Welcome to Findlay and Butler

Chartered Surveyors

For all types of Residential and Commercial Surveys in West Dorset, East Devon and South Somerset.  

About the partners

Lewis Findlay and Andrew Butler have experience in West Dorset and East Devon stretching back for 30 years. They are familiar with the common construction problems of property, but also experienced in dealing with stone and cob houses, and thatched properties, and in particular listed buildings.

Lewis Findlay is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. He started work as a trainee in 1974 and qualified in 1983. Until 1990 his work was of a general practice nature, but mainly involved morgage valuations and full building survey work with some commercial work and other professional work, such as boundary disputes. In 1990 he joined with Nantes Solicitors in Bridport, which involved a more varied workload with a shift towards more full building surveys and HomeBuyer Reports coupled with expert witness work and some domestic project management. In 1994 he set up his own practice.

Andrew Butler is an Associate of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and has been employed in the profession of Valuation Surveyor since 1984. A Bachelor of Science degree was awarded to him in 1994 in Valuation & Estate Management. RICS qualifications were obtained in 1996. Between 1984 and 1997 he was employed by Messrs Humberts Chartered Surveyors, at Sherborne initially and from 1992 at the Bridport office. Since May 1997, he has been in partnership with Lewis Findlay.

Contact Us

Please feel free to give us a call or email us your details below and we will call you back.

Office:       admin@findlayandbutler.co.uk

Andrew:    andrew@findlayandbutler.co.uk

Lewis:        lewis@findlayandbutler.co.uk

telephone:  (01308) 458855

Find us...

View Larger Map

Party Wall disputes

We act as Party Wall surveyors. We prefer, if possible, to encourage the neighbouring parties to reach their own agreement facilitated by us after the initial notices have been served. However where this is not possible we can deal with the notice requirements and other procedures under the Party Wall etc Act 1996.

If you are the person planning building works that might require a notice to be served remember to start planning well in advance as the notices that are served are to be served well in advance of the commencement of work; you also need to allow time to agree matters with your neighbour(s) before work starts. Remember also that although the Act is called a Party Wall Act the etc part also brings the construction of new foundations usually 3m but sometimes 6m from the neighbour’s buildings within the Act.

If you are the adjoining owner we are happy to act as your Party Wall surveyor and our general experience is that this involves not just ensuring the procedures are followed correctly but actually giving some reassurance to the client and someone to turn to with their concerns.

Residential Surveys

We offer a full range of services for home buyers and home owners, including:

  • HomeBuyer Reports
  • Full Building Surveys
  • Main Structure Surveys
  • Valuations for purchase, tax planning and probates.
  • Rebuilding cost calculation for insurance purposes.
  • Specifications and planning applications.
The different types of survey are dealt with individually. We can, however, tailor a survey to your specific requirements.
Do bear in mind that the price of each type of survey is different. This reflects the detail and extent of the inspection and the reporting. Think carefully about what you need to know from a survey and choose accordingly.

The HomeBuyer Report
Full Building Survey
Main Structure Survey
A standardised survey that includes a valuation and a rebuilding cost for the purposes of insurance. It is intended to give general guidance when deciding whether or not a property is a reasonable proposition for purchase. In the process of giving this view, the report will highlight significant defects that might affect the value of the property and urgent repairs; it explicitly EXCLUDES minor repairs. This is very subjective but the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors gives the following guidance: not all windows are opened; if wet rot affects several areas of external joinery, the report will give examples rather than a complete list; the services are not tested, which means the heating is not run, sanitary ware is not operated and electrical outlets are not switched on. Due to its limitations, this survey is most appropriate for properties built during the last 100 years, and that to the non-professional eye appear to be in reasonable condition; in these cases the buyer usually is seeking added reassurance.
Examines all aspects of a property in somewhat more detail. Generally we will operate sanitary ware and ask the vendor to run the central heating. We are not service engineers, and cannot be as specific as a qualified electrician or heating engineer, but our inspection should highlight important items that need to be improved or renewed. Several years ago we stopped testing drains; the tests were an unreliable indication of the condition of the drains as nearly all systems more than 40 years old fail. If we suspect a problem, we recommend a closed-circuit TV survey, which includes a video report. Although as a rule carpets and furniture are not moved, our reports may refer to specific areas where the carpet was lifted discreetly, particularly in vulnerable locations. Inspections of sample areas of floor can yield useful information, especially when coupled with checks of skirtings and walls for sources of dampness.
As an alternative to the full building survey we offer an inspection limited to the main structure. Compared with a HomeBuyer Report, the report should give more guidance on repairs or improvements, and will help you discuss matters with your selected builder. It may also consider the options available for a repair. Where accurate diagnosis is not possible, the report may discuss the different possible causes for a problem and suggest a course of action. This will cover: roof surface and structure; main external and internal walls; floors; dampness and woodborer infestation. Of course, we can add or subtract from the list to tailor the report to your requirements. This survey is useful where the property appears to be in immaculate order; for example, where the vendors have spent a large sum recently to modernise the property. It is also useful for properties that clearly have not received much attention for many years. You probably do not need a surveyor to tell you things that are obvious, such as whether the wiring is brand new or 50 years old.
We do NOT provide a report that recommends work to put a property into perfect order. Especially with older buildings, materials are ageing at different rates; even decayed materials may still function and may continue to function for many more years. Our report will deal with what is necessary and point to future repairs. We assume everyone will only want to do repairs when necessary. Of course, you may approach matters differently, so bear this in mind if you receive a report from us.

