A fox cub has been rescued from a cavity wall in a shop! The story from the BBC reports that the cub was rescued by the London Fire Brigade from a ground floor wall in Queensway Market , Kensington. The advice from the RSPCA was to leave the baby fox, now named Ian, in a box with some water so Mum can come and pick him up that evening. We imagine that will be the last time he goes inspecting cavity walls! Read more here.

Photo: London Fire 

Homes England have announced there will be a £63 million funding injection to help speed up the build of around 3,500 new homes in the Northern Arc at Burgess Hill in West Sussex. The money, which came from the Government’s Land Assembly Fund, will mean important infrastructure such as roads, a bridge, landscaping, drainage and utility works can be developed at either end of the site. 1,250 homes can then be built then another 2,250 homes will be built from 2023. 30% of the homes will be affordable and the first developer, Countrywide Properties UK has been appointed. Read more here.

An article from Homes & Property confirms that a flat owner in London has been awarded damages against their surveyor who failed to identify Japanese knotweed growing in the garden. According to the report, Environet confirmed the plant had been present for at least three years in three different locations. The owner sued the surveyor, who had completed a full structural survey for them, for the cost of removal of the invasive plant from their property and making good the garden as well as inconvenience. The judge also took into account the diminution in value of the property and it's reported the amount equates to tens of thousands of pounds.
You can read the full story here. 

You may also find our Technical Bulletin featuring several articles on Japanese knotweed interesting. You can download it here.

A homeowner has been ordered to pay the value that his home increased after he cut off long branches on the oak tree in his back garden that blocked sunlight from his bedroom balcony. The large oak tree was subject to a tree preservation order and Samuel Wilson pleaded guilty to a charge of causing wilful damage to a protected tree. He was fined £1,200 but also ordered to pay back the increase in value of his home (£21,000) and the costs, totalling almost £40,000. This is the first case of this kind where a person has been fined under the Proceeds of Crime Act in relation to damage of a tree for the benefit of light.

Read more.

You can read more about tree preservation orders on the gov.uk website here.

Our Director of Surveying Services, Hilary Grayson, recently wrote an article for Estate Agent Today. With potential disruption to the estate agency industry caused by online agents, Hilary suggests one way independent agents can become true 'local property experts' to give the customer a service that online agents such as Purplebricks cannot provide. Click here to read more.

The government have published guidance on approved Client Money Protection (CMP) schemes, aimed at letting and property management agents in the private rented sector. Agents who hold client money are required by law to be a part of a government-approved CMP scheme by 1 April 2019 following proposals made in April last year that have now been passed by Parliament.

Other requirements include:

  • hold client money in a client money account with a bank or building society authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority
  • hold and maintain appropriate professional indemnity insurance
  • have appropriate client money protection handling procedures
  • obtain a certificate confirming membership of an approved CMP scheme and display this prominently in each of their offices where they deal with the public and on their website
  • provide a copy of the certificate to any person who may reasonably require it, free of charge

Read more here.

In England, there are 376,000 listed structures in our built environment, and as you can imagine they require a lot of costly maintenance, but they are also vital for tourism which contributes £106bn to the economy. In this article written by Grant Lipton, it explains Britain must commit to renewing and restoring its heritage, but high construction costs and skills shortages make this a daunting challenge. However, to preserve our history, technology can help through using ‘digital modelling’ . Click here to find out more.

Halifax have issued a press release advising that the gap between the costs of buying and renting is at the lowest in almost a decade and the gap is down 59%. This is according to the latest Halifax Buying vs. Renting Review where figures show that buyers are saving £366 per year whereas in 2017, they were saving £900, although homeowners are still better off than renters when all costs are taken into consideration. 

It adds that new Buy to Let mortgages have slowed down and first-time buyers are driving the number of house purchasers with a mortgage. Read more.

Did you know you can check to see when you home will be worth the big £1million using Zoopla’s £1m property calculator?

The calculator looks at how the estimated value of your home has changed over the last 20 years and uses this data to calculate an average past annual growth rate. The average is then applied to the home’s current estimated value to forecast when it could reach the £1m mark. The data is weighted based on growth rates across the UK to align with qualitative predictions. The data is based on Zoopla’s Automated Valuation Model (AVM) which draws on a number of sources, including government figures, data from our estate agents and information provided by our users.

You can read more about Zoopla’s value estimates here.

Conservative MP Stephen McPartland spoke in parliament on Wednesday 27 February regarding rising ground rents, a topic which has received a lot of attention recently. In the discussion he focused on leasehold and shared ownership and used a residential building called Six Hills House in Stevenage as an example.

