How to approach major works

Chris Cooper, Director at Hamilton Darcey looks at the top considerations when embarking on major works projects.

In this article we will work through the top considerations when embarking on a Major Works project. We will focus on the main areas we at Hamilton Darcey believe will help Landlords, Managing Agents and Leaseholders.

Timing

Major works are required every 5 to 10 years in order to comply with lease obligations. It is essential you start planning these works well in advance and know how long it will take to get the works started.

At Hamilton Darcey we provide the following guide when planning for works:

  • For a small to medium-sized, reasonably well-planned project, it is normal practice to allow minimum 4-6 months for pre-contract stage i.e. Specification, tendering and Section 20 notices to expire before starting works on site.
  • For larger projects, we recommend 8-12 months of planning in order to minimise the risks and fulfil appropriate consultation and collection of any additional funds.
  • Factor in the time of year. External/roof projects should ideally be carried out between March and October, while internal works can be undertaken all year round.

Budget

At Hamilton Darcey we are often asked to provide budget costs for a project, prior to tendering. In order to provide this budget we would base it on the following:

  • The costs within an existing Planned Maintenance Programme (PMP) or Capex Plan
  • The size and complexity of the works. Budget costs for an internals project will vary considerably from a basic redecoration project to full refurbishment with new lighting and wiring, fire upgrade works, new intercom system etc.

Professional advice

Everybody is keen to save money and often professional fees might appear to be an unnecessary expense. However, it is often far more expensive in the longer term to proceed with the wrong works, or do the works in the wrong way.

Appointing experienced and appropriate professionals from the outset is invaluable in considering the timing and extent of the works required.

As a minimum, at Hamilton Darcey we recommend the following:

  • An professional assessment of the building is carried out
  • All risk assessments are in place, namely Health and Safety and Fire Risk Assessments, Asbestos Surveys and Electrical Tests.
  • A detailed Specification is used to Tender to works
  • A Competitive Tender and Analysis Procedure is adopted
  • A Contract (JCT or similar)

Statutory Regulations and Party Wall Matters

Statutory obligations can easily be overlooked as unnecessary, however we recommend that the following checks are carried out at inception stage:

  • Check if the property is Listed or in a Conservation Area as this will be subject to strict planning regulations.
  • Check with the Local Authority if the works to the property require Planning Approval or are subject to Building Regulations approval.
  • Seek advice as to whether the works are to a party Wall or Party Structure and whether Notices should be served on adjoining or nearby properties.

Chris Cooper MRICS MCIArb is a Partner at Hamilton Darcey, a RICS regulated Chartered Surveying practice based in London. Hamilton Darcey have a wealth of experience spanning a range of disciplines, including major works project management, statutory compliance, neighbourly matters and technical due diligence, they act as a trusted advisor to both individuals and corporate entities.