Within this section we aim to answer some of the most common questions we’ve come across and provide definitions of building related terminology.


Local Authority
Local authority is the collective term for local councils. You may also sometimes hear them referred to as local government. Local councils are made up of councillors (members) who are voted for by the public in local elections and paid council staff (officers) who deliver services.
Planning Permission or Planning Consent
The permission required in the United Kingdom and Ireland in order to be allowed to build on land, or change the use of land or buildings. Within the UK the occupier of any land or building will need title to that land or building (i.e. “ownership”), but will also need “planning title” or planning permission. Planning title was granted for all pre-existing uses and buildings by the Town and Country Planning Act 1947, which came into effect on 1 July 1948. Since that date any new “development” has required planning permission. “Development” as defined by law consists of any building, engineering or mining operation, or the making of a material change of use in any land or building. Certain types of operation such as routine maintenance of an existing building are specifically excluded from the definition of development. Specified categories of minor or insignificant development are granted an automatic planning permission by law, and therefore do not require any application for planning permission. These categories are referred to as permitted development.
Building Regulations

Are statutory instruments that seek to ensure that the policies set out in the relevant legislation are carried out. Building regulations approval is required for most building work in the UK. Building regulations that apply across England and Wales are set out in the Building Act 1984 while those that apply across Scotland are set out in the Building (Scotland) Act 2003. The Act in England and Wales permits detailed regulations to be made by the Secretary of State. The regulations made under the Act have been periodically updated, rewritten or consolidated, with the latest and current version being the Building Regulations 2010. The UK Government is responsible for the relevant legislation and administration in England, the Welsh Government is the responsible body in Wales, the Scottish Government is responsible for the issue in Scotland, and the Northern Ireland Executive has responsibility within its jurisdiction.

The detailed requirements of Building regulations in England and Wales are scheduled within 14 separate headings, each designated by a letter (“Part A” to “Part Q”), and covering aspects such as “structure”, “fire safety”, “access”, “electrical”, “protection from falling”, “drainage”, and so on. For each Part, detailed specifications are available free online (“approved documents”) describing the matters to be taken into account. The approved documents are not legally binding; rather, they present the expectation of the Secretary of State concerning the standards required for compliance with the Building Regulations, and the standard methods used to achieve these.

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996

Introduced a procedure for resolving disputes between owners of neighbouring properties, arising as a result of one owner’s intention to carry out works which would affect the party wall, involve the construction of a party wall or boundary wall at or adjacent the line of junction between the two properties or excavation within certain distances of a neighbour’s structure and to a lower depth than its foundations.

Pre-Acquisition Survey / Building Survey

The pre-acquisition survey includes detailed analysis of the existing building structure and condition along with possibly the Mechanical and Electrical installation. It identifies any defects present, including any future maintenance requirements along with associated budget costs, it will also comment on the legislative compliance issues that affect users, owners and occupiers.

The pre-acquisition survey is recommended when considering the acquisition of a commercial premises whether by purchase or lease. A pre-acquisition survey is essential to provide a detailed understanding of the existing condition of the property, its suitability for a particular use and any associated future liabilities.

We have extensive experience of undertaking pre-acquisition surveys for a wide variety of properties, local, nationwide and internationally. We produce tailor made service delivery and will ensure that the report is prepared to suit your specific requirements.

A pre-acquisition survey enables you to make informed decisions about the proposed premises and its investment potential. The outcome of the acquisition survey will help decide whether not to go ahead with a purchase or lease and it may influence negotiations regarding price. It is also highly likely to prevent any unforeseen and serious cost implications in the future. The pre-acquisition survey forms the basis for any future planned maintenance works required at the property following the purchase or lease. We are able to provide further services in relation to this, through to completion.

Read more on how we helped Emmaus with their pre-acquisition.


Why would I need a building survey before I purchase a house?

A building condition survey is essential before buying a house for several reasons. Firstly, it provides a comprehensive assessment of the property’s condition, identifying any existing or potential issues such as structural problems, electrical or plumbing issues, or water damage.

This information allows you to make an informed decision about the property and negotiate repairs or a lower purchase price if necessary. Secondly, the survey helps assess the safety of the property by identifying any safety hazards or risks.

It also provides an estimate of the repair and maintenance costs, allowing you to budget effectively and plan for future expenses.

Overall, a building condition survey provides peace of mind and ensures that you are making a wise investment in a property that meets your expectations and requirements.

When would I need expert witness?

You may need an expert witness in relation to a defective building or building project in the following situations:

1. Construction Defect Claims:

If you are involved in a legal dispute regarding a defective building or building project, an expert witness can provide specialized knowledge and opinions on the construction defects. They can evaluate the construction practices, materials used, and design elements to determine if there were any deviations from industry standards or building codes.

2. Building Code Violations:

If you believe that a building or construction project does not comply with building codes or regulations, an expert witness can analyze the project and provide expert testimony on whether violations have occurred. They can assess the plans, specifications, and construction practices to determine if any code violations exist.

