Modus_Covid

We talk to the RICS about adapting our building surveying work during COVID

This month, RICS Modus magazine features an interview with one of our partners, Timothy Allcott MRICS. Timothy discussed how Allcott Associates adapted during the COVID-19 lockdown to continue providing building advice to people across the country.

Now that we are open for business and our surveyors are back on the road working again, it feels like a good time to reflect on how the surveying community responded to the COVID-19 crisis.

In the UK, the lockdown meant that many businesses in the building consultancy industry, including ours, had to temporarily cut back on services or even shut down altogether. Surveyors had to adapt to new ways of working and to find ways to keep busy on furlough.

As Tim described to Modus, Allcott Associates’ solution to keeping our company Partners out of trouble was to offer free building advice. Timothy and our other Partner, Matthew Baker MRICS, answered questions from previous clients and the general public on a range of topics, from mystery roof brackets to damp problems to insulating a house of non-standard construction.

However, it was cracking that was the most frequently queried issue. We saw photos of cracks in render, in internal plaster in both walls and ceilings, and in stonework. Although many people were understandably concerned about the structural integrity of their properties and the possibility of subsidence, most examples we saw were minor and caused by ageing and weathering. This meant solutions were straightforward, such as filling and decorating with appropriate material. As with any cracks, however, it is important to monitor them and to call out a professional if they keep getting worse.

Thankfully, keeping busy is no longer a problem for our surveyors now that the government has lifted some of the restrictions in England. Our surveyors are now back out on site, surveying homes where nobody is shielding or isolating.

Our way of working has adapted to reduce the COVID risk as much as possible. We have additional PPE (gloves, face coverings, shoe covers and antimicrobial wipes) and we are wiping down any surfaces that we touch.

All of our survey reports include comprehensive photos of the property, so we are able to illustrate everything we have found, even though we cannot meet our clients on site. We are also continuing to offer one-to-one advice through phone and video calls, to ensure that all our clients have a thorough understanding of their property.

Open for business: our latest coronavirus (COVID-19) mitigation plan

Looking after our clients and our team

In line with the latest government guidance, Allcott Commercial is open for business. As of 12 May 2020 we are now booking in surveys for properties in which nobody is isolating or shielding.

We are dedicated to looking after our clients, both by continuing to provide an excellent surveying service and by taking every precaution to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

We are committed to protecting the health of our clients and our team. The measures that we have put in place are designed to minimise the risk of spreading the virus. We are following the government advice on working in other people’s homes in addition to carrying out our own risk assessments to ensure that we can safely survey properties at the current COVID alert level.

Before your survey

  • At the time of booking, you will be asked if anyone at the inspection property is self-isolating or has any symptoms associated with coronavirus (a fever, a new & persistent cough or flu-like symptoms) or has been asked to shield (i.e. those who are clinically extremely vulnerable).
    • If anyone is isolating or shielding, your survey will be postponed to a later date.
  • You will also be asked if anyone in the property is over 70 or in a high-risk group.
    • In these cases, individual risks will be discussed and measures to mitigate risks will be agreed. These could include vacating the property for the duration of the internal part of the survey, discussing how to avoid close contact with the surveyor if vacating the property is not possible, and making sure all parties have a thorough understanding of what the survey involves and what precautions the surveyor will take.
  • Our staff are self-monitoring daily for any signs or symptoms of coronavirus and will isolate immediately if they have any concerns. In this case, surveys will be rearranged with an alternative surveyor whenever possible, or postponed to a later date.

During your survey

  • Whenever possible, we will ask that properties are vacated for the duration of the survey. The property may be vacant long-term, or could be vacated by the occupiers in line with government guidance.
  • If properties cannot be vacated, occupiers must stay at least 2m from the surveyor at all times. The best way to achieve this is by staying in one designated room for the duration of the survey, then leaving that room when the surveyor needs to inspect it.
  • The surveyor or booking team will confirm whether anyone who lives at the inspection property is shielding, self-isolating, or has any symptoms associated with coronavirus (a fever, a new & persistent cough or flu-like symptoms).
    • If there is deemed to be a risk, the survey will be postponed to a later date.
  • When on site, our surveyors maintain strict personal hygiene, using hand sanitisers, gloves, wipes and soap & water at regular intervals and before and after touching surfaces. Surfaces that are touched are wiped down afterwards to reduce risk still further.
  • We ask that occupiers leave all internal doors open, to minimise the need for surveyors to touch surfaces.
  • Our surveyors have been asked to decline handshakes and maintain a distance of at least 2m from others where feasible.

After your survey

  • We are encouraging everyone to avoid face-to-face meetings whenever possible. This means that we may suggest a phone call or web-based meeting to discuss survey findings, rather than meeting you on site.

 

We are continuing to monitor the situation and our policy will be updated in line with government recommendations. Any changes will be posted here.

If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions please do give us a call or email us at info@allcottassociates.co.uk.