Pre-purchase investigations and renovations always begin with a visit to the property and a tour of the existing building. The first question I always ask is to obtain any documentation and information available about the facility. But frequently, no drawings exist and little, if anything, about the building is documented.
Not a problem.
I’ve recently refined and formalized a detailed initial survey and inventory process for an existing building as a Property Condition Assessment (PCA). Having this detailed method gives comfort that we’ve turned over all the stones and looked systematically for potential pitfalls before the design process. The team looks at everything from the foundation to the roof, the architecture and all the engineered systems in between, and the site beyond.
With a couple of key engineering experts and a contractor to test various budgetary scenarios, clients end up with:
- visual walk through with the team
- detailed architectural survey
- survey plat with known site plan information
- printed and electronic CAD formats of the surveys
- building code analysis
- accessibility analysis
- interviews of individuals with potential information about the building
- municipal and authority research for recorded and outstanding problems
- descriptions of all the systems
- inventories of all the building equipment
- summary of any physical deficiencies along a good-fair-poor scale
- descriptions for remedies of poor conditions needing immediate repair
- photographic summaries for the systems and findings
- budgetary analysis for remedying all the discovered deficiencies
This is all documented in a formalized report, useful for purchase negotiations or evaluating the scope of additional projects within a facility.
Whew! Producing all this is a lot of work, especially trying to complete it in just a week or two. It’s definitely more thorough than the average field verification route. But this methodical approach takes a building from 0 to 100 with a comprehensive document foundation for making any future explorations or decisions. And its in portable electronic formats, not scraps of paper stashed in the mechanical room.
I figured this process expansion and formalization would establish a great place for an architect and engineering team to begin a renovation, but I’ve recently been finding that a PCA is equally useful to an owner as an initial benchmark of building data, sometimes the first such record since it was built decades before.
I like it when we figure out how to solve multiple problems with a singular effort.