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The World of Surveys!


Feet sticking out from under a pile of papers.

Mortgage Survey

This type of survey is typically conducted on a property prior to purchase. A mortgage survey involves inspecting the property in order to determine how much it is worth and to note any major works which are necessary. The primary purpose of a mortgage survey is to provide enough information to the mortgage lender so that they can determine whether the property is safe to lend on and up to what amount. The survey will take into account comparable prices in the locality as well as the minimum reinstatement value, which is the minimum cost to re-build the property in the event that it is destroyed. Mortgage advisers are best suited to new build properties or properties which have previously had a more in depth type of survey carried out.

HomeBuyer Survey

Much like a mortgage survey, a HomeBuyer Survey includes a valuation, re-build valuation, a description of the property and identifies visible defects, however this type of survey also includes a more in depth survey which aims to identify less obvious and sometimes hidden defects of a property. A HomeBuyer survey is typically recommended when purchasing a property which is less than 100 years old and doesn’t have any unusual or abnormal features.

Building Survey (Formerly Full Structural Survey)

This is the most detailed type of survey available and covers all aspects of a property in great depth. Building surveys tend to be best suited for old, unusual, listed, timber framed etc. properties. A Building Survey is also recommended if you are planning to carry out major works to your property.  The survey will check every element of the property and provide advice on repairs, estimated timings, costs and will advise what could happen in the event that defective elements are left untreated. A Building Survey is a lot more comprehensive and provides a more in depth analysis of the property’s condition than a HomeBuyer report, it is important to note however that a Building Survey does not typically include mortgage valuations.


Food grocery shopping in the shape of the sterling pound symbol

Residential property has soared in value over the last 20 years, outstripping most other everyday items by vast amounts.

Given the time period, everyone knows property values has risen quickly but because it has become almost normal for property prices to increase you would be forgiven for not realising quite how much prices have grown. We have considered how much everyday items would cost now if they has risen in line with house and flat prices in different areas of London in 2016. The results in some cases are shocking!

Oval has seen house prices increase by 938% over the past 20 years, this would e the equivalent of paying £10.38 for one avocado!

Marylebone has seen similar increases which would see 350g of extra mature cheddar selling for £36.33!

In Camden basmati rice would cost £17.96 for a 2kg bag!

Heinz 570g squeezy tomato ketchup in Dalston which has increased by 676% would be in the region of £15.50!

Kensingtons prices have risen by 733% which would translate into a Hellmans 430ml squeezy Mayonnaise costing £21.72.

In Chelsea a regular 800g farmhouse loaf of white bread would set you back £10.41. This is based on the prices having risen 733%.

With house prices in Westminster having dramatically risen by 670 per cent, a pack of 74 nappies would cost £73.15 or £9.65 for a loaf of granary bread.

House prices have risen by 744% in Bayswater over the last two decades, meaning you’d be paying £10.89 for teabags.

In Kensal Green, house prices have gone up by 748% over the last two decades which would mean, you would be paying £7.55 for six medium free range eggs.

A bottle of standard supermarket wine would cost you over £50 in the West End where house prices have risen by 819 %.

Toilet paper would set you back £61.65 for 16 rolls in Bryanston & Dorset Square in Westminster.

These prices really put into perspective how much property prices have outstripped the rate of inflation. No wonder many first time buyers are struggling to get on the housing ladder. With prices creeping up all the time even the uncertainty of Brexit has only had a minimal effect.

It does bear the question where the tipping point is and how much further can the price of property in London increase?

Ref:  Esra Gurkan Mail Online

The Importance of Using a Property Professional


Energy labels with home on white background. Vector illustration


From Health & Safety to Money Laundering, AST Tenancy Agreement to Gas safety certificates – did you know there are over 150 pieces of legislation when it comes to residential lettings by professional letting agents can lead to a hefty fine should they not be carried out or even a jail sentence!

Money Laundering can be defined as ‘concealing the origins of money obtained from criminal activities, in order for it to appear that is has come from a legitimate source’. Regulation 5 of the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 requires customer due diligence and thorough background checks on all parties. This includes verifying and identifying the customer on the basis of documents, data or information. If ARLA Propertymark Estate Agents fall foul of the regulations, they could face a fine of up to 5million Euros so best ensure they are carried out!

