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

Over the past few months we have rightly been focused on the health of the nation. But with many buildings empty, now is the perfect opportunity to look at the health of the buildings in your estate. Rob Gould explains the benefits of undertaking condition surveys and how best to undertake them.

Many education and commercial buildings are empty, and historical building are closed to the public. This is an ideal time for a surveyor to undertake a thorough condition survey, without the normal constraints of an occupied building. At Barker, the safety of our team and our clients comes first, so we will take all necessary measures to protect the welfare of all, such as social distancing and wearing face masks.

Why Undertake a Condition Survey?

There are several reasons to undertake condition surveys:

  1. Ensuring buildings are safe is a top priority. They survey should not present any foreseeable risk to the users of the building or the public.
  2. We need to ensure that the building is fully compliant with all laws and building regulations.
  3. We need to understand how we can improve the energy efficiency of the building, perhaps by improving insulation, installing PV panels or LED lighting.
  4. A condition survey will help us understand the level of maintenance required. Understanding the requirements will help to determine a schedule of maintenance work.
  5. The schedule will identify 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.

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.

What Should the Survey Include?

Condition surveys should be undertaken by qualified surveyors and they should include issues, deficiencies and maintenance requirements for:

  • Structural aspects such as roofs, building fabric, windows and doors, mechanical and electrical, asbestos etc
  • 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

How should data be recorded?

Data should inform sound decision making – this data needs to be current, accurate, complete and consistent. To achieve this, two things are vital: 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 storing in a central database which is easy to integrate.

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, such as MiCAD, EO Portal, Concerto, Tech Forge and MiCAD. 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?

For an informal chat on designing a condition survey plan for your business, university, college, academy, school or trust, call Rob Gould at Barker on 01279 648057.

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