FAQs for the recladding project

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Al D
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FAQs for the recladding project

Post by Al D » Tue May 13, 2014 4:34 pm

Why is this project happening?
The project is essential maintenance of the estate. The existing cladding system, built in 1967, was only meant to last for approximately 30 years. Recent surveys have stated that the existing cladding needs to be urgently replaced. In the last two years parts of the structure have begun to fall off the buildings. The interior state of many flats, due to mould, damp and condensation caused by the state of the cladding, has reached unacceptable levels. The cost of temporary work to alleviate these problems is also starting to soar.

What will the work entail?
On the tower blocks the curtain wall, made up of the windows and the glass panels below them, will be replaced with double glazed windows and insulated powder coated aluminium panels. External and communal doors and windows will be replaced. Exposed areas of brickwork and mosaic will be clad with rainshield panels, balustrades will be replaced and roofs will be insulated and re-covered. The spur block flats will have their windows replaced, communal doors and screens will be replaced, the roofs will be insulated and cavity wall insulation will be applied. For a more detailed and specific list of the works, please contact GCS.

When will the project start?
The project is scheduled to start in early January 2015. GCS will give all leaseholders and residents plenty of notice before the start date.

How long will it take to complete the project?
The project has been programmed to take 48 weeks so it should be completed during December 2015.

How much is the project going to cost?
We won’t know for certain the full cost until July/August but following an initial discussion(s), an approximation of the total cost has been put at £4.8 million. This equates to £37,000 to £40,000 per lease. This is not a confirmed figure and the final price could be either side of this range; please do not rely on this figure when considering how you will raise the funds.

When will I have to pay my share?
Invoices will be sent out at the beginning of September 2014 and must be paid by October 1, 2014.

What happens if I haven’t paid the full amount by October 1?
It will be a legal necessity for each leaseholder to fund their share of the work. Therefore, each leaseholder who fails to pay by October 1, 2014 will have their details passed on to a debt collection agency.

Why are you doing that?
Both GCS and Adair Associates are bound by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors’ code of conduct, which stipulates that funds must be in place before a contract is entered into; irrespective of this, it would be irresponsible to begin work on such a major project without the certainty of funding.

Do you have the legal authority to do this?
We will once the First-Tier Property Tribunal (FTPT) rules that the work is essential maintenance and that we have followed the Section 20 consultation procedure, which will happen once the tender results are available. Collection of funds for the project will then have the same legal backing as with collection of the service charge funds.

Will late payers suffer financial penalties?
Yes. The debt collection agency will very quickly begin proceedings against anyone that hasn’t paid the full amount by October 1, and it will be these chased leaseholders who will incur the significant costs of this. Interest for late payment will not be charged, however, as the lease does not allow this.

How much notice will we get for payment of the funds?
We hope to be in a position by mid July to inform leaseholders of their individual contributions. Given this timeframe, if you are intending to borrow money to pay for this and have a mortgage on your Wellington Close flat, it is strongly advised that you speak to your mortgage lender now to explain this situation.

Will the money be paid to the contractor before the project starts?
No money will be paid to the contractor prior to the work starting. All payments received from leaseholders will be held in a trust account for Wellington Close. The contractor’s payments will be based on the amount of work completed; ‘staged payments’. The surveyor will check the work at agreed stages throughout the project and will certify all invoices before GCS make any payments to the contractor.

Why has the price risen since 2009?
A number of factors have resulted in the price rising: VAT has been increased, plus inflation and the fluctuating price of aluminium. In addition, the original tenders did not include roof insulation and in 2009 the contractors were desperate to do the work (one reduced its price by £600,000 – worth nearly £5,000 per flat – to get the work). That is not the case now.

Will there be grants to reduce the costs per leaseholder?
The surveyor (Adair) is actively pursuing this and has had detailed discussions with a number of relevant organisations about energy grants, which are ongoing. Adair has also been in touch with a VAT consultant who feels that the insulation aspect of the project may only attract a 5% VAT liability. We hope to find out more shortly.

Will the project go ahead if, for example, 10 to 15 flats don’t pay by October 1?
We will look at this at the time and make an assessment at that point. There is a small level of contingency.

Don’t we need planning permission to do this project?
Yes – this was secured in January 2014, with no objections.

Will there be a condition survey for every flat?
Yes, there will be inspections in each flat before the work starts and once the work is finished. Any damage caused to the flats will be put right by the contractors.

