- Going Off the Gas Grid

- Exploring Leasehold Property

- Thinking About Nuisance

- SAP 10: Hot Water Calculations

- Helpful Processes for Complaints and Claims

The latest Technical Bulletin for residential surveyors published jointly by Sava and BlueBox is now available here. Please note; you will need to be logged in to Sava EDGE to download a copy. If you are not already logged in, please click here to log in. If you do not yet have an account, please click here to register.

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

Going Off the Gas Grid

This article considers the recommendation from the Committee on Climate Change to ban gas from new-build properties from 2025, as well as the alternative suggestions and incentives for change.

Exploring Leasehold Property

This article explains what you need to know about leasehold properties following the recent report from Propertymark that found 94% of leasehold homeowners regret buying a leasehold.

Thinking About Nuisance

Following the opinion published by RICS regarding nuisance caused by the presence of combustible cladding on a neighbouring building, this article revisits the tort of nuisance and looks at some recent examples.

SAP 10: Hot Water Calculations

This article looks at the changes to the calculations for the hot water demand in the latest Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) developed by BRE. 

Helpful Processes for Complaints and Claims

We have put together some helpful tips and case studies to explain how your evidence and processes can help defend you in the event you receive a complaint or claim.

Mentoring a Sava Learner

Hilary Grayson explains what mentoring a Sava learner might entail and what to do if you are interested in mentoring.

To read the full bulletin, please click here to download a copy. You will need to log in or register to view the bulletin but it should only take a minute to create an account; we simply ask for your email address and name and we will never pass your details on to a third party. By signing up, not only will you have access to all editions of the Technical Bulletin, but you will have access to a growing library of technical information and news articles which are fully searchable.
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The UK House Price Index data for March shows that prices have fallen on average 0.2% compared to the previous month. Annually, there has been a price rise of 1.4%, making the average property value in the UK £226,798. It got us thinking, what could this kind of money could buy you…
 In London, you could get you this nicely presented 1 bedroom flat for £225k. In Doncaster, the same amount of money could buy this unique, 4-bed converted schoolhouse. Although, it wouldn’t quite bag you this Birkin handbag that sold for £236,750!

The government have stepped in and announced they will cover the £200 million cost of replacing the cladding on the 170 privately owned tower blocks that currently have the same type of cladding that caused the Grenfell Tower fire to spread so quickly, where the freeholder has failed to do so. Housing Secretary James Brokenshire said: "While some building owners have been swift to act, and I thank them for doing the right thing, I am now calling time on the delay tactics of others. If these reckless building owners won’t act, the government will."

Pemberstone, Aberdeen Asset Management, Barratt Developments, Fraser Properties, Legal & General and Mace and Peabody are those owners and developers who have willingly funded the replacement works on their blocks themselves.

It will be two years next month since the disaster happened, hopefully this news means those still living in blocks with unsafe cladding are a step closer to feeling safer in their homes. Press release here.

A recent article from the BBC explains that an investigation has found homes from well-known developers Persimmon Homes and Bellway Homes to have ‘potentially dangerous fire safety issues’.  A resident at one Persimmon Home Development in Exeter talks of a fire that started at ground level which spread up to the roof of the house and then to adjacent properties. It was this fire that triggered an inspection programme which found 650 homes in the South West region lacked correct fire barriers and subsequently, further inspections outside of the South West are being made and the company assure us that "if these inspections indicate that we need to inspect every timber frame property then we will do so."

Bellway Homes have also faced similar issues where inspections following a fire indicate that there are fire safety issues. The article quotes surveyor and expert witness Greig Adams who carried out checks: “What we've unfortunately found is that there are fire breach issues in every house we've looked at. It's a legal requirement that the cavity barriers are to be there. It's not optional- and with good reason: it saves lives". Click here to read the full story.

The Committee for Climate Change have today released their report on the UKs long-term emissions targets. This report was requested by the UK Government and proposes the UK should be net-zero greenhouse gases by 2050.

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark said: “Few subjects unite people across generations and borders like climate change and I share the passion of those wanting to halt its catastrophic effects.

