Archives: People

Green Dilapidations: more sustainable commercial property leases

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Commercial building owners and occupiers are increasingly looking to fulfil their net zero carbon ambitions with measures beyond more sustainable development and energy performance practices. In particular, the current property leasing cycle and non-sustainable dilapidations processes are generating quantities of waste and carbon, which can be mitigated with a more sustainable approach: Green Dilapidations.

TFT’s Green Dilapidations services are designed to help clients reduce the additional material, resources and cost associated with repeatedly fitting out and stripping out commercial property spaces over their lifetime. Taking a long-term view of tenancy, occupier and market requirements, we help our clients benefit from a more efficient, sustainable dilapidations process for both landlord and tenant.

Our support is rooted in facilitating better collaboration between stakeholders. That means the landlord and tenant of course, but also agents and the wider supply chain. Our sustainable building knowledge, commercial understanding and dilapidations expertise helps to formalise a better system as a whole.

We see a greater appetite from our landlord and tenant clients to adopt Green Dilapidations services. A notable occupier client is one of the leading property litigation practices, who we are helping to exit their existing offices in this way.

It’s not just for offices either, and can be used for retail, industrial and other commercial property sectors.

We’re here to help you do dilapidations in a better way. Get in touch with Jon Rowling to discuss how our dilapidations and sustainability expertise can help reduce the carbon impacts of your property lifecycle.

Download our brief service outline here.

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Chartered Building Surveyor

An excellent opportunity for a Chartered/Senior Building Surveyor to become part of our growing building surveying team in our Birmingham office working on a wide and varied range of building surveying disciplines in a commercial environment. We have an enviable and national client base including The Crown Estate, Aviva, Legal & General and M&G among others.

You will have the opportunity to gain more autonomy, build client relationships and have the potential to specialise in a chosen area as you progress through your career. You will be part of a flexible and very supportive environment with great opportunities for career progression.

Key accountabilities

Primarily working within the commercial sector undertaking a wide range of building surveying, but not limited to:

  1. Contract administration
  2. Technical Due Diligence
  3. Dilapidations
  4. Building Pathology
  5. General building surveying commercial work in line with a Chartered Building Surveyor role

Performance criteria

  1. Degree in Building Surveying & MRICS
  2. Excellent and accurate report writing skills
  3. Experience of working in a pro-active commercial environment
  4. Sound knowledge of building contracts in a commercial context
  5. Able to meet fee targets and generate new business through building successful client relationships
  6. Commercially astute
  7. Embraces technology
  8. High level of up-to-date technical building knowledge

Skills and behaviour

  1. Must be a good team player and able to work independently
  2. Confident and concise communicator both verbally and in writing
  3. Business focused and willing to be involved in business development and building client relationships
  4. Thorough understanding of the needs and demands of clients
  5. Full driving licence and access to a car

Package indicators

  • Competitive salary plus benefits: Car allowance, Fee related bonus scheme, iPhone & Laptop to support flexible & hybrid working, Private Health Care (after 6 months), career development investment, Personal Accident cover, Life Assurance, 25 days holiday, long service awards, 1 day charity leave, professional membership subscription and company pension scheme after 3 months
  • Cycle scheme and interest free season ticket loan available on completion of probationary period.

About TFT

TFT is the leading independent firm of Development, Built Asset & Engineering and Sustainability consultants. We place the wellbeing of people and the performance of buildings at the heart of everything we do.

We’re proud of our reputation for integrity and delivering work of the highest quality, blended with commercial pragmatism. We offer a strong track record across all commercial property sectors, advising investors, developers, occupiers and owners on maximising best property asset values. Diversity and strength in depth is important to us. Whether it be a technical thought leader with a career’s experience – or a recently qualified rising star – in today’s risk averse world you need people on your side with a reputation for diligence, transparency, intellect and commercial insight. Clients see TFT as large enough to provide the expertise and resources to get the best from their portfolios, and small enough for it to matter personally.