How long will the windows to my flat be blocked off for?
We anticipate this will be for approximately 2 days per flat, but we will have to wait until the tenders have been returned to confirm this. Each flat will be fully enclosed internally. Each floor should be completed within ten days.

What’s the life expectancy of the new cladding?
It has 30 years life expectancy with a 10 year up-front guarantee and warranty. The standard period for the roof covering is 25 years, this is an insurance backed guarantee, as is the guarantee for the cladding.

Are the windows going to be tinted?
The intention is to have tinted windows installed subject to approval of the FTPT for a decision on the reasonableness of replacing the clear windows with tinted glass. If the FTPT does not allow this we will consider alternative options for funding this, as we will for anything else that the FTPT rules is not necessary.

What will the colour of the cladding be?
The colour will be a shade of blue as shown on the CGI on the re-cladding notice boards. This was selected to ensure that the local planning authority would grant approval.

Which blocks will the work start on and will the contractors start at the top or the bottom of the towers?
The contractor will have their own reasons and methods as to where they think is the most appropriate start place. Once they have completed 50% of the first block they may start on the second block. When the first block has been completed they may start on the third block.

Will pigeon netting be replaced?
Where existing pigeon netting is removed by the contractor it will be replaced.

What will happen with parking?
There will be designated parking areas for contractors on the lawn. It is inevitable that there will be some disruption and we do ask residents to be considerate and patient during the project.

Will the estate be secure while the work is going on?
The contractor will be responsible for site safety and security.

What will happen to the boiler flues?
The existing flues will remain in place. Contractors have to install the curtain walling around the existing flues. They will make provision in all other areas for a specific area for any new flues. There will be a panel in the new windows for existing flues. A policy will be put in place regarding someone choosing to move the flue from the cladding, to ensure they do not leave a hole in the cladding.

Are there plans to upgrade the interior decoration to the communal areas and the current door entry system?
There are no plans to include the interior decoration, we have only allowed for recladding. Within the service charge there is an allowance for repairs and maintenance and we may be able to start to consider the interior common parts once the project is finished. We can’t keep adding work to the project as the price would go up even further. We will separately look into improving the door entry system.

Will the costs cover reinstatement of the parking and landscaping areas afterwards?

Has concrete testing of the towers been carried out?
Yes. We employed a specialist company of abseilers who took samples from the top, middle and bottom of the buildings. They found that waterproofing to the balconies needs to be redone, but there is no problem with the concrete.

How many contractors will tender for the work?
Adair has identified eight contractors that have indicated they are interested and can start in January 2015. They will be interviewed and the six most suitable will be invited to tender.

Will secondary glazing be taken down?
It will have to come down for the work to be carried out. It can be put back up afterwards, but there would be no need for it.

What is the cradle track and why is it being removed?
This is the original track which can be found on the roof of each block, and was used to hang the window cleaning cradles from. This is now obsolete and will be removed. Consideration will be given to alternative methods for window cleaning

Can we benefit from the aluminium scrap value?
The materials that the contractor removes become their possession but this should be reflected in the tender cost.

What happens to the interest earned on the money that will be held in the estate bank account?
Any interest earned will be to the benefit of the leaseholders and added to the reserve fund for future major works projects.

Has there been a survey to see who can and can’t pay?
No. It has always been thought that the people least likely to pay will not respond to a survey. However, the vast majority of leaseholders who have been regular poor payers on their service charge accounts have sold their flats in the last few months.

Can the management company borrow against the flats to raise contingency money?
No. The management company doesn’t have any realiseable assets.

What’s the risk of prices rising after the work has started?
There shouldn’t be any additional costings during the project.

How much will the value of the flats go up by?
We can’t predict what the market will do in 18 months time but it is very likely that the project will result in a significant rise in value of the flats.

Would it be possible to employ a housing surveyor to certify the value of the flats after the work has been completed so that the banks will be more willing to release funds?
GCS and Wellington Close RTM directors are investigating this.

Will the service charge go down after the recladding project?
This project has always been viewed as a cost outside of the service charge. You will still have the same gardens to look after, caretakers/cleaners to pay, windows to clean etc and so it is highly unlikely this will have any impact on reducing the service charge.
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Re: FAQs for the recladding project

Post by abelard » Wed May 14, 2014 8:14 am

Last edited by abelard on Fri Feb 06, 2015 10:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
Walton-on-Thames.org Senior Contributor
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Re: FAQs for the recladding project

Post by mvp » Wed May 14, 2014 12:02 pm

Absolutely - everyone's had plenty of warning - time to pay-up or sell-up
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