Those who are responsible for monitoring and managing a particular premises’ condition have good reason to learn what a schedule of condition is, and why it can be so important.
The term ‘schedule of condition’, or SOC, refers to a factual record of a property’s condition. SOCs can be prepared for both residential and commercial properties by independent experts, at the request of a tenant, landlord, employer, contractor, or even neighbour.
But what else should you know about schedules of condition, and how can you most effectively manage schedules of condition in relation to your own property – whether you are looking to manage and look after just one building, or a portfolio of many different properties?
What is a schedule of condition?
As touched on above, a schedule of condition constitutes a complete record of the condition of a given property, at the time the SOC was prepared. This allows it to potentially serve as a benchmark against which the condition of the same property can be assessed at a later date, so that any changes in the intervening time can be identified.
What is the purpose of a schedule of condition, and why is it necessary?
You might arrange for the preparation of a schedule of condition for any of a variety of reasons.
One common scenario in which SOC might be readied, is when a new lease is entered into. In this situation, a schedule of condition – as prepared by a reputable independent expert – will confirm and record the given property’s condition prior to the lease term starting, so that any defects that already exist can be spotted, and repair costs accounted for, before the lease is signed.
When the lease nears its end, one might refer back to the schedule of condition, so that responsibility for dilapidations and reinstatement can be established.
Another situation that may lead to the preparation of a schedule of condition, is when construction work is set to be carried out for adjacent properties or structures that it is intended will be retained, or if only part of the given building will be refurbished.
In these instances, a schedule of condition can help protect against any claims that neighbours may bring if they spot defects in their property that may have already been there before construction work began. Or, of course, damage might actually be caused during the construction work – in which case, a schedule of condition having been prepared beforehand can help make this clear.
Schedules of condition are often requested in situations where the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 applies. Such a record would provide evidence of the condition of the neighbouring building before work starts. Party wall surveyors can then be tasked with inspecting the building again to ascertain whether any damage has been caused, and if repair work should be undertaken.
Schedules of condition can also record information relating to the presence of any hazardous materials such as asbestos, its location and condition. With periodic inspection, the condition of such materials can be monitored and in the event that they show signs of deterioration, remedial works can be planned in to remove or repair the materials.
What should be included in a schedule of condition report?
There isn’t really a definitive rundown of what should and should not be included in a schedule of condition report. However, the following are typical elements often found in such a report:
- Information about the purpose of the SOC
- Details of the location and extent of the property
- A general description of the property’s construction
- The time, date, and weather conditions during the inspection of the property
- Aspects of the property that are or aren’t addressed in the report
- Drawings of the property to provide clarification where needed
- Photographs and video footage of the property
- Written information about the location, condition and nature of every item inspected
- A written record of issues that already exist in the building, such as signs of decay, cracks, holes, staining, discolouration, defects, and deterioration
- Information about any specific tests that might have been performed – for example, to ascertain moisture levels in timber
- Information relating to the presence of any hazardous materials such as asbestos, its location and condition.
How to create a schedule of condition report
The following are typical parts of the process of preparing a schedule of condition report:
- Setting out the purpose of the report. As we outlined above, there are various circumstances in which an SOC might be created. You might be looking to have an SOC created in relation to adjoining properties and the aforementioned Party Wall etc. Act, or you may be a landlord requesting such a report before work commences on your property that has a conceivable risk of damage.
- Determining an appropriate report format and layout. Typically, a professionally put-together schedule of condition will include descriptive text, supported by photographic evidence. You should not depend on photographs alone for an SOC, given that the exact location of any issues may be far from clear in such images, which also do not tend to show the most minor cracks that can easily arise. As far as the written part of the report is concerned, this is likely to take the form of columns, incorporating the headings ‘Item’, ‘Description’, and ‘Condition’ – and possibly a fourth column, referencing the relevant photo numbers.
- Being clear about the SOC’s scope. The reasoning for having the schedule of condition carried out in the first place will also inform your decisions on the scope of the report. If, for instance, you are arranging for an SOC ahead of a loft conversion or ground-level extension of the property, you might simply record within a three to four-metre radius of the works that will be undertaken. However, in some circumstances, it may be befitting for the report to focus on a broader area of your property that could potentially be impacted by issues such as cracks, damp patches, or broken glass.
How to best manage a schedule of condition on your property portfolio
If you are aiming to responsibly manage all tasks associated with the preparation of a schedule of condition, you could attempt to do so manually, with pen and paper or spreadsheets; however, this does not mean it would be a wise decision to take either path.
In any case, in the 2020s, you have the option of using software, such as the building condition audit that forms part of the Vision Pro platform. With this module giving you an excellent overview of your buildings’ condition at any one time, while embracing the use of Vision-tag NFC technology, and allowing for the quick and easy viewing and editing of vital details, it really is a comprehensive solution for the management and maintenance of your entire portfolio.
Furthermore, by making use of the templates contained within Vision Pro which cover every aspect of an SOC, you can be sure that no key information of relevance is omitted. In addition, because Vision Pro is a secure, cloud-based software solution, the latest, up-to-date information can be accessed from any location and on any device, thus giving an up-to-the-minute live data view of a property’s condition. This information can be accessed and updated by staff or contractors, in fact, anyone with the correct permissions in place.
Once a schedule of condition has been completed, the report can simply be updated in the future rather than being started again from scratch. This will help to save time for those responsible for building maintenance and management.
To find out more about Vision Pro or the building condition and property maintenance module in particular; simply contact Vision Pro today to discuss the building condition capabilities of Vision or to book a demo of our software.