News

New RICS guidance improves health and safety reporting for commercial properties

TFT Partner and TDD specialist David Mann has co-authored the first edition of the technical due diligence of commercial property global guidance note, including a new scope of service, published this week by RICS.

What does the new guidance contain and what does it mean? Read on to find out.

RICS published the new guidance on 14 January, replacing four previous editions covering England and Wales as well as country-specific versions in New Zealand, Australia and Continental Europe.

The document defines technical due diligence as ‘the process of systematic review, analysis, discovery and gathering of information about the physical characteristics of a property and/or land (the property). The surveyor then undertakes an impartial and professional assessment of the property and provides a balanced and professional opinion of the technical condition of it, enabling a prospective purchaser, occupier or financier of property to make an informed assessment of the risks associated with this transaction.’
Some of the more prescriptive language used in previous editions on how to conduct a survey – or what to look for in a typical building element, for instance – has been omitted as it was felt this would be understood by surveyors through their experience.

The guidance note also states that the technical due diligence process must be methodical, assessing each key building element and answering the following questions:

• What, if anything is wrong?
• What would the consequences be if the defect were not rectified?
• What remediation is recommended?
• Who is responsible for the cost of repair?
• What further investigations are recommended, and when?

The note has also been updated to reflect modern practice, including the use of virtual data rooms, data collection software and drones.

The document sets out what a building surveyor must consider during the briefing or confirmation of instructions phase. It more clearly reflects that we often act as the lead consultant for the technical due diligence process, bringing together other specialist advisers such as mechanical, electrical and vertical transportation engineers, cladding consultants or environmental engineers.

The intention is to provide a more useful document than previous editions which better reflects the breadth and depth of the technical due diligence process, over and above what was traditionally considered to be a building survey.

References to fire safety as well as health and safety were reinforced following two tragic events in the UK in 2017: the Grenfell Tower fire and the death of Tahnie Martin in Wolverhampton who was hit by debris that came loose from a roof during Storm Doris. This includes the introduction of a risk rating for any defects that need ‘immediate’ action which requires a surveyor to point out anything considered as immediate danger. For example, a section of loose masonry would be appointed to an ‘appropriate person’, most likely the building manager, the vendor or their agent.
Risk ratings can also help a time-poor client focus on the issues, either during the purchase or following completion of the transaction.

The arrival of the guidance note is a timely one in what is a critical part of the property transaction and management markets and it is an essential read for RICS registered members and firms undertaking technical due diligence services. Building surveyors must be aware of the guidance in relation to taking instructions, inspecting and reporting where professional standards are continuously improving. In this way they can ensure they deliver to the client and importantly they follow good practice and so demonstrate competence and protect their clients and themselves.

The newest edition of the guidance note can be accessed here.

For more information on the guidance note, or to understand how TFT’s approach to TDD can help you, please contact David Mann at dmann@tftconsultants.com

Welsh Government to enforce ban on combustible materials

The Welsh government has announced that as of today, it will be enforcing a cladding ban which applies the same restrictions as in England. However, in the run-up to the ban, reports have surfaced regarding discontent from Welsh firefighters about the application of the law.

TFT Partner, John Newton, who heads up the Cardiff office said:

There seems to be mixed views on the ban, directly on the extent of its effect when only applying to buildings above the height threshold. Firefighters here have been pushing for a ban to apply to all buildings, regardless of height in order to create a much safer environment.

A White Paper will be published by Julie James, Housing Minister for Wales, to lay out the details of the Government’s plans following the national enforcement.

The below provides more information on what the ban includes and how it will affect buildings in the relevant regions.

The ban is on combustible cladding (I.e Euroclass B or lower) materials to building facade cladding and relates to new buildings with floors above 18m and covers schools, residential (including hotels, boarding houses, hostels), hospitals, care homes and student accommodation.

In 2018, in a surprise move, the Government stopped short of a retrospective ban on existing combustible cladding systems. Whilst this does not necessarily mean that existing properties are unsafe (there are many factors to ensuring that a building performs adequately in a fire), investors and occupiers will wish to obtain specialist advice particularly in relation to residential assets over 18m in height.

Alan Pemberton, TFT Partner says:

Although the government has implemented a ban on combustible cladding and insulation for residential buildings over 18m, this is not to be applied retrospectively, but where does this leave existing buildings or developments under construction? Potentially blighted and unsafe to occupy?

Not necessarily.