To set the scene, the government are acting to improve the situation around leasehold and onerous ground rents and announced that ground rents would be reduced on new build homes to zero or a peppercorn rate of £10. Whilst this is a positive step forward, it doesn’t help those who are already in leases with onerous ground rents.

The leaseholders in Six Hills House are trapped in leases with a clause that the ground rent can be doubled every 10, 15 or 20 years and this is preventing mortgage companies offering mortgages on these homes. Many of the leaseholders own only a small percentage of the home but are responsible for paying 100% of the freehold fees.

Stephen McPartland explains: My real concern is that these are shared-ownership properties, but the tenants seem to be responsible for 100% of the freehold, even though they will often only own 10%, 15% or 25% of the actual property. That does not seem fair. All the barriers to moving forward in their lives seem to be loaded on the people who are 75% tenants and 25% homeowners.”

Adding that the simplest solution would be for the freeholder to change the details on the deed to something more appropriate which would resolve all the issues with the mortgage companies and social housing providers.

Heather Wheeler, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government responded with:

“The Government are committed to improving consumer choice and fairness for the increasing number of leaseholders. That includes our work to make it easier and cheaper for leaseholders to enfranchise, the support we are providing for those with onerous ground rent terms, and our aim to make service charges more transparent for all. That work should act as a guard against the practices that form the subject of this debate, namely, where freeholds are sold on to a third-party investor without the leaseholder’s knowledge.”

Adding “I want to see support extended to all leaseholders with onerous ground rents, including second-hand buyers, and for customers to be proactively contacted. We will continue to work with the industry on a way forward to help existing leaseholders with onerous leases. I want to stress that leaseholders should seek impartial legal advice about potentially onerous ground rents contained in their leases. Free advice is also available from the Government’s Leasehold Advisory Service—LEASE.”
Read more here.
You can also read more about ground rents in our article written by Duncan Greenwood, Partner at DAC Beachcroft last year here and an article from Chris Rispin here.

Savills have released figures on the UK housing stock value for 2018 and it reached a record of £7.29 trillion. Despite all the talk about a slowing housing market, the value of property increased by just over £190 billion since the previous year. More than a quarter of this came from new housing development which is higher than it has been since 2011. Another record was set for the private rented sector which saw a 4.1% increase taking it above the £1.5 trillion mark. The value of housing stock in London fell for the first time since 2009 at a £26.2 billion loss (down 1.5%). Although, it’s still worth more than 24% of the total at £1.77 trillion. Wales had the biggest percentage gain of 6.3%, so it’s not just the rugby they’re winning at! Click here to read more. 

Have you seen the new heatmap that highlights Japanese knotweed sightings across the UK? It’s designed to inform homeowners and homebuyers of the local Japanese knotweed presence, but it can also be useful for property professionals. Users can search by entering a postcode and the map will confirm how many 'reported' occurrences are within 4km of the area. There is also a function for you to add a sighting of Japanese knotweed. Click here to read more from Environet.

A homeowner who bought his flat under Right to Buy from Islington Borough Council has been told that the property was incorrectly valued when he bought it from them 2 years previously for £340,000 and is actually worth double the price he paid. It seems the price difference is because it is a 2-bed when they thought it had just one. Anthony Zomparelli is now being taken to court by the council and believes even if he wins, he’ll still need to sell the property to pay for fees incurred.
Read more here.

By way of background, in October 2018, the government published the ‘Homes England strategic plan 2018 to 2023’. Described as the governments ‘housing accelerator’, Homes England are a new non-departmental public body sponsored by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Their role, as described in the document is “to ensure more people in England have access to better homes in the right places.” To make this happen they state they will intervene in the market to get more homes built where needed, accelerate delivery, tackle market failure where it occurs, and help to shape a more resilient and diverse housing market.

It seems like love certainly was in the air on Valentines Day as there were several press releases announcing funding across certain parts of the UK. See below for a summary.

  • 10.6 million Local Authority Accelerated Construction funding was awarded to Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council to prepare three sites to build 670 new homes. Click here to read more on this story.
  • £78 million of Homes England funding will bring 1500 homes to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park at Stratford, creating two new neighbourhoods. More than 40% of homes in the first phase will be ‘affordable homes’. Click here to read more.
  • Also, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and MP James Brokenshire announced £250 million of housing deals struck to deliver tens of thousands of homes including £157m for housing infrastructure in Cumbrian and Devon. Click here to read more on this one.

The UK HPI has been released for December and it shows that compared to November, house prices have increased by 0.2%. This makes the annual price rise 2.5% and the average property value £230,776. In England alone, the price rise was 2.3% with an average value of £247,886.

