Waxham Refurb help please

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    Hi all,

    Prospective buyer of a ground floor duplex. The place needs a lot of work (removal of internal wall, new bathrooms/toilets, kitchen relocation, electrics, etc). I will likely need to proceed with purchase before I can gain leaseholders consent and particularly building control consent as the latter seems to have the potential to take a while. I’m after some key things to help give me up front comfort my proposals are viable:

    1) I’ve been assured all the internal walls are non-structural, despite being brick. ie, that I can knock one out without any need to worry about it being load bearing.
    a) Can anyone confirm this?
    b) Do the council “know” this, ie, I don’t have to get a structural engineer to “prove” it to them in any application?
    c) Does anyone know of a structural engineer familiar with this building? (I’m not looking for a “recommendation” – just a factual request.

    2) I’ll be doing a lot of work involving the plumbing, and am wary of the shared hot water arrangement. Following the recent major works:
    a) My builder, on a casual inspection, didn’t notice any stopcocks. Does anyone know if they are there somewhere?
    b) If not, does anyone know the presumably required “authorised” plumber that would need to install them?
    c) has anyone done similar work, particularly with installing new waste pipes, and if so could they let me know the plumber familiar with the building?

    3) Application timescales.
    a) I thought I’d read somewhere landlord’s permission had a 6 week turnaround. I now can’t find this reference – anyone know how long it may take?
    b) Assuming legal compliance, is it possible that building control will withhold permission for any other reason that I need to look out for?
    c) Given that I’m not doing anything external/structural/extensions, am I naïve to think this won’t take too long to secure?

    Any additional thoughts from whoever has gone through this very welcome!


    Hi Tardigrade. I’ve just sent you a message with Shafeeq’s number – he’s both a member of the Forum and Chair of their TRA, so should be able to help!

    Re Section 1.
    My own personal observation is to get the assurances in writing, then you will have a fall back position if that proves to be incorrect. If you contact the Council they will be able to confirm whether you need their permission, or not, to make the alterations you are considering.

    Section 2 is all about local knowledge specific to the building, hopefully Shafeeq will know someone who can help, but otherwise consider attending the next TRA meeting if it is soon?

    Section 3: Timescales: Ask Camden what their current turnaround time is (and ideally post back here as to what the answers are!). The Leaseholder Services team should be able to point you in the right direction. Re. “too long” – it all depends on your definitions of too long!

    Others also welcome to chip in their advice – I haven’t undergone this sort of thing so can’t provide much detailed help.
    Best regards, Paul


    Hi – concerning stopcocks, in our street front property the water could be shut off from the basement of the next door building. I guess that was because they were all conjoined and over time no one had the incentive / money to sort it out. There was also an intermediate stopcock at ground floor near the street front entrance door to our building – boxed in at hip level, easily opened. And then one for my flat behind the bath panel. So the message is to speak to neighbours and enquire widely – and communicate in advance so any interruption of supply is flagged clearly. You don’t want bad relations with neighbours!


    Thanks guys, will feed back anything I learn from the process.


    • The internal walls are not structural, at least those near the front of the ground floor duplex’s.
    • Had to proceed without approval. No amount of calls, emails, getting the councillor on board, etc, could get that team to respond. Over a year later, and I’ve finally (after yet further councillor pressure) had an inspection and informal approval but still no movement on the lease. I can only suggest to anyone else in my position to expect to have to proceed with work absent permission.
    • For ground floor flats they are ok with ignoring the leasehold terms mandating carpet.
    • Still unsure about stopcocks, but the “taps” by the heat exchanger are generally sufficient.
    • Underneath all the flooring is a layer of asbestos tiles
    • The access panels are asbestos, and a particularly dangerous form.
    • Camden knew and did not inform me about the asbestos, which is a breach of their responsibility.

    Think these were the main learning points for me.

    Peter Wright

    Thanks for the update.

    Are you saying Camden did not tell you about asbestos before you bought, or later when you did your works so you had to find out by doing a survey?

    Peter Wright


    It did not tell me either at purchase time or when I notified them of my intention to do work. I found out whilst smashing the tiles up a foot from my face when an electrician told me “you should be careful with that stuff…” 🙁 Someone else then told me as they’d done work before they knew someone at the council who had an asbestos report for my specific property, and sure enough, they did.

    Peter Wright


    Please e-mail me offline at clfchair@gmail.com as Camden needs to change its approach.

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