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Summarizing the Standards for a PCA: Baseline Property Condition Assessment Process


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1. Scope

This guide outlines the standards and procedures for conducting a baseline property condition assessment (PCA) of commercial real estate in the United States. It aims to identify and communicate physical deficiencies through a walk-through survey, document reviews, and interviews. The resulting Property Condition Report (PCR) includes observations, opinions of costs for remedies, and recommendations. Objectives include defining good practice, ensuring consistency in PCRs, and establishing industry standards. The guide's scope is strictly defined, with considerations beyond it provided for informational purposes. The organization includes sections on terminology, significance and use, user responsibilities, guidelines for conducting the PCA, out-of-scope considerations, asset-specific requirements, and additional scope considerations.


2. The Property Condition Assessment

The objective of the Property Condition Assessment (PCA) is to observe and report on the physical condition of the subject property as thoroughly as possible according to the prescribed processes. The PCA consists of four main components:


  1. Documentation Review and Interviews: This involves gathering information through document reviews, research, and interviews, as outlined in Section 7 of the guide.

  2. Walk-Through Survey: This component, detailed in Section 8, entails physically inspecting the subject property to identify any observable physical deficiencies.

  3. Preparation of Opinions of Costs to Remedy Physical Deficiencies: In Section 9, the consultant is tasked with estimating the costs associated with addressing the identified physical deficiencies.

  4. Property Condition Report: Finally, Section 10 outlines the creation of the Property Condition Report (PCR), which consolidates all the information gathered and provides the findings, opinions, and recommendations.

These components are closely coordinated:

  • Interrelated Components: The Documentation Review, Interviews, and Walk-Through Survey components are interconnected. Information obtained from one component may necessitate further investigation through another, or may influence the consultant's findings, opinions, or recommendations.

  • Source Attribution: The consultant must explicitly mention in the PCR the sources of information used, especially if they were critical in identifying physical deficiencies not readily observable or supplementing the consultant's observations.

Regarding the consultant's duties:

  • Assignment of Tasks: Various tasks within the PCA, including inquiries, surveys, interpretation of information, preparation of opinions, and report writing, may be carried out by the consultant, field observer, staff members, or third-party contractors engaged by the consultant.

  • Responsibility for Information: The consultant is not held accountable if a source fails to provide or respond to requested information in a timely or complete manner.

  • Opinions of Costs: The consultant is not obliged to provide opinions of costs for physical deficiencies requiring specialty consultation or further investigation unless explicitly agreed upon between the user and consultant.

  • Representative Observations: During the walk-through survey, the field observer is not expected to inspect every instance of recurring components or systems. Instead, representative observations should be made, focusing on areas, equipment, or systems that are similar and representative of one another.

Overall, these guidelines aim to ensure a comprehensive yet practical approach to conducting a PCA, balancing thoroughness with efficiency.


3. Document Review and Interviews

The objective of the document review and interviews within the Property Condition Assessment (PCA) process is to enhance the walk-through survey and assist the consultant in understanding the subject property's condition and identifying physical deficiencies. This involves reviewing records or documents that are readily available and reasonably ascertainable. Here's a detailed breakdown of the key points:


Reliance on Provided Information: The consultant is not obligated to independently verify the information provided but may rely on it as long as it appears reasonable.


Accuracy and Completeness: The accuracy and completeness of information can vary among sources, and the consultant is not obliged to identify mistakes or insufficiencies.


However, they should make a reasonable effort to compensate for obvious mistakes or insufficiencies based on other information gathered during the PCA process.

Government Agency Provided Information:

  • The consultant is required to solicit and review specific documents such as base building certificates of occupancy and recorded building code violations.

  • The availability of such information may vary, and the consultant should review only information that is reasonably ascertainable from standard sources. If information is not practically reviewable or not provided in a timely manner, this should be noted in the PCR.

Pre-Survey Questionnaire: The consultant may provide the property owner or representative with a questionnaire to gather information about historical repairs, preventive maintenance, pending repairs, and other relevant details. The responses to this questionnaire should be included in the PCR unless directed otherwise by the user.


Owner/User Provided Documentation and Information: The consultant should review various documents and information provided by the owner or user, including appraisals, certificates of occupancy, safety inspection records, warranty information, historical costs, pending proposals, building occupancy records, and leasing literature.


Interviews:

  • Prior to the site visit, the consultant should identify a Point of Contact (POC) and contact them to forward the pre-survey questionnaire.

  • The consultant may also conduct interviews with knowledgeable individuals about the subject property's condition and operation.

  • The method of questioning is at the discretion of the consultant and can be done in person, by telephone, or in writing.

Incomplete Answers: If the POC or other parties are unavailable or do not provide full responses to the consultant's inquiries, this should be disclosed in the PCR. Similarly, if any party restricts authorization for interviews or if the interviewee lacks knowledge about the property, this should also be noted in the PCR.


In essence, this section outlines the procedures for gathering information through document review and interviews to supplement the walk-through survey and ensure a comprehensive assessment of the subject property's physical condition.


4. Walk-Through Survey

The objective of the walk-through survey in the Property Condition Assessment (PCA) process is to visually inspect the subject property to gather information about its material systems and components. Here's a detailed summary of the key points:


Frequency:

  • Only one site visit is expected as part of the PCA process, and this visit constitutes the walk-through survey.

Photographs:

  • The consultant should document representative conditions with photographs, including typical and material physical deficiencies.

  • Photographs should cover various aspects of the property, including elevations, exteriors, site work, roofing, structural systems, plumbing, HVAC, electrical systems, conveyance systems, life safety systems, interiors, and any special or unusual conditions.

Scope:

  • The field observer should conduct a walk-through survey during the site visit to observe material systems and components and identify physical deficiencies and unusual features.

