Following a consultation on last year’s Grenfell Tower Tragedy, housing secretary James Brokenshire told the Conservative Party Conference there will be a ban on the use of combustible materials to the outside of new build high-rise buildings. Intended to be brought forward in late Autumn, the ban will be delivered via changes to building regulations guidance, limiting materials available to products achieving a European classification of Class A1 or A2.

You can read more from Housebuilder and Developer  here.

It’s likely you have read news about the report recently published by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which explains that the next 12 years are vital in attempting to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees C. According to an article from Architects’ Journal, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council Julie Hirigoyen has responded to the report stating that every firm’s boardroom should be reviewing the report and taking concerted action in response adding ‘The construction and property industry in the UK is an economic juggernaut, and our buildings account for approximately 30 per cent of carbon emissions. It is also the industry with the most cost-effective means of reducing carbon emissions so it will be a vital catalyst for change in the wider economy.’

You can read more here.

Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, warns that leaving the EU without a deal could be as severe as the 2008 financial crisis with house prices falling by 35%. In this article from Zoopla, they report on a briefing by Mark Carney to senior cabinet ministers, where he outlined the worst-case scenario. A house price fall of that magnitude would have a significant impact on the market, plunging many homeowners into negative equity and cause a shortage of properties for sale, as less people will sell to trade up the property ladder

The NHBC Foundation  have put together 40 useful facts about UK housing and house building to give us all a clearer picture of the situation. It looks at who we’re building for, land use, the homes we live in, housing and house building within the economy and housing and health. 

Did you know that in 1997 the 18 to 34-year olds (mainly millennials) outnumbered the 55 to 74-year olds (mainly baby boomers) by almost 30% however on current projections 2019 will be the first year when the 55 to 74 age group outnumbered those aged 18 to 34?

The information is from various sources such as Bank of England and Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government. Click here to download the report. (You will need to register with the NHBC Foundation, if you haven’t already, which only takes a minute)

On 1 October 2018, the new rules for Landlords who rent out houses in multiple occupation come into force. The rules are designed to ‘further protect private renters against bad and overcrowded conditions and poor management practice”, housing minister Heather Wheeler says.

A key change is that mandatory licensing will be required for buildings of any size that house five or more people from at least two separate households, whereas currently it is limited to HMOs with three storeys or more. You can read more here.

It has been suggested that the changes will cost Landlords millions of pounds in additional licence fees and adhering to other HMO rules. This article from Landlord News estimates a figure in the region of £79m. 

The original press release in June can be found here.

A leaseholder has been removed from his £600,000 home after a ‘redecorating’ dispute. In an article from the Daily Mail, it explains that Charles McCadden bought the upper floor flat in Brent, northwest London and after moving in, he redecorated the flat and replaced the kitchen and bathroom without consulting the freeholder, who lived downstairs. Due to a forfeiture law, he was removed from his home as he breached the lease. A little extreme? Click here to read more.

Did you know distilleries are producing gin using discarded invasive plants as botanicals?

This article from Hertfordshire Life explains the impact Himalayan balsam has on the wildlife and the work Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust are doing to try and control the plant, including ‘balsam bashing’ work parties where they pull the plant from the ground and leave it piled up so that it cannot set seed. Last year the trust partnered with Puddingstone Distillery and they developed a recipe for a world-first gin that uses Himalayan balsam petals as one of its botanicals. The distillery donates £2 from every special edition bottle sold to the trust. We think it is a great idea!

There is also a gin with Japanese knotweed as an ingredient. You can read more about it here.

Now you have a valid excuse the next time you feel like a G&T because you’re helping control the invasive plant species. You’re welcome.

We recently came across this article and if you didn’t know that it was dated 6 December 1997, you may think you were reading a recent article, albeit with a few changes around some of the legal aspects.

It states 80% of people do not have a full survey carried out when buying a house, we know this figure is still generally the same, with around 20% of home-buyers commissioning a survey.

It’s a shame that there was, and still is, some negative attitudes towards surveys because they can be a very useful bargaining tool and the testimonials we have seen speak for themselves.

Maybe, as the article suggests, some people do not like hearing about faults with the house they have set their heart on. Or perhaps some expect too much from the survey? It is non-invasive because at the time the inspection is undertaken, the property still belongs to the seller, so there are limitations as to what can be seen and identified within the remit of a non-intrusive survey.