Existing occupied buildings must be fully assessed and evaluated by a suitable qualified person, not only in terms of life safety means of escape, but property protection for risk of fire ignition and spread. Buildings insurance will also be a determining factor with construction approved by insurers to ensure cover provision.

In our view, for buildings under construction and not yet complete, the industry has a duty to construct safe buildings (irrespective of whether works were in compliance before the ban, not just when the ban came into force), especially based on the information now known regarding certain products and materials.

For more information, please contact Simon Young at syoung@tftconsultants.com

Five New Year resolutions for resilient built assets

2019’s news agenda seemed full of the effects of climate change and resource scarcity, and the situation fuelled global political debate, business decision-making and social activism more than ever before. The consequences for real estate are still being apprehended and dissected, although its immediate impacts are clear to see.

Just as most of us come out of the other side of the Christmas break ready to make some resolutions for a happy and healthy new year, our approach to sustainable buildings could do with the same treatment.

23 of the UK’s leading property owners (responsible for a combined £300bn of assets under management), have agreed to deliver net-zero-carbon portfolios by 2050. Their pathways for action will be published this year. Ahead of those announcements, TFT hosted 70 of our clients, colleagues and industry friends to discuss one of the most pressing issues facing the built environment.

We teased out five important points from our Christmas CPD session for property surveyors, investors and asset managers to consider as we look ahead to another year of developing more resilient, sustainable and viable buildings.

1. Enhance biodiversity to mitigate climate impacts:

Investigate the application of green infrastructure to help mitigate climate change effects in urban areas. Used well, green and blue infrastructure can promote cooling, drainage and mental well-being.” Helen Newman, Technical Partner

2. Redefine building performance:

“Expand the definition of building performance to include user experience, well-being and sustainability objectives together, to create a more realistic commercial objective.” Austen Bates, Associate

3. Review building services for climate resilience

“Future-proof mechanical and electrical (M+E) systems must be assessed against operational conditions and future climate risks to ensure resilience in a changing world.” Marc Hill, Partner

4. Measure and improve well-being and comfort

Assets which deliver the greatest well-being and customer experience of occupants will be commercially resilient – at a time of instant social feedback and flexible tenancies, it’s never been easier for occupants to be the voice of reason!” Giulia Mori, Senior Energy & Sustainability Consultant

5. Embrace a circular approach to materials and carbon

“Interrogate your supply chain to introduce circular materials and methods. It’s complex but crucial work to change the consumption model of building resources.” Natalia Ford, Senior Sustainability Consultant

Despite the uncertainty of the path ahead, if these five approaches get a front row seat at the decision-making table, we can only look forward to what’s around the corner.

To hear more about the topics covered from our CPD session or to hear about TFT events for 2020, get in touch with Jacky Bell at jbell@tftconsultants.com

‘Tis the season to give back

At TFT our communities are close to our hearts – this year we’ve been supporting and contributing to 14 local charities across our offices and, nationally, have continued our work for LandAid to help raise awareness and funds to put an end to youth homelessness. This Christmas, as before, we’ve donated to its yearly Christmas Card Alternative instead of buying and sending out Christmas cards.

But there’s always more we can do.

As the evenings close in and the temperatures drop, everybody can help those sleeping rough in some of the toughest conditions of the year. Over the years attending LandAid events, including the annual sleepouts, we’ve gathered three top tips on helping people who may be struggling on the streets:

  1. Check for signs of hypothermia (shivering, slurred mumbling, slow breathing, confusion, loss of consciousness) and call 999 if you feel they are in need of medical attention.
  2. Offer to buy them a hot drink/food.
  3. Report their location to StreetLink (you can download their app) so the charity can connect them to local support services.

2019 has been a busy LandAid year for TFT and we have thoroughly enjoyed taking part in their numerous fundraisers such as the LandAid 10k, Ambassador Challenge, LandAid Day, Steptober, Proptoberfest South West Tag Rugby Tournament and the Christmas Card Alternative, not to mention the 2020 SleepOut Series of which we are sponsoring the Bristol SleepOut on Feb 13 (secure your space here!)

We are proud to continue our involvement offering pro bono advice to LandAid’s national projects, most recently East St Mews, Bristol and Impact Hub, London.

We look forward to a prosperous 2020 working alongside all our partner charities to help them reach their goals and maximise the well-being of those they support.