Everyone likes to moan about the wicked surveyor's 'get out' clauses. However, Terms of Engagement are essential if everyone is to know what to expect. They are available on request, and are provided at the commencement of a contract.

We do not move furniture, lift or roll back carpets, or empty cupboards in someone else's property. We would spend at least a whole day at each property if we took these extra steps, and obviously our fees would have to reflect this extra time. You might find we have done one of the above, but this will normally arise where something has alerted us to a possible problem. A survey cannot be completely conclusive. We will do our best to analyse matters in hidden areas, but in the end you must appreciate that some risk will exist despite a survey. We hope our 30 years of local knowledge will reduce the risks, however.

Commercial Services

We provide a full range of services on commercial properties, including:
  • Schedules of Condition for new leases
    It is wise to record the condition of a property before entering into a lease where you agree to maintain the property to its current stan dard. Our reports will detail any obvious defects to the building or landlord's fixtures and fittings, and will include photographs by way of illustration.
  • Schedules of Dilapidations
    At any time during a lease, or when it is about to come to an end, the landlord can issue a claim for dilapidations against the tenant. We have prepared the schedules in support of such claims for landlords, but also have negotiated successfully reductions in claims on behalf of tenants.
  • Rating Appeals
    When the current rating regime came into effect, many properties were valued much too high, particularly in West Dorset. We have been successful in negotiating reduced rateable values for many types of businesses. As most appeals can be resolved with a letter and a couple of telephone calls, our charges are not high. Our fees are not calculated as a percentage of the reduction.
  • Rent Reviews
    We regularly act for tenants or for landlords in the negotiation of rents at reviews, or when taking a new lease. Our charges are based on the time it takes to reach an agreed rent. Very occasionally reviews have to be referred to an arbitrator or a third surveyor, and obviously the extra paperwork has to be reflected in the costs.

We negotiate rent reviews and lease renewals on behalf of tenants or landlords. We have experience of arbitrations both acting for a party to an arbitration but also as an arbitrator. We have advised and carried out nationally, throughout the four parts of the United Kingdom, dilapidation inspections and negotiations for one of the four main high street banks

Litigation and Legal Services

We can provide expert witness reports for a wide range of claims. Obviously each matter is individual. We are listed in several directories of expert witnesses. Lewis Findlay has appeared in the following Courts:-
  • Royal Courts of Justice London instructed on behalf of a local district council.
  • Lands Tribunal on two separate occasions relating to Compensation under the Land Compensation Act 1973. Both were two-day hearings and he was in the witness box each time for a half day. Both were successful.
  • County Court on behalf of a major local housing association in relation to forfeiture proceedings.
  • County Court in relation to boundary disputes.
  • County Court - On several other occasions relating to construction work disputes and other matters, including on instructions from Trading Standards Officers.
  • H M Land Registry for adjudication hearing.
Apart from appearing in Court, he is regularly instructed to prepare expert reports. In recent years he has been appointed as a single jointly appointed expert in boundary disputes and construction disputes, a procedure which is believed to have helped resolve disputes well before the Court doors are reached. He has submitted both written and oral representations to an arbitrator, and has been appointed arbitrator on several occasions.

Construction and Planning Services

As with our other service, we advise or assist clients on matters that might be as small as investigating a single damp patch to Contract Administration of a new lease.

On development projects we have obtained planning and Listed Building Consent, drawn up specifications, sought tenders from buildings and subsequently administered the Building Control on behalf of the client through to completion.

We provide a surveyor’s certificate on one off projects where a client or his builder is not obtaininga NHBC warranty.

We have been Contract Administrators on Fire and Flood damaged properties in valuing building works ranging from £18,000 to £300,000.