It’s certainly an interesting read and it made us think about what else happened ‘97, so here’s a few reminders…

-    The film Titanic was released
-    The first Harry Potter book was published
-    Labour ended 18 years of Tory rule
-    The Teletubbies were ‘unleashed’
-    The UK won the Eurovision for the last time
-    Microsoft became the world’s most valuable company valued at $261 billion dollars
-    NASA Pathfinder lands on Mars

It seems that it is not just surveyors who are being sued. In an article from the Guardian, the question ‘I think an estate agent has mislead me – can I recover my costs?’ is asked. The answer explains that under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (also known as Consumer Protection Regulations) he/she must disclose any pertinent information about a property which might influence a prospective buyer’s decision. It defines ‘pertinent’ information as information considered material to a consumer’s decision to enter into a transaction and it should be disclosed at the earliest opportunity. Problems highlighted in previous surveys are listed as pertinent information so misleading or failing to mention it can result in criminal charges being taken against the seller or estate agent. You can read the full question and answer here.

The latest stats from the Home Office were released for the period 2017-18 earlier this year. They show a 3% increase in the number of fires attended. It also highlights the 27% increase of fire related deaths, which includes the 71 fatalities from the tragic incident at Grenfell Tower in June last year. A massive 564,827 incidents were attended in 2017/18. Of those, 40% were false alarms, which fortunately, continues to be the largest incident type. You can read more about the statistics here.

We are used to comparing house prices across the regions of the UK, but with different average house sizes, is the price per m2 a better comparison?

Looking at house sizes across Europe and the US we can see that, not unsurprisingly, the US has the largest average house size, but what about the differences across the UK? 

The data from the Office of National Statistics  shows there is quite a variation. As expected London is the highest at  around £20K per m2 with parts of Wales less than £1K per m2, the average for the UK sits at £2,395 per m2. The data also shows that new flats in England and Wales have increased in size by 18% over the last 3 years, while new houses have remained the same size.

You can check the price per m2 in your area using the data here, there is a also a handy extension calculator, where you can see how much that new extension might be worth.

The heatwave is finally over and we are back to good old UK weather, but a consequence of the long dry summer is that there are likely to be a rise in subsidence claims over the coming months. Subsidence is known to increase during hot, dry weather, particularly in areas with clay soil and this summer certainly fits the bill. 

For insurers subsidence only really became part of domestic policies in the 70's at the request of mortgage companies and thought to be low risk. Then came the summer of 1976, that saw many properties affected by subsidence  caused by clay shrinkage. An unexpected and expensive event for insurers. The last heatwave in 2003 resulted in a four-fold increase in subsidence pay outs. 

For those of us in clay soil areas, we will be keeping and eye on our walls...

Read more here.

Hometrack have published their July house price index report

We continue to see the trend of the highest year-on-year growth in the cities that have a lower average house price. Nottingham and Leicester knock Liverpool and Manchester off the top 2 spots. When comparing growth to 2008 (see table 2) Hometrack expects the gap between the underperforming cities and top performers to continue to close.

With Teresa May telling us we need to build 300,000 new houses a year to solve the housing crisis, this article looks at the data published on UK house building statistics (read more here).

The UK needs 200,000 new homes each year to keep up with population growth, however this has not been met for over a decade, to make up the shortfall we now need 300,000 new homes each year. 

England is projected to have 210000 extra households per year (read more here), a household being a person living alone or a group of people living together (such as a family). While we do not necessarily need a new home for every new household, in 2014, Dr Alan Holmans analysis (read more here)  suggests we need about 170,000 private sector homes and 75,000 social sector homes – a total of 245,000 per year. Although lower than the 300,000 purported by Theresa May, this is way beyond the housing building figures the UK is currently achieving. In 2017 nearly 200,000 houses were built, a third away from what we need. In fact, the last time there were 300,000 completed in the UK was 1977, the Silver Jubilee. The 80’s saw a relatively steady building rate of just under 200,000.

The chart below looks at the history of housebuilding post WW2.

The graph shows Local Authority building nearly 250,000 homes in 1953/4, we can then see the steady decline of home building by Local Authorities to just of 100,000 in 1961, as private home building overtook. The introduction of the high-rise block in the 60’s, provided a boost to Local Authority home building, in part responding to the growth in demand for housing as the ‘baby-boomers’ came of age.

In the 1990’s rules banning councils from borrowing money effectively put an end to council house building. Housing associations considered private landlords, could still borrow and took over social home building, albeit only building around 30,000 homes per year.

