Category Archives: Retail property

Building refurbishments and alterations

When carrying out building refurbishments it is important to plan out the end result that you would like to achieve. This is sometimes done by professionals like architects or surveyors but often it is left to the property owner and building contractor to finalise the specifications. This needs to be managed carefully because you do not want the works to not comply with the UK building regulations and other statutory requirements that can potentially cause expensive re-working if not done correctly. So your building contractor will need to have a good understanding of the building regulations and other statutory requirements. These are not always well known or understood by some building contractors, you will be able to get a feel for your builders knowledge by asking them some simple questions about the UK building regulations for instance what sections covers the structural elements? It is section “A”. There are other regulations for instance if you are going to use a computer screen in a commercial environment you will need to select the correct light fitting to meet the required regulations. This is not always known to some building contractors and could potentially have you paying for the same item of work twice. Again as with most things it can be a case of buy cheap buy twice.

Property conversion projects

When converting an existing property to a new use it can prove both an exciting and rewarding experience both financially and personally. This will require planning permission and building regulation approval. The planning can add value to your building as soon as it is granted this is called the planning gain and some property speculators and property developers simply focus on adding value to their property and projects and then selling a property ready to develop. The next consideration is the building regulations approval these can be both onerous and expensive depending on the type of property and the end use. If you are converting older properties or carrying out a mixed use property development the building regulations and other statutory requirements need to be carefully planned and budgeted. With sub division of properties there is an issue called compartmentalisation this is where individual residences flats or muse dwellings or separate commercial units need to be separated from each other. This is when the individual units are separated or compartmented from acoustic and fire spread from the neighbouring units. When carrying out conversions over many floors or in period building this can require careful planning as some services like drainage will need to pass through or from one unit to another. Sound or acoustics requires a carefully specified design and good onsite installation as the units will have to be sound tested upon completion. The integrity of the buildings fire separation between units will be inspected at the site visits by the building control officer. It is important to get a good building contractor on board who has experience on this type of work and can check the design options and advise on cost savings and value engineering. This could save you thousands of pounds and their experience can prove very valuable when any issues that have not been seen or discovered becomes an issue on site.

Dilapidation reports and repairs

Dilapidations is a phrase well know in the world of commercial property but is something that can catch out and be an expensive lesson for commercial tenants. Depending on the wording and conditions of commercial property lease agreements will depend on who is responsible for which and to what degree of property repairs and other associated costs. For instance if you are a commercial tenant and you have occupied a property for many years you may be responsible to return the property to the landlord with the appropriate statutory requirements in place. This does not sound to onerous but if could mean the introduction of various fire safety and other stator requirements. This could mean a new electrical fire detection system, fire doors and frames and some additional fire separation between fire exists. Dependant on the size and condition of the property this could leave the tenant with a bill for tens of thousands of pounds of refurbishment works. It is important to get a contractor on board who understands not only what needs to be done but also who needs to be informed and how to manage your dilapidation and repair budget. Even if the work is carried out by the correct competent person to the correct standard using the right materials you could still fall foul of the regulations and approval of building control. This could then create further issues and costs associated to getting in or out of the lease. There are different types of commercial property leases but retailers are very often only prepared to sign what are called weather leases. This term is used to describe a lease agreement where the landlord remains responsible for keeping the building weather tight and the tenant for the internal elements. So essentially the landlords keeps the roof, walls and external windows and doors in safe and serviceable condition while the commercial tenant looks after the rest.

Commercial refurbishment projects

Commercial properties are exposed to a lot more wear and tear than private houses and for that reason and other commercial requirements usually undergo a programme of refurbishment more regularly than houses. Retail, offices and other commercial facilities not only tend to have more foot traffic but they also fall under stricter and more onerous statuary requirements and regulation. This is why it is important to employ competent refurbishment contractors who understand and can advise not only on your businesses requirements but also on statuary requirements. There are several issues to be aware of when carrying out a commercial property refurbishments. They range from asbestos management and refurbishment surveys though to disabled access assessments. It is also important to involve a fire safety consultant as well as informing the local authority building control department or a private building inspector. With a competent building contractor they will have a good outline understanding of the various regulations but will require input from the various professionals to make sure they have covered all the site specific issues like interpretation of the various regulations. The regulations can be effected and budgets affected by a variety of other aspects. The end use of the property, if it is listed or in a conservation area even down to the use class orders or if it is zoned as a town centre property. It is also important to make sure that there are no under lying issues with the property that could affect the works once the refurbishments has been completed. It is important to get exposed areas checked for issues like damp or structural defects that will be covered up and could come back to cause problems in the future.

