Test Before You Buy

July 15, 2013 By In News Comments Off on Test Before You Buy

Are you thinking of buying a property in Devon? No doubt you’ve already scheduled a building survey to make sure it is structurally sound. Perhaps you’ve had the electrics, gas, plumbing and drainage inspected. Certainly wise decisions if you don’t want to discover hidden costs when it’s too late

But have you thought about getting the building’s fire safety equipment tested before you buy? Checking this could help you adapt your budget to suit the work that needs to be done on the property, or even stop you buying it altogether.

Here are some fire safety questions you might want to look at when considering a new purchase:

Is there a Fire Risk Assessment?

The starting point for fire safety provision in any property is the Fire Risk Assessment.  This has in effect replaced the old ‘fire certificate’ which used to be issued by the local Fire & Rescue Service.  A competent commercial property conveyancer should be asking to see the Fire Risk Assessment as part of the pre-purchase discovery work.  If you have not seen an up-to-date Fire Risk Assessment for the property then ask for it, or insist that the vendor has one carried out.

Where are the records?

This is a key question when checking a building’s fire safety. The current owner should have records of the installation, testing and maintenance of the fire safety equipment used in the property. This is important for you as a potential buyer so that you know what tests will need to be done soon and what may need replacing.

Is the fire alarm system up to date?

There are a number of types of fire alarm system on the market, which have come on leaps and bounds in recent years, and can even come completely wirefree. Fire Safety Legislation changed in 2005, and many of the relevant British Standards changed in 2012 and 2013.  In the property you’re thinking of buying, have you considered whether the fire alarm system is up to date or not? If it’s not been regularly serviced then it could need upgrading.

When were the dry risers last tested?

Buildings taller than 18 metres are required to have dry risers, which need a visual check every six months and a pressure test once a year. If the building you’re considering has dry risers it’s worth checking records to make sure they’ve been regularly checked and maintained. Believe it or not, over 60% of buildings with dry risers aren’t presently maintained according to British Standards.

What is the kitchen suppression system like?

If your prospective purchase has a commercial kitchen, looking at the suppression system is definitely worthwhile. Kitchen fires are highly destructive, so ensuring that your new kitchen will be well protected is imperative.  Any kitchen with a deep fat frying facility of 0.4 square metres or over has to have a fixed suppression system (eg Ansul R-102) in place.

What changes will I have to make?

Many insurance companies require a standard of fire safety and maintenance for insurance to be valid, which may inevitably mean you have to make changes to your new purchase. It might seem a bit overwhelming to consider all of the changes and action each point, but that’s where we can help. Argos Fire protection can provide a full fire safety audit of the building you’re thinking of purchasing. This includes a report with budget figures for installations and remedial work – it could save you a substantial amount of time and money.

Have you been caught out with high fire safety costs when buying a new property? Share your experiences in the comments box below.

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