During the financial crisis from 2007, home building reached its lowest since the 1920’s (excluding the War years). Since 2013 we have seen the rate of home building increase year on year,  although we are still a long way off the 300,000 needed to make up the shortfall.

The first quarter of 2018 saw just 43,000 homes completed, Q1 is traditionally the quarter which sees the most prevalent home building. If we compare Q1 2018 to Q1 2017 and extrapolate, we would see housing building reach around 160,000 this year. This lack of house building puts the UK further behind and increases the shortfall. It seems the Housing Crisis is here to stay for now.

McCarthy & Stone, the UK’s largest retirement housebuilder, have produced the third annual Retirement Confidence Index with YouGov. The survey included a nationally representative sample of 3,000 people aged over 65 and 700 adults aged under 30. It found that three in five (60%) under-30s believe the UK needs more ‘later homes’ for older people, not just ‘starter homes’ for first time buyers, adding that 70% of pensioners feel the same way. To read more, please click here.

Last month we shared an article from Gary O’Neill on collapsing retaining walls, if you didn’t catch it, you can read it here. Gary has recently published a second part to this article which focuses on gravity retaining walls and describes some different types of retaining wall solutions, such as masonry (unreinforced), concrete, gabions and crib.
The article explains that retaining walls are selected to suit individual ground and site conditions, here at Sava, we wonder if the recent heatwaves are taken into account when designing and building retaining walls in the UK? What do you think? You can read part 2 here.

Photo source:

A tribunal ruling has left flat owners with the cost of making the apartment blocks they live in fire-safe. The two blocks in Manchester, have a similar cladding to that used on Grenfell Tower and it will cost approximately £3 million to make safe. Each leaseholder will need to pay £10,000, along with legal fees, which will be incorporated into their service charge. To read more, click here.

Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

During 20th Century Britain, it is estimated that the death toll from asbestos-related diseases could have exceeded 800,000. This article, by Laurie Kazan-Allen, looks at the stories of several females who sadly died from asbestos related diseases and the fight for justice as well as the story of Nancy Tait, founder of the world’s first asbestos victims’ group. Click here to read this interesting article.

With Japenese knotweed very much in the news, this article by Stephen Innes looks at the types of legal claims regarding JKW. He looks at; nuisance claims,  claims by purchasers of land against vendors and professional negligence claims.

Of particular interest is the question as to whether the insurers of a surveyor facing a negligence claim by a property purchaser should look to a contribution against another party; another professional, the vendor, or neighbouring landowner.

You can read the full article here

The institute for Fiscal Studies have listed some key findings of up-to-date analysis of falls in homeownership, highlighting that homeownership rates have fallen for 25-34-year-olds from 55% in 1996 to 34% in 2016. The image below shows just how much house prices have increased in comparison to income in the last 20 years. There has been a whopping 152% increase for the average house price with a slightly humbler increase of 22% for the average family income.

You can read more here.

In case you hadn't seen it, Gary Strong FRICS, Director of Practice Standards & Technical Guidance at RICS released a useful article at the end of May with some advice on how to deal with flat entrance doors.

RICS recommend that for all high-risk buildings (more than 18m in height), visual inspections are carried out monthly to ensure that fire doors are not compromised and that a fire risk assessment is conducted on residential tower blocks annually.

The article covers the basic principles, the 2004 act, prescribed hazards, operating guidance, enforcement guidance and the Building Act 1984 and you can read it here.

Hometrack have published their UK cities House Price Index for June.  

  • UK city house price inflation 4.6% on the year
  • London discount on asking price decreasing
  • Manchester has lowest level of price discounting and highest city annual growth rate

Newport still tops the year on year price increase at 12%  and still only an average house price of £155,500.

So why is Newport the city of house price growth? 

The scrapping of the Severn Bridge tolls makes it an easy commute to Bristol where the average house price is a whopping £283,500. Newport also has the highest number of new-builds in Wales, new- build properties tend to sell at a premium. The new-build homes re accompanied by new schools and a regeneration of the town centre.

This infographic from BRE, talks through the circadian rhythm and why it is important to us.  It is interesting to see the correlation of increased electric light with an increase in sleep deficiency. With so much sunlight recently we should all be well rested, more energetic and be much happier.

Read more here.

We came across this article by Gary O'Neill and it includes some rather extreme cases of retaining wall failures. It includes a useful diagram to show the range of forces that require consideration when designing a retaining wall, which are clearly important to avoid this happening!