We have over 175 partners and employees operating from a network of offices in Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Dublin, Edinburgh, Guildford, London, Manchester, Leeds and Southampton.

TFT is passionate about people development and will provide you with excellent and progressive career opportunities and sponsored learning.

We are BCorp Certified!

As TFT’s impact on the world has grown with the size of our business and the scale of our client services, we are determined that our future growth continues to be positive and sustainable. B Corp certification enables us to do just that, by recognising the highest standards of social and environmental performance and aligning our ongoing efforts with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.


At TFT we don’t aim to tick boxes and count numbers and percentages, we create an environment where anyone, from any background and life experience, can do their best work. We empower you to bring your full, authentic self to work. We are diverse by nature and inclusive by choice.

If you’re driven to perform, you’ll fit right in, we approach work fearlessly, learn quickly and improve constantly. A bright idea can come from anyone. We believe diversity drives innovation.

Our approach to diversity, equity and inclusion is simple – we embrace everyone. We wouldn’t approach a building survey in a one-dimensional way, so we don’t our people.

Martin Smith

Martin’s project management approach adopts inclusive practices to drive innovation in project teams to rise to the challenge of client briefs to meet ever increasing regulation, ESG targets and sustainability accreditations.

He has a strong track record of delivering large complex projects covering refurbishment and redevelopment of existing structures with retained structures and facades in central London. Martin has managed disputes through to agreements with many tier 1 contractors and applies due diligence through his building pathology knowledge being a Chartered building surveyor and has represented developers, landlords and tenants.

Martin has often worked for several key clients; GPE, M&G RE, City of London Corporation, Portman Estates, The Crown Estate, B-flexion (Crosstree), Motcomb Estates, Quilter Plc, Global Holdings and CBRE IM. Martin has worked closely with end users to understand their key objectives, working across various sectors including commercial office, residential, retail and life sciences.

Martin previously worked at Buro Four and was responsible for leading the commercial offices sector and successfully delivered Quilter Plc’s new headquarter building at Senator House.

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When not working I am involved in volunteer work including several years of mentoring British Council for Offices NextGen members, ex Co-Chair of Building Equality, Co-Chair of Maryland Community Group in east London and current Trustee at AMUK, with the aim to build London’s first permanent AIDS memorial by 2025.



Sarah McDonnell

Sarah is Director of Project Management for the TFT Dublin office. She brings over 25 years of industry experience to TFT and has worked on a wide range of work overseeing all project management processes from purchase, through to design development and construction contract completion.

Her extensive experience includes projects across all industry sectors. Prior to joining TFT, Sarah worked on both client side for a prominent Irish property developer and also leading the refurbishment and Fit-Out division of one of Ireland’s leading contractors. Past clients include IPUT, Willis, JP Morgan, Google, KPMG and Hines.

Outside of the office, Sarah sits on the Board of ALONE, a charity dedicated to enabling older people to live independently at home and is also on the judging panel for the Irish Construction Excellence Awards.

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Outside of work I am a mum to Aimee and Daragh, wife to Dave and chief dog walker to Pebbles. Weekends are usually spent as a taxi driver to matches, helping out on the local school’s Parents Association or trying to get my handicap down on the local golf course.

RAAC in commercial buildings: what do you need to know?

Reinforced aerated autoclaved concrete (RAAC) is in the headlines following high-profile building failures and public scrutiny on the risks remaining to public buildings around the country. But is RAAC a material of concern for commercial buildings? If owners or occupiers of commercial buildings suspect that their buildings are constructed using RAAC, what should they do?

Many commercial building owners are aware of risks relating to RAAC and have developed guidance notes on its identification and management. But now, in light of widespread coverage of RAAC and its risks, many more people want to understand their exposure to it.

TFT Partner Jay Ridings has written on this issue for the RICS’ Built Environment Journal, and we’ve also compiled this set of frequently asked questions about RAAC. If you want to know about its origins, its use and management today, read on.

Do you want to speak with our team urgently about RAAC and what it might mean for your commercial property? Get in touch with Jay Ridings direct, by clicking here.