In England, the East Midlands, North East and the South West all saw price decreases while other regions saw increases. Click here to read more. 

Following this, an annual review of 2018 was published which shows that the UK has seen the slowest annual growth since 2013:

This graph shows the annual house price growth per region for the last 2 years:

Click here to read more.

Could hemp be used as a building material in our homes in the future?

Hemp has been used as a construction material dating back to over a thousand years and it is currently gaining some momentum in the building industry today. Benefiting from being zero-carbon, airtight, breathable and having excellent thermal performance, hemp as a building material does seem like a good idea. It has a couple of drawbacks though, one being issues with shrinkage after drying and the time it takes to cure (four to six weeks in fair conditions). Although, Ian Pritchett, managing director of Greencore Construction, has developed the world’s first modular system of prefabricated hempcrete panels where the panels dry under factory conditions and do not suffer from shrinkage after installation, which is positive news. The panels were used on a Marks and Spencer’s which opened at Cheshire Oaks in Ellesmere Port in 2012. Take a look at the environmentally-friendly plan of the store below which is part of their ‘Plan A’ – “…a way to help build a sustainable future by being a business that enables our customers to have a positive impact on wellbeing, communities and the planet through all that we do.”

Photo Source: Daily Mail

Nice work M&S. You can read more from RICS here.

Insurance broker Howden have put together an article highlighting that Japanese knotweed claims have been on the rise and two firms of solicitors in particular, are bringing most of these claims. It looks at a case from October 2018 where the claimant discovered Japanese knotweed on her property and on the adjoining property. The claimant sued the owner of the adjoining property for the losses she had suffered, as well as Connells, who prepared the residential mortgage valuation of the property. The basis for the claim against Connells was that they were professionally negligent in failing to inspect the adjoining property and failing to inspect Japanese knotweed on the property itself. 

Was the claim successful? Click here to read more and find out what happened.

…expect to wait at least four months. That is according to research conducted by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB). Taking this into account and the time it takes for works to be completed, homeowners will have to wait a total of:

  • Seven months for an extension;
  • Six and a half months for a loft conversion;
  • Five months to paint the entire interior of your home;
  • Five months for a new bathroom;
  • Five months for a new kitchen;
  • Five months to convert part of a master bedroom into an en-suite;
  • Five months to convert a cupboard under-the-stairs into a downstairs toilet; and
  • Just under five months to remove an internal wall to create an open plan kitchen/diner.

The article from Housebuilder and Developer includes some helpful advice for homeowners from FMB Chief Executive, Brian Berry, including "Ask for references from the builder’s previous clients and if possible, speak to them directly about the builder. Furthermore, always use a written contract and never pay for the whole project up-front. If a builder is reluctant to use a contract, and demands a disproportionate amount of money up-front, alarm bells should sound. Professional building firms do not work in this way. In the longer term, we need to end the cowboy builders’ reign of terror once and for all. Currently, anyone in the UK can set themselves up as a builder and start offering their services to consumers and this is why there are so many dodgy outfits. We’re calling on the Government to introduce a licensing scheme for builders so that consumers know that all building firms have a basic level of skill, competence and professionalism.” 

Click here to read more from Housebuilder and Developer.

We have a slightly different '10-Year Challenge' for you. We recently had a look at a report published by Halifax Bank in 2018 which looks at first-time buyer statistics for the last 10 years. Their findings indicate that despite a rise of 21% in property prices for first-time buyers since 2008, the number of those getting onto the property ladder is the highest it has been for a decade. Making up 51% of the market, first-time buyers must reach deep into their pockets to find enough for their deposit, which have increased by a shocking 71%! Click here and see below for more info!

What else would make an interesting ‘10-Year Challenge’ in the residential property industry?

The Office for National Statistics recently published information on ‘shrinkflation’. They identified 206 products that shrank in size during September 2015 and June 2017, mostly being food products. We wondered how this compares to our houses and we found an article from Which in 2018, that states the average British house size is the lowest it’s been in 90 years, with an average size of 67.8 square meters of living space - not much more than the area of a London double-decker bus! The information comes from LABC Warranty who looked at 10,000 homes listed on Zoopla and Rightmove to identify which decade each home was built in. Not surprisingly, the most spacious decade was the 70s - we suppose a lot of space was needed to show off all that funky decor!

Click here to read more.

