Scope of Work
Inspections are completed to determine what work, if any, needs to be completed. Building inspections vary in cost according to the number of building components that are inspected and whether we complete a visual inspection or an “intrusive inspection” where building components are removed to determine if there is unseen damage. Building inspections are typically the first required step so that an accurate scope of work can be determined.
Types of inspections include:
Building Envelope Inspections
Building envelope inspections are conducted in response to a water penetration problem. These inspections are intrusive and destructive, meaning the building will be cut into until the source of the problem is identified for correction. Typically several locations will be chosen around the association to be opened up. Following the inspection, the building will be sealed again.
These are typically done prior to major remediation work by the association to determine the scope of work that needs to be done to alleviate the water penetration problems. The inspection will include a list of repairs that should be made, both immediately and in the following phases, to create a plan of action.
Preventative Maintenance Plans and Inspections
These create a specific plan of inspections and services to be completed on a regular schedule. They may include daily, weekly, monthly, or annual tasks performed by the association and its employees, or by vendors and consultants. This process typically includes production of an annual schedule of maintenance, repairs and inspections, along with instructions for each task to be performed. Individual inspections are to determine the current condition of a building component, the need for repairs, and the rate of deterioration. Inspection and service reports should be reviewed over time to determine the best schedule to effectively maintain the building. These reports provide a record of the maintenance being conducted. Types of tasks to be scheduled could include annual fire safety inspections, gutter cleaning or landscape inspections. We also recommend annual homeowner surveys be conducted.
Government and commercial facility managers have long embraced scheduled preventative maintenance programs to ensure that inspections and routine tasks are completed on time, and that the most cost effective schedule of repairs is completed. Residential building managers have only recently adopted this practice. Preventive Maintenance programs help ensure that buildings are maintained in a manner that preserves the appearance and integrity of the buildings. It can also protect warranties provided by the developer, contractors, or manufacturers. Some new associations have these implemented to ensure that the association’s obligation to provide routine maintenance is completed, and the developer’s obligations are not compromised.
Maintenance Priority Report
A Maintenance Priority Report provides the Association with clear and obtainable maintenance goals. The report takes the information gathered in an inspection and provides the Association with a list of work that we recommended be completed
- within the current year,
- within the next year,
- within 4 – 5 years and
- at the end of the component’s life cycle
Turnover Inspections when associations assume control of buildings
This is an inspection intended to identify maintenance and construction problems in existence at the time the association assumes control from the developer. This scope could vary from creating a “punch-list” of minor repairs for the developer to correct, to identifying construction defects similar to a warranty inspection (below), to identifying maintenance activities the association needs to immediately start performing to keep the buildings in good condition. Often this is used to document known problems that the developer is still responsible for completing. The scope of the inspection may be to document each specific repair task (as in noting every location that paint needs to be touched up), or could document typical construction details that need attention, with the expectation that they would be resolved at all locations that they occur. An outside construction professional may be asked to give an opinion about what items the developer might reasonably be expected to fix, and what represents sound engineering and construction practice.
“Punch-lists” might also be prepared by unit owners through use of a questionnaire; association members might walk around and document minor problems; or a construction professional may be called in to complete such an inspection. This is sometimes done with the cooperation of the developer who is trying to make a clean transition in responsibility from the developer to the homeowners’ association.
Warranty Inspections of New Construction or Major Repairs
A general inspection of the condominiums intended to provide an opinion as to whether the buildings are constructed in compliance with the Washington Condominium Act. RCW 64.34.445 requires that the building are: free from defective materials; constructed in accordance with sound engineering and construction standards, in a workmanlike manner, and in compliance with all laws applicable at the time of construction; and that the buildings are constructed consistent with the Public Offering Statement or other written plans and specifications provided by the developer at the time of sale of the units.
This type of inspection would review known problems identified by the homeowners’ association, and investigate the building for common construction defects typical for that type of building construction. This is primarily a visual inspection, with limited destructive testing to inspect the integrity of the building. Where specific problems are suspected or commonly found, extra attention is expended. Because thorough inspection involves damaging the building, a balance between the damage made and the additional information expected to be found must be struck. This inspection is intended to sample pieces of the building to provide some assurance that the building either conforms or does not conform to the requirements of the statute.
A warranty inspection requires expertise in both law and construction. This type of inspection must be completed prior to the warranty expiration (typically four years from the date the first unit is sold). If sufficient problems are discovered from a general review of the building, additional specialized investigation may be required at the direction of an attorney to identify every possible defect in construction. Inspections on individual building components may be required by separate experts who can credibly testify in court on that specific building material and construction practice. These inspections are frequently completed under the direction of an attorney.
Specialized Individual Component Inspections
This is an inspection and evaluation of an individual building component or problem area. Typical of this would be roof inspections, or leak investigations. The goal is usually to determine the exact causes of the problem so that remedial repairs can be made. Often a construction professional will not be called in until several attempts by contractors have failed to solve a known problem. Sometimes an assessment of different repair or replacement alternatives is completed, with a recommendation to the association
This work is usually performed by a consultant with expertise and experience with the specific building component. The primary goal is usually to correct the problem. Sometimes this type of inspection will be used to enforce warranties from manufacturers, contractors, and developers.
Construction Inspections for New Construction or Major Repairs
This is an inspection of work typically performed during or at completion of construction by a contractor. Occasionally, the inspection is performed just prior to the expiration of the warranty period offered by the contractor or manufacturer. This is done to help ensure that repair work contracted for by an association is completed as promised and in compliance with industry standards. Frequently roofs are inspected during installation both by the association, and also by a manufacturer who may be providing a warranty.
These inspections are usually performed by a consultant with training, expertise and experience with the specific building component. The primary goal is to ensure that the work is done correctly so that it will perform well over time. Sometimes fees for these inspections are based on a percentage of the cost to perform the work, other times it is done on an hourly basis. Photographs and detailed reports are often used to document the work performed.
Some associations require an annual performance inspection of different components of their building. They typically survey a specific part of the building, such as the building envelope system and any major interior systems such as elevators or plumbing lines, to assess their condition. Afterwards, they recommend changes to the maintenance plan based on the observed condition of the different components. Follow up reports will also determine whether or not the recommendations were being followed.