- High rise buildings

-Waistell and Williams -v- Network Rail

-Japanese Knotweed 

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

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:

Assessing the safety of high-rise buildings
The fire at London’s Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017 was a human tragedy. As the disaster continues to be covered by the media and numerous investigations roll on, this article will focus on issues likely to be of concern to residential practitioners.As ever, we try to provide suggestions on both evaluating the issues and reporting to clients...

Microbore heating systems
Many heating systems in the UK still use microbore piping. Here, we take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of microbore piping and how best to report on it.
Microbore pipes were introduced in the 1970s and were hailed as an innovative plumbing material for central heating systems. The piping comes on rolls and consists of copper pipe with a thickness between 8 mm and 10 mm...

The fitness for human habitation bill
The Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards (Homes) Bill was introduced by Karen Buck, the Labour MP for Westminster North.  First presented before the Grenfell Tower disaster, the bill was initially defeated by Conservative MPs. However, in the wake of Grenfell and with a swell of public opinion backing stricter sanctions on irresponsible landlords, this new version of the bill has gained the full support of the government...

Rodent infestations

At  Sava, we handle complaints on behalf of surveyors on a regular basis and from direct experience know that homeowners are not best pleased if they move into a property to find they’re sharing it with unwanted house guests. We’re focusing predominantly on rat and mice infestations as these species have adapted well to
the human environment, have health implications, are common pests and can cause much upset if found in the home...

Japanese knotweed research
You may be asking why we’re covering Japanese knotweed again. At Sava, we spend a disproportionately large amount of time dealing with complaints and potential claims arising from Japanese knotweed and, while it has been an issue for a long time, it feels as though the public’s reaction to it is now bordering on the hysterical. For this reason, we feel it’s worth covering again. In this Technical Bulletin, we look at recent research from Dr Dan Jones, Managing Director of Advanced Invasives Limited and an Honorary Researcher in Swansea University Department of Biosciences...

Japanese knotweed - understanding the plant
Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica var. japonica), is one of a number of knotweed species, introduced into Europe in the mid-19th century (1841) by Philipp Franz Balthasar von Siebold, a German botanist and physician living in The Netherlands. In 1850 he sent a specimen of Japanese knotweed to Kew Gardens in London. Kew offered the plant for sale to local commercial nurseries, and by 1854, knotweed had travelled as far as the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh...

PCA welcomes Japanese knotweed research
The Property Care Association (PCA) welcomes the new research which looks at the treatment options for Japanese Knotweed.  We have long advocated the need for a highly specialised treatment regime for Japanese knotweed...

Japanese knotweed - a surveyors perspective
Following research by Dr Dan Jones, Chartered Surveyor, Biologist and Environmentalist, David Gregson considers its impact on property professionals moving forwards. As a residential surveyor providing surveys and valuations for purchasers, I have based my working practices regarding Japanese knotweed on the received wisdom and general guidance available to the profession...

Important changes to the pre-action protocol...
Claimants bringing professional negligence claims against surveyors have long been required to follow the relevant pre-action Protocol. The Protocol aims to give parties the best opportunity to settle their dispute, without the need to start Court proceedings. In early May 2018, an important amendment was introduced to the Protocol...

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On 18th June, the BBC aired an episode of Rip Off Britain which included a feature about Japanese knotweed. If you didn't catch it, it is available until 19 July 2018 on the BBC iPlayer here (Series 10: Episode 6 - you may need to register an account to view the episode). 

It highlights the requirement for sellers to declare in a TA6 (or Property Information Form) if the property is affected by Japanese knotweed but when it comes to newly built homes, the seller isn’t required to make the same disclosure. It's certainly an interesting watch.  

An interesting article in the Guardian based on data from Hometrack, that is close to our heart as Sava is based in Milton Keynes.

It seems not everyone hates roundabouts and concrete cows, Milton Keynes is the 3rd fastest town for house price growth with 9.8% over the last 12 months. 

As well as MK's house prices growing, of the top towns for price increase, it boasts the highest average house price at £286,700.

This growth in MK is in contrast to the slow growth seen in some of the UKs previously fast rising cities, such as Brighton, Oxford and Cambridge.

Read the full article here.

Could 'flat-pack' homes solve Manchester's housing crisis?

With the city of Manchester’s population growing 15 times faster than houses are being built, and only around 3,000 new homes being built in the region every year, are new prefabs the answer?

