When commencing a build or renovation project, you will undoubtedly be looking for a builder, electrician or decorator to assist you at some point along the way but will a Chartered Surveyor be on your list of professionals to hire? It should be.
Creating your dream home or perfect business space through self-build, renovation or conversion is a process full of timing, emotional, regulatory, and financial implications and considerations. In the excitement and often stress that these projects can cause, it is hard to bring all the elements together to achieve the end goal on budget, up to regulatory standard, and within your intended timeframe.
Instructing a Chartered Surveyor at the start of the project who has the skills and experience required to help bring your plans to fruition and expertly manage the client and contractor relationship throughout will prevent unnecessary costs, disputes, or disappointment in service delivery whilst ensuring the project runs smoothly.
The involvement of a surveyor before the start of a build is sometimes seen as an unnecessary expense but, in my experience, should things go wrong, disputes can arise and escalate. If an Expert Witness is required to dissect disputes and assist the courts in finding favour of one side or the other, it is a complex and time consuming procedure for all involved.
An Expert Witness assesses work which has already been done to try to understand how the dispute has come about. If a professional building surveyor is employed at the start of the project, they can ensure the details that could lead to potential dispute are agreed in advance.
Their experience in this field means that they are more aware of which areas need to be agreed at earlier stages in the project than the average home or business owner.
For example, a discussion about “fitting some sockets” probably isn’t going to be detailed enough for the contractor to meet the clients expectations. The discussion should include particulars of what type of sockets, what material the socket covers will be made out of, whether they will be double or single, how many, where they will be positioned, whether there will be aerial points added and so on.
These minute decisions may seem inconsequential – and may even seem premature to be making before a single brick has been laid – but these details need to be agreed at the drawing stage. It’s very easy to change a line on a piece of paper, but much harder to move a wall.
Disputes and or disappointment often originate because these finer points aren’t agreed, in writing, before the contractors start work. Depending on your confidence, experience and the size of the project in hand, a Chartered Surveyor can be instructed to take on a full contract administrator and project management role or to act as a general advisor to assist and advise on best practice.
My advice to anyone commencing a project like this is to call a Chartered Building Surveyor as soon as you have an idea of works to be completed and budgets available. You will then be in the strongest position possible to ensure the works run smoothly for all involved.
Peter Ciesielski, BSc (Hons), MRICs, ACIArb, is a Chartered Building Surveyor and RICS registered valuer specialising in building project management and contract administration for commercial and residential clients throughout London, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Surrey. Over the last 15 years, Peter has built up considerable experience of working with landlords and homeowners on a wide variety of repair, refurbishment and conversion projects.