White Papers ─── March 15, 2022
Building Condition Assessments
Author: Angela Flinn
When you think of Architecture, you probably don’t think of report writing, yet many projects begin with some form of report being created. Architectural reports include building condition assessments, programming documents, feasibility studies, needs assessments, design reports, scoping studies, and funding application assistance. These reports are used to define project requirements, direct programming, provide life cycle projections for existing buildings, determine feasibility of upcoming projects, and secure project funding. At Berry Architecture, we often assist our clients with the various types of reports required to secure funding or provide direction for a project. Typically, to apply for building grants or to secure funding, agencies require a Building Condition Assessment (BCA) to be completed on an existing building. For new buildings, programming documents are needed to outline the project intent and client requirements. We work with our clients to determine which type of report they will need to complete to apply for and secure funding for future projects.
We work with our clients to confirm the consultant team that will be needed for their particular report. The BCA’s consultants can consist of Berry Architecture alone, as the architectural consultant, and we will incorporate our knowledge of the building as a whole. With our many years of experience, we can complete basic reviews of structural, mechanical, and electrical systems. Our focus will be to identify life safety, building code concerns, and age and condition of components and systems. Our preference is to complete the BCA with a team of consultants, which typically include structural, mechanical, and electrical consultants. This can also include other consultants such as civil, hazardous material, geotechnical, and acoustic consultants, to name few. Each team member focuses on their area of expertise. Architecturally, we focus on the architectural and interior components, as well as overseeing the team and providing overall recommendations. Primarily, in the Architectural scope of work we focus on life safety, building codes, site condition, building envelope, interior components, and accessibility. We can also look at space configurations and review what works and what does not. We can complete zoning bylaw reviews in the report to identify requirements if the building usage was to change.
Since Berry Architecture has been completing BCAs for many years, we have developed a system that works well for all BCAs. Below is a high-level outline:
The report will be divided into disciplines (architectural/interior, structural, mechanical, electrical, and site) and will loosely follow Uniformat, an industry standard element classification system. The report will generally include floor plans and photos to display items noted in the report. It will usually include basic costs to replace or repair damaged components; and if requested, we can include detailed costing for large renovations.
The End Goal
The end goal of the BCA will include a recommendation for the building and what areas will require immediate repair. It will also outline code issues and highlight the intention of the report. We have completed reviews which began with the intention that the client was going to undertake a major building renovation; however, after our BCA, they have changed their plan due to unforeseen building conditions and proceeded with planning for a new building instead of renovations. We have also experienced the opposite scenario—the client thought that the building should be replaced, but the BCA found the existing building was in good condition and could be renovated to meet the changing needs of the client. We have also completed BCAs for clients interested in purchasing a building to confirm the building is a good investment and will meet their needs.
Many of our projects start with completing a Building Condition Assessment to provide the client with accurate information for direction and planning for their existing buildings, as well as upcoming or potential projects. We have completed reviews on a multitude of building types and for both publicly funded clients and private clients.