There are several types of contracts depending on the on the nature of the deal, that are used when letting of a property – Assured Tenancy, Assured Shorthold Tenancies, Deeds or Licence are just some examples. The most commonly used is Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST). This is used when the annual rent doesn’t exceed £100k per annum, the property is for a private individual, the duration of the tenancy is no less than six months and no more than three years (or a deed would have to be written) – to name some of the several requirements. Special clauses can be requested by either party to be included within the AST Agreement, however both parties must ensure that no unfair terms are proposed. Should terms be agreed prior to signing of the contract, a clause will be added to the contract or alternatively should it be agreed thereafter an addendum will be drafted and signed by all parties. The AST Agreement is a legally binding document and therefore one must ensure that there are no errors otherwise it could come back to bite you in the court of law!

An EPC Certificate must, by law, be carried out every 10 years, along with a Gas Safety Certificate (should it apply) every year  although it is high recommended to be carried out more frequently – and both must be provided to the tenant prior to the contract start date. Should a landlord or agent fail to provide either document, they can be hit with a fine for several thousands of pound or even a jail sentence. My professional advice, don’t forget!

Interesting Facts about the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 

Wooden singpost with "help, support, advice, guidance" arrows against blue sky.

1.  You cannot fire your party wall surveyor.

The only way an appointment or selection of a party wall surveyor can be terminated is if they die, or deem themselves incapable of acting and stand down. So be careful who you appoint. 

  1. Section 18 – Exception in case of Temples etc. and Section 19 – The Crown.

The Party Wall Act does not apply to land owned by The Honourable Society of the Inner temple, Middle Temple, Lincoln’s Inn or Gray’s Inn in inner London. It is however applicable to interests belonging to her Majesty in right of the Crown, a government department or an interest held in trust for Her Majesty. 

  1. Anyone can act as a party wall surveyor.

So long as they are not an owner within the meaning of the Act. It is however advisable to appoint a surveyor in London that is competent and experienced in party wall matters. 

  1. You can break into your neighbour’s property (please read the following sentence before doing so).

This can only be exercised in the case of absolute necessity and as a last resort following necessary notices. You must also be accompanied by a constable or police officer to break open any fences or doors in order to enter the premises. 

  1. What if there’s a dispute within the dispute?

In the event of a dispute, a neighbour may appoint their own surveyor to agree an award with the Building Owner’s surveyor. Between them, these surveyors will select a third surveyor to make a determination in the event that they cannot settle a dispute between themselves. Thankfully there is only one third surveyor so the dispute chain ends here. 

  1. The Party Wall Act has origins dating back to the 13th  Century

Up to 1996, it was only applicable to building work within inner London but has covered England and Wales since 1997. 

  1. You can unexpectedly receive money from your neighbour, in some cases.

If, for example, there is a shared party wall which forms the flank wall of your rear addition and your neighbour plans on also making use of this wall (for an extension), then they will have to pay you to make use of that section of wall. Even if the wall in question is 100 years old, they would owe you half of the cost of constructing the wall at today’s rates.


A Comparison Of House Price Increases With Other Items


Almost everyone we know tells us that residential property has increased at a phenomenal rate in recent years. However, it is sometimes difficult to put into perspective. The below article shows how much everyday items would cost if they had risen in line with house prices in London in 2016. It makes for interesting reading and makes you consider if people would put up with this level of increase in any other aspect of life.

Esra Gurkan For Mailonline

Loo roll for £61, £35 cheddar and ketchup at £15: #PricedOutLondoner reveals the cost of everyday items if their value had increased at the same rate as property.

  • House prices in London have risen drastically over the last 20 years
  • The stunt shows that a bottle of ketchup would cost £15.52 in Dalston
  • This is if food prices were in keeping with 676 per cent rise in the borough  

The cost of living in London always seems to be soaring, with prices for transport and everyday goods now higher than ever.

And don’t get the capital’s dwellers started on cost of the housing market. 

But now a tumblr campaign called #PricedOutLondoner is highlighting the dramatic rise in house prices by imagining how much groceries and essentials would cost if they had gone up by the same amount.