Yesterday, James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), announced a new Housing Complaints Resolution Service for the entire housing market to ensure both homeowners and tenants know where to go when things go wrong. For the first time ever, it will mean that private landlords will be legally required to join a housing redress scheme or be fined up to £5,000 if they fail to do so. This will boost protection for millions of renters across the country. Homeowners of new builds will be better protected too as the government has reiterated its commitment to establishing a New Homes Ombudsman which will protect home buyers’ interests and hold developers accountable. Click here to read the full press release.

A conveyancing solicitor has been jailed for seven years in prison after he was found guilty of three offences of money laundering over a period of five years. The court heard that Ross McKay provided conveyancing services on over 80 properties to a criminal gang in order to launder money made from drug-dealing, tax evasion and mortgage and property fraud.

The judge told McKay: “You were expected to be a person of utmost integrity and honesty. You fell far short of those high standards of professionalism, trust and integrity that are to be expected of a solicitor. You failed, as was your duty, to uphold the law and the proper administration of justice.

“By your actions, you enabled criminal property to be acquired on a significant scale and chose to involve yourself in the activities of those involved in crime, organised crime and, in the case of Mr Black, drug dealing.”

Click here to read more. 

RICS have supported findings from the Shelter Commission’s report regarding their vision for social housing, saying it is a definitve analysis of how we have arrived at today's housing crisis and RICS believe the recommendations must be picked up and driven forward by government.
The below graph from Shelter shows the historic housing data plus what it would look like if the vision was applied.

RICS have long called for more government resources to improve the housing sector and welcomes the opportunity to work with Shelter to drive the Commission’s recommendations forward. Click here to read more from RICS.

The UK House Price Index for November 2018 has been published. It shows that on average, house prices have fallen by 0.1% since October 2018. However, there has been an annual price increase of 2.8%, which now makes the average property value in the UK £230,630. The average house price in England alone is £247,430. The greatest annual price rise was the West Midlands, which is up by 4.6% and London saw the largest annual price fall by 0.7%.

Click here to read the full release.

Sava are pleased to report that last year saw renewables for electricity generation rise to a new record and overall electricity generation fall, as explained in this article

The article  highlights that electricity generation in 2018 fell to the lowest level since 1994 at an estimated 335 terawatt hours. Also, the electricity generated per person has fallen to its lowest levels since 1984! That's pretty impressive considering how many more gadgets and devices we use nowadays. Low carbon power sources accounted for more than half of UK electricity generation - that's something we should be proud of! Click here to read more. 

We have created a new Certificate in Residential Valuation, designed for existing RICS members who qualified via a different pathway but now want the knowledge and skills to be able to offer residential valuations or who are returning after a career break. Members of other professions with rights of direct entry to RICS may also be interested (e.g. CIOB, CABE etc.)

Residential valuations in the UK are required for mortgage lending, as well as for probate, investment decisions, tax, and matrimonial disputes and of course private clients.

Currently there is no vocational qualification available for existing surveyors and others who have deep understanding of residential building construction and pathology but have limited valuation skills. This certificate will be a mix of both training and assessment. Candidates will carry out valuations on a variety of real properties employing a range of valuation techniques to demonstrate that as well as having the requisite valuation knowledge, they can consistently apply that knowledge. In this way, the Certification in Valuation is different from just doing CPD in valuation.

On Wednesday 17th February 2019, we will be hosting a Webinar where our Managing Director, Austin Baggett and Director of Surveying Services, Hilary Grayson will be presenting and answering any questions.

It will cover:

  • How the qualification has been designed for existing building professionals who want to gain the knowledge and skills to be able to offer residential valuations
  • The roles and activities that candidates will be able to successfully undertake upon completion
  • An overview of the training and how learners are assessed
  • How the qualification leads to entry into the RICS’s Registered Valuers Scheme
  • Intakes and investment required

If this qualification interests you and you would like to join us for the Webinar, you can book your free place here. If you would like to discuss the qualification with one of our course advisors, please give us a call on 01908 442158. 

The BlueBox Roadshows are back! The world of survey and valuation is changing. With talk of technology, PropTech and new RICS Survey Standards - what choices are available? Join BlueBox Partners at their annual Roadshow to learn about:

  • Property Inspections - How to choose the type of survey YOUR customers need and YOU want to do.
  • Future Valuations - Are the valuation robots going to take over? It will cover how we can use technology now and how it will shape our future.
  • What Conveyancers and Property Lawers want. An e-conveyancing update and an overview of what may impact the way we carry out surveys and valuations in the future - and the risks.
  • Ground Risk and Structural Movement - find out how technology is being used to assess risk in mining and ground movement.  

You will also obtain 6 hours of CPD. See below for a list of dates and venues:

March 1st  Swindon - The National Self Build & Renovation Centre  

March 11th  Manchester - The Life Centre 

March 27th  Kettering - Wicksteed Park  

Click here to buy your tickets!