Do you need property management or property maintenance?

Many landlords dread those Monday morning calls saying they have a bill for boiler repairs or a leaking roof. This is often why landlords chose to use a letting agent or property management company however with many tenants now paying by direct debit the only main advantage is the repairs and maintenance. What if you could find a single point of contact, one company that can look after all your investment property requirements and arrange all the repairs and certification. You could save hundreds of pounds a year in property management fees. We have experience of providing this service to many agents and facility management companies that carry out exactly this service. So you could cut out the agent and come direct for all your repairs and also enjoy the benefit of our various experts and skilled tradesmen. Do you need a company that can advise on roof repairs right down to a blocked drain and also arrange for all the electrical and gas certifications? Our team have been managing and developing properties specifically for the residential rental market since the 90’s. So we know how to look after a maintenance budget to give you the best value and keep your tenants happy. We know that landlords are happy when their tenants are happy with the condition of the property and pay their rent promptly.

What do I need to do before I alter my shop or office?

Many business owners move business premises or open new businesses and are looking to get the most from their new buildings and fit out budgets. There are many things to consider when opening a new business so here are a few of the items that business owners can overlook. First you will need to see the existing asbestos register all commercial buildings are duty bound to have a register that details the presence, type and locations of any materials in the building fabric that contain asbestos. If you do not have one you are not only potentially putting employees and the public at risk you are also breaking the law. The good news is that you can get an asbestos surveyor to carry out a survey relatively quickly and they are a lot less expensive than potential fines or decontamination. The second vital certificate is a fire safety certificate this can be obtained by contacting a fire safety risk assessor and getting a survey underway. You will also need to get the electrical and gas safely checked if these certificates are not available or you are making alterations. If you are making alterations you will probably need the works to be pasted by the local authority building control department or a similar local building control contractor. Check what arrangements or alterations are required for a disabled access again this can require a separate survey. Finally particularly with commercial buildings it is a good idea to get them checked out by a structural engineer if you plan alterations or have concerns about previous alterations or any existing building defects. Your surveyor or a good competent building contractor should be able to advise and recommend the various professionals required to make sure your commercial property redevelopment is completed properly. People are often afraid to undertake structural alterations as they fear the costs however these can often be less than expected and make your building far easier to use or sell from making it a worthwhile investment.

Changes to planning laws for home extensions

The government plans to let home owners and some business extensions and developments be allow to be built without the need, expense and delays caused by planning permission. The government has gone further as they look to relax the need for social housing on residential development sites. This used to be called a 106 agreement and this could have a profound effect on many new residential developments. It will not only make some residential developments more profitable and therefore more likely to get built. It will also make them easier for speculative development funders to finance. The new planning guidance for home extensions could allow some home owners to build home extensions up to 8m long without the need for planning permission. The new guidance will allow all home owners to build home extensions up to 6m long without planning the current rules only go up to 3m. The 3m rule makes it difficult to add a good sized separate room with the change it will be easy for home owners to add a larger kitchen dinner or family room. They have also announced a raft of other measures designed to kick start the construction industry. This is great news for home owners, the construction industry and the wider economy. It has long been known that money spent on construction has a huge impact on economic recovery so these measures are good news for everyone in the UK. The measures are said to only run for three years so those looking to add a home extension should get the ball rolling before the new planning rules are altered. With home extensions starting from as little as fifteen thousand pounds and now with the added savings of planning fees. Home owners will be able to stretch their home extensions budgets that little bit further to make sure that they can add extra features like bi-folding doors and other contemporary home extension designs.

Do I need building regulations approval?