#PricedOutLondoner is sharing pictures of food prices in Tesco shops across London that they’ve altered to reflect house prices in the capital. 

Using the hashtag #pricedoutlondoner, the site reads: ‘House prices have risen by 938 per cent in Oval over the last 20 years.

If food prices had risen at the same rate, this is what you’d be paying.’ The photo shows the cost of one large avocado being £10.38.

The stunt shows how much items like avocados, tomato ketchup and nappies would cost in Tesco if prices mirrored the rate of inflation in different London boroughs.   

Similar statements are then repeated to represent different London boroughs. 

The campaign was started by Londoners Nathalie Gordon and Wren Graham, both 28-year-old advertising creatives, using house price data from Foxtons.

House prices have risen 938 per cent in Marylebone and so Cathedral City mature cheddar cheese would be priced at £36.33.

Nathalie told Huffington Post UK house prices affect everyone but, added: ‘I don’t think people realise quite how badly.’

The pair are calling for more homes to be built and rent caps to be put in place to help the situation.

‘As a country we can’t continue to ignore the fact that owning a house has become a luxury of the rich and not a right of all,’ she said.  ‘Owning a house has become an unrealistic goal for the majority of young people and one that is only getting worse.’Basmati rice in Camden would cost you £17.96 

The price of Heinz squeezy tomato ketchup in Dalston, which has risen 676 per cent, would be over £15.

The project demonstrates that if the price of Cathedral City mature cheddar cheese had increased by 938 per cent over the last 20 years – just as it had in Marylebone – it would cost £36.33.

If you lived in Camden, where house prices have jumped by 696 per cent, then you’d be paying £17.96 for Tesco Everyday Value Basmati rice.

The price of Heinz squeezy tomato ketchup would also have risen dramatically had it been in keeping with borough Dalston which has risen 676 per cent. It would cost you £15.52 just to be able to dip your chips into sauce.

Another condiment that would cost you is Hellmann’s mayonnaise.

Mayo would set you back £21.72 in Kensington.

House prices have risen by 732 per cent in Kensington over the last 20 years and so your mayo would set you back £21.72.  

With the rate of house prices in Churchill in Westminster having dramatically risen by 670 per cent, you’d find it difficult to be able to afford Pampers simply dry jumbo pack of 74 nappies for a whopping £73.15. 

In Queens Park, where prices have gone up 858 per cent, you’d be spending £9.10 on a two litre bottle of Evian mineral water.

Prices have gone up by 670 per cent in Westminster so you’d have to pay £9.65 for a Hovis granary loaf of bread these days.

House prices have risen by 744 per cent in Bayswater over the last two decades, meaning you’d be paying £10.89 for teabags.

Free range eggs would set you back £7.55.

Bayswater in West London has also seen a rise of 744 per cent, meaning we’d be paying £10.89 for our cherished PG Tips pyramid pack of 80 tea bags.

In Kensal Green, house prices have gone up by 748 per cent over the last two decades which would mean, if everyday items had risen with the rate of inflation, we’d have to pay £7.55 for six medium Tesco free range eggs.

Each egg, then, would set us back £1.26.

A bottle of supermarket wine would cost you over £50 in the West End where house prices have risen by 819 per cent.

Toilet paper would set you back £61.65 for 16 in Bryanston & Dorset Square in Westminster.

Westminster, with its increase in house prices of 819 per cent, would result in you paying £57.90 for supermarket wine Gallo Family Vineyards White Grenache. 

House prices have also risen 722 per cent in Bryanston and Dorset Square in Westminster since 1996, meaning you would be paying £61.65 for 16 rolls of Andrex toilet tissue if you lived there.

Nathalie said: ‘You wouldn’t put up with paying £30 for cheese, so why are we putting up with these ludicrous rates of inflation making owning a home nothing but a fantasy?’

Esra Gurkan For Mailonline


An Interview With An Expert


Mark Mason – Sinclair Johnston and Partners

Mark, what is a structural engineer?

Someone who is able to understand, predict and calculate the stability, strength and rigidity of constructional elements and who is able to develop designs and integrate their design with that of other designers.

Structural engineering is based upon applied physical laws and knowledge of the structural performance of different material and geometrics.  Utilising a number of relatively simple components we are able to build often complex, yet economic structural systems.