What is Reinforced Aerated Autoclaved Concrete (RAAC)?

In brief:

Aerated autoclaved concrete (AAC) is much lighter and softer than regular concrete, with lower thermal conductivity. AAC was originally developed in Sweden to form lightweight thermal blocks and, using the same method, wide reinforced planks (Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) planks) were created. These planks are commonly found as roof decks, flooring and internal partitions. Occasionally they are also used as external walls.

What are the weaknesses of RAAC?

The greatest concern with RAAC planks is their potential for sudden shear failure. If a building structure is going to fail, we want this to happen by degrees so that there are warning signs to act on instead of immediate catastrophic failure. The reason for the shear failure is due to issues with the steel reinforcement, typically at the end of the planks.

Other concerns leading to deterioration of planks potentially impact their structural stability. Planks are prone to deflection and sagging, particularly if:

  • Planks are incorrectly detailed
  • Working loads have been underestimated
  • Elements are undersized
  • Reinforcement is inadequate

If there is sagging there is the potential for cracking and for the steel reinforcement to become exposed to moisture which could lead to corrosion. If roof planks begin to sag, water can gather on the roof above them (known as ponding). This may increase the load on the sagging planks, leading to further moisture ingress, exposure of the steel reinforcement, corrosion, and cracking.

Is RAAC found in commercial buildings?

In our experience, it is rare to see RAAC planks within commercial buildings. RAAC is most prominent in the public sector, notably schools and hospitals, but there are reports of its use in court buildings, prisons, and police stations.

However, these planks were available commercially and may be in buildings other than the above. In addition, buildings do change in their use and ownership over time, so there will be instances where buildings constructed within the public sector are now privately owned.

How do I know if my building contains RAAC?

There is no central register of buildings with RAAC planks, so identification depends on local knowledge and independent inspections. Here are some simple principles for identifying RAAC planks:

  • Panels 600mm wide
  • A distinctive V-shaped groove at regular spacing
  • White or light grey colour
  • On records or drawings, planks may be referred to by proprietary names such as Siporex, Durox, Celcon, Hebel and Ytong
  • Panels are very soft and if you press a screwdriver or nail into the surface, you will be able to make an indentation. Please note: care should be taken when investigating in this way as applied surface finishes may contain asbestos.
  • Inside, planks will appear bubbly like an Aero chocolate bar, with no visible stones (aggregate) in the panels.

If you suspect RAAC in your building, then an appropriately experienced Chartered Structural Engineer or Chartered Building Surveyor should be appointed for identification and inspection work.

Their investigations will include but are not limited to:

  • Assessing cracking
  • Measuring deflections
  • Reviewing water penetration and corrosion
  • Using cover meters to assess regular spacing of reinforcement
  • Checking that reinforcement extends to the end of planks and is properly supported
  • Taking and sending samples for laboratory testing

How can I manage RAAC?

If RAAC is discovered, you must undertake a risk assessment considering the use of the building, the areas affected and any deterioration of the structure. The position of reinforcement can be scanned using a cover meter and samples can be tested for carbonation, which is a sign that cracking could follow.

Structural engineers often recommend RAAC planks to be removed or strengthened wherever they are found, regardless of condition. This is because of the risk of sudden catastrophic failure and the fact that these planks are likely to have exceeded their design life. Subject to a full assessment of the risks, it may be possible to take a different approach.

Can you help me investigate RAAC in commercial buildings?

Yes, our team of Chartered Surveyors is on hand to investigate and manage improvements works for commercial buildings.

It is very likely there will be further discoveries and media attention on RAAC. News of failing buildings due to this outdated material highlights the urgent need for guidance and action to identify and implement remedial solutions.

Get in touch here to speak with our team about RAAC and what it might mean for your commercial property. Get in touch with Jay Ridings direct, by clicking here.

BPP Lion House, Cambridge

The property is a mixed-use primarily retail complex incorporating the city library of Cambridge. The third floor of the building is occupied by an education provider with reception area, classrooms and dedicated washrooms.

