Get professional help

Your flat is probably your biggest personal investment and, for many people, it's their pension. It's worth getting professional help to protect your investment, get best value for your money, and avoid making costly mistakes.

The upfront cost of using a professional is usually repaid through the savings they can make in helping you do the right thing safely, at the right time, and preventing further problems from occurring.

If you are a well-organised group of owners, with an owners' association to give leadership, you may be able to undertake some simpler tasks yourself. There is no hard and fast rule about when you need technical help. Much depends on how much you know about your building and your own skills to find and manage really good trades firms.

Use this guide to help you decide at what point you need to get professional assistance.

Management professionals

Many owners benefit from the assistance of professional property factors and managers. These are well-managed and regulated organisations, and flat owners often have a good choice of firms and some housing associations to choose from. 

Where owners can't access a firm, or have owners who don't want to pay management fees, then self-factoring is required. 

Your local council may be able to help where you have difficulty dealing with other owners and builders, but you can also call on solicitors, advice centres, and mediation bodies.

Technical professionals

Property managers will help you find technical experts such as:

  • architects and surveyors who carry out very similar roles in terms of identifying, organising, and supervising maintenance
    • you should get them involved in any repair costing over a few thousand pounds as they can help you get value for money and deal with health and safety regulations
    • they will also carry out professional maintenance surveys
  • quantity surveyors who help manage building contracts, particularly controlling payments
  • clerks of works who are the architect's or surveyor's eyes on the ground when builders are working on your property
  • structural engineers who give advice on cracks, settlement, bulging walls, and making structural alterations

How professional help could save you £££s

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Michael’s new ground floor flat was blessed with damp, despite the previous owner spending a great deal of cash on installing a chemical injection damp proof course and getting the bottom half of the inside walls tanked with cement based plaster.

Now, Michael just happens to have trained as an architect and is Traditional Skills Officer at Glasgow City Heritage Trust. He realised that the problem was that ground levels had built up and were 'bridging' the original slate damp proof course, allowing damp into the walls. So, he solved the problem by digging.

And the motto of this story? Had the previous owner invested a couple of hundred pounds in getting professional advice - and then bought a spade - they would have saved themselves £££s.