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What Is A Building Condition Assessment And When Do You Need One?

At a time such as this, when many longstanding restrictions to control the spread of the coronavirus are being loosened and workers are returning to commercial premises, it is important for those responsible for properties and property maintenance that may have long been left empty to adopt sensible measures.

One such measure could be undertaking a building condition assessment, which could be key to the ongoing maintenance and management of your property.  

What is a building condition assessment?

A building condition assessment entails a commercial building’s structures and systems being systematically inspected, reviewed and reported on, with a view to identifying any physical deficiencies that may necessitate repair or replacement.

Some may consider a building condition assessment to be the commercial-building equivalent of a home inspection. However, with commercial premises tending to have their own specialised requirements compared to residential buildings, a building condition assessment is necessarily more complicated, providing more in-depth insight into a structure’s condition.  Plus, it’s more than likely that you will need to take into consideration – and therefore the responsibility of – the health and safety of many people… staff, visitors, etc.

When do you need a building condition assessment?

Many might presume that a building condition assessment would be requested as a one-off in readiness for the sale of a property – for example, to reassure the prospective buyer that they are making the right decision in acquiring the building.

A building condition assessment may well be arranged in such circumstances. After all, even if the buyer has no doubts about going ahead with their purchase of the property, the resulting report will still provide important information on issues with the building that they may need to address.

Furthermore, most lenders are unlikely to give final approval to a commercial property loan until such an assessment has been carried out.

However, an upcoming property purchase transaction is not the only circumstance in which a building condition assessment may be performed. As we touched on above, it may be particularly pertinent at the present time, when many businesses are moving their workforces back into commercial buildings that might have been left unoccupied and unmaintained for much of the past 15 months or so.

If you are responsible for a commercial property, you might also ask for a building condition assessment in order to put in place a well-informed safety and maintenance programme for the premises. The report from this assessment can also provide the information you need to help you forecast and budget for maintenance expenses, or to determine whether the building should be renovated, sold or demolished.

You might also use the results of a building condition assessment to assess the value of commercial property that you own, or in order to allocate resources efficiently across what may be an extensive portfolio of properties.

What does a building condition assessment cover?

A building condition assessment typically consists of a walkthrough survey to pinpoint any physical deficiencies in the property, as well as document reviews and interviews. The findings from these processes are then collated into the final property condition report.

The organisation carrying out the condition assessment of your property is likely to undertake a site inspection that looks closely at such aspects of the building as its utilities, drainage, parking and landscaping.

The inspection and subsequent report will also scrutinise the structural frame of the building, and its electrical and mechanical systems encompassing the likes of its heating, cooling, plumbing, ventilation and insulation.

In addition, the assessors will look at the finishes of interior surfaces like the ceilings, walls and floors, as well as the fire protection systems present in the building.

While it is recommended to have images and videos taken of the property to aid in assessing its condition, there are certain parts of the building – such as sloped roofs and high-rise walls – that may be inaccessible to inspectors or otherwise hinder their appreciation of the building’s condition. Drones may therefore be used to capture aerial or close views of otherwise awkward and difficult-to-reach areas.

What does a building condition assessment not cover?

While a thorough building condition assessment will encompass many different areas of the property, there are certain elements that are not typically covered in such an assessment.

A building condition assessment will not usually provide details on the cost of renovating the building, for instance. Nor is it likely to set out to determine whether pests such as rodents, insects or other organisms – potentially damaging to the fabric of the building – may be present.

It is also unlikely that the inspection will look at the condition of much more hidden areas in and around the property, such as soil types and conditions, manholes, or underground utilities.

Asbestos is another consideration that property owners/managers may face, particularly for properties that were built prior to 1999.  If asbestos-containing materials are identified a qualified asbestos surveyor will need to be called in to properly assess asbestos material. The surveyor will then be able to advise on the best course of action in order to deal with the presence of asbestos.

How AMCS UK can help

With qualified and experienced consultants, ACMS UK Projects can carry out building condition surveys on your premises.  Our consultants are also equipped with drones and carry licences (CAA Drone Pilot Authorisation) for the larger drones, ie. over 250g, to allow access to hard to reach areas such as roofs and buildings in difficult locations, ie. next to waterways, etc.

If you would like more details, please contact us on 0115 922 0600 or email