Nationwide Building Society

Nationwide Building Society own most of their branches throughout the UK. They invest in these branches as part of their overall investment strategy for the business. This comes with property maintenance and compliance obligations that they take very seriously.

After identifying a few compliance issues at a some of their properties, they decided to undertake a thorough audit of all their properties. This required each property to be inspected by a Chartered Building Surveyor to produce a bespoke report.

Nationwide Building Society has a varied portfolio of properties. Each building would have been chosen by Nationwide for its location on high streets throughout the country, above all else. This means that there is a wide range of property styles and architecture, from decorative listed buildings in the centre of Durham to modern shopping centres in Meadowhall in Sheffield. In Darlington the branch is a former Quaker Meeting House and has retained much of the features making the staff room quite impressive!

When surveying a building, a surveyor should take into consideration the location and local geography. For example, Nottinghamshire and the Northeast of England have been heavily mined so we will always look out for evidence of movement cracks that may be attributed to this or evidence of retrospective repairs in these areas.

Water or damp ingress (entry) is an important issue that can lead to commercial buildings having to close. The source of the problems sometimes can be beyond the boundary of the building such as a defective neighbouring property, drains or watercourse. The world changes around a building and what was working 100 years ago may not work now. Gutters and drains may not be adequate for the volume of water needed and land that was once permeable now has tarmac on it which can concentrate run off.

All commercial property must comply with legislation which is designed to keep all members of the public and employees safe. Retail properties must function to market and sell goods. Residential properties must also be safe for people to sleep in. We will always consider our client’s proposed use of the property which enables us to tailor our advice to their circumstances and allows them to be clear exactly what they need to do to their property.

For this portfolio we had to consider both commercial and residential issues as there is often residential accommodation above the branches. We had to consider whether they were safe in terms of fire protection and means of escape.
We are very happy to collaborate and work with other firms we trust, and we partnered with Nidus Riley to deliver this project. It is important to develop a clear and robust quality checking process during any collaborative work, so consistency is maintained.

We surveyed 111 branches in all across Scotland, North East England, Cumbria, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire – these properties are all shown north of the line on the map above.

We worked throughout the first lockdown of 2020 with careful consideration for restrictions.

We checked with guidance produced by our regulatory body (RICS) and Government websites. Whilst we worked from home as much as possible, inevitably we had to go and survey buildings to do our work – this fell within the exemption for leaving home to work. The covid restrictions often presented good opportunities to get into buildings and undertake inspections which would have ordinarily been problematic with staff and members of the public around.

The project was completed in less than 4 months and within Nationwide’s required timeframe. The reports provided Nationwide with all the information they required, and they are now working through implementing the works recommended for each branch to ensure their large portfolio is well maintained and fully compliant.

Where possible we also suggested sustainable solutions, such as adding an extra layer of insulation before a new roof membrane was applied.

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