Asset Extinction vs Adaptation: TFT’s annual CPD session

This year, TFT’s annual CPD session will demonstrate how surveyors, asset managers and investment managers can meet the sustainability challenges of their buildings. We’re inviting you to join us.

Beyond Brexit, economic cycles and political upheaval, climate change and resource scarcity are exerting major pressure on today’s property industry. Accordingly, 23 of the UK’s leading property owners (responsible for a combined £300bn of assets under management), have agreed to deliver net-zero-carbon portfolios by 2050. Their pathways for action will be published in 2020.

But how do we meet these goals? By integrating sustainable asset management practices with day-to-day operation.

In a 1.5 hour CPD session, TFT specialists will combine technical knowledge and commercial perspectives with the latest sustainability practice and principles. We will demonstrate how surveyors, asset managers and investment managers can all contribute to the sustainable performance of the buildings they work on.

Topics to be covered on the day include:

  • The climate and biodiversity emergency: Helen Newman, Technical Partner
  • Redefining building performance: Austen Bates, Associate
  • Building services: maintaining performance and coping with climate change: Marc Hill, Partner (M+E)
  • Wellbeing performance for asset resilience: Giulia Mori, Senior Energy & Sustainability Consultant
  • Circular buildings: Natalia Ford, Senior Sustainability Consultant

The session takes place on the morning of December 5th, in central London.

Are you interested in exploring methods of meeting the sustainability challenges of your buildings and portfolios?

To join us, contact Jacky Bell at jbell@tftconsultants.com.

TFT provides Daylight and Sunlight advice for Osiers Road

We provided independent daylight and sunlight advice to the Greater London Authority, for the Osiers Road development in Wandsworth.

Photo Credit: Rolfe Judd Architecture

The scheme is a new mixed-use development in the Wandsworth Riverside area, made up of buildings between 8 and 14 storeys forming 168 residential units of affordable housing. Alongside the residential units, Osiers Road features green public space, a children’s play area and nearly 4,000 sq m of new commercial space too.

TFT’s independent daylight and sunlight and rights of light advice covers all property types in all kinds of settings. To find out more, get in touch with Chris Harris to discuss your challenges and see how we can help.

TFT Brightwell Triple team raise £4k for Bristol MS therapy centre

Paul Spaven (far left), TFT Partner and Chair of the Brightwell, at the cheque presentation last week with the Brightwell Triple team and staff from the centre.

In August, three of TFT Bristol’s most enthusiastic and keen ‘sports’ decided to raise money for one of the Bristol office’s local charities: The Brightwell, a local therapy centre with a state of the art oxygen tank for people with multiple sclerosis and other neurological conditions.

The trio – Vanessa Rothon, Mark Day and Simon Parker – felt that the charity deserved their support due to its small-scale network and the life-changing work it does, having learned that so many people depend on the centre’s help and support, both physically and psychologically.  To help raise much-needed funds for a new cafe in the centre, the trio designed the Brightwell Triple: a 2-day fundraiser which saw them cycling and hiking 70km from Bristol to Swindon with a daring 10,000ft skydive to finish!

With Gift Aid, the team raised just shy of £4k in the end and we are so proud of their efforts.

Simon Parker, an M&E engineer who during the working day you’ll find inspecting infrastructure, plant and machinery, heating and ventilation and so forth, has reflected on the experience as one he and the team are proud to have taken on:

This was certainly one of the tougher charity fundraisers I have taken part in, but it was one I will remember with a big smile with the knowledge of how valuable donations like these are to the Centre. Without businesses supporting our communities, they would not be able to help people who have such complex needs that, if not assisted appropriately, prevent them doing so many basic things in their daily lives that I know we all take for granted.

The challenge was given even more meaning when we were able to see these facilities put into action. I think having a charity that you can maintain regular contact with by visiting, calling and emailing helps drive you and bring you a better understanding of how you can help them! We are lucky at TFT that we can do that every year with our local communities.

Cycle
Distance: 28.57mi/46km
Duration: 3hrs:13mins
Average speed: 8.9mph

Hike
Distance: 13.67mi/22km
Elevation: 29,586 steps
Duration: 4hrs:32mins
Average speed: 3.03mph

Skydive
Exit altitude: 9,640 ft
Freefall time: 35 secs
Max speed: 147mph
Max G force: 4.06 G
Canopy time: 4 min:52 secs
Average speed: 10mph

If you would like to find out more about what The Brightwell does and how you can support the centre, or you think you may benefit from its services, click here.

