(Image: Sunny Landa, director at NG Chartered Surveyors)

It’s not often you’ll hear a commercial property agent quoting Oscar Wilde, but there is rarely a greater truism than the playwright’s famous “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing”.

Wilde spoke these words in 19th Century, but the sentiment remains – especially in the commercial property sector in Nottingham.

For some time now there has been a growing trend amongst the local industry for undercutting of fees. Naturally, landlords are attracted to this, as it means they’ll get to keep a greater slice of the pie after their property is sold or let.

However, the practice of undercutting or lowering fees is not only ethically wrong, but also short-termism at its worst.

Landlords might be tempted down this cheaper route, but we’d ask: do you really think you’re getting value for money? There’s an old adage: ‘you get what you pay for’, and this is certainly true when it comes to instructing a commercial property agent to dispose or let your property.

If an agent is offering a landlord lower fees to try and entice them, the landlord should question who will be looking after the instruction? Will it be the seasoned, qualified property professional, or will it be a green graduate, eager but fresh out of university and woefully inexperienced in looking after a property portfolio. My experience tells me it’ll be the latter.

We’ve seen this is in the commercial property sector before; it usually happens when we’re coming out of recession and agents are battling it out to take advantage of a businesses who have a little more confidence in the economy and are looking to move premises.

This time, however, it’s a little different.

There has been such little speculative development in the last ten years that stock levels of good quality accommodation are incredibly low. Agents are fighting over instructions, and this is leading some to offer unsustainable rates.

While we can’t force developers to build offices and industrial units, as agents we mustn’t simply lower prices to maintain cashflow – that way lies madness, and sure fire way to devalue the industry and give it a bad name.

Surely it is better to offer a service that our fees warrant? At NG we don’t think about cost – we think about value. A landlord who is willing to pay the going rate to let or sell his or her property will get the best possible service. Can the same be said if s/he decided to take a chance on a cheaper alternative? I don’t think so.

At NG we pride ourselves on standing out from the crowd. We have a mantra of: “Our values decide our character; and our character decides our value”. Commercial property agents in Nottingham have a purpose of duty not to offer cheap alternatives which let down landlords (and ultimately occupiers), but to offer value on every instruction.

“Taking what we can get” can only lead to one outcome, and when we’re all in a desperate race to the bottom, not only does the image of our industry take a battering, but everyone loses out.
As Oscar Wilde also said: ‘Experience is one thing you can’t get for nothing’.

Written by Sunny Landa, director at NG Chartered Surveyors.

Juliet Woodcock talks to Paul Barrett, Product Manager at ROCKWOOL Ltd, about acoustic issues in commercial and educational buildings.

These days within my local library, there seems to be no issue regarding offering overspill space to the neighbouring crèche and play group, gathered in loud restless circles containing a dozen or more exuberant infants. However, there was a time when such municipal facilities demanded a peaceful environment for reading or cultural enrichment, while the stern voice of a librarian calling “Quiet please!” quelled noise in an instant.

Intrusive noise coming from without as well as within is a fact of modern life, though fortunately, there are companies out there that do care about creating a peaceful environment for us to live, work or learn in, as Paul Barrett – Product Manager at Rockwool, explains: “Acoustics in commercial and educational buildings matter. It’s imperative that ambient noise is kept as low as possible to minimise intrusion and distraction in these environments. It’s no surprise that studies consistently show that quieter classrooms and workplaces achieve better results. Unfortunately, a large number of schools and office buildings in the UK suffer from poor acoustics.”

Paul Barrett asserts that the most serious issue regarding poor acoustics is caused by flanking transfer, and went on to explain: “The noise is transmitted indirectly via paths such as external wall cavities, voids above partitions and internal corridors, or where there are problems of excessive reverberation within the rooms themselves.”

But it is not just the internal environment that should be considered when trying to improve a building’s acoustic performance. Indeed, when refurbishing or specifying a new school or commercial premises, plans to reduce the noise from outside from wind, rain, hail and traffic, as well as playgrounds and sports centres should be included.

Stone wool insulation is renowned for its excellent acoustic properties, its open fibrous structure making it ideal for absorbing and regulating noise in the building for the lifetime of the property.

Paul Barrett continues: “It is also incredibly versatile, with products and systems available to suit a wide variety of building applications. These include metal and standing seam, flat, green and pitched roofs; ground, exposed and separating floors; internal partitions and separating walls; fire protection and fire stopping; HVAC and masonry cavity walls.
“Fully tested to meet the rigorous demands of today’s legislation, stone wool insulation solutions are proven to reduce ambient, impact and reverberation noise in educational and commercial buildings.”

Utilizing ROCKWOOL’s HARDROCK® Multi-Fix (DD) product on a flat roof, for example, as a 0.25W/m2K single layer or 0.18W/m2K dual layer, mechanically fixed roof solution can provide an acoustic performance of Rw 35dB (single) and 39dB (dual layer) and Class C sound absorption. HARDROCK® Multi-Fix (DD) also provides an impressive fire safety rating as a flat roof board insulation with a Euroclass (A1) non-combustible fire classification and LPCB approval (LPS 1181: Part 1 (Ext-A).

My local library was the last bastion of peace and quiet in my town; I used to know I could go there and get away from other people’s noise – including my adorable nephew’s teething tantrums. I would feel rested there, browsing through books, and in the early days of my journalistic career, going through the micro-fiche with the librarian to order tomes for research that would arrive up to six weeks later pre-Internet days ….. Good acoustic insulation in buildings is vital to our health, our capability to work and learn.