Inspection – not a cursory glance, a thorough survey.
The first time many of us come across surveys is when we buy a home. A ‘bad’ survey, revealing a catalogue of hidden problems can be a deal breaker! Within a commercial environment inspections and surveys serve a wide range of purposes. For both private and commercial clients a building survey is an invaluable service, reducing the risk of unknowns and building certainty in an investment or project.
In a nutshell, a building survey, can provide:
- an understanding of the condition and design of the property;
- establish the suitability of a property for its intended use;
- an understanding of the need for, and the amount of, future costs and other liabilities;
- a level of protection for institutional investors or funders; and
- a basis for negotiation with the vendor or landlord.
A successful survey requires a clear purpose. It is not just about collecting the right kind of evidence, but also being able to focus it to meet the requirements of the instruction.
A given for any surveyor is a good understanding of the history of buildings, building technology and local environment, as is knowledge of the causes of and remedial actions for building defects. Of almost equal importance is an ability to deal with people, handle client expectations and maintain budgets.
We’ve put together a short guide on the main types of surveys/inspections and how they differ:
Residential Surveys come in at different levels from the most basic, a Condition Report, (level one) to a Building Survey (level three).
A Condition Report (level one) is designed to complement a mortgage valuation, providing a traffic light style indication of the condition of parts of the property, a summary of a property’s defects and possible risks affecting the house but doesn’t include any advice or a valuation.
A Home Buyers Report (level two) is a more detailed inspection and is, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the most popular option for house purchasers. A Home Buyers Report offers two options – Survey Only or Survey with Valuation. The survey on either will detail any obvious major problems, rot, subsidence, etc with a property but is not intrusive so the surveyor will not look behind furniture, lift-up floorboards or drill any holes. As the name would suggest on the Survey with Valuation you can opt to add a valuation and an insurance reinstatement value (the sum you would receive should the building burn down).
A Building Survey (level three) by a RICS Surveyor is a comprehensive investigation and assessment of the construction and condition of a building with the extent of the survey agreed between the surveyor and the client. The detailed report will include advice on any necessary repairs to the property, estimated timings and costs, and an indication of what will happened if the repairs are not carried out. Unless specified, it will not normally include a valuation or insurance reinstatement value estimate.
Commercial Inspections and Surveys are instructed by clients, including investors, landlords, tenants for a variety of purposes, these include:
Commercial Due Diligence – When investing in a commercial property, you want to be sure your investment is sound and that it will meet your business needs. With a Commercial Due Diligence Survey, a surveyor will assess those needs and carry out an impartial and professional appraisal of the commercial property, its condition and suitability as agreed within the remit of the inspection.
Stock Condition Survey – Some clients deal with defects and maintenance issues as and when they arise – which can lead to some unforeseen and expensive surprises. A planned maintenance programme helps avoid this. It starts with a Stock Condition Survey which assesses the state of repair or condition of an organisation’s building stock generally to help with the preparation of a maintenance programme which can span 5, 10, 15 or 20 years. We have recently completed a set of stock condition surveys for an Academy Trust on their building portfolio of 16 schools and we are now working with them on annual maintenance programmes.
Schedule of Condition – Sometimes a client just needs a snapshot of a building’s condition, perhaps at the start of a lease, or as adjacent construction work commences in connection with Party Wall matters. A Schedule of Condition inspection and report details the condition of a building at a specific point in time and we will often add photographs, sketches and drawings to support our reports
Schedule of Dilapidations – Many commercial premises are leased. Included in the terms of an individual lease will be the repairing obligations. A Schedule of Dilapidations inspection identifies necessary repairs of tenanted premises under the lease. It may be prepared for service on either the landlord or tenant, depending on their respective lease obligations.
Measured Survey – Our surveyors will take measurements of a building and/or its site to prepare precise drawings. A measured survey provides the baseline information on which planning drawings, detail design and development of a project are based and accurate measurement as a consequence is vital.
Elemental or Specialist Investigation – From time to time a building may suffer defects – cracks, leaks, damp patches – causes for concern. This is where an Elemental or Specialist Investigation comes in. An expert surveyor will undertake a focused investigation/inspection to ascertain what is causing the defect. The scope of the investigation is specific to each job and this has recently included an investigation onto exceptionally severe cracking at a property in Fakenham, Norfolk.
Reinstatement Cost Assessment – A Reinstatement Cost Assessment provides information on the anticipated cost of re-constructing a building in the event of damage by an insured risk (it has no direct relationship to the market value of the property). This cost is generally established using figures published by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors/Building Cost Information Service (RICS/BCIS. When an assessment is undertaken of a Listed or non-standard building, our surveyors will use adjusted rates to ensure the reinstatement cost is accurate to the specific structure.
Inspection of Buildings Under Construction – Generally undertaken as part of a Contract Administrator’s duties an Inspection of Buildings Under Construction is required for a variety of purposes, including statutory requirements, which dictate the frequency and scope of the inspections and reporting format.
Can we help?
At DCP we’re masters of inspection – we’ve been doing it since we were established in 1946. If we can help you with an inspection or for further information on all our services please visit our website or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.