3. Structural Issues:

If there are structural issues with a building, such as cracks, settling, or foundation problems, an expert witness with expertise in structural engineering can assess the extent of the damage, the cause of the issues, and provide expert opinions on the necessary repairs or remediation.

4. Building Envelope Failure:

If there are issues with the building envelope, such as leaks, water intrusion, or inadequate insulation, an expert witness with knowledge in building science and construction can evaluate the building envelope system and provide opinions on the cause of the failure and the necessary remedial actions.

5. Construction Delays or Cost Overruns:

If a construction project has experienced significant delays or cost overruns, an expert witness can analyze the project timeline, construction management practices, and contractual agreements to determine if there were any factors contributing to the delays or cost overruns.

In these situations,

an expert witness can provide objective and professional opinions based on their expertise and experience to assist in resolving disputes, determining liability, and guiding decisions related to the defective building or building project.

When would I need a building surveyor?

You may need a building surveyor in various situations related to the construction, renovation, or maintenance of a building. Here are some common scenarios where you would require the services of a building surveyor:

1. Pre-Purchase Building Inspection:

Before purchasing a property, it is advisable to hire a building surveyor to conduct a pre-purchase building inspection. The surveyor will assess the condition of the property, identify any structural or maintenance issues, and provide a detailed report outlining any defects or potential problems.

2.Building Regulations Compliance:

If you are planning to undertake construction or renovation work on a property, a building surveyor can help ensure compliance with local building regulations and codes. They will review construction plans, conduct site inspections, and issue necessary permits and certificates to ensure that the work meets the required standards.

3.Dilapidation Surveys:

Prior to commencing construction or renovation work on a neighboring property, a building surveyor can conduct a dilapidation survey. This involves documenting and assessing the condition of adjacent buildings to establish a baseline for comparison in case any damage occurs during the construction process.

4. Building Defects and Disputes:

If you encounter building defects or are involved in a construction dispute, a building surveyor can provide expert advice and assistance. They can assess the issues, determine the cause, and provide recommendations for remedial actions. They may also act as expert witnesses in legal proceedings if necessary.

5. Building Maintenance and Condition Assessments:

A building surveyor can conduct regular maintenance inspections and condition assessments of buildings to identify any maintenance issues or potential risks. They will provide recommendations for repairs, upgrades, or improvements to ensure the building remains in a safe and functional condition.

6. Accessibility Audits:

In compliance with disability access regulations, building surveyors can conduct accessibility audits to assess the accessibility of buildings for people with disabilities. They will identify any barriers or non-compliance issues and provide recommendations for improvements.


a building surveyor plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety, compliance, and quality of buildings. Their expertise and knowledge are valuable in various stages of a building’s lifecycle, from pre-purchase inspections to ongoing maintenance and compliance assessments.

What is the advantage of employing a chartered surveyor?

There are several advantages to employing a Chartered Surveyor for your construction or property-related needs:

1. Professional Expertise:

Chartered Surveyors have undergone extensive education and training to attain their professional qualifications. They possess in-depth knowledge and expertise in areas such as property valuation, building construction, land surveying, property management, and more. Their specialized knowledge allows them to provide accurate and reliable advice, ensuring that you make informed decisions.

2. Regulatory Compliance:

Chartered Surveyors are required to adhere to strict ethical and professional standards set by their respective professional bodies, such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). This ensures that they operate with integrity and professionalism, providing services that are compliant with industry regulations and best practices.

3. Comprehensive Services:

Chartered Surveyors offer a wide range of services that cover various aspects of the property industry. Whether you need assistance with property valuation, building surveys, project management, property development, or property management, a Chartered Surveyor can provide comprehensive and specialized services tailored to your specific needs.

4. Accurate Property Valuation:

Chartered Surveyors are skilled in property valuation and can provide accurate and unbiased assessments of property values. Whether you are buying, selling, or leasing a property, their expertise ensures that you make informed decisions based on reliable valuation reports.

5. Risk Management:

Chartered Surveyors have a strong understanding of the risks associated with property transactions and construction projects. They can identify potential risks, such as structural defects, legal issues, or environmental concerns, and provide recommendations to mitigate these risks. Their expertise helps protect your interests and minimise potential liabilities.

6. Negotiation and Dispute Resolution:

Chartered Surveyors can act as mediators or negotiators in property-related disputes. Their knowledge of property law, regulations, and industry practices allows them to effectively resolve conflicts and negotiate favourable outcomes. They can provide expert advice and representation to support your interests during negotiations or legal proceedings.

7. Professional Network:

Chartered Surveyors have a vast network of professional connections within the property industry, including architects, engineers, contractors, and legal professionals. This network allows them to access additional expertise and resources when needed, ensuring comprehensive and efficient service delivery.


employing a Chartered Surveyor provides you with the assurance of professional expertise, regulatory compliance, and comprehensive services. Their specialized knowledge, ethical standards, and ability to mitigate risks can help you navigate complex property transactions and construction projects with confidence.

