Building Condition Surveys
The Building Condition Survey can range from a determination of the viability of continuing use of the structure to a determination of upgrades and/ or expansion to improve the use and productivity of the facility.
A Building Condition Survey usually begins with a series of interviews with the administrators and maintenance directors, to discuss the current conditions of the facility, review any perceived deficiencies, and evaluate archival information (i.e. existing blueprints or specifications). The existing drawings are used to develop “key-plans” that can be used for reference and coordination during the survey.
This interview process is then followed by a walk-thru of the building, visually inspecting the various systems and gathering information on the age of the building elements. Each of the building elements are organized, according to the Construction Specifications Institute divisions, and the building. This ensures that all elements are reviewed fairly and no part of the building is overlooked. Typically this process is based on visual review only, however, if specific areas are of particular concern (such as roof cuts to determine deck conditions, or sampling to determine the presence of toxic materials), some destructive investigation can be included.
With the walk-through completed, all of the information that we gathered is analyzed, and each system is graded, on a scale of one to ten (10 being “as new”, 1 being “non-functional'') according to its condition. These grades are entered into a spreadsheet which lists each of the building systems, weighs each system as a percentage of the total building construction cost, and assigns a replacement cost for each, based on RS Means Estimating Guide. The bottom of the spreadsheet summarizes the total estimated replacement cost for the building, an estimate of the cost to bring all of the systems up to a “good” condition, and the overall score for the building condition (based on the weighted grades).
In addition to the above mentioned “Score-Card”, Building Condition Surveys include a review of the accessibility of the Building and Site. Existing changes in grade are documented, toilet rooms and kitchens are checked for accessible clearances, and existing accessible elements (ramps, lifts, elevators) are evaluated to determine their condition and remaining life-span. For portions of the facility that are currently not accessible, a preliminary opinion of the potential to make them accessible is included.
Another part of the Building Condition Survey which can assist clients in preparing for large expenses that may need to happen for the facility, is a listing of anticipated Capital Expenses for specific timeframes. Typically the evaluations noted above include an “anticipated life-span” which can then be converted into potential replacement costs for 5 year, 10 year, and 20 year periods. This information has proven extremely useful to facility administrators to plan ahead for major maintenance items such as roof replacement, masonry reconstruction, or mechanical unit (furnace, hot water heater) replacements.
Building Condition Surveys can also be tailored to include specific items requested by the Owners. In the past, we have included things such as Roof Truss Analysis, to determine if the building's metal roof elements are the kind susceptible to deterioration (rusting) over time. We have also included evaluation of Stained Glass Windows for Church Building surveys. Energy Use Studies, looking at the building’s energy consumption, including thermal scanning can be included. Capacity studies to determine the number of people who can be accommodated for a variety of uses, such as auditorium type seating (chairs only) or banqueting layouts (tables and chairs). Evaluations of parking capacity have also been included, coordinating this work with the accessibility survey, and systems reviews noted above.
In summary, a Building Condition Survey, at its core is a detailed look at the building elements and systems, however, it can include additional information that the Building Owner needs in order to make informed decisions regarding the viability, and potential future use of the Building. We are committed to providing unbiased evaluations that can serve as useful planning tools.