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Protecting your construction site with a building dilapidation report

A building dilapidation report is an important document that records the potential risk or damage to property. You can sometimes use dilapidation reports to record conditions at the end of a tenancy period. However, this article focuses on the reports that builders and developers carry out before and during construction. These audits assess the risk of dilapidation and the extent of any damage, should it occur.

Before demolition of a house, you should complete a building delapidation report

As populations grow and greenfield sites receive greater protection, many construction projects are taking place in built-up areas. In addition, the demolition and re-build model is increasingly popular. In cities, developers are taking down many large high-rise buildings and replacing them with modern, safer and more efficient buildings. Although this style of construction is welcome news for residents and councils alike, it too has its risks.

Your top priority when working on this kind of site is ensuring that you protect nearby properties from damage. Construction workers might have to work with neighbouring walls and connected foundations and it is important not to damage them. Sites often need large amounts of material transferred and demolition usually requires heavy machinery. With deep excavation needed for high-rise buildings, damage can occur through erosion or vibration.

Damage leads to disputes and this can be costly to both the construction company and its clients. By completing a comprehensive dilapidation audit before work commences, the potential risks can be identified and quantified and plans can be put in place to change activities and reduce risk.

What is a building dilapidation report?

A dilapidation report records the condition of all neighbouring buildings that could potentially be damaged by demolition and construction processes. They also document surrounding elements at-risk, including trees, fences, paving, driveways and yards. The audit needs to be as comprehensive as possible. The auditor then assigns risks and probabilities to each activity to determine the likelihood that it will occur. This report will also calculate the potential costs of damage. If an activity is deemed to be too risky or costly then an alternative method or activity can be chosen.

Above all, prevention is better than a cure. The report’s priority is to identify and limit damage.

Who should conduct a building dilapidation survey?

Like a snagging survey, building dilapidation surveys should be conducted by neutral 3rd parties. This means that the report will be unbiased and the estimation of costs due is more or less fair. Ensure that you use a chartered surveyor who has previous experience with dilapidation reports for construction companies.

How to calculate dilapidation costs?

By completing a building dilapidation report, you can limit risks but not completely avoid them. If damage does occur, you will need to calculate dilapidation costs in order to offer compensation. The calculation needs to consider the cost to replace the item or repair the damage.

For example, to replace a broken railing:

  • The cost of a similar replacement railing might be £5000
  • The age of the railing might be 3 years
  • The average lifespan of the railing might be 20 years
  • The remaining realistic lifespan of the railing is therefore 17 years (20-3)
  • The value of the railing per year is £500 ÷ 20 = £250/year
  • The compensation amount is the remaining realistic lifespan x the value of the railing per year: 17 x £250 = £4250

Rather than replacing the item like-for-like, the owner can choose to use the money elsewhere and the calculation fairly considers the value already obtained from the item over its lifespan.

If the item is only damaged in part and the damaged section can be replaced, then the calculation can be reduced to take this into account.

For example, if your work damages two metres of a 50-metre railing, you would:

  • Divide the total cost of the railing by the length for the cost per metre: £4250 ÷ 50 = £85
  • Multiply the cost per metre by the number of metres that need replacing: £85 x 2 = £170

Creating dilapidation reports

Dilapidation reports are complex documents. They are usually completed by experienced building consultants or surveyors. By carrying out a comprehensive audit before work starts, the building contractor, client and neighbours can be clear about the existing condition of neighbouring buildings and assets.

Reports help to foster open communication with building owners and occupants and the potential impact on the property and their day-to-day lives. Being honest about the extent of the work will help alleviate some of the potential stresses that may occur. Being proactive in dealing with any compensation claims will help ensure a fair process of reimbursement that helps prevent escalation.

PlanRadar enables building consultants and surveyors to conduct a thorough building dilapidation assessment. They can document any pre-existing damage, subsidence or cracks using images, written notes and audio. You can even create custom forms and reports for sites or clients with special requirements. If a neighbour or worker reports damage, site workers can document (again through images and notes), record and track it through a ticketing system and assign to a supervisor to investigate. Using the pre-existing condition reports, the supervisor can check claim validity and provide evidence, if needed.

When should you complete a building dilapidation report?

The first report should take place before construction starts. It should report pre-existing faults and assess the impact and risk of the proposed demolition or construction activity.

You should make regular checks as the project progresses. Encourage workers to report any issues, however small, as soon as they arise. Supervisors can then use PlanRadar to create tickets and assign them to workers. The worker then carries out the repair, taking photos of their completed work. Each ticket forms part of an audit trail. Senior managers can identify issues quickly and can generate full reports at the end of the project.

When the project is complete, a final audit records the condition of the neighbouring buildings and assets, documenting any repairs or remedial work and providing date stamped, visual evidence in case you need it later.

By creating detailed dilapidation reports at the beginning, end and throughout a project, contractors and clients can reduce their risk and provide the detailed information needed to respond to claims, should they arise.

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