What’s the difference between MRICS and FRICS?

The difference between MRICS and FRICS lies in their membership levels within the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS):

1. MRICS (Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors):

MRICS is a professional designation awarded to individuals who have met the educational, experience, and ethical requirements set by RICS. To become an MRICS, individuals must have completed a recognized degree or professional qualification, gained relevant work experience, and passed the RICS Assessment of Professional Competence (APC). MRICS members have demonstrated competency and professionalism in their respective areas of specialization within the surveying profession.

2. FRICS (Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors):

FRICS is a higher-level designation awarded to experienced and senior members of RICS who have made significant contributions to the surveying profession. To become an FRICS, individuals must have been an MRICS member for a minimum of ten years and have demonstrated exceptional professional achievement and leadership within the industry. FRICS members are recognized for their extensive experience, expertise, and contribution to the surveying profession.

In summary,

MRICS is a membership level awarded to individuals who have met the educational and professional requirements set by RICS, while FRICS is a higher-level designation awarded to experienced and senior members who have made significant contributions to the surveying profession. Obtaining the MRICS designation is typically the first step in a surveyor’s career, while FRICS is a prestigious recognition achieved after years of experience and service in the profession.

What’s the difference between a building survey and a structural survey?

A building survey and a structural survey are both types of property surveys conducted by professionals to assess the condition and structural integrity of a building. However, there are some differences between the two:

1. Building Survey:

A building survey, also known as a full structural survey or a comprehensive survey, is a detailed examination of a property’s construction and condition. It provides a comprehensive report on the overall condition of the building, including any defects, maintenance issues, and potential problems. This type of survey is typically recommended for older or unusual properties, properties in poor condition, or properties that are being renovated.

2. Structural Survey:

A structural survey, also known as a structural inspection or a structural assessment, focuses specifically on the structural elements of a building. It involves a thorough examination of the building’s foundations, walls, beams, and other load-bearing structures to assess their stability and integrity. This type of survey is typically recommended for properties that have experienced structural issues, such as cracks, subsidence, or other signs of structural damage.

In summary,

while a building survey provides a broader assessment of a property’s overall condition, a structural survey focuses specifically on the structural elements of the building. The choice between the two surveys depends on the specific requirements and concerns of the property owner or buyer. It is advisable to consult with a qualified surveyor to determine which type of survey is most appropriate for a particular property.

Why is having a Schedule of Conditions necessary?

Without having a Schedule of Condition the tenant may find themselves in financial difficulty at the end of the term of the lease and if the lease requires them to ‘put’ and ‘keep’ the premises in ‘good and substantial repair’.

If you are thinking about taking on a lease for commercial, retail or private premises, it is usual under the terms of the lease for the tenant to have repairing obligations. However, you should ensure that you are fully aware of the extent of your repairing obligations and where possible, seek to limit them with reference to the Schedule of Condition of the property when you take the lease.

Below set out some useful guidelines for you to consider when entering into your commercial lease.

What is a Schedule of Condition?
A Schedule of Condition acts as written and or photographic evidence of the state of the property at the time the lease is granted. It will consist of a list of photographs and additional descriptions of the property and is appended to the signed lease.
How will a Schedule of Condition protect the Tentant?
The effect of having a Schedule of Condition in the lease is that the tenant is not expected to put the property in any better state of condition of repair that it was at the start of the lease. Therefore, a Schedule of Condition sets a benchmark against which the property can be assessed in the future.
The tenant should ideally instruct a Chartered Surveyor to produce a Schedule of Condition but it is important that any photographs are of good quality and in full colour. What is the impact of a Schedule of Condition in the repairing covenant in the lease? It is important to limit the wording of the tenant’s repairing obligations in the lease by referring to the Schedule of Condition so that the tenant does not have to keep the property in any better state of repair, condition and decoration than evidenced by the schedule.
Often leases include an obligation to ‘put and keep’ the premises in repair. However, the effect of a ‘put and keep’ obligation can be to require a tenant to improve the premises. Therefore, faced with this potential onerous liability to improve the premises, the tenant may negotiate a less onerous repairing covenant (referring to the Schedule of Condition) which would then exclude any obligation to improve the premises.
Such proviso to the repairing covenant could potentially read as follows: ‘… providing that the Tenant is not obliged to put or keep the Premises in any better state or condition than at the date of this Lease, as evidenced by the Schedule of Condition’
When is a Schedule of Condition essential?

We would recommend that where the tenant is proposing to take a lease of a property which is in poor condition or where the repairing covenant is onerous, serious consideration should be given to limiting the repairing liability by reference to a Schedule of Condition to ensure the tenant is not liable to remedy repairs caused by a previous tenant.

Read More

Read more on how we helped Grill Shack with their Schedule of Conditions