This will depend greatly on the individual home improvement or building project, if in any doubt it is best to call your local authority building control department they are always happy to answer any enquiries. There is however a few simple items that can help you decide if you will need building regulations approval. This is if you are effecting any of the many parts of the building regulations these are divided into sections like part ‘A’ for structural issues, or part’L’ thermal regulations. In fact it is it is often part ‘L’ that catches out both building contractors and home owners. Part ‘L’ covers the thermal efficiency of the building envelope so if you are carrying out any works to any external walls roofs or floors you should make sure that you check. You can offset some elements against other improvements in thermal efficiency with the correct thermal calculations. One item that home owners often under estimate is if you carry out plastering or rendering to more than twenty five percent of any wall or room this can trigger the need for a building notice application. Again if you plan to re-roof your home you will need to upgrade the loft insulation to the current regulations. The other consideration if you are making any structural alterations like the installation of a new lintel or RSJ building control will want to check that it is correctly fitted and fit for the job. Even alterations to the properties drainage system can trigger the need for a building regulations approval. If you are changing the layout of your home this can also affect the safe means of escape as moving a kitchen could affect the fire safety of your home. Many home owners will trust the judgement of their building contractor but many contractors like to avoid the involvement of building control as this allows them to cut corners and offer the home owner a cheaper contract price. The best thing to do is to do some research then play dumb and ask the building contractors who are preparing your quotations if you need building regulation approval. It is also a good opportunity to test the knowledge of your building contractors and their honesty.

Would you like your renovations project filmed for TV?

As one of the midlands leading building contractors we have been contacted to appear on TV as part of a television programme on the renovation of properties in the midlands. If you would like to put your project forward just drop us an e-mail or call and we will do the rest. We have experience of renovations to a wide range of properties from commercial properties through to listed cottages. We have undertaken projects such as barn conversions the conversions of retail properties to apartments and the renovations of individual period properties. We can provide full renovation services from the design stage including advice on structural engineering, architectural and cost reporting. You can enjoy your project televised or not knowing that a team of seasoned professionals will be able to deal with any issues that renovations can create. We have overcome 14mtr deep wells working in close proximity to mains drains working with the conservation department and in town centres. This gives you the peace of mind that your contractor has the experience, network of contacts and professionals to complete your project in an efficient and timely fashion. Renovation projects are not like a new build project there are often unforeseen issues that require experience and ingenuity to overcome on time and in budget. When undertaking a renovation project you need to make sure that you pay attention to the details. That you’re chosen contractor thinks about how to finish those little details that can make or break the final look and feel of a renovation project. How the final detail of how the eves are finished or the type and look of the door furniture will affect the overall finish. Even down to paints you need to not only chose the colours but particularly with period property renovations even the sheen on timber details and the look of render finish. The use of lime based paints and other breathable materials also require consideration. Your chosen contractor should be able to discuss the options for lime render and plaster even items like lecca floor insulation. Your contractor should also be able to tie in these heritage building techniques with modern interior solutions. The use of air source heat pumps and mechanical heat recovery ventilation are now being used even on period renovations with the use of clever design skills. So if you would like the fame of having your project filmed and shown on TV or you simply want an experienced contractor to assist on your project just give us a call and get some advice.

Planning a building project

Building projects vary in size and complexity but they all require a certain level of planning and with larger more complex building projects require the input of various building professionals. You may need a structural engineer these are the people who calculate what will and will not stand up. They often advise on simple beams or RSJ’s for small home extensions through to complex solutions for large individual commercial developments. You may also need the assistance of a surveyor, these are the least understood by the general public. This is partly due to the many different disciplines of surveyors, they tend to specialise as quantity surveyors, building surveyors, conservation surveyors, and general or commercial surveyors. Quantity surveyors deal with costs they are the accountants of the building world controlling costs through cost reporting, bills of quantities, etc. Building surveyors tend to deal more in project management and restorations and building defects although there is always a great deal of cross over between the two. Then conservations surveyors will basically do the same but deal primarily with period and listed property. General and commercial surveyors tend to deal more in the sales and letting or properties but again will run building projects for existing clients. Then there are the architects who will carry out all of the above works but only on a small scale. They will also run planning and building regulations applications although they may chose to employ a planning consultant to assist with more complex applications. The key is to keep professional fees to a minimum without cutting corners and making false economies. After years of experience in the building industry you see many cases of when projects have gone wrong and ended unfinished and in court due to poor planning or clients cutting corners. A good building contractor will spot clients who are inexperienced and have cut corners and avoid these projects knowing that they always create challenges. Novice developers have been known to “get structural calculations done for just a few hundred pounds”, this has cost thousands when the projects has the roof off because the local building control department will not let the contractor build the roof as they are not satisfied that the structural calculations prove the structure works. So take some time to find good local professionals who can assist you and advise you and this will be money well spent.