Happy New Year everyone, we hope you had a wonderful Christmas break. It's back to business as usual now,  but, to ease you into the New Year,  we thought we would share Rightmove's list of six super healthy homes for 2019. You could certainly stick to your New Years resolution of being fit and healthy if you lived in any of these homes, given that they all have a spa and some even a gym! Prepare to be a little jealous…click here to see more.

The University of Salford have dismantled a terraced house and re-built it in the university’s School of the Built Environment. The purpose of this experiment is to look for ways to make the country’s homes greener, cheaper and warmer. The research has identified that increasing loft insulation from 100mm to 270mm can make a 5% saving, drawing the curtains across a single glazed window can save around 30% of heat normally lost, and turning down heating thermostats or unused radiators off can make a 40% saving! Lead researcher, Richard Fitton, explains that to make substantial savings it takes retrofit measures such as floor insulation, wall insulation and new windows and doors. These measures could make huge savings to the poorest households and really reduce fuel poverty as well as help our emission targets. Click here to read the article from the BBC and here to visit the university's page directly. 

Sava are delighted to once again be hosting the only careers fair in the UK dedicated to the Residential Surveying industry. The event will take place at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry on 28th March 2019, 10am-4pm.

2018 saw over 200 delegates meeting with 20 surveying firms plus industry experts such as RICS, RPSA and BlueBox. Larger firms included Countrywide Surveyors, Connells, e.surv, and Legal & General Surveying Services. Several firms offered candidates roles following the event.

The ambition is that 2019 will be an even larger event with space for 30 exhibitors and will include an area dedicated to the self-employed surveyor.

The event is free to attend and you can register your interest here.

Confirmed exhibitors for 2019 include:

We still have space for exhibitors so if you are interested in exhibiting at this event, please contact us on 01908 442265 for more information.

You may have seen in the news recently that hundreds of new build properties have been built with weak mortar, causing the mortar to crumble and expose the cavity and insulation. A recent BBC story (here), describes how one homeowners’ mortar was tested and it was found that the amount of sand was almost three times higher than recommended. It isn’t clear why weaker mortar has been used, and the non-disclosure agreement is making it difficult for the media to understand the full picture. To get a better idea, we found an article from New Home Blog (here) which looks at the NHBC warranty, standards and responses to complaints of crumbling mortar.   

It prompted us to research a little more about similar issues with brickwork. We found an interesting article on www.buildingdefectanalysis.co.uk from November 2016 where David Wilson site was inspected and found to have ‘the worst brickwork we’ve ever seen’. The article (here) includes some great photos to illustrate the type of defects found such as poor setting out, failed mortar bed joints, inconsistent width and depth of mortar joints and out of plumb walls.

It's quite an interesting topic. Have you found any similar issues whilst inspecting property?

Photo source: BBC 

John Baguley, Tangible Assets Valuation Director at RICS, has provided some comments regarding the latest Red Book. 

To provide some clarity over the latest Red Book (effective Jan ’19), while it contains a new residential mortgage specification, the existing specification which members currently work to, is still recognised and in existence. This means that at this moment in time, all residential practitioners can continue operating to the same rule book as they have since its publication in the last Red Book (2014 amended 2015).

The proposed changes to the Red Book were fully consulted on during much of 2018. However, in view of comments which emerged shortly before publication, we felt that we needed time to consider whether the proposed changes were appropriate. It was important however not to delay publication of the Red Book itself as it contained changes affecting valuers operating across a number of asset classes in the UK.  We proposed to BSA, UK Finance and the RICS Residential Board that further dialogue should happen, and we also proposed that while doing so the current specification should remain, meaning we could continue consulting without imposing a new specification before being ready to do so. We all felt this was a sensible compromise.

There has been a brief summary from Ben Elder about the Red Book on the RICS website. The web announcement was just a small part of a wider announcement and the fuller communication refers to the residential part and next steps. This shorter version from Ben should not be taken as saying the new residential specification is the only one in existence, it is for the time being as said above. Although this confirmed within VPGA11 itself.

Turning to next steps, RICS is engaging with UK Finance and BSA and other relevant stakeholders. All views and suggested changes will be considered and either a new specification will emerge, or it will be confirmed the specification in the latest Red Book stands. The 2014/15 specification will then be formally withdrawn. But to reiterate, at this moment in time, the specification in the Red Book January 2014 (revised April 2015) is still recognised and in existence.

Other matters relating to Residential

The residential space is busy, several pieces are in the pipeline including leasehold, comparable evidence, new build and Japanese Knotweed.

