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Forde George News

Barn conversions made easy?

Posted on April 7, 2016 by Forde George

How are the 2015 revisions to the Permitted Development Rights, Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order performing?   Are they a simple, fast track route to a source of income for those unloved and unwanted agricultural buildings?

We have considered the imposed restrictions on exercising rights under the Order, in relation to the likely building works required for conversion. From the experience of Forde George it is very probable that successful conversion will rely upon extensive structural improvement to even the most structural stable building, with new elements such as floors, inner loadbearing walls and new primary roof structures being required, this apparently compromising the exercising of PD rights detailed below.

Forde George, in preparing Building Condition surveys for PD applications, can contribute to the Application process, hopefully convincing the Planning Authority of the Buildings suitability for conversion.  Forde George also offer the full design and management service for barn and other building conversion schemes.

In brief, subject to a number of conditions and restrictions, agricultural buildings and land within their curtilage may be converted to a use falling within Class C3 of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order 1987 (dwelling houses). These conditions and restrictions are set out in Class Q of Part 3 of Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015. There is a maximum floor space that may be converted of 450 m2 of floor space of a building or buildings within a single established agricultural unit. The total number of new homes which may be developed is 3 dwellings or 450m2 threshold, is reached. The total number of new homes (3 dwelling houses) excluding existing residential properties within the established agricultural unit, unless created by the use of the permitted development right

So are there any limitations on the extent of building works which can be carried out? Although the permitted development right under Class Q assumes that the agricultural building is capable of functioning as a dwelling, it recognises that for the building to function as a dwelling some building operations which would affect the external appearance of the building, which would otherwise require planning permission, should be permitted e.g. the installation or replacement of windows, doors, roofs, exterior walls, partial demolition etc. However it is not the intention of the permitted development right to include the construction of new structural elements for the building. Therefore it is only where the existing building is structurally strong enough to take the loading which comes with the external works to provide for residential use that the building would be considered to have the permitted development right. Arguably therefore an admission that additional structural support or localised rebuilding is required could, on paper, compromise the approval.

The local planning authority can consider whether the location and siting of the building (and the facilities in the area) would make it impractical or undesirable to change use to a house. However if the building is in a location where the local planning authority would not normally grant planning permission for a new dwelling this is not a sufficient reason for refusing prior approval.

There are some limitations to the change to residential use. Where there has been a benefit from Agriculture rights under the existing agricultural permitted development, carried out since 20 March 2013, or within 10 years (before the proposed change to residential use), class Q rights cannot be exercised. The site must have been used solely for an agricultural use for the stated minimum period.

Having satisfied all of these restrictive conditions the Applicant will still need to discuss with the planning authority the possible need for other consents relating issues including transport, highways, noise impacts, flooding and contamination risks on the site and aspects of design or external appearance of the building.

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Bridgwater Surveys

Posted on March 29, 2016 by Forde George

Having undertaken numerous Commercial Building surveys previously for Staunton Property, the preparation of detailed Survey Reports of Industrial units in Bridgwater enabled a swift acquisition of the units.  As with all Commercial Building Surveys our ‘Due Diligence’ Reports include a detailed review of building fabric and environs with a review of both Freehold and Leasehold documentation, the latter critical in the assessment of current and future Dilapidation issues.



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Fire Damage Reinstatement

Posted on October 29, 2015 by Forde George

Before and after photographs of a recently completed Grade II Listed cob and thatch fire damaged property. Forde George liaised between the owners and loss adjuster when acting as designers, specifiers and contract administrators.


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Axminster Heritage Centre

Posted on October 27, 2015 by Forde George

The Axminster Heritage Centre nears completion. The Conversion and refurbishment of this Grade II Listed building, Designed and Project Managed by Forde George Chartered Building Surveyors will provide the next phase of a publically accessible Heritage facility focussing on the history of Axminster and its carpet making heritage, based in the original home of Axminster Carpets, Thomas Whitty House.

