clients with conservation advice in respect of period and historic buildings. Such buildings generally demand a different approach to maintenance and repair works than a modern building in order that the character and materials of the building can be conserved. We can advise clients on repair solutions and liaise with Local Authority Conservations Officers in order to obtain the necessary statutory consents.

Neighbourly Matters

Party Wall Surveying The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 regulates the relationship between neighbouring owners in the context of specific constructions work on, or close to, a boundary between adjoining properties. It is a legal requirement to inform neighbouring property owners of such construction works. Our Building Surveyors can provide initial advice and Party Wall services to both Building Owners and Adjoining Owners. In addition, our Building Surveyors are also members of the leading Party Wall specialist organisations. Boundary Disputes One of the most common conflicts between neighbours is a dispute over the location of a boundary. This is often a very emotive issue where parties assume entrenched positions. This can lead to expensive legal proceedings. Our surveyors are experienced in collecting evidence with identifies the boundaries between two properties and can provide realistic solutions to resolve the dispute and avoid litigation. If required, we can also provide expert evidence in such matters in a single joint capacity or party nominated capacity. Scaffold Access / Crane oversail agreements Your development proposals may impact on land or property owned by neighbouring parties. Alternatively, you may own land which you feel is being used without your permission. We can advise and provide practical solutions to resolve, defend or prevent any actions for trespass.

Home Quality Mark (HQM) – to be launched in Autumn 2015


This national quality mark will give people the confidence that the new homes they are choosing to buy or rent are well designed and built and cost effective to run. It will also allow house builders to demonstrate the high quality of their homes and to differentiate them in the marketplace.

The Home Quality Mark provides impartial information from independent experts on a new home’s quality. It clearly indicates to householders the overall expected costs, health and wellbeing benefits, and environmental footprint associated with living in the home. The Mark helps everyone to fully understand the quality, performance and attributes of a new build home.

Brought to you by BRE, the UK’s leading building science centre, the Home Quality Mark is based on years of building standards experience. It is part of the BREEAM family of quality and sustainability standards.

The Home Quality Mark is a rigorous and relevant standard for new homes, using a simple 5-star rating to provide impartial information from independent experts on a new home’s design and constructions quality and running costs.

It will also show the impact of the home on the occupant’s health and wellbeing, as buildings become more airtight, respiratory conditions rise and our populations gets older. It will demonstrate the home’s environmental footprint and its resilience to flooding and overheating in a changing climate. In addition, the Mark will evaluate the digital connectivity and performance of the home as the speed, reliability and connectivity of new technology becomes ever more critical.

The Home Quality Mark will enable housing developers to showcase the quality of their new homes and identify them as having the added benefits of being likely to need less maintenance, cheaper to run, better located and more able to cope with the demands of a changing climate.

Building Surveying FAQ's

What is Building Surveying?

Put simply, Chartered Building Surveyors are trained professionals who are able to offer property, land and construction technical advice to commercial companies, the public sector and private individuals.

What is planned maintenance?

A Chartered Building Surveyor can help put together a maintenance programme for a property which will identify in advance both day to day repair items as well as items of work which will need attention in the longer term. The budgets for this work can also be set in advance. This is planned maintenance.

What is a Building Survey?

A Building Survey is a bespoke report concerning structure and fabric which is usually provided for clients who intend to buy or take a lease of a property. The report is presented in elemental format so that comments on individual components of the building are grouped together. The report will also point out areas of concern where further investigation may be necessary.

What is Subsidence?

Subsidence occurs as a result of ground movement below foundations of a property causing downward movement of the structure. Subsidence usually occurs due to; mining activity in the past close to the property, trees and defective drains. Certain types of soil below a property can also cause subsidence.

What is Settlement?

Settlement is different to subsidence in that it is caused by the load of the building causing downward movement of the ground below it. The difference between settlement and subsidence is important as most insurance policies will not cover settlement whereas it is more common for subsidence to be covered under property defects.

I have recently noticed a large crack in my wall. What should I do?

The first thing to do is notify your insurer of the problem. Many insurers will recommend that you seek specialist advice on property defects. Our team of Chartered Building Surveyors can assess the cause of the problem and recommend a repair strategy. We are used to dealing with insurance companies and loss adjusters and can manage claims on your behalf.

What is Rising Damp?

Rising damp is caused by ground water moving up a wall by capillary action. An effective damp proof course in a wall will prevent this from occurring. Rising damp is often confused with other forms of dampness. If mis-diagnosed, repairs can at best be ineffective and at worst, damaging to the building, creating additional property defects.

What is the Party Wall etc. Act 1996?

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is a piece of legislation borne out of the London Building Acts which provides a framework for preventing and resolving boundary disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings. If it is intended to carry out work which is covered by the Party Wall Act must serve a notice telling their neighbour of their intentions.

A Party Wall Surveyor can advise on the application of the Party Wall Act and can serve the correct notices on behalf of the party who wants to do the work. Equally, a Party Wall Surveyor can advise the neighbouring owner on their options once they are in receipt of a notice. Should a dispute then arise, the surveyors will resolve the matter on behalf of the parties.


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If you require further information on any of our services, or if you wish to discuss your requirements with us, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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