What kind of structures do you work on?

I work on a wide variety of structures that vary between historic buildings where conservation of the original fabric is of prime importance, to the design of new buildings that embrace modernist architectural ideas, often where the use of sustainable materials is of prime importance.

Can you tell us a bit about you and your company?

Sinclair Johnston and Partners were formed in 1983.  We have since grown steadily to the point where we are now 25 strong.  We are based in Southwark and specialise in the design of difficult inner city projects that are complicated by various Party Wall conditions and other physical constraints and which require innovative solutions.  We have developed an expertise in working sensitively with historic and often listed heritage buildings, but also work with leading architects on the design of imaginative contemporary buildings.

I have been involved in structural engineering for more than 40 years, working for a number of London’s leading consultants.  I joined SJ&P 1 year ago as a Technical Director and currently oversee a number of complex developments.

How do you see your role in the project team?

The most successful projects are often those where collaboration between the various team members is strong.  An early involvement in the design process allows us as structural engineers to directly influence the overall form of the new development in an economic and practical manner.  It can be enormously satisfying when a contribution can be incorporated within the final construction.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your projects?

The achievement of high quality in the design and construction processes, in the context of the inevitable pressures of time and cost constraints.

What tips would you give clients looking to carry out projects requiring structural engineering input?

Take advice and undertake background research so as to consider engineers with the experience appropriate to the project being considered.

Developing a personal relationship with the lead engineer is important.  Fee levels are of course a consideration but in the overall picture it is more important that a Client can trust and enjoy a collaborative and good working relationship with an engineer.

safety helmet and paper working plan of architecture with building sketching  construction

Subterranean Development Bill – interview with David Moon

Hello David.  Can you please tell me how you got to become chairman of the advisory panel to the House of Lords for the Subterranean Development Bill? 

Lord Selsdon, a senior peer who has enjoyed a varied career in politics and industry introduced a private members bill in 2014.  He approached me to assist with drafting the bill and I enlisted the help of several party wall surveyors, a structural engineer and a geotechnical expert. Lord Selsdon and I met in the course of a party wall matter at his home.  The advisory panel has since met several times and held meetings with government officials.

 What has this bill replaced?

There was no comparable legislation in place before this bill was introduced.  The closest legislation to the Subterranean Development Bill was the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. 

Can you tell us what this new bill will entail?

Essentially the new bill spreads the distance with which the work is notifiable to 9 metres away.  The Party Wall etc. Act is currently 6 metres.  There will be codes of practice for building work and codes of conduct for best possible practise which a developer will be bound to adhere to. 

What are the cost implications involved?

Since the distance will be increasing, more neighbours will be involved in notification so that some increase in professional costs is likely. 

Is this bill a good idea in your opinion?

Yes!  An excavation can take up to 2 years, everything moves – upwards when the load is lifted by removing soil and back down again when it’s loaded up with new structure.  Dust, noise and vibrations can all be extremely disruptive and this bill will create regulations to help basement construction become a less unneighbourly process! 

When will this bill be passed?

It was on hold while the coalition government was in power, and we were planning a meeting in the Summer.  The recent general election may have some impact on timetable but we hope there may still be a chance to introduce the bill in the next parliamentary session. 

What are the most popular reasons for building underground?

Swimming pools, garages, cinemas and gyms are all popular.  Even nightclubs sometimes! 

How do you think the bill will be received?

I think it’ll be welcomed.  I’ve been liaising with the Ladbroke Association – a local pressure group in Notting Hill who deal with all things property with a particular interest in basements.  Most pressure groups are well organised and are keen to promote good practise and control.  

Construction. Building a house, repair work. Real estate. Flat icons vector illustration.



Useful Tips When Going To Auction

A crowd of bidders at an auction. The focus is on the bidder's hands as he calls out bids.

After Davis Brown recently sold a commercial unit on Whitby Road in Ruislip with Andrew Scott Robertson we thought we’d provide some tips for both vendors and purchasers to get the most out of their investments.

For vendors:

When selling a property at auction the key thing is to be prepared in advance. Remember when the gavel hits the block the bidding is over, there is no negotiation afterwards.