Government continues to engage with and seek the views of RICS, and colleagues in London are responding to several consultations including leasehold reform and leasehold regulation. We are also working on a big piece of work overhauling survey standards and contributing to international fire safety standards in relation to cladding.

The government are proposing to create a new Housing Court to provide a single path of redress for landlords and tenants and are seeking the views and opinions of people using courts and tribunal services in property cases. This is part of the government’s commitment to ensure those who rent or own their home have a safe and secure place to live and it recognises the important role that private landlords play in supporting the UK economy and providing homes to many around the country. Zoopla have outlined why it’s happening and who it affects in their article here.

Click here to read the call for evidence from the Government.

A landlord has been found guilty of breaching Regulation 36 (4) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations for failing to ensure a proper Gas Safety Check on his tenanted property. The contractor he instructed was not a member on the Gas Safety Register which he failed to check, he also admitted to the court that he had produced the fraudulent certificate himself. The investigation also found that he attempted to bribe a prosecution witness prior to the trial to change their evidence.

The result was 26 weeks in prison with a two-year suspended sentence, as well as 240 hours of unpaid work. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Simon Jones says “There can be no excuse for a landlord to ever falsify a gas safety certificate and this sentence should send a clear warning to all landlords’ that the courts take such matters very seriously.

“Landlords must ensure that only Gas Safe Registered engineers work on gas appliances at their tenanted properties. A landlord can check that a person is registered on the Gas Safe Register website and these checks are free and quick.”

You can read more here..

Earlier this year The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published the English Housing Survey which looks at the energy efficiency of the housing stock using present-day statistics. It was interesting comparing the data held for the housing stock from 1996 in comparison to 2016 so we have produced a handy infographic highlighting a few key statistics. Fortunately, there has been a noticeable improvement, likely thanks to the various energy efficiency schemes such as Warm Front, Greendeal and ECO, to name but a few! You can read the full survey here.

Many people continue to live in tower blocks throughout England with unsafe cladding, even 17 months after the Grenfell Tower disaster. In this article from the BBC, it highlights that more than 400 high-rise residential buildings are still covered in the same material as that blamed for the rapid and disastrous fire spread on Grenfell Tower in June 2017.

One of those blocks even had a fire in February this year, understandably making residents anxious and frustrated.

The Building Safety Programme have issued this graph which shows the status of high-rise blocks with Aluminium Composite Material present in the cladding where it’s unlikely to meet buildings regulations. 

You can read more on this story here.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government have published the affordable housing supply statistics for the period April 2017 to March 2018. The statistics look at the number of affordable houses that have been delivered in England and analyse the data in comparison to previous years. Check out our infographic below for a snapshot of the stats or click here to read the full release.

Chris Rispin, Managing Director of BlueBox Partners has provided his comment on the latest Red Book supplement.

Ben Elder, the Global Director for Valuations, issued a statement last week advising of the release of the UK supplement to the Red Book:

“The UK national supplement augments the Global Red Book for valuations that are subject to UK jurisdiction. The latest edition published on 14 November is effective for valuations where the valuation date is on or after 14 January 2019. The previous edition is effective for valuations where the valuation date is on or after 6 January 2014 (with certain elements effective from 1 January 2015) but before 14 January 2019.”

However, he did not mention that the residential sections of the supplement principally VPGA 11-14 have been amended but without full consultation and that will take place in coming weeks. In the overview for VPGA 11 it states as follows:

“Most lenders have standard terms of engagement and in many cases these refer to and expressly adopt the RICS Residential Mortgage Valuation Specification contained in UK Appendix 10 of the January 2014 (revised April 2015) edition of the RICS Valuation – Professional Standards UK. This Specification may continue to be adopted where agreed between the parties (and will be regarded as consistent with the guidance in this UK VPGA) subject to cross-references to the 2014 Global Edition now being read as relating to the equivalent sections in the 2017 Global Edition. In Scotland, regard must also be had to UK VPS 2

It is anticipated that an updated version of the Specification will be developed in liaison with UK Finance and any other key stakeholders and published in due course. Any consequential changes to UK VPGA 11 will be made if necessary.”

What this means is that a Surveyor, and more particularly a valuer, will need to ensure which edition of the Red Book is to apply and get this confirmed in writing. It will be necessary to bear in mind that the 2014/15 version is slightly out of date in certain respects and that the new version has not been agreed, principally by UK Finance, who are the trade body for the lenders nor by the Residential Survey and Valuation Group who are the advisory working group to the RICS.

Therefore, Surveyors should check that if they are using the revised supplement, they are complying with the recommendations in that version.

