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Hot Topic Highlight – RICS Guidance Note Planned Preventative Maintenance

Updated: Oct 29, 2023

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What is today's blog about?

In this week’s blog, we take a look at the new RICS Guidance Note Planned Preventative Maintenance of Commercial and Residential Property 1st Edition.

Essential reading for RICS APC and AssocRICS candidates involved in the provision of Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) and linking into competencies such as Legal & Regulatory Compliance, Landlord & Tenant, Maintenance Management and Housing Maintenance, Repair and Improvements.

You can download a full copy of the Guidance Note here.

What is the aim of the new Guidance Note?

The Guidance Note provides best practice guidance on PPM for both commercial and residential surveyors.

Typically, PPM surveys are undertaken on commercial assets, as well as larger residential assets, including blocks of flats, complex or historic dwellings or where a sinking fund is held for a property.

A well-written PPM will include detail such as:

  • Construction detail

  • Condition and defects

  • Recommendations, timings and costings of repair, replacement or monitoring

  • Potential risks

  • Cost liabilities

  • Robust information to support evidence-based negotiation

PPM programmes allow owners and investors to:

  • Understand the condition of their asset

  • Plan ahead for investment or service charge recovery

  • Ensure that the building and its component elements perform optimally

When is it effective from?

1 May 2022.

What is PPM?

PPM is ‘maintenance that is performed purposely and regularly to keep the structure and fabric, facilities, plant and equipment of a building in satisfactory operating condition’.

This includes tasks such as:

  • Systematic inspection

  • Detection and correction of failures

  • Identifying items at the end of their economic life, where replacement or renewal is required

PPM programmes typically span 5-10 year periods, but can extend longer for up to 30 years. They should always, however, be regularly reviewed and updated. This helps to identify issues before they turn into major defects or lead to complete failure.

How is the Guidance Note structured?

After the introduction, the Guidance Note is structured into the key steps in undertaking a PPM instruction:

  • Client instruction

  • Survey preparation

  • Inspection

  • Legal/technical

  • Report

How does the client instruction process work?

As with any professional service being provided to a client, the following steps need to be undertaken:

  • Initial discussion to define client requirements, budgetary constraints and to understand the property

  • Advising if a PPM survey is the most appropriate type of survey, e.g., a Technical Due Diligence (TDD) survey may be more appropriate if there is likely to be a change of ownership or a Building or Condition Survey may be more appropriate for a report and budget estimate on a defined repair or investment need which will be disclosed to third parties

  • Ensure sufficient competence, experience and knowledge to take on the instruction

  • Agree written terms of engagement (covering the items in Section 2.4 of the Guidance Note), e.g., client identity, documents to be reviewed, access requirements and payment terms

  • Defining the scope of services (using Appendix A and by reference to Section 2.4.1 of the Guidance Note), including items which will be included in the PPM, such as structure, roofs, facades, internal finishes, external areas and service installations

  • Document review and desktop due diligence

  • Safety requirements

  • Timescales for inspecting and reporting

  • Fees

In no circumstance, can a surveyor remove liability for identifying defects and advising the client on the impact of them on the property, even if budget constraints exist.

How should a surveyor prepare for a PPM survey?

Surveyors should take a considered approach to PPM survey preparation, including:

  • Coordinating the project and liaising with key stakeholders

  • Information gathering

  • Checking equipment, e.g., notepad, pen, camera, electronic device, measuring equipment, protimeter and PPE

  • Health & safety risk assessment and precautions to be taken

  • Engaging third party consultants or specialists, if required

Surveyors should advise clients that the PPM inspection will be visual and non-intrusive, with no services tested (unless specifically agreed). Any inaccessible areas should be noted as limitations on inspection and the subsequent risk to the client explained in the PPM report. Surveyors may also need to agree any sampling requirements with the client, such as opening only a set number of windows or doors in a large building.

How does the inspection process work?

A surveyor’s inspection should take a methodical and logical approach, whilst ensuring that this process can be adapted to the type of property and client requirements.

Key steps in this process include:

  • Recording data, manually or electronically

  • Accessing all areas of the building and component elements, as agreed with the client. Section 4.3 of the Guidance Note provides a breakdown of each element and common sub-elements which should be inspected in turn.

What legal/technical considerations are there when undertaking a PPM survey?

There are a variety of legal/technical issues which surveyors need to consider:

  • Health & safety, including any maintenance issues or risks to building users’ health & safety. Examples include slips, trips, low head heights, confined spaces, edge protection, glazing and emergency routes

  • Fire engineering and fire risk

  • Accessibility

  • Energy efficiency

  • Noise and disturbance

  • Pollution, contamination and environmental control

  • Deleterious materials

  • Sustainability

  • Cultural heritage

  • Leasing and repairing liabilities, including service charge provisions

  • Guarantees and warranties

How should surveyors report after inspecting?

The final report should be easy to read, including the following aspects:

  • Executive summary

  • PPM schedule, likely to be prepared as a spreadsheet and detailing condition, defects and associated costs

  • Full condition report using condition ratings, split into good, fair, poor and hazardous (see Section 6.1.1 of the Guidance Note for descriptions)

  • Timeframe, such as urgent, immediate (within 1 year), short term (1-2 years), medium term (3-5 years) and long term (6-10 years)

  • Risk/priority ratings, split into categories such as 1: urgent, 2: essential, 3: desirable, 4: cyclical and 5: statutory

What do the experts say?

Vicky Green BSc (Hons) FRICS is a Director at Bsurv Ltd Architectural Designers & Chartered Building Consultants and a member of the Working Group for the new Guidance Note.

How can we help?

Stay tuned for our next blog post to help build a better you.

N.b. Nothing in this article constitutes legal, professional or financial advice.


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