IMG_1995 IMG_1996 IMG_1998

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The Importance Of Contracts And Professional Assistance

Posted on October 6, 2015 by Forde George

The steady stream of property improvement programs on television has led to an increasing number of homeowners electing to act as Project Manager on domestic improvement and even new build schemes. Unfortunately, TV shows often do not give a true representation of the potential complexity of managing a project and the importance of documentation on which a Contractor’s order should be based. It is not uncommon for Forde George to be contacted by parties in potential dispute where the “contract” comprises a single letter with description and a single price. The apparent cost saving in avoiding professional assistance is often significantly outweighed by the extract cost of the Client’s own time and necessary variations to the contract.

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Building Surveys – Horses For Courses

Posted on September 22, 2015 by Forde George

Forde George are often approached by prospective purchasers who have not acquired a property for some considerable time and are unaware of the types of surveys available.

The RICS promotes a number of survey alternatives which, whilst consistent in the degree of survey, do vary in respect of the extent and detail of reporting. The basic mortgage valuation, instigated by a lender, is an assessment of their risk should the purchaser default on mortgage payments. This would be fairly limited in the survey detail and reporting.

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Posted in Purchasing Property | 1 Comment |

Expert Witness And Disputes

Posted on September 8, 2015 by Forde George

The RICS provides advice on dispute resolution, including arbitration and Chartered Building Surveyors acting as Expert Witness. The Directors of Forde George are often instructed to act as an Expert Witness, increasingly at an early stage in the life of a dispute.

The RICS protocols for Expert Witnesses and the Civil Procedure Rules set out protocols and requirements for the Expert and for those instructing: the Expert being appointed on behalf of the Courts, providing impartial advice to the Court rather than to either party within the dispute. This is often a matter misconstrued by the instructing parties.

In such circumstances, Forde George emphasize the importance of establishing whether there is a need for an advocate report, acting for the appointing party or whether indeed Court action will result, in which case ideally making an application to Court for an Expert Witness to be appointed. An inappropriately worded, premature report could compromise the appointing party if the appropriate legislative guidance is not observed.

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Is Dampness In Buildings Always An Issue?

Posted on August 25, 2015 by Forde George

This is an issue which is invariably dealt with in detail within our residential Full Building Survey and in particular in respect of Listed or historic buildings. Dampness within modern commercial or residential buildings is relatively straightforward and usually due to specific internal or external defects, an item for a different discussion.

Dampness levels in older traditional buildings is more complex and, to some degree, subjective, dependent largely upon the ability of the owner to manage the dampness and emotionally cope with its presence.

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Listed Buildings And Unauthorised Alterations

Posted on August 11, 2015 by Forde George

Forde George Chartered Building Surveyors based in Exeter, Devon undertake a significant number of pre-acquisition building surveys of Listed Buildings and are able to provide in depth dialogue on buildings design, chronology, construction, condition, repair and likely future management. Of particular interest to a purchase is the impact of the building’s ‘Listed’ status and whether any unauthorized alterations have previously been carried out.

The impact of a building’s ‘Listed’ status is often misinterpreted by owners. There is the prevalent misconception that the degree of protection varies between Grades II, II* and Grade I and, for example, that such restrictions only apply to features contained within the description, such as entrance porticos, fireplaces, stairs, etc.

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Energy Act 2011

Posted on July 28, 2015 by Forde George

Due Diligence Pre-acquisition Surveys incorporate numerous statutory issues which any commercial purchaser should be aware of however, the proposals enshrined within the 2011 Energy Act continue to be of most concern. The 2011 Act encompasses many aspects of energy efficiency relating to both residential and commercial property. Those relating to commercial buildings and highlighted in the Forde George Commercial Building Surveys, potentially impose significant responsibilities on both Landlords and Tenants requiring a potentially significant proportion of non-domestic properties to be uprated to EPC levels F and G.

Improvement of the energy efficiency of certain buildings could potentially be fairly easily made compliant, subject of course to the nature of the construction which would also be a subject matter for review within a Due Diligence Report subject to a specialist EPC assessment. Whilst the requirement would currently only apply to properties being marketed or to new leases, in 2023 this is to be extended to all eligible buildings.

There are of course opportunities to obtain exemptions to the requirements in respect of impracticability, viability and when dealing with, for example, Listed Buildings

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