For example, in VPGA 11.1 it states the following under the Valuer’s role and remit:

“The remit of the mortgage valuer is to provide an objective valuation opinion having regard to the lender’s policy and requirements.”

This is new wording and is ambiguous as it suggests that the lenders’ policy and “requirement” can overrule an objective valuation and how many times has that been a dilemma in the past! 

Does “Requirement” mean the broker or keen mortgage salesman insists that the valuer ignore something? If the client wishes to change the objective requirements, then they do this via a special assumption or similar otherwise independence and objectivity are lost.

This also totally ignores the fact that the valuer has a duty of care to the applicant to the mortgage. So be careful if you are required to use the new version of the UK Supplement.

40+ organisations from around the world have come together and appointed 21 fire safety experts to develop landmark industry standards to address fire safety in buildings in the public interest. The group, consisting of local and international professional bodies and standard-setting organisations, is known as the 'International Fire Safety Standards Coalition' (IFSS). As international investments in property are increasing, there is a need for consistent and high-level global principles.

Gary Strong, Global Building Standards Director at RICS, and Chair of the IFSS Coalition says:

"The Grenfell Tower fire focused the world’s attention on how many buildings are threatened with the prospect of failing fire safety standards. All over the world we see the need for more high-rise structures, some residential, some commercial and some mixed-use buildings, particularly with increased urbanisation in cities. Our concern is not with the height of these buildings but with the risks they pose in the absence of a coherent and harmonised approach to setting global standards in fire safety. 

The effort by the IFSS Coalition aims to address this concern and bring together the design, construction and management aspects of ensuring fire safety of building assets in the public interest."

You can read more about this in the RICS press release here.


BRE and Loughborough University have completed the first phase of a new ‘dementia-friendly’ demonstration home at BRE’s Watford Innovation Park. 

The intention is to educate housebuilders, carers and relatives on how to better support those who live with dementia. 

The design principles include:

  • Clear lines of sight and colour-coded paths through the home that help guide people towards each specific room
  • Increased natural lighting, which is proven to help people stay alert during the day and to sleep better at night
  • Automatically controlled natural ventilation to provide good indoor air quality
  • Noise reduction features, to reduce stress
  • Simple switches and heating controls, and safety sensors in high risk areas such as the kitchen
  • Homely, simple and familiar interior design to help promote rest and relaxation

You can read more here.

-Storm damage

-Red book changes

-Verbal reporting

The latest Technical Bulletin for residential surveyors published jointly by Sava and BlueBox is now available. You will need to be logged in to view the full bulletin. 

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This bulletin aims to bring you quality technical information that will help you in your day to day work and includes articles on:

Storm Damage and Insurance

This article explores how building insurance policies cover financial loss caused by storm damage and considers the implications for surveyors when reporting on defects and deficiencies. 

Chimneys and Flues

This article looks at the evolution of the chimney, explores the construction of chimneys and flues and the types of defects that can arise.  It also looks at hygroscopic salts and damp on chimney breasts. 

Verbal Reporting

In this article, we explore why verbal reporting is so important for clients and can be a crucial element of excellent customer service. But it is a skill that surveyors need to develop, so we give tips for better verbal reporting.  John Wheatley MRICS shares his extensive experience. 

The Red Book

The RICS Valuation Professional Standards (the Red Book) provides a framework to ensure that valuations are consistent, transparent and produced in accordance with international valuation standards. In this article, Fiona Haggett FRICS looks at the changes for 2018.

Liability Caps

We explore what Liability Caps are and how they work. Marion Ellis MRICS brings draws on her expertise as a surveyor and Customer Experience Strategist to explain how they affect clients. 

Down Valuations

In this article we explain what is meant by ‘Down Valuations’. Chris Rispin FRICS explains what the surveyor is trying to achieve and what a seller can expect. 

Boiler Plus 

The Boiler Plus regulations were introduced in April 2018. Dr Lisa Blake looks at how these regulations affect boiler installations, the technologies promoted by Boiler Plus and the difference between an ErP boiler efficiency and a SEDBUK efficiency.

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The Government have announced, following a public consultation, amendments to the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) regulations. The MEES regulations came into force on 1st April 2018, you can read more here.  Subject to parliamentary approval, these amendments will come into force during 2019.

Landlords will be required to cover the costs of energy efficiency measures up to a cap of £3,500. Previously, the regulations required third party funding to be available. The impact of the new Landlord contribution is hoped to bring 139,000 homes out of F and G EPC bands and into an E band, saving the tenant, on average £180 per year. Any third-party funding available will be included in this cap, for example if Green Deal Finance of £1,500 was secured for a measure, the Landlord contribution to get the property to an E would be a further £2,000. 