  • Testing, measuring, or preparing calculations to determine adequacy, capacity, or compliance with standards is not within the scope of this guide.

  • The guide outlines specific items to be observed, but the consultant can use professional judgment to add or delete subsections as necessary.

Specific Subsections:

  • The guide provides subsections for observing various aspects of the property, including:

  • Site features such as topography, stormwater drainage, ingress/egress, paving, landscaping, recreational facilities, and utility systems.

  • Structural frame and building envelope.

  • Roofing, plumbing, heating, air conditioning, ventilation, electrical, vertical transportation, and life safety/fire protection systems.

  • Interior elements such as common areas, finishes, amenities, and special features.

Additional Considerations:

  • The guide acknowledges that there may be additional issues or conditions at a property that users may wish to assess, which are outside the scope of the guide.

  • These considerations may include seismic considerations, design considerations for natural disasters, insect/rodent infestation, environmental considerations, and ADA requirements.

The walk-through survey aims to comprehensively assess the physical condition of the subject property by visually inspecting its various systems and components, documenting any deficiencies, and considering additional factors beyond the scope of the guide that may be relevant to the property's condition.


5. Property Condition Report

The document outlines the requirements for preparing a Property Condition Report (PCR), detailing various sections and protocols to be followed:


Format:

  • There's no specific format provided for the PCR. The format should be determined through consultation between the user and the consultant.

Writing Protocols:

  • Suggested Remedy: Consultants must propose a remedy for each material physical deficiency.

  • Significance of Physical Deficiency: Consultants should explain the significance of physical deficiencies in a simple manner.

  • Disclosure of Information Source: The source of material information should be clearly identified.

  • Representative Description and Observed Conditions: Descriptions of systems and components may be based on representative observations.

Documentation:

  • Pertinent documentation such as photographs, building records, code violation notices, certificates of occupancy, and repair cost documentation should be included.

Credentials:

  • The PCR should include the names and qualifications of the field observer and the PCR reviewer.

Executive Summary:

  • The summary should provide an overview of the property, including its physical condition, maintenance status, significant deficiencies, pending improvements, deviations from the guide, consultant relationships, recommendations, and the purpose and scope of the PCR.

Purpose and Scope:

  • The purpose of the PCR and the scope of work completed for the PCA should be clearly defined.

Walk-Through Survey:

  • This section should describe each system or component observed during the walk-through survey, including any physical deficiencies noted.

Document Reviews and Interviews:

  • Information obtained from document reviews and interviews should be identified, particularly regarding physical deficiencies.

Additional Considerations:

  • Material additional considerations or out-of-scope items should be listed.

Opinions of Costs:

  • Material physical deficiencies should be identified, along with suggested remedies and opinions of costs.

Qualifications:

  • Both the field observer's and the PCR reviewer's qualifications should be provided.

Limiting Conditions:

  • All limiting conditions of the PCR should be disclosed.

Exhibits:

  • Exhibits such as photographs, questionnaires, user/owner-submitted documents, plot plans, sketches, and any other relevant materials should be included.

The PCR should provide a comprehensive assessment of the property's physical condition, supported by documentation, observations, and professional analysis.


6. Out of Scope Considerations

The section outlines various activities that are excluded from or limited in scope within a Property Condition Assessment (PCA) prepared according to the guide:


Activity Exclusions:

  1. Identifying Capital Improvements: This excludes identifying enhancements or upgrades that improve the property beyond its intended design condition.

  2. Future Required Activities: Excludes identifying improvements or maintenance activities needed in the future, except for short-term and long-term needs.

  3. Physical Disturbances: Excludes actions that involve moving materials, equipment, or obstructive items, as well as any intrusive testing or exploration.

  4. Technical Determinations: Excludes detailed technical assessments such as determining pressure and flow rates, fire ratings, or building code compliance.

  5. Engineering Calculations: Excludes performing engineering calculations or preparing designs to remedy deficiencies.

  6. Measurements and Quantities: Excludes taking measurements or confirming property information provided by the owner.

  7. Pest Assessment: Excludes reporting on the presence of pests like insects or rodents.

  8. Subterranean Conditions: Excludes evaluating soil types, underground utilities, or non-permanently installed systems.

  9. Safety Restrictions: Excludes entering areas posing safety threats or potential dangers to the observer.

  10. Operational Testing: Excludes operating or witnessing the operation of certain building systems.

  11. Environmental Assessment: Excludes providing opinions on environmental issues like water quality, asbestos, or mold.

  12. Specialized Equipment: Excludes evaluating systems requiring specialized knowledge or equipment.

  13. Process-Related Equipment: Excludes assessing equipment related to specific processes or tenant-owned equipment.

Warranty, Guarantee, and Code Compliance Exclusions:

  1. Physical Condition Warranty: The PCA does not provide a warranty on the present or future condition of systems or components.

  2. Compliance Assurance: The PCA does not guarantee compliance with federal, state, or local regulations or industry standards.

  3. Vendor or Manufacturer Warranties: The PCA does not ensure compliance with warranties or standards set by manufacturers or certification programs.

Additional/General Considerations:

  1. Further Inquiry: Users may wish to assess additional physical condition issues beyond the guide's scope, termed non-scope considerations, which can be included in the report.

  2. Out of Scope Considerations: Users may choose not to address non-scope considerations, and their assessment is not mandatory for PCA compliance.

  3. Other Standards: Any other standards or protocols for identifying physical deficiencies are excluded unless otherwise agreed upon by the user and consultant.


The listings above are a brief summary of the ASTM International Standard Guide for Property Condition Assessments: Baseline Property Condition Assessment Process. For a more thorough breakdown and list of additional protocols, you can visit the ASTM website to download the full-length PDF version of the list. For more questions, call our Built Engineers today at 646-481-1861!


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