One of our proudest achievements as a country is our position as a world-leader in tackling this global challenge, being the first country to raise the issue on the international stage, introduce long-term legally-binding climate reduction targets and cutting emissions further than all other G20 countries. Today’s report recognises the work we’ve done to lay the foundations to build a net zero economy, from generating record levels of low carbon electricity to our ambitious plans to transition to electric vehicles.

To continue the UK’s global leadership we asked the CCC to advise the Government on how and when we could achieve net zero. This report now sets us on a path to become the first major economy to legislate to end our contribution to global warming entirely.”

Read the report here.

The following article from RICS was quite an interesting read on money laundering and the UK property market. It explains a little bit about the draft ‘Registration of Overseas Entities’ bill, published in July 2018 and how this could help tackle the problem of overseas money laundering in the UK property market. The establishment of a register of overseas owners of property is welcomed by many, but there is a fine balance between acting against money laundering and keeping the UK an attractive proposition for overseas investment. You can read the full article here. 

The government have published a response to the recent consultation on electrical safety in the private rented sector.

It is clear that the government takes the safety of tenants very seriously and according to the document, the next steps will be introducing regulations that require landlords to have electrical installations in privately rented homes checked every five years and consider new guidance to determine who is competent to carry out the electrical safety inspection. Government states this will happen as soon as parliamentary time allows and will begin with just new tenancies. We’ll update you when we know more. 

The idea of floating cities has been raised at a UN roundtable, as explained in this article. It states that this may be a “viable” solution to issues such as climate change and the shortage of affordable housing. The concept is that each sustainable neighbourhood will be built on 156m wide hexagonal blocks and will have communal corners for food production and docking areas. Oceanix are looking to build the floating structures, designed by architect Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and they co-convened the meeting along with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Centre for Ocean Engineering and the Explorers Club, based in the USA. 

What do you think to the idea?

Read more here.

Credit: Oceanix - BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group

Our Managing Director Austin Baggett was recently quoted in an Estate Agent Today article where he explains the benefits from gaining an industry related qualification. Austin advises that being ‘ahead of the game’ and improving your skills before government reforms could generate higher fees for estate agents. He says "The government's plan to introduce a mandatory qualification highlights the value and importance of professional qualifications in our industry. A mandatory qualification will help consumers to identify the reputable agents in their area and avoid those that aren't offering the required level of service.

"However, more importantly, an additional industry qualification or diploma can help agents to provide a more comprehensive service, generate more income and differentiate themselves from competitors"

Read more here.

In this article from Housebuilder & Developer, it highlights that a recent report by New London Architecture says 2019 will be ‘The Year of the Tall Building’ in London, as 541 towers with at least 20 floors are planned to be built, providing up to 110,000 new homes. The article emphasises that whilst a lot of recent developments were in inner London and fell into the luxury development bracket, there will be more towers built in outer London, making for a more realistic price range for those wanting to get on the property ladder. Read more.

It’s Friday and for a bit of fun, check out this carnival inspired home that’s for sale in East Sussex for £1.5 million. Rightmove describe how it was formerly a Victorian bathhouse and has been renovated by the current owner and we agree that it’s certainly quirky! I wish I could fit a bowling alley in my living room…
Check it out here!

HSE have provided health and safety guidance on the risks of lone working. The information leaflet is aimed at those who employ or engage lone workers or self-employed people who work alone.

It covers;

  • Is it legal to work alone and is it safe?
  • Who are lone workers and what jobs do they do?
  • How must employers control the risks?
  • What must employers consult on?
  • Which particular problems affect lone workers?
  • Can one person adequately control the risks of the job?
  • If a person has a medical condition are they able to work alone?
  • Why is training particularly important for lone workers?
  • How will the person be supervised?
  • Monitoring
  • What happens if a person becomes ill, has an accident, or there is an emergency?

Click here to read the guidance.  

Two property developers have been fined £18,000 for demolishing a bungalow which was being used as a roost for protected bats. The Court heard that experts reported there were Pipistrelle bats present however the demolition went ahead regardless. The Directors of Landrose Developments Ltd pleaded guilty to damaging or destroying the site and the Judge said "In my judgment, the act of demolition was clearly deliberate and flew in the face of advice and knowledge of the existence of the bat roost.

"The most obvious effect is local but it also has national implications because these bats are an endangered species by the very fact of being protected."

Read the story here.

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 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 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.