Seventy years after the old post-war prefabs were built, a new breed of prefabs is hitting Manchester. 

Read more here.

It's not only Japanese Knotweed you need to look out for, this interesting article looks at the damage that can be caused by the roots of  Oak, Willow and Poplar trees. The sticky sap secreted by Lime and Pine trees and the damage it can cause to whatever it falls on is covered. English Ivy also gets a mention as this type of ivy can cause problems, as oppose to Virginia Creepers and Boston Ivy.

Read the full article here

Do you use a drone to inspect the roofs on your surveys?

New drone laws come into force this year. From 30 July, you won’t be able to fly your drone above 400 feet and or within a kilometre of airport boundaries. Anyone who flouts the rules could be charged with “recklessly or negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or any person in an aircraft”, and face an unlimited fine, up to five years in prison, or both.

Furthermore, from 30 November 2019, all owners drones that weigh at least 250g will have to register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and take an online safety test. Anyone who fails to register or sit the competency tests could face fines of up to £1,000

Read  more here

UK housing market remains subdued with no impetus predicted in the near term

Activity in the UK residential property market remained flat in May and it is unlikely to gain any impetus in the near term, according to the latest monthly housing market survey, reports Property Wire.

Although the number of homes coming on to the housing market turned positive for the first time since 2016, buyer demand continues to decline at a headline level but to a lesser extent than at the start of 2018, says the report from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Overall, the market saw a stable trend in new instructions in May, with the headline indicator turning positive for the first time in more than two years but average stock levels on estate agents books across the UK was steady at 42.5, which is still close to an all-time low.

The report says that it remains to be seen whether the increase in May truly marks the beginning of supply pressures easing.

Read the full article here

Wales will be the first UK country to offset mortgage lending against energy efficiency rating of new build homes in progressive legislation 

Wales will be the first country to adopt pioneering mortgage research into legislation, with first-time buyers expected to reap the benefits. From this June, all Welsh Help-To-Buy loans will be adjusted according to the energy rating of the home being purchased. This will mean that those purchasing the most energy-efficient homes may be offered a larger loan as a consequence of their smaller anticipated energy bills. The change has been implemented based on research by the LENDERS partnership which was published in July 2017.
Read the full article here

An undersupply of housing in the UK over the past four decades has resulted in overcrowding, households having to share, insecure tenure, high rental payments relative to income, long journeys to school and work, and homelessness. The price of housing, which is high and rising relative to incomes, has also created problems for households wanting to become owner-occupiers. Read more here

If you're aged 35 and under and you are helping to improve and advance local communities then you might be in with chance to win this years award. The annual RICS Matrics Young Surveyor of the Year Awards is aimed to recognise and celebrate the most inspirational young surveying professionals in the UK. Entries are now open and the closing date is 6 July 2018. To find out more, click here.

 - The Abuse of Leasehold Interests

 - Pitched Fibre Drains Part 2

 - Valuing Development Sites - Lessons Learned

Welcome to the latest issue of the 'Technical Bulletin for Residential Surveyors', published jointly by Sava and BlueBox partners.
This bulletin aims to bring you quality technical information that will help you in your day to day work.

The Abuse of Leasehold Interests

What should a valuer consider?

Leasehold remains the number one concern for homeowners in the UK. Recent research by DAC Beachcroft (international firm of lawyers specialising in advising the insurance industry) summarised the government’s thinking on leasehold interests following their recent consultation...

Grounds Rents: The Calm before the Storm?

Looking at the future of ground rents

The topic of ground rents has had a huge amount of attention over the last 12 months, culminating in the government’s consultation paper on leasehold reform launched in July 2017. Reports of block notifications abound across the property professional sector, but are these likely to produce large scale exposures for professionals and their PI (professional indemnity) insurers?

Pitched Fibre Drains (part 2)

How and when to report RICSs pitched fibre drain products

Phil Parnham, director of BlueBox Partners, follows on from the pitch fibre drain article in Issue 27 of the Technical Bulletin with this feature focusing on how the same issues should be reported in RICS’s Home Survey products...

Valuing Development sites: Lessons Learned

In 2017, a claim was heard for a breach of professional negligence by CBRE Ltd on a development site for mortgage valuation purposes undertaken for the Dunfermline Building Society back in 2007. This is the sort of valuation only undertaken by firms with significant cover through professional indemnity insurance, but there are a few points from the case worth considering...

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