The high cost exemption for landlords will now require 3 independent quotes from installers and will only be available for homes where energy efficiency measures will cost more than the £3,500 landlord contribution. 

The ‘tenant consent exemption’ will be removed. This exemption allowed tenants to withhold consent where a Green Deal finance plan would be the only way to fund installing measures. As there is now a landlord requirement to fund the first £3,500 of measures, this will no longer be required.

The full consultation response can be found here.

NHBC, the leading warranty and insurance provider for new homes, have reported that during the third quarter of 2018, there have been 43,500 new home registrations from UK builders. This is the highest number since 2007, when 49,520 new homes were registered. This is an increase of 5,638 (15%) compared to the same quarter last year, with London contributing 6,007 new homes, up 141% compared to last year. 

NHBC Chief Executive Steve Wood said: “The upturn in registrations over recent months is good news for the industry and shows that there remains a strong demand for high quality new homes in many parts of the UK. 

You can read more here.

Happy Halloween! Did you know that in Britain, all bat species and their roosts are legally protected? The number of bats has declined rapidly over the last century and you are only able to disturb a roost if you are a licensed bat worker. If there is a bat in your loft, it will often go unnoticed. Signs that there may be a bat present are their droppings, which will crumble to dust very easily, you may also hear bat ‘chattering’ at dusk before they fly out to feed, or in the summer months, homeowners can watch the building at dusk to see if any bats emerge. Check out our fact sheet on bats below for more bat facts! 

An article from The Guardian explains that a third of the English coastline cannot be affordably protected. 

A new report from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has said that the current approach is not fit for purpose, building defences to keep shores in their current position were unaffordable for a third of the coast and discussions about “hard choices” must begin with communities that will need to move inland. 

As it stands, 8,900 properties are at risk from coastal erosion. In 2014 the Environment Agency calculated that 7,000 homes, worth more than £1bn, would fall into the sea this century. However, the CCC report found that in the 2080s another 100,000 properties would be at risk of sliding into the sea. 

Baroness Brown, chair of the CCC’s adaptation committee stated that “We could see as much as a metre of sea level rise before the end of the century, so within the lifetime of today’s children, and that has a major impact on coastal flooding and erosion.”

You can read more from The Guardian here. You can also find the report from the CCC here.

Photograph: Darren Staples/Reuters 

We have all heard of off-site construction or modular whole house solutions, but modular can be applied more modestly. We recently came across the off-site utility cupboard – constructed off site and designed to house all utilities and services in one contained area.

These are aimed at high end new build apartment blocks, block refurbishment and large residential developments. Click here to read more. 


RICS will be seeking the views of residential property professionals over the next few months to help improve the home buying and selling process by developing a RICS Home Survey Standard. 

Paul Bagust, Global Property Director at RICS said “As part of our commitment to promote and enforce the highest standards in the residential sector, the new Home Survey Standard will bring together the views of consumers, cross-industry stakeholders and practitioners to become the sector best practice benchmark in achieving consistency and high quality to meet evolving client demands in the home survey market.”

You can read more here.


Although it may not be a huge surprise that landlord purchases have fallen, 30% does seem like quite a drastic reduction. In this article from Zoopla, Nicky Burridge reports that buy-to-let purchases are at a five-year low, likely driven by the government tax hikes such as introducing a 3% stamp duty surcharge on second homes in April 2016, making it less profitable being an investment landlord. You can read more here. 

In an article from Property Industry Eye, it has been reported that house prices in Salisbury have fallen by 8.8% between May to July 2018 (where the average house price was £328,243) compared to February to April 2018 (where the average house price was £299,207) whereas the average price of Wiltshire as a whole increased by 1.7% over both periods. This is according to research using Land Registry and Home.co.uk. The article suggests that it is down to the events that occurred earlier in the year where a former Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned in Salisbury. You can read more here.  

Did you know it was fire door safety week at the end of September? There has been extensive media coverage around fire doors since the Grenfell Tower disaster and we recently came across a useful infographic from Fire Door Safety Week which includes 10 top tips for fire doors in blocks of flats. It covers what fire doors do and how they work, their location, who is responsible, cold smoke seals, door closers and basic checks. If this is something you may find useful, click here to view the full image. They have also highlighted 5 of the most common fire door faults in this graphic. What is slightly concerning is that over 61% of the doors tested in the survey had fire or smoke seals either missing, installed incorrectly or not filling perimeter gaps correctly. We feel it is important for everyone to educate themselves on fire door safety, not just professionals in the industry.