One reliable feature of ‘growing up’ – i.e., adopting a widening range of responsibilities that have a questionable balance between reward and sacrifice – is the unpleasant discovery of what things cost.
Getting a quote to have our loft converted some time ago, I thought ‘that’s not too bad actually’. In reality of course the project throws up all sorts of new and extra expenses – which seems to be par for the course for major building work.
I can accept that: what I find harder to accept is the gouging, unjustified charge, the arcane levy. When I bought my property, I was mystified to find a fee for ‘chancel repair indemnity insurance’ on my solicitor’s already unfathomable litany of fees.
‘The moral of the story is – to every quote for major building work you get, budget for 15 per cent on top and be content if it sticks at that,’ says ADRIAN LOWERY.
It was only £80 or so I seem to remember – but it was, I discovered without too much research, still a racket based on fear.
The fear in this case that your parish church will out of the blue register their right, deriving from the 16th century, to impose a sizeable levy on you in order to repair ‘the bit around the altar’.
Likewise, I now discover, the party wall agreement. This is, for those who haven’t had the pleasure, a licence to print cash for chartered surveyors and lawyers. (One among many some might argue.)
Homeowners planning any work that adjoins to a neighbour’s wall find themselves railroaded into forking out more than a thousand pounds for something that could be settled with a couple of photos and a handshake.
To be fair, my neighbours did their loft not long ago, and in the knowledge I was soon to do mine, we agreed to take a few photos of each other’s walls and to repair any damage that either works caused to the other’s property.
Not that that is at all likely: a loft conversion is a straightforward project, unlike say digging down into a basement. Unfortunately, but quite understandably as she had nothing to gain from it and something to lose, my co-freeholder wasn’t quite so relaxed about this gentleman’s agreement.
So, our neighbours got a chartered surveyor in who came round to my place, took some photos, wrote a few notes, and sent out a standard form to us both. A few months later, I contracted the same bloke to go round their place, take some photos, write a few notes, and send out a standard form to us both.
I don’t know how much they paid but I paid £1,500. Plus VAT. £1,800.
I’d love to know how many PWAs are actually acted upon because of damage done by a loft conversion – I bet it is a miniscule proportion. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors don’t appear to have the numbers.
In conclusion, it’s a form of rip-off insurance that homeowners are scared into getting because of the potentially large costs of something going wrong – even though the chances of that are incredibly small.
Anyway back to expenses. The moral of the story is – for any major building quote you get, budget for 15 per cent on top and be content if it sticks at that.
For a loft conversion, the quote is just the start.
Planning fees, building control fees, extra works that are necessary but not covered by the quote, extras that you realise you want as the work progresses, electrical fixes outside the quote, fire doors, bathroom suite and tiles, possibly tiling, decorating, carpeting and furnishing… and yes the Party Bloody Wall Agreement.