Our Surveyors solve property problems of all types, large or small we enjoy the challenge. From industrial warehouse units to shops and retail and offices that are purpose built or converted. We would add that we are more than happy to look at one off buildings or your own house and home.
We can prepare Commercial Building Surveys and Structural Surveys. If you are taking on a lease or surrendering a lease we can provide Schedules of Condition, Property Reports, Schedules of Dilapidations and Scott Schedules. We can also carry out Specific Defects Reports for problems relating to structural issues.
FREE PHONE 0800 298 5424 Today!
Thermal image of a commercial
property, can you guess
Any Property problems
If you have a property problem we would suggest that you Free Phone us on 0800 298 5424 or you may be able to find the answer on our website. We have included some links within this surveying article that relate to different types of property problem. Or we would refer you to our Free Property Articles page where, if you scroll down the page, we have an index of all the articles we have written CLICK HERE
Again we would add that our Independent Surveyors are more than happy to talk to you. Please Free phone us on 0800 298 5424 for a friendly chat.
Snow on warehouse roof
What do the ovals and circles in our surveys mean?
The circles and ovals are a system that we use within our structural surveys and building surveys to highlight problem areas so that you are not left wondering what the problem is.
Valley gutter on a church roof
In addition to this if the photographs do not explain the problem enough together with our survey report we also add in one of our own sketches such as the example that is shown here.
Snow and ice and the problems it causes in commercial properties
This article looks at problems that occur in colder weather conditions on commercial properties. These problems can also occur in your house and home. We would refer you the article we have carried out on this if it is more relevant to your situation.
Over many years we really have surveyed many different types of commercial property. We have worked on the largest brand new warehouses to the most dilapidated War Year warehouse and from individual shops and converted buildings to large purpose built shops. The same can be said for offices from the small individual office converted from a house and extended to a larger purpose built office. We particularly enjoy solving property problems and are not averse to coming out in the snow, rain and cold weather as you will see from the photos although it is easier to survey on a day without snow!
Snow and ice emphasised problems on this restaurants flat roof and lead
to it being closed down.
A commercial property flat roof problem where we saved the leaseholder tens of thousands of pounds
We were asked by a shopkeeper who ran an automobile parts business and a coffee shop, both very successfully, to look at problems he was having, as a tenant, with the flat roof above the buildings he leased. The flat roof kept becoming blocked up and causing damp problems. The landlord had kindly looked at the problem and decided on the solution without consulting our client. He then advised our client that he had obtained quotes for nearly one hundred thousand pounds worth of work that he was going to re-charge to our client the tenant.
The commercial property with the
flat roof problems
Looking at the hidden flat roof with
moss visible on the top edge
View of the flat roof in the snow.
This was the least amount
of snow we worked in
The roof problems were priced at nearly one hundred thousand pounds
This disagreement between the landlord and the tenant had led to a court case. We were then asked to inspect the roof as expert witnesses. Unfortunately the timing of the court case was during a period of heavy snow. The photos show the days when we had the least snow! We travelled backwards and forwards several times to see the property but it seemed to be snowing every time.
The flat roof became blocked
causing dampness around the
roof lights (circled in red)
With the date of the court case looming we decided to carry out thermal imaging of the roof to establish exactly where the leaks were coming from and the thermal imaging camera really worked well as it showed the saturated parts of the concrete slab. However we were well aware that we were looking at the effect of the problem and needed to resolve the cause.
Checking a roof leak using a damp
Leaks in the flat roof, how can you solve them?
Let us explain a bit more about the leak in the roof. In this case it was directly over a car auto-parts sale room and also a coffee shop. The property was a two storey property with a flat roof and a parapet wall surrounding it. The parapet wall was slightly higher than normal being about 1m to 1.5m. Unfortunately this was filling up with water which was then coming over the top, then building up on the flat roof to about a metre deep (three feet).
You can imagine the amount of water above these properties. This was then finding its way through the roof in one way or another generally seeping and soaking down into the brickwork. It would then come through the drainage points at a terrific rate.
