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Coronavirus Update

March 2020 News Surveys

At PFK we aim to continue our service as best we can during this difficult time. Whilst will we continue to monitor the situation and take guidance from the government…

Coronavirus Update
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Coronavirus Update

March 2020 Surveys

At PFK we aim to continue our service as best we can during this difficult time.

Whilst will we continue to monitor the situation and take guidance from the government in order to keep our customers, staff and their families safe, we set out below how our operation will run as from Wednesday 18th March 2020 until further notice.

Our department will remain open at the present time and our telephone service will operate as normal for the time being.

In an effort to delay the spread of Coronavirus, we ask anyone who attends our office or requires a valuation that they inform us if any of the following apply:

  1. You have recently returned from overseas travel.
  2. You have come into close contact with someone who has laboratory confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis in the past 14 days.
  3. You have been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting test results.
  4. You have a fever or symptoms of lower respiratory illness such as cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
  5. You have any other medical conditions or vulnerabilities that may put you at risk.

If any of the above factors apply to you, we ask that you do not attend our office and that you contact us by phone or email and we will attempt to offer alternative arrangements if possible, for your appointments.

Given that many businesses are likely to be affected in some way, please note that there may be some delays to our normal service but we will strive to keep these to a minimum.

Stay safe & well.

PFK Surveys Team

Is your septic tank legal?

February 2020 blog Surveys

New septic tank regulations became effective from 1 January 2020. If you have an old style septic tank – a tank like structure which discharges waste onto a drainage field and…

Is your septic tank legal?
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Is your septic tank legal?

February 2020 Surveys

New septic tank regulations became effective from 1 January 2020.

If you have an old style septic tank – a tank like structure which discharges waste onto a drainage field and is then simply released to the ground, then if this is working efficiently and not causing any pollution then the installation can continue as it is.

If you have an old style septic tank which discharges into a pipe then into a water course i.e. a ditch, stream, river, lake, gutter, gully, etc., then this is no longer permitted. You need to install a modern style septic tank called a ‘sewage treatment plant’.

If you already have a sewage treatment plant which was installed after 2015, then this should comply with the new regulations. This requires no further action as long as it is functioning properly and is well maintained.

There are many considerations in regard to foul water drainage systems, best answered by your supplier and installer although there are two significant considerations which are:

  1. Storm water from gutters, etc., must not enter the sewage treatment plant. This can mean significant expense re-routing pipes.
  2. A modern sewage treatment plant usually requires and electrical supply

Plants wrongly destroying value of thousands of homes

May 2019 News Surveys

Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica), a fast-growing invasive plant with bamboo-like stems, is causing many homes to become near impossible to sell, even when it poses no real threat.…

Plants wrongly destroying value of thousands of homes
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Plants wrongly destroying value of thousands of homes

May 2019 Surveys

Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica), a fast-growing invasive plant with bamboo-like stems, is causing many homes to become near impossible to sell, even when it poses no real threat. An investigation and report by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has found that banks and mortgage lenders are relying on discredited scientific evidence and devaluing homes if the plant is growing nearby.

The report criticises the continued use of the “seven-metre” proximity rule, a rule proposed in 2012 by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). However, this rule has since been abandoned due to not having a strong enough evidence base.

Japenese knotweed was first introduced to the UK in the nineteenth century in gardens and parks. It has since become a pest however, as it can grow through and crack tarmac and paving slabs. It can also grow through existing cracks in buildings, which then makes them worse.

The plant is also very difficult to remove, as it requires either complete excavation or years of treatment with chemicals, and this can cost around £5,000.

While the report agrees that Japanese knotweed can cause damage, it has brought attention to recent evidence which proposes that the effect on buildings “might not be as significant as previously believed.” The report also pointed out that other invasive plants do not have the same result on property prices, and that lenders are being “overly cautious” when it comes to this one.

A 2018 study by the University of Leeds with engineering firm Aecom found that that while Japanese knotweed can worsen existing cracks in structures, the plant prefers to grow around obstacles rather than through them. They also argue that the plant does not cause substantial damage to buildings, even when it grows close by. The research examined 68 homes where knotweed was found, as well as 81 additional sites.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has also spotted a difference between UK lenders and their European counterparts; mortgage companies on mainland Europe are far less cautious.

Norman Lamb MP, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, said, “It is clear that the UK’s current approach to Japanese knotweed is more cautious than it needs to be, especially when comparing it to that of other countries. We need an evidence-based and nuanced approach to the issue, one that reassures owners and buyers that they will not be subject to disproportionate caution when trying to sell or buy a property.”

It has been estimated that in Britain more than 1.25 per cent of residential properties, and over two per cent of development sites, are affected by the plant. This comes to tens of thousands of sites in total. A 2017 survey by the Crop Protection Association suggested that, among properties affected by knotweed, 15 per cent had their sale fall through, 20 per cent saw a drop in the property’s value, and 10 per cent had to pay out compensation due to the plant.

The report recommended that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, commission a study of international approaches to Japanese knotweed’s result on property sales.

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