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How healthy is your estate: Condition Surveys - Why and How?

Having a detailed understanding of the condition of your estate is the backbone of effective asset management. Rob Gould explains what condition surveys are, the benefits of undertaking them and how to commission them. 

What is a Condition Survey?

Condition surveys are designed to assess the physical condition of the buildings in an estate. These surveys are usually non-intrusive and they can provide you with a better understanding of your buildings. Barker undertakes a variety of surveys and inspections for both public and private sectors, and all of our reports clearly present our findings. Our professional services include condition surveys, pre-acquisition surveys and measured surveys. 

What Types of Buildings Can Benefit From a Survey?

Comprehensive condition surveys are commonly required in the Education sector. Academy trusts and local authorities alike carry out surveys of their estates, including schools, trusts, colleges and universities, and they can benefit from the insight provided. Every building in an estate can be assessed during a condition survey to help you manage your whole estate effectively. These surveys can also benefit several other sectors and commercial properties, such as the Housing sector

Surveys and inspections can be utilised throughout the property life cycle. From conducting due diligence to assisting with pre-development planning, they are a versatile tool that can help you to make informed decisions about your estate. 

What Should a Survey Include?

Condition surveys should be undertaken by building surveyors who are suitably qualified, experienced and carry the necessary professional indemnity insurance.

The surveys should indicate the condition, deficiencies and maintenance requirements for:

  • Building fabric (roofs, windows, doors etc.)
  • Mechanical and electrical services
  • Fixed furniture and fittings
  • Utilities provision
  • Sewage and drainage
  • Fire safety and security

The condition survey should also highlight areas that require further investigation or more specialist advice. Normally, a condition survey will include both a condition grade and a priority rating for each element being surveyed.

Condition Grade

A – Good, performing as intended and operating efficiently

B – Satisfactory, performing as intended but exhibiting minor deterioration

C – Poor, exhibiting major defects and/or not operating as intended

D – Bad, life expired and/or serious risk of failure

Priority Rating

1 – Urgent, immediate or 1 year remedial action required

2 – Essential, 1 to 2 year remedial action required

3 – Desirable, 3 to 5 year remedial action required

4 – Long term, outside of a 5-year planning period

Why Undertake a Condition Survey?

There are several reasons to undertake condition surveys on your estate. Getting some assistance from a building surveying team offers a wide range of benefits to different sectors, including the following; 

  1. Ensure buildings are safe. The buildings should not present any foreseeable risk to the users of the building or the public.
  2. Ensure that the buildings are fully compliant with all laws and building regulations.
  3. Understand how you can improve the energy efficiency of the buildings, perhaps by improving insulation, installing PV panels or LED lighting.
  4. Understand the maintenance required and associated costs.
  5. Identify and prioritise the urgent remedial work required, as well as the longer terms maintenance needs and budgets.
  6. The condition survey may bring to light any funding streams or grants that could be used to off-set the costs of repairs, maintenance and improvement work
  7. The amalgamation of all condition surveys for all of the buildings in your estate will help to inform more strategic decisions such as the acquisition or disposal of assets, or benefiting from economies of scale with a co-ordinated approach across the portfolio.

The ‘Four C’s’

Quality data should inform effective decision-making when it comes to your estate – this data needs to meet the ‘Four Cs’; Current, Correct, Complete and Consistent. To achieve this, someone needs to take responsibility for controlling the data (this could be someone in your estates team or a partner like Barker), and the data needs to be stored in a central database which is easy to interrogate.

How Should Data be Recorded?

For small estates, your central database might be a spreadsheet, but for large buildings or multi-building estates, a more intelligent system will be essential. There are many tools, including Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) packages and simpler, more cost-effective solutions such as Barker’s EO Portal.

When choosing which tool is right for you, you need to consider the following questions:

  • Will the system receive/gather information from a range of different sources?
  • Will the system allow easy integration of the data, taking different slices of the data?
  • Does the system have all the functions you need?
  • Is it easy and intuitive to use?

Barker can help you to get the most from your data. When using the EO Portal to manage your estate, you can efficiently analyse all of the information provided by surveys and inspections to make informed decisions. Our experts can also provide you with advice and guidance, helping to find solutions to any issues identified. Once a plan has been created, it can be put into action and we can project manage the work required. 

Working With a Building Surveying Company 

Barker provides professional building consultancy services to a number of sectors, helping clients to really understand their estates. Our building surveying team has decades of knowledge and technical expertise, and can undertake a variety of surveys and inspections.

For an informal chat about our surveying services and how condition surveys can help you to get the best from your estate, call Rob Gould at Barker on 01279 647111. Barker can design a bespoke condition survey plan for your business, university, college, academy, school or trust. 

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