As part of continued investment in the premises, by the asset manager and to support the ongoing service of the education provider to the city of Cambridge, TFT managed a design and build landlords CAT A and occupies CAT B fit out of the third floor.

The project included a new heating system an improved passive and dynamic fire protection and also presented an opportunity to move away from the existing gas supply to a fully electric HVAC system. The system supported the occupiers net zero commitments, and the project reached an EPC of ‘B’ with 38 points.

Jay Ridings

Jay Ridings is a Senior Director and a chartered building surveyor (MRICS) and leads the technical due diligence service line, as well as contributing to the TFT leadership groups for fund monitoring and fire safety.

Jay has a keen interest in developing and improving TFT’s reporting, adopting the latest technology to communicate survey findings, streamlining the TDD process to assist transactions and providing holistic, commercial advice, integrating all of TFT’s specialisms.

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Out of work, I have a sociable time with three children, dog walks and lunches, reading (once everyone is eventually in bed!) and very active holidays camping and skiing. Occasionally I make it to a yoga class or get onto the golf course.

TFT charity spotlight: 1625 Independent People

Support for our local communities and charitable causes is central to TFT life, and has been throughout our 50 years! Each of our offices has strong local charity partnerships, so we can use our Volunteer Days, our skills and our resources to help many causes close to our hearts.

One of the longest relationships we have is with the Bristol-based charity 1625 Independent People (1625ip). They help vulnerable young people in Bristol and South Gloucestershire with housing, personal support, training and employment to overcome a hard start to life and gain a better footing for their future.

Through some 15 years, the TFT team has worked with 1625ip to raise money, share equipment and resources to set young people up for success. Today, the charity’s services help more than 1000 users at any one time!

Kingsley Hall

A major challenge for 1625ip is to refurbish Kingsley Hall, its Grade 2* Listed site in Bristol’s Old Market conservation area. It needs to turn this heritage building into a sustainable, long term and beneficial place for young homeless people to turn to, to overcome isolation, develop their skills and rebuild their lives.

The project will create:

  • Great spaces for young people to meet and receive training
  • A skills kitchen
  • A social enterprise
  • Housing for young people who have been homeless
  • High-quality office space for 1625ip colleagues

To keep the project moving forwards, 1625ip is always looking for support from anyone who can offer it. If that could be you, get in touch with us, or with the charity directly, here:

More support for the future

Not only has the charity grown, but it offers new support as the world changes. 1625 Independent People is 40 this year, and in the beginning its focus was on those who struggled with alcohol and drug use. Today the charity has a wider remit covering mental health, diet and neurodiversity challenges across society, which present major barriers for young people to progress.

So the support we can give through our time and our resources can benefit more people in the Bristol and South Gloucester area today than ever before.

As both 1625 Independent People and TFT look forward to celebrating major milestone birthdays this year, we can’t wait to keep working together for many years to come.

How can you help?

If you’d like to find out more about 1625 Independent People, what better way than to check out their upcoming sleepout challenge? Click here to sign up, and click here to see which sponsorship opportunities remain.

If spending a night under the stars isn’t your thing, fear not. You don’t need to bring a sleeping bag to enjoy the festival they’re putting on in the heart of Bristol. There will be live music, tasty food and a chance to meet the young people who benefit from 1625IP’s amazing services.

Come and join us at the Bristol harbourside on 2nd November 2023, to see for yourself how much good this charity is doing for young people in the region.

Osama Shawky

Osama is MSc/MBA mechanical engineer with over 18 years’ proven record of technical engineering, academic research and business development experience.

Over the last 8 years, Osama’s focus has shifted from M&E design to Sustainability, leading building performance simulation and energy related workstreams, using a range of modelling approaches, tools, and techniques to bring about fundamental change and improvement in Energy performance, and to help thru the journey towards Net Zero.


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Away from work, Osama has a keen interest in camping & fishing, he’s dedicated to exploring the unknown, and embracing the wilderness of the great outdoors.