TFT to monitor The Interchange, Cardiff, as the Welsh capital continues to transform

Photo Credit: HMA Architects

TFT has been appointed by Legal & General Capital Investments Ltd to undertake technical due diligence (TDD) for the acquisition and subsequent project monitoring for the development of The Interchange, Cardiff.

The Interchange is part of Central Square, Cardiff, a new live and creative business district built around the principal transport hubs (train, bus and future metro) and incorporating sustainable cycle highway connections to the rest of the city.

The instruction will span over a 3-year period and is the latest element of the city’s largest redevelopment scheme. TFT Partner John Newton will monitor the project following his involvement in Plots 6 & 7. Interchange is one of the final phases of the scheme and will comprise Wales’ biggest build to rent scheme, 84,000 sq ft of grade A offices, as well as a new and upgraded central bus station.

TFT’s continued involvement on Central Square, will enable best practice to be adopted on these latest works, to ensure the project achieves the investor’s time, cost and quality goals.

Development is underway at The Interchange (Photo credit: TFT, July 2019)

The scheme paves the way for economic and social growth in the Welsh capital, responding to the growing population’s demand for more private rented schemes and government calls to make housing more affordable.

The bus station, a 14-bay interchange with a concourse, is set to be operating at the end of 2022. The scheme will significantly improve passenger experience and efficiency in and out of the city centre as well as simplifying the travel to and from the new offices for visiting and permanent staff.

In response to the appointment, John said:

This fantastic development ticks all the right boxes incorporating Wales’ largest buy-to-rent scheme, creating new jobs via its office/retail elements and providing Cardiff with its new eagerly anticipated central bus station. The scheme’s developers – Rightacres Property Co Ltd – have worked tirelessly with Cardiff City Council to assemble the site and instigate development preparations. Now, together with the essential funding of Legal and General, they are ready to make things happen.

The Central Square development has created an impetus to redevelop the nearby old Brains brewery site and extended land into a large mixed-use scheme by the same developer. If plans come to light, the two schemes will transform the central area of Cardiff, enhancing its reputation as one of the fastest expanding capital cities in Europe, and improving its capability of attracting prime inward investment.

Fire safety update: Approved Document B 2019

An updated version of Approved Document B – the government’s guidance for how to meet the requirements of Building Regulations 2010 – has been published. It includes guidance for demonstrating that new buildings meet the required standards of fire / life safety.

New government guidance has implications for new building fire safety in England and Scotland.

From a cladding perspective, the headlines in England, as introduced under the November 2018 regulatory ban, are as follows:

  • Regulatory restrictions apply to the external walls of certain buildings with sleeping accommodation over 18m. The buildings within the scope of this restriction include: hospitals, dormitories, student accommodation, sheltered housing and apartment blocks.
  • All significant external wall materials on the building types listed above must essentially be non-combustible (i.e, European Class A2-s1, d0 or Class A1).
  • The restrictions do not apply to hostels, hotels, boarding houses, commercial buildings, or any buildings below 18m. However, the commercial and reputation implications of using combustible cladding materials need to be carefully considered.  

The situation in Scotland is more robust. A ban on combustible cladding materials will apply to buildings with a storey height above 11m, both to domestic and non-domestic properties and comes into force on 1 October 2019.

TFT has experience of navigating this evolving situation, including the coordination of cladding safety investigations and remedial works.

Please contact Simon Young for more details.

HMRC Stratford hub celebrates topping out ceremony before it becomes home to Brexit preparations

The HMRC hub topping outs are well underway and we recently witnessed the new HMRC London office, Stratford, reach its highest point.

The 297,328 sqft headquarters will home 4,400 public servants and is due to be complete in late 2020. When it was leased, the hub was projected to base 3,800 staff, but this has now risen in numbers to accommodate work on Brexit.

TFT has been appointed as fund monitor by L&G since January 2018 and is providing monthly reporting to the fund on various aspects of the project.

Katie Brooks, Associate at TFT who lead the monitoring team on the development said:

We are pleased to represent L&G on this exciting and high profile investment. The team at Westfield has been focussed on delivering the building to programme, and we have been impressed with the speed at which it has been constructed.

The ceremony was attended by the developers, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, funders Legal & General, senior executives at HMRC amongst numerous other stakeholders.

This is one of a portfolio of 9 similar developments funded by L&G that TFT is monitoring across the country.