Keep Calm and Adjust
The world has been a very strange place for the last few weeks with some massive impacts on our social and working lives. At the moment we do not even know when any changes will end, whilst the medics and experts grapple with the unknowns of COVID19.
At Oakwood we have made some changes too, as a responsible business. For a start we are working from home, rather than from our office. We have great IT which enables us to run emails and files remotely, but if we need paper files we have to be more prepared as these are largely still in our office. We can get into the office – it hasn’t been shut down (yet!).
Whilst office work can continue unhindered, much of our work involves site visits and this is where we have to take great care. For now, we are happy to continue with inspections and site visits and we have not knowingly been in contact with anybody with the virus or been to the affected regions outside of the UK.
We entirely respect the position of property owners and occupiers and if we are forbidden from entering a property (or part of a property) then we will not do it at all.
Where we are permitted to undertake an inspection, we shall confirm, both in advance and again on arrival, the following points:
- Nobody within the property has been infected with COVID19
- Nobody within the property is regarded as vulnerable
- Nobody within the property has returned from an infected area outside of the UK.
We shall wear gloves and facemasks whilst inspecting.
Within reason (allowing for our instructions) we shall minimise the time spent within the property.
At all times we shall follow Government advice, which is regularly being updated.
If we are in any doubt about the safety of any owners, occupiers or ourselves, we shall abandon our inspection.
It is clear that we can (subject to clients’ agreement) continue with certain inspections of property, such as farmland, many farm buildings, development sites and vacant properties. Again we shall seek explicit consent from the parties before entering.
If we cannot inspect a property, then we shall discuss with our clients options including a “drive-by” or “desktop”. In practice a “drive-by” would be conducted on foot but from the public highway, or public footpaths; if permitted we would enter the grounds, but not the property itself. When we do these valuations they are, by their very nature, more limited. We cannot, for example, undertake our own measurements; we have to rely on public information (e.g. VOA business rates, planning documents, sales details, etc.) alongside information provided by the parties. Valuations therefore include a caveat on such information. We also cannot use our significant experience to comment on the property in the way we normally would.
Drive-by and desktop valuations will not suit every situation but can be used in certain circumstances which we shall discuss with clients where inspection is not appropriate.
Our series of seminars and events has been cancelled, but we shall reinstate them just as soon as it is possible to do so. We were due to be sponsors at the Royal Cheshire Show and the Cheshire Forest Hunt Point to Point, both of which are now sadly cancelled. Let’s hope that these, and similar shows, all bounce back next year bigger and better than ever.
In the meantime, we wish our clients and contact well at this difficult time. We have had a great start to our business, nine months in and much appreciate the support from everybody. We remain open and happy to speak, even if it’s just for a chat.
Graham Bowcock MRICS MRAC
Lydia Sirovica BA (Hons)