Section 20 renovation works rip off – HELP!

Section 20 renovation works rip off – HELP!

9:46 AM, 21st October 2014, About 10 years ago 7

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I’m a leaseholder of a flat in a redbrick Victorian mansion block of six flats in London W6. Section 20 renovation works rip off

My management company has just started section 20 process for “renovation works” and after a short chat with appointed surveyor the costs are estimated to be £48,000 (£8k per flat for renovation works to include front and back of the building, roof, window frames, pavement).

Myself and other leaseholders think this is excessive (our block is in a good condition) and want to block the project or at least lower the costs.

Does anyone one know a good reliable construction firm I can include in a tender list?

Any other advice welcome!

Many thanks


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Chris Amis

20:29 PM, 21st October 2014, About 10 years ago

The problem is not exclusively excessive quotes (and any other nasties you could think of) it starts with the specification. You should examine that and make comments, not because they will take the slightest notice, but it may help if you later challenge.

Between the LHs pick only one company to quote, otherwise the MA gets to make the choice.

But on the whole you are screwed unless they make a mistake in the paperwork, you will essentially get an 'insurance job', with 'professional' management, then 15-20% contingency on top, it will always cost a lot more than if a normal human arranged it.

Think this way, the right way to paint woodwork is to sand it down, stop the joints, apply a primer and two coats of gloss. If you were organizing it, it would be a rub down and a coat of 'one-coat'.

That is why it costs so much.

Having said all that front, back, roof, windows and environs for 8K each sounds like a bargain. Does the 48K include management, surveyors, scaffold and contingency?

Art B

9:02 AM, 22nd October 2014, About 10 years ago

Thank you Chris. Yes, 48k includes everything. We are just at the beginning section 20 process so we haven't had an official surveyors report done yet. Do you think it is a good idea for LH to hire our own surveyor to do an independent report?

Chris Amis

9:54 AM, 22nd October 2014, About 10 years ago

I am surprised the surveyor included contingency and management in a verbal view - hope so for your sake.

Between 6 it would be ok to get your own surveyor, but that does risk ramping it up and encouraging you to fight thru the FTT. Costs, extra surveys and so on are likely to be more than anything you could get off the bill.

And even if you have a chartered surveyors report, even if your lease says that a chartered surveyor will resolve disputes, the LVT/FTT can just ignore that, the FH is free to do anything reasonable.

Has your managing agent got a history of ripping you off?

A bad as the verbal estimate was it may be legit, you will not know until you see the specification and get your own estimate.

If there is anything structural to be done, make sure you ask who if anyone is guaranteeing the solution selected in your submission.

What are these works anyway - just regular external redecoration or more?

Art B

10:23 AM, 22nd October 2014, About 10 years ago

Quote from my MA's emali: "...I appreciate that the Section 20 Notice of Intention scope of work is generally rather a generic form, and covers at lot of different types of repairs. I can give you examples of the types of repairs that we will specifically specify or allow for as part of the works, although I cannot be specific on the quantities as there may be other repairs that I may find once I’ve carried out my inspections of the rears of the building, from the rears gardens of the ground floor flats.

Under roof repairs there will be an allowance for removing moss from the roof, as this blocks the gutters, redressing and repointing lead flashing, re-fixing roof slates, repointing ridge tile joints, an allowance for lead work, and for eaves protections, where felt edges are damaged.

Under brick work repairs there will be specification items for pointing brick work, re-facing brick work, where the bricks are spauled, similarly there will repointing items for decorative and corbelled brick work, taking down and rebuilding the rear boundary wall which is leaning,, including resetting brick on edge with at least 3 new brick on edge bricks, filling around pipes with mortar, infilling redundant flue holes with bricks and morter and replacing faulty quadrant cement fillets above corbelled brick work.

Under stone and concrete repairs, I will include for grinding back damaged or delaminated stone sills and step thresholds, inserting metal dowelled into damaged stone or concrete, recasting edges with formwork using polymer modified concrete and there will be a similar item relating to the gully fenders, following removal of tree roots.

Under front paving repairs I will include replacing chipped quarry tiles and there will be an allowance for repointing brick paviers.

Under render/cement repairs, I will include for render plinth replacements, chimney re-flaunching and replacing cement fillets around windows at junction with brickwork.

Under drainage repairs I will allow for clearing out, realigning gutters, clearing surface water down pipes, renewal of PVC gutter joints, replacement of PVC pipe and gutter clips, lead joint repairs to cast iron surface water down pipe joints, replacement of one section of cast iron gutter with fittings, replacement of PVC gutter section and flushing through gulley’s and man holes, to insure that underground drainage is running smoothly.

Under timber repairs, I will include all repairs to common part windows, and quite a number of surface timber repairs with epoxy resin Window Care System and there will be an allowance for replacing rotten fascia boards.

Under protection and cleaning, I will include removal of rubbish debris, sweeping up around the building and pathways and cleaning external glass to all elevation and external glass.

I haven’t commented on the scaffolding but clearly the scaffolding will need to be erected to all elevations of the building and on completion dismantled and removed from site. The scaffolding will include a scaffold alarm..."

Art B

10:27 AM, 22nd October 2014, About 10 years ago

My problem here is that they told us to appoint a builder if we want to take part in the tender but I would like to see the exact proposed works before the tender.
What are our options for blocking the progress? My MA is a well known large firm (starts with letter W) and yes they have been overcharging us. Do you think the best action to take here is to get RTM as soon as possible?

Chris Amis

11:12 AM, 22nd October 2014, About 10 years ago

You can try for a definition of the S.20 process, but I have wondered in the past why there is not a stage where the specification must be consulted on.

The process runs:

1. Intention to do something.
2. You comment and nominate a contractor (possibly without knowing what work might be involved)
3. They get estimates
4. They tell you who they chose and demand the money (if the lease allows).

There are obvious problems here but it is a little understandable, what if a full survey is required, the MA might need to do S.20 to get the specification of works.

Once the demand is made it is basically enforceable, if you are going to fight it you need to take the lead - do not withhold payment without proper advice!

If you take it to tribunal you get to argue a wider range of issues and have some protections from costs (under LVT, maybe not under FTT). The MA would rather go to court, I understand this is something to do with saying the action is a pre-cursor to forfeiture (s.146) which can cost a lot more.

I cannot see you getting an RTM in time to help with this, but perhaps it can spur all the LHs into action and get the RTM in place.

But if you do get RTM, appoint a manager, the LH forums are full of the problems post RTM, for example how would you like to sue the poverty stricken granny in one of the flats who cannot afford her service charge, you need a MA to take the emotion out of it.

My problem flat cannot RTM, but seeing the list of works you have, for 48K, I would swap MA with you any day. I guess my reality has already been adjusted, 10-20% of the full rebuild cost to redecorate - seems fair!

I have to say IANAL, just a long suffering lease-holder.

Art B

11:31 AM, 22nd October 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Chris Amis" at "22/10/2014 - 11:12":

Thanks for your comments Chris, it is really helpful. I think my MA is planning to start the works sometime in 2015 so we still have some time.

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