Taking damp readings with a Gann
Water was through the only down
pipe we could find
Water was also getting in around
the roof lights
Equipment we use as Surveyors
Firstly we would comment that we use various pieces of equipment that aid us in reaching decisions such as;
Thermal imaging camera
The problem was that without being able to see the roof properly due to the snow and access being difficult because of the snow we ended up using cherry pickers to overlook the roof. However the photos from the thermal imaging camera were great and enabled us to show that the dampness was predominantly coming in via the walls and that this in turn was caused by the gutters being blocked so the water could not drain away.
Thermal image of commercial
offices.The blue areas show
the cold windows
This is sometimes known as the protimeter which is the most popular resistance meter and is almost a generic name. We use both protimeter's and Gann meters. In the photos above and to the right you can see us utilising a Gann meter. We like these because of their accuracy in giving readings rather than red, amber and green lights.
Testing for dampness with a Gann
However we would also warn against the use of these instruments by Damp Proof Companies as they are used, we would say, to help sell their product. It's not just about identifying that dampness is present it is about understanding the reason for it.
Blocked gutters and downpipes and human error!
Interestingly the gutters were blocked because the landlord had amended the bathroom and lounge windows on the nearby flat to allow them to open fully. People in the rooms were opening the windows and throwing things out of them which in turn caused the blocking of the gutters and downpipes below. The irony of this story is the landlord who was trying to charge the tenant for the problem was actually the one causing the problem.
We appreciate this is an unusual problem but it does explain and show the type of work we can do. We came up with several design solutions ranging from adding extra downpipes to enlarging the existing ones and closing the windows back up!
Freezing Pipes in commercial properties
Older offices, warehouses and shops are not known for their thermal insulation and energy efficiency. In fact generally no one even thought about energy efficiency until the 1970's. A good example of this is the sports centre we were involved with where the heat from the swimming pool was literally going through the roof as it was from the badminton courts, squash courts, bowls arena and offices.
Post war commercial building that is
Literally the heat is going through
the roof. In this case there was
also bad condensation which
was causing rust.
Old brick built industrial building
with a metal profile sheet
extension (red oval)
Insulation in commercial properties
With a little thought we were able to add insulation and a recycling system from the warm air within the swimming pool area which enabled the heating of the rest of the property the majority of the time.
As you can imagine this was a considerable saving and made a much nicer environment. We utilised a full air conditioning system to reduce the humidity content in the air that was drawn from the swimming pool area.
Insulation in a warehouse
The slow evolution of commercial energy efficient properties.
It's interesting how slow the commercial market has been with regard to adopting energy efficiency measures. We recall reading about Milton Keynes Shopping Centre (although we may have this wrong as it was a long time ago) where the amount of glazing used was such that they used the solar gain on one side to heat the other side. Whilst we are not necessarily thinking of innovations like this we certainly do think this is the future and the way forward whether we like it or not.
Modern office block with good
Warehouse problems in the winter particularly with snow and ice
One of the many problems that we come across with warehouses during the winter months especially if we get a lot of snow and ice is that is that it really tests the quality of old roofs and gutters and downpipes and indeed the relatively poor quality of newer roofs. One of the big problems with many warehouses is that they have such a shallow pitched roof which does not allow the water to drain away quickly enough.
Warehouse with a shallow pitched
Frozen overflow to warehouse
Access to warehouse roofs can be difficult
If you were our client and you are looking to buy a warehouse or even lease a warehouse we would usually recommend looking at the roof as this is where many problems can occur.
We have established over the years that it is particularly hard for the typical jobbing builder to come and repair a warehouse roof as they tend to be higher than the average ladders that they carry with them and so are virtually inaccessible unless you organise a cherry picker, scissor lift or even scaffolding.
Meanwhile the ice and the snow is blocking up the gutters, particularly valley gutters, and leads to dampness getting in and in turn possibly damaging any stock within the warehouse.
The height of warehouses can make
them hard to access
Scaffolding may be necessary to
access warehouse roofs
Valley gutter on warehouse can
become blocked with snow and
ice causing dampness within
Flat roofs and snow and ice
We have also come across all sorts of problems with snow and ice on large flat roofs which we feel tend to be carried out almost without proper thought and consideration of accessibility for repairs and clearing any debris that builds up on the roof.
We think this scenario comes about because the original developer and the architect and the landlord do not have experience working with buildings and certainly do not understand the costs involved and each are looking at the buildings from very different points of view.
