RICS Draft Guidance Note: Planned preventative maintenance of commercial and residential property, 1st edition

Planned Preventative Maintenance, RICS guidance note, 1st edition

3 Survey preparation

Prior to undertaking the site survey, RICS members should obtain instruction from the client to proceed. This should be in accordance with the client instruction, which should be clear and unambiguous regarding the agreed scope of services.

3.1 Competence

RICS members undertaking PPM surveys must have the relevant training and experience to be deemed competent to do this, in line with the RICS Rules of Conduct for Members. RICS members should therefore have the relevant experience for the specific property types and sectors. They should be sufficiently skilled to inspect and report on all aspects of the property; this should include appropriate knowledge of building technology and pathology.

RICS members should recognise gaps in their knowledge or skills and, where appropriate, seek to appoint a suitably qualified expert or subconsultant, or a consultant directly appointed by the client, to advise on or undertake appropriate further investigation. The appointment of a subconsultant or expert is covered in section 3.6.

3.2 Project coordination

For large commercial properties or portfolios of buildings, it is likely that more than one surveyor and professionals from other disciplines will work together. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the group or team members are briefed on and are familiar with their relevant sections of the scope of services and the PPM format, including defined terms and costs, by a lead surveyor or consultant. RICS members may wish to appoint an individual person or central coordinator to brief the team members, allocate tasks and collate the findings or reports.

Clear lines of communication should be established between members of the team from the outset to prevent errors or duplication in data gathering.

All individuals involved in the project should be briefed on the following:

  • site location
  • any specific access requirements
  • purpose of the survey (subject to client confidentiality)
  • names and contact details of the surveyor(s)
  • estimated time required for the visit(s)
  • a list of key areas to be inspected (including roofs and basements) and
  • information concerning any known site risks or hazards.

RICS members should endeavour to obtain (where available) copies of the as-built floor plans, elevations and sections prior to the visit so that these can be taken to the site. With a copy of the plans, it is possible to annotate the information to include key measurements or dimensions, and mark areas or rooms that were not accessible during the inspection.

3.3 Information gathering

Prior to the visit and with reference to the scope of services, RICS members may seek to obtain the following typical information or documents for review (subject to those agreed in the client instruction):

  • equipment inventory (manufacturer and commissioning date)
  • structural alterations
  • O&M manuals and health and safety files
  • guarantees or warranties (manufacturer and installer)
  • local issues such as boundary disputes or flooding, storms and earthquake damage
  • the extent to which tenant equipment or operations are 'fixed' to the premises
  • the instructing party's repairing obligation under the lease
  • maintenance inspection reports for service installations, access equipment or roof-mounted equipment such as lightning conductors or life safety systems
  • compliance with statutory requirements:
    • building permits and regulations
    • fire safety and engineering inspections (including fire risk assessments)
    • energy audits or energy performance certificates
    • mandatory statutory maintenance reports
  • health and safety audits
  • water hygiene and Legionella reports
  • asbestos inventory and asbestos removal
  • access audits
  • investigation/treatment of deleterious materials and
  • any existing condition surveys.

3.4 Equipment

Prior to the site visit, RICS members should obtain the equipment required to undertake the survey and record data. This may include:

  • a notepad, pen, pencil or tablet/phone with appropriate apps
  • a camera or phone/tablet with sufficient zoom facility or binoculars to record detailed defects from distance
  • basic measuring devices such as laser tapes and tape measures for taking check dimensions, and
  • devices to record the presence of moisture or dampness.

Prior to accessing the site, RICS members should establish any requirement to bring specific personal protective equipment (PPE) or verify that this will be made available on site. Typically, PPE includes:

  • hard hat
  • safety glasses or goggles
  • gloves
  • face mask
  • ear defenders
  • safety boots and
  • high visibility jacket or vest.

When working at height, RICS members may be able to clip onto fixed lifelines or anchor bolts. If these are available, RICS members should consider utilising them if they have the necessary safety harness and training, and the lifelines and bolts have been recently certified as safe.

3.5 Health and safety

RICS members should undertake a risk assessment prior to commencing the site visit, and as much information as possible should be gathered about the premises and its surroundings. A pre-site inspection visit to the premises or analysis of a previous PPM survey report may enable RICS members to identify potential risks related to the site and its operation. If it is not possible to visit the site before the survey, a desk survey can be undertaken with the use of satellite information gleaned from internet searches, although images may be date limited. This may highlight images of the roof, facades and external areas, but will not detail any internal risks associated with the building's operation. This pre-survey online assessment may identify the number of buildings (including outbuildings) and it may be possible to note the number of storeys to estimate the possible building height.

Images of the roof can be used to identify the presence of parapet walls or edge protection and access walkways. However, it is unlikely that these images can be used to conclusively verify the roofing materials or any fragile surfaces that cannot be walked upon. RICS members should seek clarification from the building owner, occupier or property manager about any areas of the roof that are, to their knowledge, fragile and/or dangerous.

Site operation should to be verified prior to the survey by consulting the owner, occupier or property manager. Site characteristics and use will influence the risk assessment. For specific industrial or manufacturing sites, there are likely to be highly controlled health and safety procedures in place. If there is little or no information available about the site or its operation, RICS members should consider the following potential risk areas:

  • working close to plant or machinery (including lift machine rooms)
  • lone working
  • working at height
  • working in confined spaces or underground
  • vehicle movements
  • excessive noise
  • excessive heat or cold
  • working in close proximity to microwaves, electromagnetic fields or radiation
  • chemical emissions (fumes, gasses or liquids)
  • specific hygiene requirement (food preparation)
  • biohazards (laboratories)
  • specific time restrictions/daylight hours
  • unoccupied areas (including areas where lighting and heating have been isolated) and
  • secure areas with requirements for specific security clearance.

Before the survey, RICS members should establish the potential implication of the visit, and whether their presence will disturb the operation of the premises and require a general or localised shutdown of the facility.

RICS members should be familiar with the current edition of the RICS guidance note Surveying safely and this should be contextualised with any information received about the premises.

3.6 Third-party consultants and their appointment

In order to prepare an objective and comprehensive PPM survey, there may be a requirement to engage specialist consultants or experts. These are typically used in relation to the service installations (M&E), including HVAC, electricity, lifts and fire engineering. Other sub-specialisms may include structural engineers, fire engineers, cladding consultants and asbestos experts. Where possible, RICS members should be confident that subconsultants are sufficiently qualified to undertake the task and have the necessary PII cover. Their appointment may be made:

  • directly by RICS members
  • directly by the client or
  • indirectly by RICS members on behalf of the client.

3.6.1 Directly by the surveyor

When directly appointing a third-party consultant, RICS members should:

  • seek approval to appoint from their PII provider
  • include the costs of the consultant in their own appointment
  • check that the consultant has the appropriate level of PII as required by the client
  • agree a scope of works with the consultant and
  • coordinate and review the report of the consultant (subject to PII provider confirmation).

3.6.2 Directly by the client

When the third-party consultant is appointed directly by the client:

  • the client is responsible for paying the consultant, the client instruction and the scope of works, and
  • RICS members may be asked to review the subconsultant's report.

3.6.3 Indirectly by RICS members on behalf of the client

When an RICS member indirectly appoints a third-party subconsultant on behalf of the client, the RICS member:

  • coordinates the appointment of the subconsultant
  • chooses the subconsultant, with the client's approval
  • establishes the terms of the subconsultant's appointment, obtaining the client's agreement together with their approval for payment and
  • should inform the client that they are not responsible for the content of the report by the subconsultant.

RICS members should consider stating in the client instruction that they are not responsible for the content of the subconsultant's report.