A Pre-Construction Survey (PCS) consists of a review of a property adjacent to a site where construction activities are about to begin. The goal of the survey is to visually identify all existing signs of exterior and roof damage and any signs of structural settlement, before construction begins. A PCS can protect the subject property owner and the contractor/developer of the site where construction activities will take place.
For a property owner, the PCS documents the existing conditions so that any damage or structural settlement caused by the construction is appropriately attributed to the construction activities and, therefore, the responsibility of the contractor/developer to rectify.
From the contractor/developer perspective, the PCS is primarily a loss control and claims defense mechanism. If a property owner alleges that damage was sustained due to construction activities, the pre-construction survey can be referenced to confirm what visible damage pre-existed the construction activity. This allows for fair and prompt settlement of third party property damage claims.
SCOPE OF PRE-CONSTRUCTION SURVEYS
Prior to the survey, a review of drawings for the proposed adjacent building would be undertaken. This assists in understanding the implication of the proposed work and specific areas at the subject property that should be more closely reviewed and documented.
For each crack or anomaly noted, the survey will provide a photograph, the general location of the anomaly, specific location of the anomaly and the anomaly type. If the anomaly is a crack, the size of crack, type of crack and direction of crack will be noted.
Crack monitoring gauges can be installed over cracks located adjacent to the proposed new construction. The purpose of the gauges is to monitor changes over the course of the construction and post-construction.
Follow-up surveys should also be undertaken during construction and post construction. The purpose of the follow-up survey(s) is to document any changes to the previously identified anomalies and identify any new cracks or anomalies in the building structure. Knowing at what point in the construction process a crack occurs, can sometimes aid in identifying the likely cause and therefore implication. For any new anomalies noted, the follow-up survey(s) shall identify the type of anomaly, location and photograph the anomaly. If deemed necessary, new cracks can have crack gauges installed. The post construction survey is undertaken at the completion of the construction project. Very often, developers will want adjacent building owners to sign-off at the completion of the project. Adjacent owners must exercise extreme due diligence before signing off, to ensure there is no damage to their property.
Some municipalities may have specific requirements for pre-construction surveys. For example, in the City of Toronto, By-law 514-2008 requires that a pre-construction inspection of adjacent buildings and structures within the zone of influence be undertaken to identify existing cracks in walls, floors and exterior cladding of the first two storeys above grade and interior finishes of all storeys below grade in sufficient detail to facilitate comparison of pre-construction and post-construction condition; where it is not possible to gain access for a pre-construction inspection, statements of the efforts made to gain access will be provided.