Cold deck flat roof
The architect will see it from a design point of view; the developer will see it from a best returns point of view, dependent upon how much can be built on the land whilst the landlord will see it from the point of view of how much rent can be achieved from the buildings and the land. All of these are very valid points of view but they do not help the person who is occupying the property.
Warm deck flat roof
A restaurant, the large flat roof and the snowy day
We were called on a very snowy week to go and look at a roof that was causing major problems in a restaurant to the point that it had to be closed. Although we advised that as it was snowing we would have difficulty viewing the roof the owners were adamant that they wanted the survey carried out the week that they had had to close.
Large flat roof on a restaurant
We duly carried out the survey and not only was it snowing by the time we got there but there was heavy sleet as well which in the warmer moments turned into ice cold rain.
The basic problem was that the materials used had been applied poorly and we feel were not the most suitable for the job and the snow only emphasised these problems.
Ice cold rain during our Building
Here are some other articles we have written about thermal issues and the weather
Energy efficient Green offices
The problems that we come across with offices are unique. We would say that the office market is probably leading the commercial sector with Green credentials and energy efficiency of the buildings and this is said to be affecting the rent levels.
Energy efficient offices
Many companies are not accepting anything other than high specification energy efficient offices. However this does leave what we would term as the ‘middle' office sector and the ‘starter or smaller' office sector where to some extent you can improve the thermal efficiency of your office but there are limitations on this due to the era of its construction. Anything built pre -1970's was not originally considered from a thermal efficiency point of view.
1970s office block built around the
time we started to think about
The parking underneath this office
block seem look like a good idea
for the summer months but it will
cause wind chill during the winter
Buildings that we enjoy assisting with and advising on
In recent years we have been carrying out work on churches and other places of worship and also schools, colleges and universities but we still feel there is considerable potential particularly on older buildings to improve the thermal performance of these buildings.
Single glazed Crittall window in a
These buildings like the commercial buildings above can suffer from large areas of un-insulated flat roofs, poorly designed drainage and large areas of un-insulated single glazing and we have also worked on modular designs on schools such as the as the CLASP building system.
Further developments of the CLASP system were:
SCOLA – Second Consortium of Local Authorities
MACE – Metropolitan Architecture Consortium for Education
Close up of single glazed Crittall
CLASP is an acronym for Consortium of Local Authorities Special Projects/ programmes which was a system developed in the 1950s by local authorities to advise a method of designing and assembling pre-fabricated buildings for use in the public sector; specifically schools.
Property problems with schools and our surveying solutions
The problem with schools is the large areas of glass that they often have to allow in natural light and visibility in the classroom and to allow heat out of course.
In addition to this there is normally a focus on building economically which often means that the whole life cycle of the property has not been looked at i.e. the cost of the building and not the cost of running the building.
Whole modular design building
We have sympathy for anyone that is working on a minimal budget with one of these properties. We would be more than happy to help please Free phone us on 0800 298 5424
Modular design school with large
areas of single glazing.
Property problems with churches
The property problems we come across with churches often relates to their natural design of high ceilings as can also be the case in schools in areas such as the Assembly Hall.
High ceiling in a church
Cold bridging and black mould
High ceilings can be particularly problematic in colder weather when these areas are heated or used only for relatively short periods of time. The heat that is generated along with the humidity can lead to condensation which in turn can lead to deterioration in paint work and black mould.
When this is combined with a portal frame or a steel frame it can cause cold bridging. This is particularly prevalent in icy weather.
Black mould caused by condensation
Steel or concrete frame
Cold Bridging Defined
Cold bridging is caused by a colder element in the structure allowing coldness to pass through the structure much quicker when warm moist air is present in the property, often caused by things like having a shower or a bath, cooking or washing, particularly if you are drying washing on the radiators. This is also caused by the general climate which results in condensation on the element.
Here are some other articles from our website that you may be interested to read regarding cold bridging and thermal issues.
If you truly do want an independent expert opinion from a surveyor with regard to valuations, mortgages, mortgage companies, surveys, building surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects report, structural surveys, home buyers reports or any other property matters please contact 0800 298 5424 for a surveyor to give you a call back.
If you have a commercial property, whether it is freehold or leasehold then sooner or later you may get involved with dilapidation claims. You may wish to look at our Dilapidations Website at www.DilapsHelp.com and for Disputes go to our Disputes Help site www.DisputesHelp.com
We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have put is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).
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