It takes a lot of planning to get big projects on site: to build up reserves, budget for any shortfalls and get consultation notices served and do contractor probity checks.
It is important for Clients to get involved and inspect comparable projects of the chosen contractor
There are many overlapping aspects to undertaking a works on the structure and fabric of a building or to communal services ranging from technical diagnosis to legal consultation and of course public relations to get owners to buy into their share of costs and accept these as “reasonable”.
Section 20 Consultation for major works: What you need to know
Step 1 - A shared understandingFor a bill to be seen as value for money those paying need to understand that:
- it is the lease that sets out a duty & frequency to carry out cyclical works;
- there are Health & Safety, defects diagnosis, specification and contract matters which typically a Surveyor/Engineer has to take care of;
- there are up to 3 stages of statutory consultation that must be served.... before works can begin. Else, recovering the cost of the works may be restricted to £250 per owner;
- the Health & Safety Executive will probably have to be notified of the project;
- the lease sets out how and when funds can be collected, i.e. you may not be able to collect funds until the next year's service charge budget.
First you should serve a Stage 1 Section 20 Consultation Notice
Essentially this Section 20 Consultation Notice notifies your intention to carry out worksMore information about consultation
Next you should find out what is required: your duty as a Landlord
Leases and transfer documents (for houses) can vary vastly from a specific requirement e.g., to decorate every 5 years, or to carry out decorations “as and when deemed necessary by the Landlord's Surveyor”, or a clause that requires a standard to be achieved, e.g., to keep in good and substantial repair and decoration. So you need to chck the Freeholder’s or Management Company’s covenants.
Ringley Law deal with consultation requirements, which since the introduction of the Commonhold & Leasehold Reform Act 2002 can require up to 3 stages of consultation.
Step 2 – Consider any statutory and regulatory requirements
- Planning permission
- Building regulations consent
- Listed buildings consent
- Section 20 consultation
- Project notification to the HSE (Health & Safety Executive)
- Appointment of a Planning Supervisor
- Preparation of a Health & Safety file
- Preparation of a pre-tender Health & Safety plan
- Preparation of a Survey to confirm the presence of asbestos
- Safe access to carry out the works as per the 1996 Health & Safety Regulations
Step 3 – Practical project considerationsOur Surveyors and Engineers are trained to be able to provide you advice on:
- Service upgrades (electrical etc.)
- Water mains replacement
- Improvement & recoverability
- Collapsed drains
- Changing windows, (lintels may be inadequate)
- defects diagnosis
- preparing a specification of works (methods, materials & quantities)
- analysing tender returns, contractor selection and managing the contract risk
- Issuing instructions in an efficient and timely manner.
- Financial management – issuing interim payment certificates during a project.
- Issuing a practical completion certificate - signifying the end of works on site and start of the defects liability period.
- Issuing a final certificate - triggering release of monies retained during the defects liability period.
Gearing up for major works - check our project planner
See what needs to happen when: From specialist identification of works, materials and quantities to being on site – check our flowchart.
- Tender jobs in the winter to get the best price.
- The Surveyor/Engineer’s work needs to tie in with the statutory consultation timescales.
- Rarely is it possible to get a job specified and on site in less than 6 months.
- You may have to wait until your next budget before legally you can collect the funds.
Step 4 – Consider recoverability
It is important to check whether the lease enables the cost of works carried out to be recovered, for example, if they were deemed an improvment, e.g., TV upgrade to satelite, door entry upgrade to video entry, recoverability may be barred.
Care needs to be taken in contemplating major works or large refurbishment expenditure as without the necessary statutory consultation (S20 Landlord & Tenant Act 1985) the maximum recoverable from service charges payers could be limited to £250!Don't risk prosecution by the Health & Safety Executive for failing to:
- notify a relevant project.
- breaching the 1996 Health & Safety Regulations Effective update which limit what is considered safe access for working to areas above 2nd floor level or even 1st floor level in older buildings!
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