  • Get your property valued! A market appraisal will be a good indicator of its value, and guidance on reserve price.
  • A legal pack with a condition of sale must be included in advance. It is important that all the necessary information is included in advance, so instruct a good solicitor.
  • Before the auction date, interested parties will want to inspect the building or site before they are prepared to bid big money. Make sure as much information is available and that there are opportunities to inspect.

For purchasers:

The auction room can be an exciting and potentially intimidating place for those who have not attended before. This can result in missing out on an opportunity or getting carried away (maybe getting overly competitive) and end up paying in excess of what a property is worth.

The first thing to remember is do your early research. If possible inspect the site and request all information available (such as title documents, planning information, tenancy details, etc.). Remember things are not always as good as they appear on paper!

A few things to consider on the day:

  • If you are a novice, maybe go as a spectator beforehand to experience the atmosphere and get a feel for how the bidding process works.
  • If you are very interested in a specific Lot arrive early and get a front seat. Auction rooms can get crowded, so you want the auctioneer to be able to easily see you.
  • Stay calm…! If you fail to get the property you were initially going for, don’t get caught in the moment and bid on something you didn’t want, panic buys are often purchases which people live to regret!
  • Remember when the gavel falls the transaction has been made. The successful bidder is required to pay 10% of the sale price upfront. So know your budget… decide on a maximum limit. You don’t want to be sucked in to paying well in excess of what you intended!

Davis Brown Features In The Sunday Times


We were absolutely thrilled to be featured in The Sunday Times where one of our properties on Clapham Common north side was showcased in all its glory. This particular property has a fascinating historical background since it was once occupied by writer and novelist Graham Greene, who lived here from 1935 until 1940.  You might know ‘The End of the Affair’, ‘Brighton Rock” or “The Power and the Glory”.

The property itself was simply stunning. Built in the Queen Anne era, the front façade is Grade II listed and featured classic wrought iron railings and rows of painted sash windows. The flat itself was well designed having only been refurbished 3 years ago.  It had been in the same family for over 10 years and we were delighted to act on their behalf with the sale.

What Can You Buy For £500K?

Europe skyline silhouette with different landmarks. Vector illustration. Business travel and tourism concept with place for text. Image for presentation, banner, placard and web site.

£500,000 – I think we can all agree this is a lot of money!  So the question is, how far will half a million pounds get you if you are searching for a property across Europe’s most sought after locations? Let’s first take a look at Paris. Paris. The city of inspiration, fashion, art and of course romance – who wouldn’t want to live there?! Well it comes at a price, €8,540 per square meter to be precise! And this is just the starting point. This can increase to €14,000/sqmtre (£1,138/sqft) for prime central Paris. A one bedroom is certainly achievable, however you would need a lot more than £500k should you wish to purchase a luxury apartment moments from world famous landmarks in Prime Central Paris!

The Spanish capital of Madrid offers huge attractions including the (often elusive in London) sunshine! It’s rich repositories of European Art and with its elegant boulevards and expansive parks, it’s certainly a very inviting city! But is it affordable for a first time buyer? According to Your Money National Blogs, houses within the central business district cost an average of €5,188 per square metre (£421/sqft). Accordingly to Zoopla, there are 68 properties on the market below £500k ranging from 2 – 5 bedrooms. The lack of new developments and modern office space means properties purchased would usually require some refurbishment works – however Spain is certainly on the rise following their economic downturn several years ago. To conclude, it is certainly more affordable than both London & Paris with the chance to secure a much larger property.

And finally let’s talk about our very own capital city – London.  With the average £/square foot at a staggering £1,763 you would do well to purchase a large studio apartment let alone a one bedroom above 400sqft in the centre of London – not to say that’s it impossible, however they are very difficult to come across. In today’s market there is always the opportunity to negotiate – so who knows what you could find! According to Rightmove, there are currently 23 available properties to buy under £500k. There’s no wonder London is renowned for being one of the most expensive cities in the world!  Davis Brown currently has a great 1 bedroom flat for sale in the heart of Fitzrovia, and it’s well under £500K!  (you can find this property on our website.).

With each capital city offering its own unique and famous attractions and their distinctive property designs, whether modern or traditional style – where would you choose?